This year the fourth edition of GemGenève, founded in 2018 by Ronny Totah and Thomas Faerber, was held. The show is a center of knowledge, research and innovation, in which experimentation plays a central role. In fact, in addition to precious stones and ancient jewels, it enhances the creativity of designers, schools and emerging talents, emphasizing first of all culture, in a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere where there is a constant exchange of ideas.
“The first edition – said Ronny Totah – represented the discovery; the second, growth; the third courage, in response to the sanitary emergency. This year, GemGenève is back in the name of a new beginning.” The event represents a unique experience for visitors, in which nothing is left to chance. Starting from the entrance to the fair, where there is a staircase that allows to see all the exhibitors from above, creating a sense of amazement and the perception that all 201 exhibitors have the same importance. Once inside, a great welcome is immediately perceived: guests are received with kindness and courtesy by young concierges and thus begin to stroll through the corridors of GemGenève. The meetings between exhibitors and visitors last until late in the evening, beyond the closing time of the fair, as the key word is passion, and passion leads to never looking at the clock.
Over the years GemGenève has created a real international community. And this was possible thanks to the competence and professionalism of the GemGenève Team, which establishes a relationship of familiarity with all exhibitors. “GemGenève is a fair created by exhibitors for exhibitors”: these are the words of Thomas Faerber. The Team sees the collaboration of Ida Faerber and Nadege Totah, the daughters of the Co-Founders. In particular, Nadege Totah is a young talent who closely follows the direct relationship with all exhibitors with passion and empathy: she is able to immediately understand everyone’s needs and with great attention she takes care of every detail, right down to the light of the stands, which are designed to best enhance the characteristics of the jewels.
Many highly skilled personalities were present at the fair, including journalist and jewel historian Vivienne Becker, curator of the Vivarium Jewelry space, dedicated to the most innovative contemporary designers, selected by Vivienne herself. “I choose artists who have a vision, values to be transmitted, a soul” – says Vivienne –“following my instinct that comes firstly from my historical perspective, with a cultural outlook. I have always been moved by curiosity: the more I learn, the more I understand that there is still a lot to learn. Especially in these times of revolution for the jewelry and diamonds sector, in which we are witnessing an ever-greater focus on sustainability, on new technologies, and above all on a design that reflects values and meanings.” We asked her to describe in one word the artists selected for 2022: “Regina Gambatesa is emotional; Oktaaf stands out for its strong identity; Philippe Lauras is sophisticated; Saurabh Bhola is characterized by organic design; Sean Gilson is exuberant; Gaelle Khouri is cerebral; Debusigne is otherworldly.” Vivarium’s mission is to promote these innovative designers and the story they want to tell. “Hard work, determination, humility”: these are the ingredients for building a successful future according to Vivienne.
Likewise, the sources of inspiration offered by GemGenève were numerous. For example, we were able to discover the “behind the scenes” of the ancient art of enamelling, thanks to the jewelry expert Richard Carbonnelle, who told us the story of this technique and led us to visit the L’émail : l’art du feu et des couleurs exhibition, created by GemGenève in collaboration with the Igor Carl Fabergé Foundation and with CFP Arts Genève (Center for Professional Artistic Training). In this space it was even possible to observe some historic pieces of the Maison, masterpieces embellished with colorful enamels. In the same space it was also fascinating to observe the students of CFP Arts Genève while enamelling small works of art, starting with glass powder mixed with lavender oil, which is a key substance in enamelling as it allows the enamel to maintain its characteristics at high temperatures. In fact, education is one of GemGenève’s core values. Inside the fair there is also a corner dedicated to the rarest books on jewelry, minerals and precious stones where visitors can deepen their knowledge.
The meeting with the designer Estelle Lagarde allowed us to closely observe the fascinating art of gouaché, an ancient technique that the artist uses to paint the jewels imagined by her clients, depicting their volumes and three-dimensionality through lights. Estelle’s passion was born during her educational path in Costume Jewelry and Jewelry, when she first approached this art. “GemGenève represents a great opportunity to transmit an important savoir-faire to young people and enthusiasts of the sector.” In fact, during the fair Estelle organized workshops in which she taught how to draw diamonds, rubies, turquoises or even alligator leather. The artist also organizes online courses, to convey the passion for gouaché to the public. When we asked her what her desire for the future was, she replied that she dreams of creating her own high jewelry brand.
Finally, when it comes to culture, we must take into consideration schools and young students, who, with their disruptive ideas, trace the path of the future. Like the students from CFP Arts Genève, who created a project in collaboration with ETVJ (Ecole Technique de la Vallee de Joux) and ASMEBI (Association Romande des Métiers de la Bijouterie) to enhance the concept of gender fluidity. Or like the students of HEAD Genève, one of the most important schools of Art and Design in Europe, who presented in collaboration with GemGenève and Grand Théâtre de Genève a project inspired by the architecture of the nineteenth-century theatre / opera house, revisited in a contemporary way. The Grand Théâtre de Genève itself presented some of the creations belonging to the collection of crowns worn by the actors and dancers of the theatre / opera house during ballets and operas, telling their stories and emotions. Among the most fascinating tiaras, the one worn by soprano Julia Migenes in the opera Salomè staged by Maurice Béjart in 1983.
GemGenève is not only one of the most prestigious international jewelry shows, but a unique experience for cultural enrichment. GemGenève reflects a vision, the one of its Founders and its Team. A vision which looks ahead, to the future, and to the promotion of excellence and innovation. To the desire for culture, kindness and inclusivity that, combined with passion, represents the key to a brilliant world in continuous evolution.