[INTERVIEW] GemGenève trade show nuggets: meet Nadège Totah

The 8th edition of GemGenève was a resounding success, attracting 3,566 visitors from May 9 to 12. The show is known and appreciated for its human-scale dimension and typically Swiss family management, based on values of seriousness and trust, without excluding a warm side.


Dedicated to gems and jewelry, GemGenève turns another page in May 2024: 244 exhibitors (from 22 countries), up from 147 at its launch in 2018, conferences and debates with experts, an exhibition dedicated to opal (Flames of OPAL Essence), craft workshops, a bookshop area, and a Designers’ Village featuring ten hyper-talented start-ups in jewelry and haute joaillerie.


The Salon’s founders, Thomas Faerber and Ronny Totah, can boast an exceptional renewal rate (only 10 new exhibitors admitted this year). A level of loyalty few shows can boast.


LUXUS PLUS caught up with Nadège Totah, daughter of Ronny Totah, co-organizer of the show and curator of the Designers’ Village, which welcomes a number of jewellery creation nuggets each year.


Nadège Totah, a member of the Board of Directors, was born into the jewelry business. She is part of the 3rd generation of dealers and has been working alongside her father Ronny Totah, co-founder of GemGenève, for over ten years. As a regular exhibitor at many international gem and jewelry shows, she has developed a 360° view of their needs. Her innate sense of contact and ability to listen enable her to maintain a privileged relationship with GemGenève exhibitors. And they pay her back in spades!


LUXUS PLUS: You are responsible for organizing the Designers’ Village, which this year selected ten nuggets, ten jewelry and haute joaillerie designers. How do you see the future of the Village?


Nadège Totah: I hope the Designers’ Village will grow in importance, because it brings freshness and novelty and complements the profile of our exhibitors, who tend to be traders and manufacturers. It also creates vocations for the students who visit the Show. But I have to be careful to remain selective. Turning down a new designer is not an easy thing to do when you do this job with heart and passion. But it’s essential to maintain the quality of our Show.


L+: You like jewelry with a story…


NT: Yes, and especially personalities. I fall in love with personalities. They are reflected, or not, in their jewelry. For example, I had a real surprise with Shavarsh Hakobian, a very discreet designer who doesn’t say much, but whose entire – secret – personality shines through in his incredibly original jewelry. He’s one of those designers who arrive on the first day wondering what they’re doing here, under the impression that they’re “imposters”, that they’re not up to scratch. Finally, once they’re in front of an audience, they talk about themselves and their pieces, and gain confidence. Shavarsh Hakobian already exhibited last year, and for the second year he was keen to create a collection from scratch exclusively for the show. He outdid himself and I think that’s a great victory.


Butterfly Collection ring by Shavarsh Hakobian©


L+: You’ve chosen several designers of Chinese origin. What do you think of their creativity, which is quite exceptional compared to what we see elsewhere?


NT: I couldn’t agree more. I think there’s a lot of talent in China, often self-taught, but language is a real barrier for them. Aso Leon, for example, one of our exhibitors this year, has worked for some of the big names, but had difficulty expressing himself in a foreign language and had never traveled. He was recommended to us by Wallis Hong, a former designer at our Salon. Asian designers don’t export much, so we don’t see their pieces very often. Yet they have exceptional know-how, which deserves to be discovered. I fell in love with their creations, but I didn’t think in terms of nationality; the fact that they’re Chinese is almost a coincidence.


“Zen Renaissance” by Aso Leon© gold and titanium.


Red Lotus Under The Sun Diana Zhang©


L+: You say you want to integrate designers from the countries where the stones come from, such as Africa. Can you tell us about your projects?


NT: I’ve spotted one or two designers on Instagram who make ethnic jewelry of a very high standard. But their collections aren’t always ready. Their jewelry is currently in silver, but I’d like them to make collections in gold, which is part of the selection criteria for our show. I’m open to all projects. The more designers contact me, the more new projects come in and the more enthusiastic I get. At first, they’re always flattered when I approach them to take part in the show, but then they have a kind of humility about them, they’re impressed by GemGenève and don’t always dare accept. I let them come to me. It’s not always easy to approach them, but there are more and more requests, which is very motivating for me.


L+: Do you see Indian designers emerging with jewelry that can appeal to an international clientele?


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Featured photo : © David Fraga

Picture of Isabelle Hossenlopp
Isabelle Hossenlopp
Isabelle Hossenlopp is a journalist specialized in jewelry. A graduate of Sciences Po Paris, she has over 30 years of experience in the luxury industry, including 11 years at Chanel. She is also a consultant in editorial content and storytelling and teaches in luxury MBAs in management and communication schools.

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