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Monday, March 14, 2016

High Jewelers Bring Their Art To TEFAF

High Jeweler Wallace Chan in front of his "Dawn of the Universe" art installation during TEFAF 2016. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

The world’s most important classic art fair, 
TEFAF, The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands, has always included a selection of jewelers to mix with the impressive art collections. This year is no different as seven jewelers and several more dealers in antique jewels and watches are among the exhibitors at the fair, which runs till March 20.

A selection of original Verdura jewels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

In keeping true the artistic theme, many jewelers presented works of original expression, but perhaps the biggest impact was made by a nearly 10-foot tall horizontal art installation made of titanium, aluminum, stainless steel and a mirror by Hong Kong jewelry artist, Wallace Chan. It’s called the “Dawn of Universe” and it’s a name quite apt as it reminds me of the monolith in the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001 Space Odyssey. But this one is a light brown color with shades of green, red and cream with uneven swirls that move with light. It’s adorned with a 1,400-carat faceted blue topaz, amethyst and finally with several putti clinging to the structure in playful poses.

A selection of original Belperron jewels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

This is Chan’s first time exhibiting at the fair and he says, in the way that only he can say it, that he feels the presence of thousands of years of art represented at the show. “He is openly absorbing a lot when he is looking at the antiques and people from the past,” as translated by Cherry Rao, Chan’s editor. “He can feel them hammering the pieces, painting the pictures, making the works.”

TEFAF board member Michel Witmer in front of "Smell," the recently discovered work by Rembrandt. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Rao added that neither of them realized the importance of TEFAF in the art world. Then Chan attended the show a few years ago and the opportunity presented itself to exhibit. Even early in the morning before the big crowds came his exhibition space was overflowing with people. They came not only to view his artistic jewels but to meet the man, whose celebrity status is growing.  He really does seem at home here.

New jewels made of aluminum by Hemmerle. Photo by Anthony DeMarco 

“The people here are really cultivated and kind,” he said.

The high caliber of the exhibitors and visitors was a constant theme among the jewelry exhibitors.

“The quality is unbelievable. In every field,” said Ward Landrigan, who owns the Italian jewelry brand, Verdura, with his son, Nico.

1940s Hawaii bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

It took four years for the Landrigans to be accepted as an exhibitor, which is a rather short amount of time for TEFAF. It was also perfect timing as the two have recently relaunched the French brand, Belperron.

“When Belperron came along we wanted to present it to the world. This is the world,” Landrigan said. The exhibition space was evenly divided with Verdura and Belperron jewels, with both new creation based on the original drawings and original creations by the brands namesakes, (Fulco Di Verdura and Suzanne Belperron) who each popularized their jewelry creations in mid-20th Century.

A display of antique and period jewels by Wartski. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Olivier Reza, the head of the French jewelry brand, Alexandre Reza, is exhibiting at TEFAF for the second consecutive year. He notes that it requires effort to come to the hospitable and picturesque  city of Maastricht in the southern part of the Netherlands so those who attend the annual art fair are motivated.

Riveria necklace made with old European cut diamonds by Hancocks. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

“It’s the most exquisite and classy event I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Those who show up are real passionate people who are looking to satisfy their appetite for beauty…. They have an eye. They have a passion. They can be converted. There is no better place to show these objects.”

A 63.80-carat natural yellow sapphire on a ring from Hancocks, a London-based jeweler. Photo by Anthony DeMarco
In addition to the contemporary jewelry designers, there are several well-known dealers who specialize in rare and collectible jewels and watches who are veteran exhibitors at the fair. British jeweler, Hancocks, brought a collection of jewels by Verdura, Pierre Sterlé and Lalique, among others.

A selection of jewels by antique jewelry specialist, Véronique Bamps. Photo by Anthony DeMarco
Another British jeweler, Wartski,  which has an appointment to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and is a specialist in Faberge, has been exhibiting at the fair, now in its 41st year, almost from its beginnings.

The works of German goldsmith, Otto Jakob. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Geoffrey Munn, the firm’s managing director, laments that it is one of the few places where people have the knowledge and courage to make purchases based on their personal passions.

“People are buying with their ears rather than their eyes,” he said.

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