EXHIBITION – GemGenève to present Vivarium Quartet of jewellery designers, curated by Vivienne Becker

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For the November 2022 edition, Vivienne Becker, jewellery historian, founder of Vivarium and curator of The Designer Vivarium at GemGenève organises a mini Designer Showcase, a Vivarium Quartet, featuring the work of four individual designer-jewellers:

  • Alix Dumas of MAD Joaillerie, Paris and Brittany (new)
  • Philippe Lauras, Paris (returning designer)
  • Alex Jefford, London (returning designer)
  • Elena Okutova, Moscow (a previous Emerging Talent designer)

ALIX DUMAS – MAD Joaillerie, France

ALIX DUMAS – MAD Joaillerie, France

Alix Dumas was born in France, but travelled extensively as a teenager, living in Romania and Istanbul, a city of cultural wonders and craftsmen that she says has had a huge impact on her life and work. Having trained at AFEDAP, the Paris school specialising in contemporary jewellery, Alix went on to work for a renowned High Jewellery workshop developing bench skills and understanding the refinement and details of craftsmanship that are the essence of the High Jewellery creation. Following the birth of her two children, she decided to build her own brand, launching MAD Joaillerie in 2020.   Her overarching concept was to bring an intensely feminine insight and instinct to the world of French High Jewellery. Working between Paris and Brittany, Alix makes each jewel,  herself, by hand – apart from casting and stone-setting, both of which are highly specialised skills and she personally sculpts the models in wax .  Her focus on femininity means that she understands the way in which a jewel works in harmony with the body, so that comfort is always a prime consideration, along with colour, volume and a dialogue between different graphic shapes and forms, and an intermingling of different techniques.  Her signature technique is fret sawing, the intricate linear openwork that she uses to give structure and volume to her complex structures.

Philippe Lauras, France

Philippe Lauras, France

Having grown up in an artistic environment, Philippe Lauras says he knew he was destined to follow a creative path. He enrolled in the Ecole de Joaillerie de Paris (BJOP), and at the same time studied gemology, drawing and sculptural modelling.  He began working in 1980 and was fortunate to train in two of the most-renowned Parisian High Jewellery ateliers where he learnt traditional jewellery-making techniques, requiring complete dedication, patience, rigour and precision. Over the years, he acquired the technical and artistic know-how needed to collaborate with designer-jewellers and artistic directors of international jewellery houses. In 1995, he opened his own workshop, close to Paris, creating one-of-a-kind jewels for leading Parisian jewellery Maisons.  Most recently, he launched his own collection, presented here in the Designer Vivarium for the first time.  The Falbala collection began, he says, with a simple of a ribbon, sometimes tied around the finger, or looped into an earring to frame the face.  Each jewel is entirely hand-crafted, to achieve the floating, flirtatious silkiness of a ribbon. He focuses on balance and fluidity of curves and swirls that are often asymmetric.  Jewels are light to achieve supreme comfort and articulated to create movement, to bring the design to life.

Alex Jefford, United Kingdom

Alex Jefford, United Kingdom

Born and raised in Geneva, and now London-based, Alexandra studied fine art at Central St Martin’s School, London, where she focused on etching and drawing. After pursuing a career as an artist and illustrator, she turned to Jewellery in 2002, studying Jewellery design at the GIA in America and Gemology at the Gemological Association of Great Britain in London. She brings her art background to graphic, abstract, cerebral jewels that play with shapes and form, texture and colour, contrasts of sheen and matt, transparency and opacity, and in which etched lines take an important if subtle role. Alexandra draws on inspirations from the Bauhaus and post-war American abstract expressionist painters. Recent collections include Absence and Presence of Colour, which sets vivid stones such as mandarin garnet and green tourmaline next to carved matt black onyx shapes, demonstrating her resolutely modernist approach to the jewel as art form.

Elena Okutova, Russia

Alix-Dumas

Elena moves into the Designer Vivarium from her spot in GemGenève’s Emerging Talent in November 2021.  Born in St. Petersburg but now living and working in Moscow, Elena Okutova studied Artistic Metalworking at Moscow’s State University, and established her own brand, together with her mother Irina, in 2009.  Her work is deeply rooted in Russian traditions, of artistry and craftsmanship and the use of enamels and coloured gemstones, but also in Russian traditions of folktales and fables, elaborate storytelling, so often linked to the forces of nature and handed down through generations. She creates both one-of-a-kind, bespoke jewels and limited series of designs, in different colourways of enamel. Each creation revolves around a complex narrative, inspired by medievalism, stories of knights and chivalry, by fairytale and fantastical mythology, matched by the complexity of technique and intricacy of ornamentation. Each jewel is hand modelled in wax and crafted using multiple processes, engraving, enamelling, gem-setting. Alongside Elena’s favourite medieval and Renaissance richness the storytelling themes are drawn from a wide, eclectic range of sources, Byzantine, Orientalist, and modern European, from Chinese lacquer art to the African savannah, from the poignant beauty of ephemeral, fading nature to 20th century architecture and the flamboyant, jewel- and art-adoring personality of Peggy Guggenheim.

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