d e Grisogono are renowned for their luxury jewels but the Swiss jewellery house have also carved a niche for their name in the digital sphere with the launch of the Samsung Gear S2. Now, Fawaz Gruosi, the maison's founder and creative director discusses the direction of the industry with Buro 24/7 Middle East, simultaneously revealing their plans for expansion in Qatar...

What made you want to become a jewellery designer?

Jewellery was by coincidence. My first job was in a jewellery store in Florence, at the age of eighteen. During my time there, I witnessed and completely fell in love with the craftsmanship and passion that the artisans brought to each piece of jewelry. I eventually became the manager of that same store and in the years that followed, I built my fine jewellery expertise. However I also noticed that the industry, at the time, was very much set on traditions and often out of step with the fast pace of contemporary fashion. It was this experience there has profoundly defined me as a designer and sparked my ambition. And in 1993 I was finally able to establish de Grisogono.

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How would you describe your passion and your relationship with jewellery?

I think it's essential to put your feelings and emotions into what you do in order to stay authentic. Jewels are often precious possessions to be passed down from mother to daughter, generation to generation. A well-crafted piece can last for eternity so my goal is to make each creation the best and most beautiful I can.

Can you describe your design studio and the creative team working with you?

I am neither a gemologist nor a trained designer, I just have an insatiable curiosity; gemstones and creation are my true passion and I love exploring new and unusual materials. We also have our own internal jewellery atelier and watch workshop, Here it can take years for a piece to come into existence, while at other times, it can be done in a couple of months. There is no way to say how long it will take until I know and feel I have completed the task and am content with the end result. 

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How do you feel about social media given that luxury jewellery is a timeless craft and digital is living in every moment?

Over the last ten years, social media has definitely taken an undeniable and increasing part in people's everyday lives. I am slightly skeptical about it - like many other things, but I think it is good in moderation. I think we need to be very careful with the concept of over-sharing; seeking validation from others and the potentially addictive effect this can have, especially on the younger generation. On the other hand, social media can also represent a sort of window into other people's lives, cultures and experiences. It can be something enriching and exciting and has definitely contributed to making the world a smaller place. I believe that if used in the right way, social media platforms can be a powerful and valuable marketing tool for brands to connect, engage and share special moments with their audience. 

What is de Grisogono's signature style?

If I had to describe our creations in three words, they would be precious, bold and innovative. We thrive to create something different and unexpected and enjoy defying traditional rules and challenging the codes of fine jewelry and watch making.

Volume, density, movement, unlikely color and texture combinations as well as the chiaroscuro effects are aesthetic constants in our creations.

Black diamonds have always played an important role in de Grisogono designs. Tell us more about them?

I became fascinated with the story of the historic Black Orlov, a massive black diamond, and as a result, I began researching black diamonds; exploring these mysterious, dark-hearted stones that had been disregarded by the industry mainly because of their unusual look and for being extremely challenging to cut. I found them captivating; mirror like, somehow dangerous and with a mesmerizing mix of light and shadow. We perfected our expertise with these special stones and in 1996, we launched a collection fully devoted to the black diamond. As it turned out, it was perfectly timed at a moment where monochrome minimalism was increasingly popular.

How would you describe the de Grisogono watch collection?

We started making watches in the year 2000, with the launch of the Instrumento no Uno collection, for which I was inspired by the rectangular shape of a television screen. The instant and unexpected success of this watch exceeded my wildest expectations and greatly contributed to the company's growth. Back then, I didn't know much about timepieces and purely followed my creative instincts. We now have more than 22 exquisite watch collections to date, from heavenly jewellery timepieces to avant-garde complications. 

What are the new generation looking for?

I think what makes de Grisogono appealing to younger generations is the fact that although we are often categorised as a premium jeweller alongside brands such as Cartier, Harry Winston or Graff, we systematically remain recognizable, unconventional and unpredictable. We are a niche brand and intend to keep it this way.  But we also strive to remain at the forefront of innovation, including technology; our Samsung Gear S2 by de Grisogono smart watch, was the fruitful product of collaboration with the leading electronics brand. I always try to incorporate a classic component and a contemporary touch in each of my creations. I believe only these two elements together make a timeless jewel. 

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What does luxury mean for you today?

The biggest luxuries for me are love, good health and simply being able to spend quality time with my family and loved ones. Three things money cannot buy. 

What is your vision of the "see now buy now" concept?

To me this signifies impulsive buying. We are all emotional beings and the phrase applies to many people, including myself, but only up to a certain price point or for certain types of products.

How would you describe your current state?

Optimistic. The last two years were tough for the luxury industry in general but 2017 promises to be splendid.

How is de Grisogono received in the Middle East market?

The Middle East in general is a very important market for us. Customers there are very well travelled and quite knowledgeable in terms of luxury products. We have many Qataris amongst our loyal and long-time clients, who have a particular affinity for unique high-end jewellery creations and jewellery timepieces. Instead of Qatari customers coming to us abroad, we would like to be able to offer them the full de Grisogono experience in their home country. So, the opening of a boutique in Doha is definitely the next step, hopefully in the near future. 

de Grisogono is currently available in Dubai, as well as in 14 other boutiques worldwide including London, Paris, New York, Geneva, Al Fardan in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.