Does the world need another jewelry fair?
“That’s a very, very good question,” the French real estate investor and jewelry collector Richard Steeve Giraud said by phone recently from his home in London.
Mr. Giraud, 62, is the founder and chief executive of ArtVendôme, scheduled to debut Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 in Paris. The fair’s name, he said, is intended to link the art of jewelry and Place Vendôme, the square in the French capital that has been the center of high jewelry since the 1800s.
And the sales event is designed, he said, to fill a void. “The only jewelry show you have today is business-to-business, for the professionals,” he said. And while a handful of jewelers have exhibited at arts and antiques events like the European Fine Art Fair (known as TEFAF) or the now-canceled Masterpiece, jewelry fairs open to the public have faded from view.
Mr. Giraud said the fair already had signed exhibitors, but he declined to identify them yet. He is planning 80 booths for heritage houses, vintage dealers, international designers and contemporary artists plus another 20 vitrine spaces for new makers, who are to be selected by an advisory committee and offered a discounted rate to participate. Fees are not being made public.
The event is scheduled at the Grand Palais Éphémère, a temporary site on the Champ de Mars near the Eiffel Tower that is being used while the Grand Palais is renovated and then will be the site of some 2024 Olympics competitions.
“The idea about the fair, for me, is a little bit like a Frieze” art fair, Mr. Giraud said, offering a range of styles and prices for people who may not know whether, or why, they like jewelry.
He also hopes it will draw young clients to jewelry in much the same way that Art Basel has drawn them to the art world: “When you see all what’s happening in art with Art Basel, these kinds of fairs bring people and people speak about them. Today, if you don’t collect something, you are a little bit has-been or old school.”
The relevance and success of ArtVendôme, Maria Doulton, editor in chief of The Jewellery Editor website, wrote in an email, “will partly depend on getting on board the big names such as Cartier, Bulgari and Chanel, along with an interesting and well-chosen mix of smaller houses, and independent artist jewelers.
“However, what will make or break the show is whether the organizers and brands can attract enough public interested in buying jewelry.”
Ms. Doulton noted that the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris was the last large luxury consumer show that attracted jewelers, but by the time it folded in 2021, most of them had stopped participating. And as luxury brands morph into what she described as self-contained entertainment and lifestyle purveyors, “I doubt these type of brands are interested in the old formats of courting clients at jewelry shows,” she wrote.
Mr. Giraud’s own love of jewels and collecting began at an early age. “It’s a passion I have, since I’m 16, 17, something like this.”
“I collect everything I like — I love, I will say,” he added. “My favorite period is belle epoque because you have the technique and you also have the craziness that I love: You know, the butterfly that moves and that kind of thing.”
“I did design at first,” he said, but compared to buying a stone and designing a jewel, “it’s better if I buy an antique piece from Cartier or a brand that is signed because the value is going up with time, and you don’t lose your money.”