In today's interview we welcome Gonzague Zurstrassen who will be our guide into the jewelry world. We will explore the jewelry making process and what may be going through the creative minds of our favorite designers! Buckle up!
Asia Lounges: First of all, thank you Gonzague for meeting us today. Tell us who you are? What is your Background?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: I m a Belgian national passionate about gemstones and art in general, after graduating in 1996 from the Hoge Raad of diamant in Antwerp (H.R.D) I meet Fred Mouawad in Geneva, Switzerland and moved to Bangkok where he was based at the time.
Following my arrival in Thailand with the Mouawad group in 1996, I have learned most of what I now know. For 14 years I traveled the world on their behalf before returning, in 2003 to Bangkok. It gave me the opportunity to discover and live in places as diverse as Buenos Aires, Geneva, Antwerp, L.A. or Bangkok. My work with the family and this amazing life style forged, to an extent, the world that comes out as my jewelry since 2009. My creations are available either through my exclusive retail venues in Soneva Jani, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri or Rayavadee Resort in Thailand as well as on order.
Gonzague's world, the Galleria G.Zurstrassen at Soneva Kiri
Asia Lounges: What drove you to the jewelry world? Is it a family trade or something that you planned on for long?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: My grand father being a Netsuke and Faberge hard stones figures collector, my father an antique art dealer, my uncle a famous painter, my mother a fashion designer and my brother an architect somehow predisposed me to becoming an artist as well. You could say it runs in the family. As a matter of fact, for as far as I can remember, I have always loved and been attracted to color stones. It was only logical that I would end up expressing my art and passion through them and jewelry design.
Galleria G. Zurstrassen at Soneva Jani
Asia Lounges :How did you start your brand? Why? What pushed you in that direction?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: I started working on the brand about 8 years ago upon Mr. Robert Mouawad's retirement. His three sons took over and the business was in need of change. I, myself had a choice: follow the team to the Middle East where our main market was or, start something on my own. My first few pieces were successful and the pull from the market and industry professionals did the rest.
Gonzague's universe is defined by these very natural shapes and the esoterical shapes of his creations. Here a sapphire and rubelite ring recalling the shape of a jellyfish. Available at Soneva Jani Maldives, contact us for pricing information.
Asia Lounges: Tell us more about your brand?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: I can tell you about what I do, but I'm not convinced that the word brand is the most appropriate to describe my work. Every single one of my creations have a story, a journey. It's always a very personal and somewhat complex process to be honest. Some pieces arise from necessity while others are the product of obsessions. All in all, they all represent, through the stones and the creative process, a state of mind, a feeling or a memory.
Gold Frog Ring with fancy yellow diamonds by G. Zurstrassen, available at Soneva Jani Maldives, contact us for pricing information.
I guess you could define my work and my universe as being a positive and exclusive spiritual journey through Nature.
Asia Lounges: Tell us more about the creative process? How do you come up with your designs? What is your source of inspiration?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: My creativity emerges from curiosity, from the way I look at the world and research it constantly. It is all about observing and understanding your surroundings, the flow of energies. I observe the work of others, other artists, Nature or the way people are dressed or accessorized. From there, I somewhat twist, modify the original item to create something unique, something personal, something that resonates with my vision of the world.
Only then can the production work begin. From there comes the idea of journey, that I mentioned earlier, arise. I need to find the right gems and the right jeweler to translate my ideas into something tangible. The creation process sometimes takes days, sometimes takes month. Between the moment when the original idea flourishes into my mind and the moment the final item is presented to the public, several different version of the same item have been created, modified, twisted. That is what creation involves.
Possibly our favorite piece from Gonzague's creations so far, this stunning necklace features a 9 cts Aquamarine and is encased in 18k gold and diamonds. This piece can be found at Soneva Jani Maldives, contact us for pricing information.
Asia Lounges: Are your creations political? Do they have a particular meaning?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: My creations are not political in the sense that they are not bound to any one ideology. However, I do like to play with symbolism a lot and, in that manner, I guess some could call it ideological. I would still disagree but... My most recent work is very much focused around the concept of Bohemian Chic.
Example of symbolism used by Gonzague in his collections, this Gold chameleon and pink sapphires necklace symbolizes, among other things, the capacity of one to adapt to change. This piece is available at Soneva Jani Maldives, contact us for pricing information.
Asia Lounges: How does the symbolic in your design relates to your audience? Are special collections supposed to link to a more specific audience?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: As I mentioned earlier, I don't really like to consider my work as part of a branded process. Therefore, since every single piece is unique, it is complicated to talk about collections. My audience is mostly comprised of very wealthy people that have no need for "Bling Bling" nor do they care for showing off their wealth. I do however believe that the fact that my creations, being organic and colorful, do resonate with my audience. The very locations at which I display my goods act as a catalyst as well as a natural selection customer-wise.
Keep an eye on that twin snake if you want to find Gonzague's Gallerias!
Asia Lounges: How does it relate to your different sales locations, your different shops?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: My Gallerias G.Zurstrassen (R.N. name of Gonzague's shop) are mostly based in hotels of the Soneva group. All of which are famous for being built around a sustainable and eco - friendly model which, as I you can understand from our conversation so far, resonates well with the concept of my creations.
All these locations share a very similar audience. They are like minded and usually are repeat customers as well. Most of the guests are focused on well being and on being responsible from an ecological stand point. I suppose it makes my work a little simpler as my patrons across the different locations are likely to be looking for similar type of "Art-em".
Pink Tourmaline, Aquamarine and Kunzite gold earrings by G. Zurstrassen available at Soneva Jani Maldives, contact us for pricing information.
Asia Lounges: Tell us more about these locations? Why expose there? What drove you to be there?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: My Gallerias are located in luxury eco resorts based on remote islands in the South seas. As I mentioned earlier you may find my creations in Soneva Jani, Soneva Fushi, Soneva Kiri and soon in the Six Senses Seychelles.
While I realize that luck is partially to be thanked for allowing me to expose there, I am a firm believer in the concept of sustainable luxury. I have been working for over two decades in the luxury industry and, the connections I have made and the knowledge I have gained through it made me realize that our business needs this type of place more than ever. That is why, I take pride in my creations and in working with this type of venues.
Asia Lounges: Could you explain, in a few words how does the creation process works when people contact you for a specific piece they want to have made?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: Special commissions are, in general, requested by people that already are familiar with my world or creations. Having said that, the process in and of itself is pretty straight forward. Clients come to me with an idea, I try to understand exactly what they have in mind and then, propose some variations around a specific theme.
As it was the case with Asia Lounges, when we worked together, some clients come with a gem and have a rough idea of design and direction. In that case, the process is straight forward and relatively effortless.
Other cases start with only an idea. That is where I have to display more creativity as it forces me to put myself in the client's shoes. I need to understand their personality, what drives them, etc. In a way, that is also the most rewarding way to work.
Asia Lounges: Can we expect to see some of your creations exposed in less exotic locations? Paris or Brussels perhaps?
Gonzague Zurstrassen: I used to be represented in Harvey Nichols in London and did a few trunk shows around Europe and USA but, controlling the distribution being so far from it is extremely complex and not financially viable at the moment. Because of this, I decided to focus on what I do best: create and restrict my range to where I can reach easily and to what I can control.
Thank you very much Gonzague for your time, our readers can find and contact you at the address below. As for us, stay tuned, our next interviews will feature capital stone dealer Jeffery "Master" Bergman and stone cutter and heater Karim Guerchouche.
You may contact and follow Gonzague at:
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Stay tuned and see you soon in the Lounges,