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Panel discussion moderated by Katerina Perez (influencer), with David Roux-Fouillet (Head of the Department of Product Design, Jewellery and Accessories, HEAD Geneva), Olivier Bachet (expert), Vivienne Becker (jewellery historian, author) and Alix Dumas (Designer)


Sometimes we look at a piece of jewellery and we fall in love with it instantly and sometimes, you have to heavily market a design or a collection in order for it to sell. What is that “magic formula” that makes the jewellery design exceptional?


Jewellery that makes your heart beating faster


It is a jewel that really captures its moment in time, which reflects what is going on in the world around it. A jewel that combines the design expression with superb craftsmanship and wonderful materials. And a jewel able to combine a certain “newness” to echoes of the past – which make it even more fascinating.


For example, Modernism in jewellery reflected the world as it was evolving. Today, Fabio Salini stands for the Modernist style. He is considered a modern head of “new Modernism” thanks to his very graphic simple compositions of colours, lines and forms. Another example is Alexandra Jefford: her jewels have something original to say. So, it is not so much about some kind of surface stylism, but more about a meaningful message.


Another trait of Modernism is the ability of reinterpreting old motifs, like Philippe Loras and his ribbon bows, or again Elena Okutova, who has been able to revive Russian jewellery art to tell stories that combine history and modernity.


Modernism today is not only about themes, but also about techniques, as with Boghossian. They indeed took very traditional skills and techniques and modernized them to propose beautifully crafted pieces.


Jewels can make our hearts beating faster when the convey an emotion, a poetic vision, as in the example of JAR, who derives his inspiration from nature and translates it into an emotional, poetic vision of jewellery.


One this is for sure: exceptional design does not always have to be overly complex; it doesn’t have to be a huge flower with tons of pave and a big gemstone in the centre. It can be something simple but at the same time when unusual techniques are used, these make it truly exceptional.


What does us make falling in love with a jewel?


When we see a piece of jewellery, do we fall in love with it because of emotions or because of other factors, like an important gem or the investment side of it?


For many, the first factor at work to fall in love with a jewel is the emotion.


Jewellery is not something we need; it is something we want. In that sense designing a piece of jewellery is like drafting a poem. The jeweller has all sorts of different tools that he can use: the choice of materials, of curves, shapes, details, colours, and stones. All these are like words that a writer uses to create a sentence that hopefully will touch not just for its technicality and the beauty of its structure, but for the emotions it evokes.


There is an element of magic in jewellery which relates to its origins as a magical, amuletic object. We fall in love with a jewel because we respond to jewellery on a very atavistic level, responding to the storytelling and the emotion that jewel generates in us.


One thing to notice is that we could fall in love with a jewel, but not wanting to wear it. We could, for example, admire Lalique and his Art Nouveau marvellous jewels, but we could never see ourselves as wearing any of these. Also, there might be a jewel we loved in the past, and that do not like so much at present – our taste keeps evolving in time, and our love with jewels goes with it.


Taste is something personal, and in front of two jewels interpreting the same motif, the reactions, the preferences could be each time different. There is no right or wrong when it comes to liking a jewel according to one’s personal preference.


What contributes to the beauty of a jewel?


There are several aspects to consider.


Oscar Wilde famously said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. The beauty of a jewel is made up of many elements, such as the pure emotion it elicits, its craftmanship, the proportions, colours, the volume and all the details of the design.


Colour is the emotional trigger; everyone responds to distinct colours in diverse ways. Everyone also respond to a gem’s inner light – this is something that has captivated humankind for thousands of years, so colours and light are an emotional key to the beauty of a piece of jewellery.


When we speak about proportions, if a jewel is designed and worked as a piece of art, as a sculpture, the jeweller becomes an artist who, through his/her sensitive eye will re-adjust volumes and proportions. It is an artistic instinct that helps the jeweller-artist to reach a golden ration that makes the jewel perfect.


We all are still sensitive to the way jewels are made. Artisanship makes the difference: even if colours and proportions are nice, at the end it is the way the piece is made that counts, and this is also why some brands are known for the quality of their craftsmanship. It is part of jewellery emotion: a beautiful piece of jewellery must also be well made.


The excellence can then be reached when craftsmanship disappears, so that you don’t notice it at all. This happens when craftsmanship is at the service of the design, the concept, the little details, and the comfort in wearing the jewel. All these qualities are there, but you do not see the craftsmanship and the savoir-faire beneath it.


Jewels we love & storytelling


Does storytelling contribute to making us fall in love with a jewel? Is it important, when we buy a piece of jewellery, to know about the inspiration behind it, how the designer produced that idea?


The story behind a jewel helps to connect with the jewel itself. In many instances people would buy a piece of jewellery because the story speaks to them – for example, it might happen that they buy a ring which is inspired by the sea and they love surfing; or maybe they have travelled to a destination which is in their memory and the piece of jewellery is inspired by such location.


Storytelling, to connect to the jewel, should be authentic. The story, the theme or the inspiration should be authentic to the designer. This will create that sense of harmony that will make this connection between the person and the jewel click – because we instinctively know when a story is authentic, and when it is not.


Jewels contribute to self-expression, today as in the past – this has not changed. Some of us will choose classic or antique pieces, while other will go for avant-garde and contemporary designs.


The expressive power of a jewel goes through the body of the wearer. There is a tactile element attached to the jewel, a jewel should be felt. This is as important as the storytelling and the technical elements behind the creation.


Designer DNA or brand to define an exceptional design?


One big question when it comes to jewellery design is the following: is it important to be different and show your own personality in what you create, or is it better to think of what the client wants and create something that will fit his/her taste?


There is not only one answer. If you choose to be an artist, you have a view for each single creation, you communicate through pieces which may be very organic, others that may be very geometrical. It is not about being included in a closed cycle, sticking to “style guidelines”. It is more about the ability of expressing a message. The DNA of the artist can of course be present through a sort of “red line” that defines the artist’s personality, its evolution in time.


One specific DNA imprint can reveal the jewellery designer to the eyes of customers. It is not only about techniques and languages, but it is also about a way of thinking about the world. It is a journey for the jeweller to find him/herself, his/her true voice and to express a vision of the world, a message, through jewels – this is an aspect that keeps evolving together with the evolution of the designer’s inner world. An aspect that is not easy to define and streamline.


For example, a designer might fall in love with the theme of the wave. Being an artist means to interpret the theme in different ways, producing pieces that refer to the theme having a uniquely different look and personality. An artist rarely works on collections – they are repetitive and work in series, something a jewellery artist could never do.


Another crucial difference is on budget. A jewellery artist would start with the design and then would assess the budget to produce it. A brand would go the other way round: they would often start from a given budget and would try and produce the collection.


The goal is, of course, sales. Whether a jewellery designer is guided by a strong inspiration, or by brand collections, the final objective is to sell amazing jewels through the right channels to the final consumers.


Where does exceptional design start from?


It is not only a strong idea to guide the creative process. In many cases, the intricate beauty of a stone commands the entire design of a jewel. It can take sometimes months, or even years, before that gem finds its place in a jewel, but it is for sure worth the wait – a gem has its story to tell, and it cannot be dispersed in an undistinguished design.


An exceptional design can also start from the material – metals, or a piece of wood have their own story. In this case it is about experimenting, working around them to understand their language and translate it into the body of the jewel. From here a new storytelling starts.


Therefore, no matter where you start from, linking the creation to a meaningful idea, to an exceptional stone, to unusual materials (or all of these at the same time) will let the world admire an exceptional jewellery design.





La classification des gemmes est l’une des problématiques les plus sensibles qui anime actuellement le marché des pierres précieuses. Étrangement, dans un marché parfaitement globalisé et international, aucune standardisation n’existe encore.


Chaque laboratoire obéit à ses propres règles et chaque pays possède sa législation sur le sujet. Négociants, experts, et acheteurs finals se repèrent donc difficilement dans un marché où coexiste une pluralité de systèmes de classification. Ce manque de clarté engendre également un flou juridique qui en cas de litige peut s’avérer extrêmement préjudiciable.


Établir une nomenclature universelle des pierres de couleurs semble plus que jamais nécessaire, mais comment y parvenir ?


Comment classifier les gemmes ?


Tout l’enjeu que porte le projet d’une nomenclature internationale, c’est avant tout celle de sa méthode. Quelle approche privilégier pour établir cette classification ?

Pour Emmanuel Fritsch, chercheur en minéralogie au CNRS et membre de l’International Mineralogical Association, élaborer une norme de standardisation est toujours un processus long et complexe. L’origine géographique, la couleur, le poids ou encore la minéralogie sont autant de critères pertinents qui peuvent constituer une base de réflexion solide.


Faut-il alors s’appuyer sur le nom commercial ou la composition minérale d’une gemme pour la classifier ?

Pour Enzo Liverino, Président de la commission Corail à la CIBJO, le débat n’est pas celui-là. Que l’approche soit commerciale ou scientifique, l’essentiel est que le nom attribué à une gemme ne puisse prêter à aucune confusion possible pour l’acheteur final.

L’enjeu d’un système de classification doit avoir pour seul but la protection de l’acheteur final afin de maintenir un indice de confiance élevé sur le marché des pierres précieuses, et de manière générale sur le marché de la joaillerie.


Une standardisation impossible ?


La question ne semble plus être « comment établir un système de classification international ? » , mais bien « est-il encore réellement possible de standardiser le marché des gemmes en 2022 ? »


Pour Emmanuel Piat, vice-président de la Commission Pierres de couleurs CIBJO, la volonté et les recherches menées par le CIBJO (Confédération Internationale de Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie des diamants, perles et pierres) ont incontestablement permis d’aboutir à une base de nomenclature efficace mais malheureusement encore insuffisante.

Les trop grandes divergences d’interprétation qui existent entre les laboratoires permettent d’en témoigner. Aujourd’hui, la même pierre peut être qualifiée d’émeraude par un laboratoire et de béryl vert par un autre. Face à ce non-sens devenu trop courant sur le marché, la solution viendrait-elle alors de l’ISO (International Organization for Standardization), cet organe indépendant qui travaille à l’élaboration de normes universelles ?


Si l’ISO a contribué à des progrès de standardisation particulièrement efficaces dans le secteur du diamant, pour Aurélien Delaunay, directeur du Laboratoire Français de Gemmologie et représentant de la France à l’ISO, l’univers des pierres de couleurs est beaucoup plus complexe et ce qui a été fait dans le domaine du diamant n’est pas transposable dans l’univers des pierres de couleurs.

Cet avis est également partagé par Thomas Hainschwang, dont les publications sur le diamant font autorité auprès des organes de nomenclature. Pour lui, la standardisation est tout simplement impossible notamment en raison des couleurs infinies qui existent et des trop grandes variétés de tailles recensées.


De la classification à la régulation ?


Alors, comment amener plus de cohérence et de cohésion dans un marché qui échappe à toute règle de classification et de standardisation ?


Pour l’experte Drew Battaglia, les seuls organes qui font autorité aujourd’hui sont les laboratoires, or les résultats de leurs analyses peuvent être contradictoires et la valeur de leur expertise diverge parfois selon les marchés. La nécessité d’une « entité supérieure » faisant autorité sur le marché des gemmes est donc indispensable.


Thomas Hainschwang, qui déplore également les trop nombreux désaccords qui existent entre laboratoires, alerte sur le fait qu’ils deviennent de plus en plus nombreux. Utilisant leur propre nomenclature et procédures internes, les nouveaux laboratoires qui apparaissent ajoutent encore plus de confusion sur un marché qui souffre déjà de tant d’incohérence.


Ainsi, le véritable enjeu ne serait-il pas de réguler les laboratoires avant de vouloir réguler les gemmes ? C’est l’axe de réflexion que l’expert ouvre.

Entre des standards qui changent en permanence et des résultats d’analyse soumis à aucune durée de validité légale, la question de la responsabilité des laboratoires interroge.

Encadrer l’activité et les méthodes des laboratoires permettrait-il de combler le vide juridique qui existe aujourd’hui et pénalise in fine les acheteurs finals ?

Pour Aurélien Delaunay, soumettre les laboratoires à davantage d’obligations, comme par exemple l’indication des traitements, ne pourrait aboutir qu’à plus de transparence.


Pour conclure


Aborder la question de la classification des gemmes se fait nécessairement par le biais d’une approche à la fois scientifique, commerciale et juridique.


Comment créer une nomenclature qui intègre les besoins et attentes de tous les acteurs du marché ? Et surtout, comment aboutir à un système transparent et sécurisant qui préserverait les enjeux financiers de chacun de ses acteurs ?


Cette conversation, riche de cas pratiques tirés de l’expérience de chaque expert, permet de tracer des pistes de réflexion visionnaires et de mettre en lumière l’un des enjeux majeurs que le marché des gemmes devra impérativement résoudre dans les prochaines années.




GemGenève remercie chaleureusement Marie Chabrol, consultante joaillerie, et Boris Chauviré, chercheur en minéralogie et gemmologie, qui ont animé avec talent ce passionnant échange.


Ainsi que l’ensemble des experts qui ont participé à cette réflexion :


Drew Battaglia

Experte agréée

Sancy Expertise Paris


Aurélien Delaunay

Directeur du Laboratoire Français de Gemmologie

Commission Diamant et Commission Gemmologie CIBJO

Représentant à l’ISO pour la France


Emmanuel Fritsch

Chercheur en minéralogie au CNRS

Membre de l’International Mineralogical Association


Thomas Hainschwang

Directeur et cofondateur de GGTL Laboratories

Expert en recherche gemmologique


Enzo Liverino


Président de la commission Corail CIBJO


Emmanuel Piat

Négociant, expert judiciaire

Vice-Président de la Commission Pierres de couleurs CIBJO