Constantly pushing boundaries in the universe of Haute Joaillerie, Fawaz Gruosi presents an exclusive collection in Paris which is a memento of passion, perseverance and patience. We speak to the nonconformist designer to capture his vision, craftsmanship, innovation and leadership
By: Tripti Jangpangi
Posted on: March 3, 2022
In the midst of Paris Haute Couture season, Maison Fawaz Gruosi unveiled its exclusive collection, at Ritz Paris in the heart of Place Vendome, which is home to several prestigious luxury jewellery houses. Mr. Gruosi has always focused on bold charm – whether it’s in his personality or in his jewellery.
Combined with a quiet ode to craftsmanship, it is reflected through a limited, exquisite collection that ranges from a bracelet resembling a delicate acoustic piano set with 1,431 brilliant-cut diamonds and 1,284 brilliant-cut tsavorites to a neckpiece with 44 glorious Zambian emeralds totaling 87.65 carats and countless diamonds glowing like a field inflamed by lava.
The collection centered on precious exotic stones such as ruby, emerald and sapphire and non-traditional haute joaillerie materials such as amber, tsavorites, titanium and ceramics with unique settings crafted through ancient savoir faire. Innovation and delicate settings are at the core of Maison Gruosi, especially when you have already created legendary pieces with 6,406 brilliant-cut purple sapphires studded with 17 Zambian emeralds or sapphire & emerald earrings with 320 brilliant cut white diamonds submitted to six octagonal Ceylon blue sapphires and the magnificent Columbian emeralds.
In the Boundless Creativity collection, we see influence of art deco and contemporary designs focusing on fascinating tropical gemstones, presenting a rotating 18k rose gold ring set with an emerald-cut rubelite, white diamonds and pink opal. In the brand’s flagship Amber collection, it is difficult to take your your eyes off the 18k rose gold earring with 52 navette-cut white diamonds and 36 brilliant-cut white diamonds set on precious Amber that dates back to 50,000 years. Mr. Gruosi says, “Amber is the most underrated material, despite its rich heritage and cultural significance. I personally sourced every Amber used in the collection from a very trusted friend. The biggest challenge for me was to present this extraordinary gem in its full glory. Not only we were happy with our amber creations, our clients were super delighted with the featherlike custom pieces.”
In the Memories Collection, Maison Gruosi unveiled exceptional pieces such as the Wave Ring – an 18k gold ring set with 92 brilliant-cut pink sapphires and blank and pink ceramic, exuding unity and delicate craftsmanship, or the 18k rose gold bracelet, a delightful ensemble of 134 marquise-cut Burma rubies and 1064 brilliant-cut ruby stones, sewed together to create an illusion of bright red flowers hanging in a delicate balance on a breezy afternoon. “I am intrigued with the aesthetics of pure design, of strong and striking colors, of form, line and light, captivating contradictions, the push and pull of opposites; linear yet central, sumptuous and simple, sophisticated yet playful, ultimately feminine,” said Mr. Gruosi.
A Sneak-Peak to Atelier Geneva
As I entered the exposition, apart from the magnificent jewellery, I also experienced the exquisite atelier of Geneva in Paris, where an expert craftsman explained how each piece is created, with all her tools displayed on the desk. She also demonstrated how the Ribbon Ring was transformed from design to conception. She explained the dynamics of the design process, from inspiration to materialization. The design evolves constantly, until it achieves the intricate and elegant vision of Mr. Gruosi, evoking a tender balance between exquisite design and complex savoir faire, finally gently touching emotions.
For example, the opulent emerald and diamond necklace, from the Memories Unexpected Collection, took almost 3 months to realize, to create a refreshing graceful serpentine choker setting pointing towards the heart of a woman, crafted with 5 Colombian Emeralds totaling 42.78 ct along with the magical setting of 10,003 brilliant cut emeralds and 912 brilliant cut diamonds.
The opulent emerald and diamond necklace, from the Memories Unexpected Collection, took almost 3 months to realize, to create a refreshing graceful serpentine choker setting pointing towards the heart of a woman, crafted with 5 Colombian Emeralds totaling 42.78 ct along with the magical setting of 10,003 brilliant cut emeralds and 912 brilliant cut diamonds.
Each piece is created with ancient savoir faire using wax casting used by traditional goldsmiths and hand-piercing each opening to achieve perfect dimensions to realize impeccable settings. Each piece has exquisite details even on the reverse, creating perfect and noble work of art.
Inspiration – Being Iconic and Different
Armed with a career in haute joaillerie, that began at a young age of 17 years in Florence, Mr. Gruosi has maintained his enthusiasm. “I keep it simple – there are things that you like and you don’t like. In fact, it is all about, if I am interested in something or not,” says Mr. Gruosi. Mr. Patrick Affolter, the Head of Atelier, who he met in 1990s, confirmed the sentiment: “One can actually see it in his collection, through the colour, the delicate settings and the choice of stones; the pleasure of creating something that is unprecedented, in fact you can see his passion transforming into pleasure”.
Mr. Gruosi reminisces, “30 years ago, everybody did the same thing, and it was us who launched jewels with black diamonds, we continued creating these pieces until it became common. I told him, I want do something different, and every time I created something, and people were often shocked around me.”
Even with this new collection, you can see ingenuity in each piece, from form, material to refreshing combinations of the stone. An amber, diamond and ruby earring literally drapes the ear, while a cocktail ring is made by fusing pink opal with brilliant green emeralds.
Mr. Affolter further added, “The idea was to do things differently yet with grace, elegance, with patience and with a elegant yet unique mix of colors. People said Black Diamond will never work; instead it changed the world of Haute Joaillerie. There is a difference between creating something to just show that we have the biggest gemstone but to create something out of pure desire. And every time he does something differently the other brands follow him. Another example, when we did brown gold, everybody thought that we are going mad, but it worked, and just like our other creations, everybody started following him.” One can see in his amber collection, a 18k rose gold earrings set with 28 cabochon-cut amber, 384 brilliant-cut brown diamonds and 88 brilliant-cut tsavorites, a high jewellery masterpiece. Mr. Gruosi says with a simple finality, “For me, when I see something and it enters my mind, that’s the beginning of it all.”
A Partnership Beyond Décades – “C’est facile, passionné ne calcule pas”
Mr. Gruosi emphasized that he has been working with Mr. Affolter for the past 30 years. A partnership like that only comes when there is mutual respect and a unified purpose, which can be seen in beautiful creations such as a monochrome Ruby cuff bracelet, embedded with 239 unheated baguette cut Burmese rubies with 1920 brilliant cut rubies set on a rose gold bracelet.
“Our relationship works because each one of us has their own domain and we never interfere with each other’s work process. We know our strengths and that allows us to create a synergy of creativity,” said Mr. Affolter. As the legend goes, there are times when they don’t even speak to communicate; they just create these unique pieces through non-verbal gestures. “For us it is something very normal. We are two very passionate people and we just want to create something new and beautiful. The process is often simple, he has an idea while I transform it into reality. Since we do it because it brings pleasure to us, it becomes easy for us to work together,” stated Mr. Affolter.
Like most strong partnerships, this one also started with a simple moment. “I have a small atelier in Geneva. One day he entered my boutique, and he asked me what I work on, and voila, we started working together. Today everything is based on finance and being profitable, but this is not what we stand for, for us other things are more important. In each piece, you can see us. There are pieces which made us very emotional, and we would like to share this feeling with others,” Mr. Affolter smiles as he remembers.
Stars & Sparkles
“The beauty of the cinematic masterpieces that will premiere at the festival will parallel the intricate care and artistry of our jewellery designs. We are excited to see these two artistic disciplines of cinema and fine jewellery come alive for the world to see,” Mr. Gruosi had remarked during the inaugural edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival at the UNESCO world heritage site of Jeddah Old Town.
"I am intrigued with the aesthetics of pure design, of strong and striking colors, of form, line and light, captivating contradictions, the push and pull of opposites; linear yet central, sumptuous and simple, sophisticated yet playful, ultimately feminine."
When we enquired him about how he felt during the festival, he told us, “It was something exceptional, for the first time I saw women between the ages of 23-40 years working in this luxury high - fashion industry with freedom. I was there before, women had more reserved roles, finally things are changing, and you can feel the energy.” Maison Gruosi proudly sponsored the Festival, which allows Arab filmmakers and industry professionals across the world to connect, host feature and short film competitions, and present a series of events, master classes to support emerging talent. Not to forget, Sharan Stone wore cabochon-cut turquoise and brilliant-cut diamonds ring for the Zurich Film Festival, while Jodie Comer dazzled with Colorissima earings with carved onyx and diamond set at the 78th Venice Film Festival.
When inquired about sustainability in the universe of Haute Joaillerie, Mr. Affolter emphasized that every precious stone and metal picked by Maison Fawaz Gruosi is carefully checked for its authenticity, while adhering to an ethical sourcing matrix with highest qualifications. And he optimistically reassured that the world of haute joaillerie will become more and more eco-responsible in the coming years.
Maison Fawaz Gruosi has always been committed in mentoring young and constantly dedicated to transmit the savoir faire. Mr. Affolter added, “If you are young, you should do something different, else everybody will be same. When everything is same, we lose creativity. “Rebel” and “think beyond”. It is not easy, you should push yourself.”
An explosion of colors, stones, cuts and design, the new High Jewellery collection by Fawaz Gruosi truly transmits the passion of its creators and communicates their joy. It’s a statement to the world that while Fawaz Gruosi is a new brand, the namesake designer never left the arena.