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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Four High Jewelers Bring New Life To Paris Biennale

A rare cat's eye ruby center's this sculptured ruby flower by Cindy Chao. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

It was my first time at the Paris Biennale des Antiquaires so while most of the news outlets focused on the venerable jewelers who chose not to exhibit at the fair this year, I was focused on those who did present their finest high jewels beneath the vaulted glass dome of the Grand Palais.

Out of the four high jewelers who did exhibit at the recently concluded event, only de Grisogono had done so previously. For Boghossian and Nirav Modi, it was their first time at the event. For Cindy Chao, it was her first ever public exhibition.

Cindy Chao's exhibition booth was so crowded at times it had to be roped off. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Chao also was the most anticipated of all the jewelers as it was the first time many people were able to see her jewels up close and in person. The Taiwanese jeweler specializes in artistic and exacting gem-encrusted one-of-a-kind pieces that could upwards of three years to complete—most notably her iconic gem-encrusted butterflies. Several times during the press preview her exhibition space was roped off because there were too many people inside.

Cindy Chao’s 2012 Black Label Masterpiece Butterfly. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Chao brought 12 new Black Label Masterpiece works celebrating her 12th year in business along with some of her other pieces.

A statement necklace with diamonds and collared gems with hidden settings by Boghossian. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Exceptional gems combined with fine craftsmanship are certainly the hallmarks of those who dabble in high jewelry. However, Boghossian turned this up a notch with innovations like hidden settings for diamonds and gems and working with a variety of materials. The family is fairly new as a high jewelry brand but goes back more than a century in the gem business gradually moving from the Middle East to Europe.

Photo by Anthony DeMarco

One of the most stunning pieces at the fair was a necklace set with 440.08 carats of Type A Jadeite beads in 18k white gold (pictured above). Albert Boghossian, who founded the high jewelry business based in Geneva, says the pieces tell the story of the diverse family heritage.

Geneva-based de Grisogono focused on statement pieces with large amounts of emeralds and diamonds that were both encrusted and cut in a number of ways. They were exclusively with white precious metals.

Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Among the brand’s highpoints were a pair of fan-shaped diamond and emerald earrings set in titanium (pictured above); and a suite of encrusted emerald and diamond jewels, including a bejeweled watch, which featured these gems in briolette and square cuts.


Indian jeweler Nirav Modi presented a fanciful jungle-like display in its exhibition space, including bird sounds. One of its pieces, the Embrace bangle, expanded and contracted within the display 9video above). This innovative piece was complemented with a number of more traditional gem-heavy suites centered by large statement necklaces.

Photo by Anthony DeMarco

One standout was the “Water Lily Story,” (pictured above) inspired by Claude Monet paintings, which uses oval, pear, marquise and round diamond mixed with various collared gemstones.

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