At 23, he was the head of the stone department at de Grisogono before he decided to launch his own company. As a stone lover and gemologist, Benjamin Mizrahi founds BenGems in 2011 specializing in jewelry revamping, stone dealing and jewelry setting. A talk with a man whose life navigates around and beyond precious stones
What are you the most proud of?
I first started working as a dealer in jewelry based in Antwerp, Belgium. Shortly after that, I studied stones and became a gemologist, which led me to become the assistant buyer within the stone department at Piaget then DeGrisogono. At the age of 23, I was responsible for the entire stone department ! I must admit that being that young with such a job made my experience at DeGrisogono a foundation in my career. The experience I had at DeGrisogono made me understand and appreciate a wide rage of material and stones. I have learned so much then… until I decided to move forward and go on the other side. It seemed important to me to understand how things worked. I became the right-hand man of an important man in a company specialized in dealing with precious stones. I digued further down into the learning process of the stone industry : from rough to cut then polished and set stones. I stayed two years in that company… the end was difficult. I discovered that the company had a lot of financial issues and the manager decided to go, leaving me to handle the company in bankruptcy. Not the easiest challenge… yet, I ended up growing up and learned a lot of things from that experience.
All of these episodes driven by my passion for stones led me to create my own company based in Geneva back in 2011 : Ben Gems SA. This is what I am the most proud of… and my intention is to make it last.
Bengems in 5 years?
I would simply like my company to keep growing organically as it did until now. Also, may my passion and savoir-faire be shared by many.
Projects in the pipeline?
We are currently working on new concepts and new jewelry creations… There will be a large variety of shapes and colors. Stay tuned !
You are a stone expert and you emphasize on something you call « a quality watchmaking » what do you mean by that?
The « watchmaking quality » in the stone setting is very important for me and for the manufacture process of my creations. It brings reflection to the stone and adds additional brilliance and uniformity in color; there is a homogeneity in the stones. Why is that ? Well, if one compares two identical pieces with the same materials, the watchmaking quality gives an additional perfection and makes it possible to differentiate itself from other jewelry brands in terms of quality. This is what we call a “BenGems signature”.
As a stone lover, beyond the emotion that it brings to you, how do you choose a stone?
I believe that one of the most important thing is the depth the stone can have … its transparency is super important. Secondly, the color of the stone… for example : a sapphire with a particular intensity. Stones with changing colors and character have their importance. Untraditional cuts, originality can be components ! For example, stones cut in the shape of a flower. At the end of the day, I also pick stones that are going to be most easily « understood by the customer »- those that are going to be the most requested like cushion-cut stones.
How did you become expert in relooking ? (in reference to the article published on relooking vintage jewelry).
The makeover came naturally : taking a family jewel with the desire to give it back to life. Bring brilliance to a stone and its frame while respecting the original spirit of the piece.
It is a real challenge to revive a jewel and a great pride to see the person reclaiming the jewel, wearing it again, and learning to re-possess it. A piece of jewelry that has seen some relooking works as a relay from one generation to another.
Being a gemologist and a stone dealer, how did you embark in the journey of a jewelry brand?
To start with … I have genuine passion for stones. On a daily basis, I like to share this passion and make people benefit from my knowledge. I also have a sense of aestheticism that I managed to develop throughout my career. Being surrounded by designers, I have evolved working around them and together. When the designers imagined a piece, I would come to suggest stones. Reversely, I would suggest stone combinations and they would come up with design ideas…That’s how a jewelry piece was thus born.
Today, I work directly with the client, I offer a selection of stones, help him choose the one that best suits him and little by little we go together in the creation of the jewel. I handle the manufacturing process from A to Z… And there is nothing more exciting than to see a stone highlighted within a jewel and living through the person.