Curated by the Basel, Switzerland-based jewelry designer Nana Fink, JEWELS BASEL returns to Basel June 16th – 18th for another presentation of handmade haute luxe (high luxury)jewels and fine art. Coinciding with the internationally influential Art Basel fine art fair, this year’s edition of Jewels Basel will again take place in the distinctive 18th century baroque mansion known as the “Wildt’sches Haus”. While Jewels Basel begins with a private viewing on the evening of June 15th, it is open to the public from June 16th through June 18th. Located at Petersplatz 13 · 4051 in the heart of Basel, the Villa Wildt’sches Haus, with its sinuous shape and beautifully appointed rooms, is a legendary site, having hosted various heads of state and diplomats over the years as well as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari exhibitions. It’s also worth noting that the Wildt’sches is but a brief walk from the five-star Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois. One of Europe’s oldest city hotels, Les Trois Rois (The Three Kings) was founded in 1681 as an inn for gentlemen and was rebuilt in 1844 as a Grand Hotel.
As the show’s founder and curator Nana Fink relates, “The intimate and uniquely beautiful setting of this charming villa provides the ideal showcase for visitors to discover and enjoy one-of-a-kind rarities from an array of talents.” Fink has a strong point, as most of the world’s upmarket luxury jewelry shows are staged in vast, garishly lit and architecturally non-descript exhibition halls. Moreover, while the typical upmarket jewelry show sells floor space to whomever can afford it, Fink invites designers, galleries and artists to participate in Jewels Basel based on her appreciation for the design values, artisanal finesse and artistry embodied by their creations. As a designer whose jewels are sold in Paul Smith’s London flagship boutique, Zurich’s Swiss National Museum and Beirut’s Sylvie Saliba, Fink has an international following and an eye for art and design that she has honed over decades of creating and collecting jewelry.
For example, while she offers multiple collections, Fink’s “range Sophistiquée” was born in New York City, inspired by the elegance of Manhattan’s Art Déco architecture. Fink’s hand-carved opals, moonstones and corals are graceful, streamlined and glamorous, and yet they visually communicate the emotional force of true romance and lasting love.
In addition to Fink, one of the most notable exhibitors at Jewels Basel is Los Angeles-based Robert Procop, who along with designing important high luxury jewels, is also Angelina Jolie’s private jeweler. The fact that Jewels Basel is tied to Art Basel and the Volta Art Fair is vitally important to exhibitors like Hong Kong-based jewelry designer Dickson Yewn of YEWN. “I’m more positioned in art fairs than in jewelry fairs,” he notes. “While Nana Fink’s curatorial eye strives for the best and inspires me, the grandeur of the Wildt’ sches Haus mansion is another reason why I am participating in Jewels Basel.” (In 2011, Yewn became the first Chinese luxury jewelry brand to be worn by a U.S. First Lady: Michelle Obama wore YEWN’s “Lattice” jadeite ring to a state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.) Yewn’s integration of such traditional Chinese motifs as “Lock of Good Wishes,” Glorious Peony, Manchurian and Lattice appeal to jewelry lovers of many nations. YEWN is also famous for utilizing reclaimed precious woods in its one-of-a-kind and limited edition jewelry designs.
Yet another exhibitor, jewelry designer, goldsmith and gemologist Fabian Blaser of Biel, Switzerland, comments, “We have created some unique pieces especially for the Jewels Basel exhibition. We guarantee that we work exclusively with trustworthy suppliers and use certified precious metals, such as OEKOGOLD®. All our jewelry corresponds to a fineness of 18 carat (750).” Over the years, Blaser adds, “We have come to specialize in jewels that feature sapphire, ruby, alexandrite, spinel and tourmaline.”
Another Swiss exhibitor is Fellow Jewels, an exclusive jeweler based in Basel that’s also a family-owned and operated business specializing in contemporary designs as well as custom pieces. Then there is Iryna Karpova, who creates magically majestic, bejeweled objects of beauty that contain such diverse materials as gold, diamonds, amber and ebony. The Swiss designer Caspita
Leyser & Friends is a particularly interesting exhibitor as the Leyser family has been in the gemstone jewelry trade for centuries, dating back to the reign of France’s Louis XIV. Crafted in Idar-Oberstein, Germany with showrooms in London, Basel & Lecco, Italy by appointment, Leyser creates an impressive range of jewelry pieces. Sebastian Leyser, the latest generation of the Leyser family to join the business, alongside his father Thomas, curates a fine selection of gemstones, jewels, rare antique jewels and objets d’art for Jewels Basel.
“This is the first time Christian D. Link has been exhibiting at Jewels Basel,” Fink relates. “His business Uhrzeit specializes in the world’s finest watches from brands like Patek Philippe, Cartier, Rolex, Omega, and IWC. We are looking forward to welcoming collectors and watch lovers into our space this year.”
Also showing is the Swiss jeweler CASPITA, founded by Arlène Bonnant, who is an internationally recognized expert in 20th and 21st century art. She forged a deep knowledge of the art market by working alongside Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg. After de Pury & Luxembourg became Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg in the wake of the merger with the luxury giant LVMH, Bonnant continued her activity within the contemporary art auction world. Her brand CASPITA is renowned for its refined designs, which infuse talismanic and philosophical symbolism into elegant jewels that embody such universally recognized symbols as the caduceus, which is a staff with two snakes coiled around it that’s surmounted by wings. The caduceus is the magic wand carried by Hermes, who the Romans knew as Mercury, the messenger of the gods.
Noting that 2022 marks an innovative expansion of Jewels Basel since she debuted the show in 2018, Fink relates, “While we are featuring jewelers and fine artists who are mainstays of global art fairs, we are also collaborating for the first time with the VOLTA Basel Art Fair, which takes place in Basel from June 13 to the 19th at Elys, Elsässerstrasse 215A. (While Wild at Art is also exhibiting, information on their offering was unavailable at press time.)
Hic et Nunc is a Latin term that can be translated as “here and now”. This concept or mantra reminds us to live and enjoy the Now. Toward that end, Hic & Nunc curates a range of intrinsically valuable timepieces for special collectors. These special watches span all eras, brand, styles and prices. “Their selection is guided by passion and quality,” Nana Fink relates. “I relate to their guiding principles in a major way and am thrilled to have them at this year’s event.”
“One of my goals for Jewels Basel,” Fink explains, “is to offer people even more vibrancy during the Art Basel fine art fair by presenting beautiful jewels, fine art and objets d’art that embody great design and artisanship. The city of Basel, along with Jewels Basel participants and all of our sponsors,” she explains, “share a deep passion for fine art, luxury jewelry design and the highest expressions of creativity and finesse.” Official partners of Jewels Basel 2022 include UBS, Serge Lutens Parfums, Ferrari, Bachmann Confiserie, Family Office Remaco and The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois. “The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois has been a golden supporter of Jewels Basel since our 2018 inception,” Fink relates. “We are also grateful for the significant support that comes from the Basel Art Foundation H. Geiger (KBHG). All of our generous sponsors help color and enrich the cultural life of Basel, which greatly benefits our citizens and visitors.”