In the second part of this interview, industry insider Antonio Cecere, Principal of Cecere Monaco and Founder of Monaco Diamond Exchange, talks about his experience at Baselworld 2018 with a focus on jewellery.
ML: How was Baselworld this year and what are the highlights in haute joaillerie?
In high-end jewellery, Graff is renowned for creating unique pieces that are set to become timeless classics. The foundation of Graff remains that of acquiring important diamonds and this year they will be cutting and polishing the 1,190 carats Lesedi La Rona, the largest gem-quality rough diamond discovered in over 100 years. Their vertical integration, from rough to retail, defines this jeweller and “puts them in control of their own destiny” as Francois Graff, CEO, recognised during Baselworld 2018.
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Graff Sapphire, Diamond and Emerald Necklace (sapphires 47.57ct, diamonds 35.12ct, emeralds 28.50ct)[/caption]
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This year the brand unveiled a collection of jewels featuring the Graff Bow. Showcasing multiple layers of diamonds and vibrant coloured gemstones, they are intricately designed and set to appear as if the strands have been tied by hand.
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Graff sapphire and diamond Bow necklace featuring a 21.61 carats cushion shape sapphire (Sapphires 89.12cts, Diamonds 31.69cts)[/caption]
The seamless hand-tied effect is the result of a close collaboration between Graff’s design team and master craftsmen and achieved by setting sculpted rows of tapered baguette diamonds alongside pavé diamonds, which curve and undulate to create a life-like bow. The result is exquisite: sculptural yet fluid and delicate.
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Graff Bow open diamond necklace (Diamonds 18.46cts)[/caption]
ML: This year de Grisogono had their 25th birthday, how did they celebrate it at Baselworld?
Naturally, this is an important anniversary for the Geneva-based brand and they set up an exhibition that took visitors through the creative process of Founder and Creative Director Fawaz Gruosi, who was present at the event. A white oversized ribbon on a red carpet indicated the path to follow; we were guided through the jewels and explained the stimuli that inspired the designer: “I think in Volumes, I design in Light, I imagine in Colours.”
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De Grisogono exhibition for the 25 years anniversary at Baselworld 2018.[/caption]
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Inspirational vitrines at the de Grisogono exhibition at Baselworld 2018.[/caption]
Fawaz Gruosi created the first Allegra ring from his inspiration of free-spirited and ambitious young women, and named the collection after Allegra, his oldest daughter and muse. The Allegra Collection symbolises joy and exuberance, passions and desires: it is the first de Grisogono Fine Jewellery collection. Alternating polished and gemset bands, it’s emblematic of an aesthetic that is apparently simple, yet its structure is in fact complex and demands technical mastery in the making.
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De Grisogono Allegra Classic Earrings in 18K pink gold set with 446 colorless diamonds (8.60 Ct). Allegra Classic Ring in 18K pink gold set with 210 colorless diamonds (5.44 Ct)[/caption]
The Millefoglie Collection is a joy of technical knowhow and sheer imagination achieved by layering slim strips of gold hemmed with diamonds – at once united and yet independent from each other. Each motif is mobile and the movement of one sweeps the others’ into the dance: a gentle geometrical effect playing on symmetry and asymmetry.
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De Grisogono Millefoglie Earrings in 18K pink gold set with 480 colorless diamonds (12.50 Ct). De Grisogono Millefoglie Ring in 18K pink gold set with 131 white diamonds (4.50 Ct)[/caption]
Melody Of Colours is a collection of unique creations that is rich in details, opulent in materials and lavish in colours: a testimony of the mastery of the Maison de Grisogono. The Geneva jeweller is renowned for blackening gold with rhodium to form a distinctive backdrop for the most surprising stones.
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De Grisogono Melody of Colours Bracelet in 18K white gold set with 1 mint-green tourmaline (20.37 Ct), 562 Paraiba topaze stones (40.15) and 1001 tsavorites (33.22 Ct)[/caption]
ML: Which other brand in haute couture jewellery made a mark this year in your opinion?
Jacob & Co designed a set of earrings set with Morganite, which is quite an original choice. Morganite is a variation of the Beryl mineral, like aquamarine or emeralds. It was originally named after the financier J.P. Morgan (an important gemstone collector) by Kunz, chief gemmologist of Tiffany & Co, when a rose variation of the mineral was first unearthed in 1910 in Madagascar.
Jacob & Co’s earrings boast over 100 carats of the sought-after stone, divided between four exquisite pair-shaped Morganite stones surrounded by over eight and half carats of pear shaped colourless diamonds. The captivating size and quality of the stones, combined with the craftsmanship required to bring them to life, render the Morganite earrings unique.
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Jacob & Co Morganite Earrings in 18K white gold set with morganite (100.23 carats) and colorless diamonds (8.61 carats)[/caption]
In the Jacob & Co fine jewellery collections, I was enticed by the Infinia Collection available in three variations: rubies, diamonds or emeralds. The marquise shaped gemstones are combined in a circular motif creating a three-dimensional effect and are adorned with round shaped colourless diamonds.
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Jacob & Co Infinia earrings in 18K white gold set with marquise shape emeralds (10.00ct) and round shape colorless diamonds (6.97ct). Jacob & Co Infinia ring in 18K white gold set with marquise shape emeralds (8.54ct) and round shape colorless diamonds (5.69ct)[/caption]
This year, the New York-based brand paid homage to the bees as an understated symbol of wisdom and courage with the Abielle Collection. A sculptured version of the noble creature is detailed with rubies, yellow and blue sapphires of striking intensity; invisible setting offers continuity in the colour while colourless diamonds add sparkles to the wings.
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Jacob & Co Abielle Bee Brooch in 18K White Gold with rubies (7.69ct) and diamonds (0.66ct). Jacob & Co Abielle Bee Brooch in 18K White Gold with yellow sapphires (5.20ct) and diamonds (0.60ct). Jacob & Co Abielle Bee Brooch in 18K White Gold with blue sapphires (7.72ct) and diamonds (0.62ct)[/caption]
ML: You mentioned invisible setting, who in your opinion makes great use of this stone-setting technique?
Stenzhorn, the German house founded by the Stenzhorn brothers in 1979, continues to evolve the concept of invisible setting. Their vision, ability and skill set in cutting precious gemstones for this setting technique is unparalleled; this is the reason behind the choice of Cecere Monaco to collaborate with this luxury house in the Principality of Monaco.
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Stenzhorn Noble Ones, The Chrysanthemum necklace in 18k white gold set with 2,818 rubies (53.45ct) and 1,407 colourless diamonds (9.20ct)[/caption]
The Noble Ones collection is a perfect example of their mastery. It was inspired by ancient Chinese symbols of the four seasons depicted as flowers: orchid (spring), bamboo (summer), chrysanthemum (autumn) and plum blossom (winter). The workmanship in this invisible setting is extraordinary.
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Stenzhorn Ovidio necklace in 18k white gold set with 666 blue sapphires (86.80ct) and 246 colourless diamonds (10.30ct)[/caption]
The boundaries of invisible setting, a technique that Stenzhorn clearly masters, are further pushed in the Ovidio collection; it is inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which recites: “I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.” I am always fascinated when I see hard elements like stones and metals become, through ingenuity and technique, soft to the touch and gentle to the eye.
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Antonio Cecere studies the flexibility of the invisible setting of the Ovidio necklace. 2. Stenzhorn Ovidio necklace in 18kt gold set with 251 colourless diamonds (14.20ct) and 606 rubies (65.50ct)[/caption]
ML: Which designer most impressed you for creativity and storytelling?
Alessio Boschi is not just a jeweller; he is an artist who uses metals and stones to tell a story. His stories are never simple, but rich in details, opulent in materials, boundless in aspirations. The first piece by the Italian designer I ever held in my hands was the unique Flames Rubelite Ring from the Naturalia collection: Alessio opened a small door on the side of the setting and suddenly I was inside this oversized ring; an angel made of gold and mounted on a spring was living inside that marvellous cave, lit by the light shining through the 28 carats rubellite mounted at the top.
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Alessio Boschi Flames Rubelite Ring in 18k gold set with rubellite (28.38ct), colourless diamonds (0.39ct), black diamonds (0.07ct), tsavorite (0.39ct), yellow sapphire (0.96ct), blue sapphire (0.98ct), and orange sapphire (1.74ct)[/caption]
ML: At Baselworld, you also met with the Director of Corporate Communication of the Gemological Institute of America. What was your meeting about?
I met with Stephen Morisseau of GIA to discuss some aspects of diamond testing. GIA is the leading laboratory for diamond certification and Monaco Diamond Exchange has as primary role to regulate the afflux of synthetic and conflict diamonds into the mainstream market, working alongside Kimberley Process and World Diamond Council.
During our meeting Stephen showed me the GIA iD100 tester, a tool that identifies in under 2 seconds natural diamonds from synthetic (HPHT and CVD) lab-grown diamonds. The shared aim is that to reassure the consumers that technology is supporting them when they purchase a diamond to ensure that it is a natural mined gemstone. Monaco Diamond Exchange provides free testing for its members for both mounted and unmounted stones so that they can purchase in confidence.
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Antonio Cecere with Stephen Morisseau[/caption]
Article first published April 23, 2018.