Meet GemGenève’s Vivarium Quartet

The 5th edition of the forthcoming GemGenève show, scheduled to take place from 3rd to 6th November 2022 at Palexpo, Switzerland, will showcase the works of four renowned designers at Vivarium Quartet, curated by jewellery historian Vivienne Becker.

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

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.

Following the birth of her two children, she launched MAD Joaillerie in 2020. 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 signature technique is fret sawing, the intricate linear openwork that she uses to give structure and volume to her complex structures.

The Beauty ring is crafted with yellow fairmined gold set with a rubellite, rubies and two indicolite needles (tourmalines). By Alix Dumas – MAD Joaillerie

Rather than exact representations of nature, MAD’s stylised design themes aim to generate emotion, to translate the emotional responses generated by visions of the natural world, by beauty and concepts of love and eternity. Her collections include Waves, Cameos, the Beauty and the Rough, Source of Life, Eternity and Heart.

New to the Designer Vivarium at GemGenève, Alix will be showcasing new creations, including an all-diamond Beauty ring.

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 gemmology, drawing and sculptural modelling. He began working in 1980 and trained 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.

The handcrafted Falbala earrings resembling ribbons are set with emeralds and sapphires. By Philippe Lauras

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.

Alexandra 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 studied 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.

Yellow gold ring titled Horizon from the Compressed Lines collection. By Alexandra Jefford

Alexandra draws on inspirations from the Bauhaus and post-war American abstract expressionist painters. Her 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

Elena moves into the Designer Vivarium from her spot in GemGenève’s Emerging Talent in November 2021. The Moscow-based Elena Okutova studied Artistic Metalworking at Moscow’s State University, and established her own brand, together with her mother Irina, in 2009.

The Pomegranate ring is inspired by the precious fabrics of the Ottoman Empire and a pomegranate fruit. By Elena Okutova

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 fairy tale 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.

Her enchanting Lotus brooch is meticulously modelled, engraved, enamelled and set with seeds that move and rattle inside the pod, interpreting nature’s never-ending cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and capturing the romantic nostalgia of Russian art and storytelling.

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