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What makes the GemGenève Designer Vivarium so interesting ?

GemGeneve designer vivarium
Vivienne Becker is the Jewelry Historian everyone would want to hang out with, especially during a Jewelry and Gem Show. Her implication at GemGenève goes beyond her participation into conferences. She curates the Designer Vivarium in choosing the jewelry talents of tomorrow. This year, she picked eleven designers including six brands who returned from last year’s edition. Who are they and why are they attending the show ? 
Author By Eleonor picciotto

When Vivienne Becker looks at a piece of jewelry, she first lays her eyes on the design because a few decades from now, she believes that it is what will become the antique of the future. When it comes to contemporary design, critics, collectors and journalists must take into consideration the influence of speed travel and the technological advancements designers benefit when creating their pieces. If we look at the cycle of designs, nothing is new- it’s just a matter of interpretation and how the period influences the style.

Considering the amount of jewelry Becker gets her hands on all year long and has for the last decades, “I recognize when a jewel is truly different and new. I work on instinct and pay attention to certains elements such as balance and tension that makes the jewelry exciting,” she explains. “Through study or instinct : designers need to understand the rules before breaking them. It is a matter of comprehension of tradition and heritage,” she adds. As a matter of fact, the hardest task is being able to create something that has not been seen showing duality and harmony between what is old and what is new. Following that line, Vivienne Becker picked 11 designers for the GemGenève Vivarium who have a real point of view different from one another and who have something to say with an intrinsec value of materials.

Vivienne Becker at GemGenève conference
Vivienne Becker at GemGenève conference – photo ©G.Maillot/point-of-views.ch

Within the run through of designers, six were already attending GemGenève last year  and five are new. Considering that there should not be any superfluidity in the design or the concept : how are these designers interpreting the proportion of materials? What is their sense of sophistication in craftsmanship? According to Vivienne Becker, “Jewelry is the poor little rich girl of the luxury industry.” Who are they ? Explanations by Vivienne Becker.

Nadia Morgenthaler is a Geneva-based artisan home grown. Her work has an exceptional refinement with a sense of details and a perfect duality. The structure of her jewelry is very new compared to most fine jewelry designers. She uses highly technical construction and splendour echoeing the past. Most of her pieces are unique and show a blend between past and present as show her rock crystal chandeliers earrings reminiscing the Versailles Castle of the 18th century.

Nadia Morgenthaler - Natural Pearls Rock Crystal Diamonds
Nadia Morgenthaler – Rock crystal chandeliers earrings set with natural pearls, rock crystals and diamonds

Ninotchka Jewels is a young Russian dream team founded by Eugene Glagolev and Tima Ibragimov who studied jewelry history but most specifically Russian jewelry. They constantly try and search for old gemstones and are not afraid to take risks. They also master the Russian art of stone carvings as a way to translate the current movement in renovating the great history of russian jeweled art.

Sean Gilson is the only American designer of the selection. As a genuine artist  and craftman, he draws his inspiration from the Manhattan Artitic movement and makes everything himself between Connecticut and New York. Most of his pieces undeligne a strong graphic quality with a bold style using strong contrasts.

Alexander Tenzo is the 2nd Russian designer of the selection. He is a passionate gem hunter who travels around the world to spot gemstones hence his wonderful inventory. His particularity ? He renovates and searches out artisans who can restore or renovate an antique piece : from a particular jewel to a Russian palace.

Ming Lampson is a British designer whose energy and joie de vivre translates into her pieces of jewelry. She mixes styles and stones, shapes and periods making it hard to discern when was her pieces made. For that specific matter, she’s timeless and edgy in her approach.

Cora Sheibani has been surrounded by art and artists from a very young age. She sees jewelry as pure design. She works on instinct when it comes to form, color and volume in which she adds strong bold graphic shapes. Her originality comes from her background. Cora has a great eye and dares to explore unexpected themes such as the evil eye. She interprets her way the huge motifs we have seen in jewelry for thousands of years but she takes the concept at a whole other level. She uses it as the base of her design. As a an example, her collection with fluorescent diamonds is often left aside even though it brings a special effect like an enchanting look bringing modernity to her jewelry.
Cora Sheibani - Eyes earrigns set on yellow gold with colored stones
Cora Sheibani – Eyes earrigns set on yellow gold with colored stones

Racine is successful story of a husband and wife who met and fell in love at the GIA London during their studies. They launched last year their jewelry brand, and went from the Emerging Talents section tto designer’s vivarium. There has been a big evolution from the launch of their brand last year to this year’s collection. The refined pavé work on their jewelry is outstanding and brings a focus on stones and craftmanship- using non representational designs.

Oselieri-Racine - Heptagon earrings mounted on white gold and blackened silver set with 2 spinels, moonstones, sapphires and diamonds
Racine – Heptagon earrings mounted on white gold and blackened silver set with 2 spinels, moonstones, sapphires and diamonds

Nicholas Lieou is a Hong Kong born designer who studied in London. He started his career working at Tiffany & Co. in bespoke design and high jewelry in New York. Often seen in his jewelry is the contrast between duality and harmony as much as strenght and fragility. There is a real dichotomy between the story-telling and femininity added to the fact that there is a great fluidity in his designs with minimal and maximal contrast looks.

Alexandra Jeffert lives in London and was trained as an illustrator. She shows a real interest as a modernist jewel using the contrast of strong materials. She loves to juxtapose translucent materials, opaques renderings and colored stones.

Milio is a Russian duo between a mother and daughter. Their first desire in launching their brand last year was to pay tribute to great Russian traditions including gemstones and stone carving. They are the first women to have won the Carl Fabergé Prize for High Jewelry design, mixing tradition with art deco tradition setting lots of calibrated square cuts stones.

Milio - Brooch with sapphires and diamonds
Milio – Prize winning moon brooch set with sapphires and diamonds
Tatiana Verstraeten is the rising talent of the year who has a completely different background from the other designers as she comes from fashion. She brings a sense of fashion and costume jewelry to the business adding something really fresh to the Place Vendome. In her first collection, there is a sense of a fun fashion with a great reverance to the history of fine jewelry and craftmanship. In other words, she creates fashion jewelry translated into precious materials.
Tatiana Verstraeten The Barbara necklace, made of white 18K gold and diamonds
Tatiana Verstraeten – The Barbara necklace, made of white 18K gold and diamonds – photo ©G.Maillot/point-of-views.ch