As part of the April press days in New York City held first in the salon of renowned diamantaire, William Goldberg, and then in the offices of the Faerber Collection, the GemGenève team announced the Contemporary Designer Showcase. This showcase, highlighting the work of 9 international designer-jewellers, is curated by Vivienne Becker, as an introduction to her new venture, Vivarium by Vivienne Becker, offering a whole world of jewels, history, advisory and a gallery of individual designer jewels. Gem Genève’s New York press events previewed some of the designer jewels that would be on display in May, showing work by Hannah Martin, London, Belmacz, London and Sean Gilson, New York. The founders, Thomas Faerber and Ronny Totah, were there to explain why this showcase of individual designer jewellers from around the world, is such a vital, vibrant part of the GemGenève concept, and Vivienne Becker was on hand to talk about her choice of designers, their individual creative visions and the jewels themselves.
From Hannah Martin, the journalists saw the Possession ring and bangle, typical of Martin’s signature style of powerful, provocative androgyny. She works predominantly in gold, shown to perfection by dramatic, mechanistic and sculptural form of the new Possession ring and bangle, in which she explores the conflict between ownership – possession – and freedom. The power of the design, and of her generous use of gold, contrasts with the sense of vulnerability that comes from the glimpse of flesh through the open centre of both ring and bangle.
The Alice B. Toklas ring, gold set with coral, by Julia Muggenburg for Belmacz, showcased the designer’s background in fine art and her very particular, idiosyncratic way of fusing influences from modern art and tribal ornament, integrating colour, texture and material into concept, design and form. Belmacz creates jewels with a strong, contemporary urban beat and a sculptural sensuality. The chain necklace with a chalcedony pendant perfectly carved in the form of a miniature Chinese snuff bottle, with a single diamond on the chain, told of Muggenburg’s understanding of the spiritual, amuletic significance of the jewel in all civilisations.
American master goldsmith, Sean Gilson, showed his exuberant black opal and natural pearl ring, which points the way forward into a new visual design language for pearls. Back on trend in a big way this year, pearls are now rebelling against their age-old traditions, breaking through entrenched classicism, finding new creative expression at the hands of individual designer-jewellers like Gilson, for whom pearls have become a speciality. He also showed his signature long gold earrings, resolutely modernist and geometric. Gilson makes all of his jewels himself by hand in his atelier in Connecticut and his workshop in New York City.