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PARIS — Judging by the caliber of events in store for jewelry clients attending the 25th edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires at the Grand Palais here this week, it’s set to be a sparkling affair.
Jewelers predict a solid client turnout and strong demand for their exclusive creations at the event, which opens on Wednesday for one week. The Biennale takes place every two years.
“The market is quite strong, let’s face it. We expect to sell more than we did two years ago,” said Bernard Fornas, president and chief executive officer of Cartier International SA, which has invited 250 top clients from around the world.
The house’s broad collection will include precious decorative objects and panther pieces carved from petrified wood or white opal. As real estate and stock exchange values seesaw, clients have come to regard fine jewelry as a rock-solid investment, Fornas said. “People’s [perceptions] of fine jewelry have changed. They don’t necessarily buy for investment, but on top of the pleasure and emotion, there’s an investment connotation which is maybe stronger than it was 10 years ago.”
The house figures among seven fine jewelers participating in the art fair, nestled among major players from the art and antiques worlds. These include Chanel Joaillerie, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, Dior Joaillerie and first-time participants Louis Vuitton and Piaget. The jewelry zone measures around 5,000 square feet.
On a par with the last session, around 80,000 visitors are expected to attend the Biennale, which for jewelry brands represents an increasingly important rendezvous for driving business, drawing a number of major clients from across the globe.
“[The Biennale] has a status and a cachet that allows these jewelers to do something special; it’s rather important to them,” confirmed organizer Hervé Aaron, president of the National Antique Dealers Association, adding that several tables have been reserved by houses for the event’s gala dinner tonight. Aaron disclosed he had heard of at least two companies that are planning to fly in clients from the Middle East.
“It’s become an unmissable event for us. It concentrates over a short period of time a big number of clients around a collection,” said Philippe
Mougenot, president of Chanel’s watch and jewelry division, who likened the Biennale’s impressive setting to an exquisite jewelry box or stately museum. The house, which has organized a dinner and baroque concert for clients at the Château de Versailles’ Le Théâtre de la Reine, will present its plume-themed jewelry collection.
“It’s great to be able to present alongside modern art galleries, say, as opposed to showing alone or with other jewelers,” echoed Nicolas Bos, vice president and worldwide creative director of Van Cleef & Arpels, who is also president and ceo of the jeweler’s Americas division.
Bos described the house’s Les Voyages Extraordinaires collection, inspired by 19th century science fiction author Jules Verne, as the highpoint of the year for its fine jewelry business, offering exposure to a public outside of its usual clientele. A hot air balloon and fantasy submarine will form part of the house’s set this year, designed by Argentine theater director Alfredo Arias. Four new rings will also be unveiled at the event, including the sea-inspired Hydôr ring featuring spiraling diamonds and blue sapphires around a 20.04-carat oval Ceylon sapphire.