By Bernardette Sto. Domingo
Celebrated jeweller to the stars Fawaz Gruosi, founder of Swiss high jeweller de Grisogono, rose to fame by forging his own path in jewellery design. Armed with a defiant artistic spirit, he chose to buck the trend and use unconventional materials and bold designs to create his jewellery – some of which have become among the most iconic pieces in the jewellery world.
The jewellery industry has come a long way in terms of creative freedom and flexibility, with designers taking more risks and experimenting with non-traditional materials. This, however, was not the case more than two decades ago when famed jeweller de Grisogono was established, according to founder Fawaz Gruosi.
“When I started de Grisogono almost 25 years ago, the prevailing design philosophy was minimalism. That was true for the market in general – in New York, Italy and Paris,” Gruosi told JNA. “When you look at display windows, everyone was using classic materials such as white diamonds, sapphires and rubies, among others. The designs were also traditional and very ordinary.”
He continued, “I thought to myself: There’s no point in wearing jewellery that nobody would notice.”
It was then that Gruosi decided to take the opposite route and embarked on what nobody in the market dared to do at the time.
“I set out to do bold designs such as jewellery pieces that are rich in volume. I mixed colours and combined precious with semi-precious stones. I wanted to be on the crazy side,” he said.
Staying true to his fearless ways, Gruosi stunned the world of fine jewellery when he started using black diamonds – which were then rare and virtually unknown – in his jewellery pieces. The industry was not happy, he said, noting that he faced opposition and rejection from conventional jewellers.
“Nobody was familiar with black diamonds at the time, or there were very few in the world who even knew those existed. I decided to design my pieces using black diamonds because I fell in love with the colour, and I was criticised for it,” he disclosed.
For two and a half years, Gruosi endured condemnation but he persisted and even wrote a book, The Black Diamond, published in 1995.
Influential names in the industry started to take notice and jewellery pieces embellished with elegant black diamonds eventually became more prominent in display windows.
“It was just my luck; I took a risk because I believed in the product and it paid off. The boom of de Grisogono started and I never stopped creating since,” he stated. “I’m always trying to innovate and find different ways to design a piece. We have always been considered as innovators. De Grisogono has brought forward a new and fresh attitude in jewellery design.”
The de Grisogono mark
A de Grisogono piece stands out because it’s different, noted Gruosi. “Not a lot of people would dare to manufacture pieces the way we do; we are highly meticulous. We take care of even the smallest details.”
The jeweller, who’s a perennial favourite among top celebrities and high-profile personalities, further revealed that artistic freedom and the drive to be different are galvanised in Grisogono’s creative philosophy.
“We put a lot of passion and love in our pieces. I never work for money. I don’t even think about how much a product costs until it is finished, because if I think about how much money I have to put in, it will not be me. Every single piece that we do, even if the price is lower, is made like haute couture,” noted Gruosi.
Moving ahead, he plans to strengthen de Grisogono’s foothold in China, with the goal of opening a few boutiques around mid- or end-2018. The company has been investing its resources in building a customer base there over the last two and a half years, with a few exhibitions and trips between Beijing and Shanghai, Gruosi disclosed.