TEFAF 2017 was once again an extraordinary event. I love to visit it, because it hosts some of the most amazing jewelry brands in this world. But it’s not just that. Visiting trade fairs is an inspiring experience, but visiting a fair where clients come instead of business peers, it is a completely different experience. Somehow, I feel even more excited and I love to observe how the public looks at the jewelry. How the public reacts to collections and creations.
Wallace Chan: Sea of Joy, crystal, opal, lapis lazuli, yellow diamond, onyx, pink sapphire, tsavorite garnet, sapphire, diamonds and titanium
Much on Wednesday, the 15th was about the Dutch elections. Even on the TEFAF, there was no escaping. After the eventful election in the U.S and the astonishing Brexit move, I too felt how important it was to actually vote and I made it home in time to go voting with my hubby and child. It was interesting that also on the TEFAF I had some very vivid conversation with some of the people of the brands I visited about the politics and recent elections.
Hemmerle, created in aluminum, sapphire and white gold
What I adore about the TEFAF is this very serene surrounding. Outside the building, MECC is anything but nice or luxurious, but inside, as soon as you enter the lobby, you are taking into this world of serene luxury. The flower arrangement is bewildering and everyone literally stops there. Making selfies or making pictures. I wonder how many of those circle around!
Hemmerle, earrings in aluminium, white gold, sapphires and amethysts
The TEFAF is for the rich and the wealthy, for museums and collectors. For investors and lovers of art and beauty. None of the things that you find here, from paintings to vases, from books to jewelry, is in the affordable category. Now affordable is a subjective term, but perhaps it helps to put more bluntly: everything is for sale and everything costs a lot of money.
Hemmerle, ring in gold, silver and sapphires
The public is very mixed. During the weekdays, there is an international public that is genuinely interested and really buys things. During the weekend, there are a lot more people that want to just look around. It’s not a cheap day out, so it’s not that wild or full of flip flop wearing, ice cream licking people, but there is a lot of looking around. In art and high-end jewelry, it’s not the number of people that counts, of course. But one just needs a few good sales to make it all worthwhile.
Hemmerle: ring in aluminium, platinum and spinel
The brands that expose on the trade fair are Verdura and Belperron, Wallace Chan, Otto Jakob, Hemmerle, Reza and Van Cleef & Arpels and last but not least: Chopard. I genuinely thought I would make it, to visit them all, but once again, of course, my enthusiasm and wanting to listen and observe, caused me to get in trouble with time. So I did not manage to visit them all, although of course, I went to see their windows and listened to the conversations.
Vintage David Webb brooches
Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef & Arpels is this company that rings a bell, even when one isn’t that familiar with jewelry. This company has been around for so long and has created so many iconic pieces along the way. Last year, I wrote about the zipper necklace and how that was created. And showed you a wonderful 1 million euro ring with a butterfly and the mystery setting of rubies, the setting itself is one of their trademarks. When you look at it, from up close and look underneath and see how it is done. If you then look at the colors of the stones and how they are matched and the incredible skills applied to achieve a masterpiece, you can’t help but admire, almost in silence, the art of the goldsmith, the combination of design, picking the right stones together, which is a journey itself and the skills that are applied. Then you look at the result. It’s frivolous, it is happy, it is very beautiful and it’s nothing less than pure art. That is how I look at this kind of jewelry.
Don't miss this article: 10 fun facts about Van Cleef & Arpels that you did not know!
Van Cleef & Arpels Arc of Noah, donkeys
This year, there were some of the items from the ark of Noah collection and that, my friends, made me very happy. I covered this collection with a blog some time ago. The reactions, the likes and comments were abundant and I think that it was the playfulness of the collection that made people go all; awwwww so cute! It was a brilliant collection and I had the pleasure now to hold them in my hand and admire them. And I can tell you this: they are even more beautiful in real life!
I loved the donkeys, but I thought the horses, were maybe the most impressive! Much too soon, I left the booth and hopped over to Verdura, where I met Jim.
Hemmerle, necklace in diamonds, natural pearls and rock crystal, containing a diamond of 11,21ct in fancy yellow, SI2
Verdura, a duke from Sicily that went to the U.S. and created with the financial help of the famous Cole Porter, a brand that is still going strong today. More about this company and their collaboration with one of the most beloved artist in my house, Dalí, soon on Bizzita.com. As often happens, my enthusiasm and love for interacting with the public, made me chat with some of the clients entering the booth. And soon enough, we had a very vivid talk about the Verdura jewelry and they loved the story and I loved showing them how to look at certain pieces. It is in those moments, that I miss sales a little. Although, I must admit, it is the kind of jewelry, the surrounding itself and the public, that thrills me and I can’t seem to contain myself, telling stories about the pieces to the clients. And truth be told, it’s the kind of public that really opens up to stories and loves the enthusiasm. Jim Haag showed me around and had so much to tell!
Verdura bracelet in gold and diamonds
I did not make it to visit the German creator of very special jewelry: Otto Jakob. I will make it up for it, but time was simply not on my side.
Vintage object in gold and crystal, seal
Then I visited Hemmerle, where I met with Tefkros Christou. He showed me around and talked about every single piece. Pointing out to me, why this piece was important or valuable. Why it was so difficult to make and afterwards, we sat down and looked at some of the pieces up close. I got to play with it and feel it. And you know what? It makes a difference.
The beautiful entrance of the TEFAF
If you admire something on a picture, like I often do too, it is one thing. I can imagine how it is and how it will look on a person. But it’s abstract. When you look at it, in a window, you are so much nearer and you get to see the light, the structure, the size and dimensions far better. Sometimes it is even better than you imagined. And sometimes not. But when you hold a piece in your hand and play with it. Allow the light to pass through the stone, see the color changing...you feel the weight in your hand, you play with it on your finger or arm, it comes to life. This is the moment you start to see the treasure it can be. This is the moment that the magic happens. You start to connect, to feel the object.
Wallace Chan, Sea of Joy
You may have noticed that I am not a person who will tell you an awful lot of technical details about any given piece. I am not into those details myself. It’s not that they don’t count for me, I mean, they do, but I take it as a given thing. It assures me of certain qualities of the piece. And for me, that is enough. I look at it with the eye of someone who has seen a bit of jewelry in her life so far, so I have trust in my observations. I know that something is beautiful, because it’s well proportioned. I know that some things require special skills and I see it, appreciate it and take it into account, whilst holding it in my hands. I don’t look for pores in the metal, but see it immediately if there are any. I see the love, the idea, the feeling, the creative process and the amount of work….and at the same time, I see a story being born. The story of the people that created it and the story of the one who will be lucky enough to purchase it. I see emotion and I see love and art. Without wanting to use words that seem too big, it is exactly what I see. Because only love for what you create, for stones and craftsmanship, for the creative process and the work of everyone involved, can create a truly wonderful piece.
Van Cleef & Arpels, Geese from the Arc of Noah collection
And that is the difference between jewelry and marketing driven fashion brands that create cute things for a large public. There is nothing wrong with that kind of jewelry at all, but to me, they are almost like two different creatures. From different planets :-)
I visited the booth of Wallace Chan too. You know, if you read this blog more frequently, that he is one of personal jewelry hero’s. I love the creations and I love the thoughts and approach to life and art, of the Master himself.
Van Gelder booth, showing vintage Indian cuff bracelets
This year, once again, he presented an extraordinary collection of jewelry. The only thing I don’t like about his collections, if I may say so, is the fact that nothing is even remotely affordable. And I would love to see a collection for a broader public. But having said that, I completely understand the choices a person and a company makes. On a personal level and business level, not all things are wise to do. I sat down with Catherine and we played with this stunning new brooch, another fish...And as I filmed the brooch on her hands, we both looked at it and I observed how even if she had seen it before and was extremely professional (and super kind) she too was caught by some of the moments that the light changed on the stone and it almost felt like it came to life. I don’t know how to describe it better!
An impression of the TEFAF
And as I filmed the brooch on her hands, we both looked at it and I observed how even if she had seen it before and was extremely professional (and super kind) she too was caught by some of the moments that the light changed on the stone and it almost felt like it came to life. I don’t know how to describe it better!
The Master himself went to Hong Kong before my visit, but soon we will sit down again and have a chat about his life and collections!
I visited a few of the vintage jewelry booths, loving what I saw….! But I really wanted to visit, before leaving, the booth of Van Gelder. Why? Because this Dutch family has a special bond with India. And they have built great relationships over there, allowing them access to such exotic and beautiful jewelry. Soon more about this company too, as they are bursting with stories that I want to hear and share with you!
Van Cleef & Arpels brooch of two horses
It will be a day of observing beauty in so many ways. And if it’s not the paintings, or the books ( and oh my, I love those flora and fauna books with detailed handmade paintings of birds and flowers!) if it isn’t the ancient knight gear such as spears and cool things like that. If it isn’t the Delft vases or baroque furniture, then come for the jewelry. Because you will not see more astonishing jewelry in such a short time, then on this particular fair.
Will I see you there next year?
Van Cleef & Arpels, birds - I think they are a pair of kingfishers