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Friday, June 30, 2017

Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Chaumet Will Return To La Biennale Paris In 2018

The entrance to the Grand Palais during the 2016 La Biennale Paris. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

The big news for jewelry lovers wasn’t even announced at the Tuesday press breakfast hosted by a few of the new board members of the La Biennale Paris (formerly known as Biennale des Antiquaires), the annual event held at the Grand Palais in Paris in September. 

In the world I cover the story is that the Place Vendôme jewelers—Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Chaumet—will return to La Biennale in 2018. These French brands and other jewelers (Wallace Chan and Bulgari among them) left the antiques fair last year when the new board reduced the size of the exhibition booths. The French brands were a centerpiece of the annual fair. Their popularity also led the antiques complain that they were getting too much of the spotlight. it is after all an antiques and art fair

Mathias Ary Jan, president of the National des Antiquaires (SNA), which owns and operates the fair, said was important that the thoroughly French fair welcome these jewelry brands back into the fold. It seemed that the jewelers were also eager to return. 

“They are a vital part of our French heritage,” he said following the event. “It was important to have them participate.” 

Also representing the fair at the press breakfast were Eric Coatalem, SNA treasurer, and Christopher “Kip” Forbes, president of the Biennale Commission, which oversees the event. 

The jewelry portion of La Biennale was reduced from 14 exhibitors in 2014 to four in 2016—Cindy Chao, de Grisogono, Boghossian and Nirav Modi. (There were 14 jewelers in 2014.) None were from France and only one, de Grisogono, showed previously at the fair a number of years ago. They will all return this year. 

In addition, for the first time the fair will host Swiss watchmakers. The two chosen were F. P. Journe and DeWitt are known for producing a small number of high-end hand-crafted timepieces. This followed last year’s special presentation at the fair of an historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, an organization tasked with preserving the historical heritage of high watchmaking. 

The 2017 La Biennale Paris will be open to the public September 11 – 17, with a private viewing September 10. To date, there are 92 confirmed exhibitors, a number they would like to see improve as there were 113 exhibitors last year. 

A total of 29 exhibitors are from outside France. There are no exhibitors from the U.S., something that the SNA would like to change. In this regard one of Forbes’ major tasks will be to attract U.S. exhibitors and collectors to what is considered one of the world’s most important antiques fairs. On Monday, Forbes, vice chairman of the Forbes Publishing and avid art collector, with the two SNA representatives, hosted a reception for about 50 collectors and gallery owners. 

“For the Biennale not to have any American exhibitors, is something this dynamic new president (Jan) will address,” Forbes said. Both Forbes and Jan spoke about the landmark Grand Palais as an attraction and as a symbol of the fair’s importance.

“One of the challenges of the Grand Palais is everybody has to almost have to compete with one of the most staggeringly breathtaking buildings in Paris,” Forbes said. “So you have to raise the bar pretty high.” 

The main news has been known for some time. This year marks the first time the fair will be held annually since its founding in 1962. The organization, for now at least, will not change the “Biennale” name. 

This new group of leaders are very aggressive in making changes to the event so there will be more news coming. 

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