In November 2019, The Protagonist staged a show at The Park Avenue Armory in New York City, enticing gem and jewellery lovers to its fold at the Salon of Art + Design. The exhibition was the outcome of a three-year collaboration between Vogue Italia’s The Protagonist and The Salon.
According to Vogue Italia’s editor, Francesca Ragazzi, “The conversation of sustainability has become global and that’s why Vogue Italia and Alexandra Mor scouted the most talented jewellery designers all around the world to join forces and be loud for this important cause… A meaningful journey through values, heritage, talent, and beauty.”
Alexandra Mor’s “Honoring the Earth” wide eternity band, set with 20 carats of Muzo-mined Colombian emeralds and diamonds, platinum set on 18K yellow gold
Haute Couture designer and Artistic Director, Alexandra Mor feels “the term ‘sustainability’ is abused in marketing campaigns, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular industry. Unfortunately, many of these initiatives do not always support the value core pillars of sustainability: human, social, economic and environmental.” It is not a one-person job, she observes. It requires a community. Thus grew The Protagonist: What was once a celebration of high jewellery, explains Mor, became a leader and a ‘protagonist’ in the sustainable high jewellery conversation.
An integral component of Mor’s work includes “educating collectors, press, and retailers alike to keep issues of sustainability, social responsibility, and the good of the planet top of mind.” Brands were both invited by Mor directly and by the Vogue team, where she was their sounding board in the industry, “advising on who was working within the parameters of what is considered fine jewellery, as well as the brand’s commitment to sustainability.”
United by their ability to expertly imagine wearables, Alessio Boschi, Alexander Laut, Amadeo by Faraone Mennella, Neha Dani, Lydia Courteille, Munnu – The Gem Palace and Peggy Guinness, among others, offered an arresting perspective. Meanwhile, Asian talents like Feng J and Karen Suen celebrated materials and craftsmanship through their distinctive pieces.
“It has been a pleasure stepping into the US market as part of The Protagonist show. The high jewellery connoisseurs here have a discerning eye; they seek something different. They also demand the highest standard of quality, while being open-minded and passionate about seeing new talent.”
“The Coeur Rouge cuff and earrings is my new line that represents a modern art style of high jewellery – the design is a heart motif evoking the energy of life. I employed a generations-old Chinese lacquering technique painted on silver that took hundreds of hours to accomplish. The brilliant rouge cuff and earrings are set with rubies and red spinels. I see my jewellery as works of art; my creation process is similar to what I consider as ‘painting with gemstones.’”
“The Calla Lily ring, unveiled at the show, is set in 18k electroplated gold with emeralds, double rose-cut tsavorites, green sapphires, brilliant-cut diamonds and rose-cut diamonds. The Green Dragonfly brooch is adorned with emeralds, double rose-cut quartz and white diamonds, while the Crimson Dragonfly brooch is embellished with rubies, red spinels and white diamonds.”
“I was introduced to The Protagonist by a jeweller, who was already a part of the event. What attracted me most was the message of the show – sustainability.”
“I see my pieces as eternal, and at the same time, I want them to be ethical and sustainable creations. It’s an important part of my brand. Although I had a number of important pieces on display, I’d say my jade bangle and Paraiba ring were some of the bigger showstoppers.”