It was enormous fun visiting the Basel Jewellery Fair in Switzerland this year after not having been for 10 years. Basel brings together a huge variety of brands and gem dealers and along with the Hong Kong and Tucson shows it is one of the most important dates in the jewellery calendar. The standard of goods exhibited is incredibly high and sets the benchmark for standards in the industry.
Alongside the huge global brands such as Graff and Chopard Basel is also a showcase for smaller, lesser known brands. There is a vast amount of talent and individuality, but within this it was possible to discern some direction and tendencies (I detest the word trends when talking about jewellery). The one I loved seeing the most was the comeback of carved stones, particularly rubies and emeralds. This craft reached its apogee in moghul India during the 18th century; it was a craft that was in danger of dying out, but some fine examples of modern carved stones were set in the creations of Graff and Bayco. Exceptional new carved gems were also being offered by some of the gem dealers.
I love the use of flowers as a source of inspiration as much as the next designer; however, there were so many new floral motifs in so many collections that it is in danger of becoming an overused, overexposed element. There was a lot of neo Art Deco jewellery. The pieces I saw, such as those by Maria Gaspari and Cicada, had clearly had a lot of thought put onto them in terms of proportion and structure.
Diamonds are also being used in clever, inventive ways- there was some beautiful jewellery using chains of briolette cut diamonds which I am sure are going to become as ubiquitous as Tiffany’s Diamonds by the Yard chains. Pieces set with rose cut diamonds are also proliferating as the appetite for vintage and antique looking pieces grows. Rose cut diamonds are now far more readily available than they were 10 years ago as Indian manufacturers rediscover their old lapidary skills.
It was lovely to see gold finishes and colour being experimented with- Carrera y Carrera had some lovely pieces on show, as did VAK, who had also incorporated rose cut diamonds into his matte, rose gold jewels. It was also refreshing to observe diamond cuts being mixed up in the same piece- gone seem to be the days of rather dull layouts of round or marquise cut diamonds as emerald, round and cushion are creatively juxtaposed.
Within the gem dealers there was the usual fantastic array of world class stones. Nothing of quality really is inexpensive any more-the opening up of the Eastern market and consequent demand has seen the prices of intensely coloured goods absolutely rocket- especially well saturated Paraiba tourmalines, rubellites, pink topazes and aquamarines. A stone which for me has been under appreciated is clearly having an upturn: the spinel. Stones of beautiful hue and brightness are being extracted from Africa and I hope it won’t be too long before we see more of it in mainstream jewellery.