October 21, 2019 – London, the United Kingdom: The second SaffronArt Jewellery Conference took place in Mumbai, India, last week. This year’s conference sought to trace, in the words of Saffronart’s President and co-founder Minal Vazirani, “…the dialogue between tradition and modernity, history and myth, and charts a contemporary Indian aesthetic in jewellery design.”
Curated by world-renowned jewellery expert and the World Diamond Museum’s chief curator Dr. Usha R. Balakrishnan, the speakers of the two-day event included, among others, the famous Indian jewellery designer Viren Bhagat; international jewellery specialists Lisa Hubbard and Joanna Hardy; Deepthi Sasidharan, Director of Eka Archiving Services; Cynthia Meera Frederick, Chief Advisor to the Maharaja of Kapurthala; fashion designer and author Wendell Rodricks; authors and historians Manu Pillai, Hugo Miguel Crespo and Jack Ogden; GIA’s Chief Quality Officer, John King; and Alex Popov, Founder and CEO of the World Diamond Museum. The event was sponsored by the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), partnered by the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and the World Diamond Museum, and supported by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The attendants came from Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Dr. Balakrishnan noted that the conference had succeeded beyond all expectations, mapping the legacy of Indian jewels and looked at jewellery as art. “It is my firm belief that it has served as a catalyst for the further study and documentation of this incredible heritage. At Saffronart’s second jewellery conference, speaker after speaker chronicled the histories of gems and jewels and related their journeys across time and continents,” she stated.
The SaffronArt Dialogues in Art conference is a unique and exclusive event,” Alex Popov, founder and CEO of the World Diamond Museum noted. “It brings together distinguished experts, among the jewellery designers, historians, researchers, curators, authors and writers, as well as diamond gemstone and jewellery industry professionals. It is so exclusive that the conference proceedings are not made available but to a few!” he remarked. “It was an honour for the World Diamond Museum to take part is such a prestigious and important gathering. Sadly, there were very few participants from the Mumbai diamond community. Hopefully, we’ll see more of the industry at the next conference” Popov added.
On the second day of the conference, diamonds were a major topic. The British historian Jack Ogden spoke about the early history of diamonds, which were initially utilitarian and used for cutting, drilling and scratching; as well as the diamond trade spanning more than 2500 years, with India at its centre for centuries. GIA’s John King, a well-recognized expert of coloured diamonds, talked about some of the most fascinating coloured diamonds he had come across, including some from India and went into depth on issues such as cutting, grading systems and marketing strategies that brought these diamonds into the spotlight. Alex Popov announced the forthcoming publication of the new diamond book – a fascinating story titled “The Facets of Mankind,” due next spring. Further on, Popov, Ogden and King discussed the intrinsic value, rarity and pricing of these diamonds.