Nadège Totah, member of the Board of Directors, was born into the world of jewellery; part of a third generation of dealers, she has worked for decades by her father’s side. She has participated in many international gemstone and jewellery exhibitions as an exhibitor and has developed a 360-degree view of exhibitors’ needs. Her innate people skills and her great ability to listen have enabled her to naturally embrace the role of key contact person for GemGenève exhibitors with dedication and passion. And they love her!
You support exceptional designers through the Emerging Talents and New Designers strands of GemGenève. Tell us more about your commitment to promoting emerging creative artists.
GemGenève introduced these new strands in 2018 alongside Vivienne Becker’s ‘Designer Vivarium’. The aim was to offer an opportunity for other, perhaps less well-known and less well- recognised designers to showcase their outstanding work at GemGenève and thereby raise their profile considerably.
The Emerging Talents platform gives young talents from different backgrounds an unprecedented opportunity to take part in a show with the calibre of GemGenève, allowing them to present their work and their careers. It’s a cornerstone of GemGenève, fully in line with our mission of serving as a springboard for the up-and-coming generation of creative artists.
I’ve always been fascinated by young talents and their creativity. I don’t see myself as being very creative and since I’m not a jewellery historian either, I have the advantage of being able to make a completely independent selection of artists. This means I do not select these emerging talents based on the level of accomplishment of their work; instead, I’m looking more for work that embodies feeling and a story: pieces that speak to the heart. As a result, there’s not necessarily a common theme or similarities between the various artists I choose. Above all, I’m interested in understanding these talents’ individual histories to gain a greater understanding of their works. It is indeed a different approach from that of Vivienne Becker. As an acclaimed author, art historian and journalist, she applies strictly defined criteria when selecting artists for her section. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why going forward, the Designer Vivarium will be held just once a year, in May.
The Designer Village at GemGenève is a way for us to offer new talents an opportunity to be at the heart of the industry, side by side with well-known dealers, so as to benefit from international visibility.
Can you tell us about some of the highlights in Emerging Talents and New Designers coming up at the November 2023 edition?
I’m very proud to be hosting nine talented artists for the November 2023 edition. There are five Emerging Talents, Capucine H, Celeste Wu, Villa Milano, Shavarsh Hakobian and YOURA Jewelry (who was already there in November 2022), and four New Designers: Diva Jewels, Elke Berr Créations, JMG Designer and Serendipity Jewelry (also present at previous editions).
Their works offer fascinating insights into a very different world of ideas and sources of inspiration; a world full of ingenuity and innovation in which the individual personalities of each artist really stand out. My overall impression is that they all have very different styles and techniques, and one thing in common: the meaning, message, and role of jewels, over and above their purely decorative function. First and foremost, precious stones are and always have been talismans, offering protection and good fortune; talismans are kept close at all times, reminding us to live in harmony in mind, body and spirit.
As well as your work for Emerging Talents and New Designers, you’re also responsible for exhibitors at GemGenève. Can you tell us about that side of your work?
Developing relationships with our exhibitors is one of the things I enjoy the most about the event! At GemGenève, exhibitors are very much at the forefront of our concerns; their participation is vital to the life of the exhibition. Our approach consists mainly in understanding their story and development and familiarising ourselves with their merchandise in order to address their needs and expectations appropriately. We’re constantly in touch with them, keeping the lines of dialogue open. As a small team, we take pride in being able to provide genuine follow-up from one edition to the next.
With the invaluable help of Audrey and Camille, my particular responsibility is stand layouts for our exhibitors. With my own experience as a dealer, I can offer my informed opinion about the best layout for them on the basis of their location and type of merchandise. Some exhibitors simply give me carte blanche to design their space for them! Since I also play an active role in designing the layout of the exhibition as a whole, I can give them very relevant advice about improving their visibility (choice of display cases, lighting, placing the entrance strategically, etc.). This approach has helped establish and strengthen relationships based on mutual trust – and I think that’s something else that helps us stand out from other similar shows.
You were born into a family of traders in precious stones. How would you describe this experience? How have you benefited from it?
Growing up in a family of dealers in precious stones has been an incredibly enriching experience. My sister Sandrine and I have been immersed in the world of gems and jewels since childhood. We loved going with our father to his office at weekends and travelling with him to auctions. Neither of us originally considered following in his footsteps; my sister was aiming to embark on a career in the hotel business and eventually open her own establishment, while I had begun law studies with a view to becoming a lawyer, but the lure of precious stones eventually won both of us over! That was when I personally realised the passion and commitment needed to prosper in this field. In short, growing up with a dealer in precious stones taught me how to love and appreciate the beauty and complexity of gems – as well as the sound values that continue to guide my work in the industry today.
ph cover: Nadège Totah © David Fraga | Nadège Totah
A Conversation to Nadège Totah, member of GemGenève’s board of directors