irst the jewels. Swiss-born Alice Fournier doesn’t create the sonorous jewels worn by Baudelaire’s lover any more than she imagines loud proclamations of social status, whether real or imaginary. Her jewels have exquisite manners and never raise their voice. And they always have a beautiful story to tell, about the person who wears them or the stones that adorn them.
An alumnus of the Gemological Institute of America and the Haute Ecole de Joaillerie in Paris, Alice Fournier was working as a designer for Stone Paris when she was headhunted by Paul Wild, one of the foremost gemstone dealers, to set up and run its Paris office. This experience dealing in stones, combined with her background in gemmology, set her in good stead when the urge to create came along and she embarked on a new adventure to establish her own brand, Alice Fournier Joaillerie, which she launched in 2018.
- Alice Fournier
- ©Chloé Bruhat
Alice Fournier’s passion for stones shines through in the collections she designs. They take the starring role, supported by delicate mounts (if she could do away with mounts completely, no doubt she would!). Clients come to her for the treasure trove of rare stones and unusual colours she has amassed over her years in the business. Her personal favourites are Padparadscha sapphires, spinels in shades of red, red-orange or grey, Paraiba tourmalines and champagne diamonds. She continues to source stones from Paul Wild.
Alongside her regular collections, Alice Fournier designs bespoke jewellery for clients who whisper her name only to the closest friends. We met her in Geneva’s Old Town, at a presentation of her latest creations.
Europa Star: What do you want your brand to bring to the jewellery world?
Alice Fournier: A certain vision, an idea, which isn’t always easy. For example, one of my clients came to me for her engagement ring. She had a very specific type of ring in mind, something in an Art Deco style, yet she kept coming back to delicate round designs, really the opposite of Art Deco. She came twice to see me and during our conversations she mentioned that her mother wore an Art Deco ring. That’s when I realised she was associating her engagement ring with her mother’s ring. It was a purely sentimental choice. Reproducing antique jewellery makes no sense to me; it’s already beautiful for what it is, which is why my advice to this particular client, if she really did have her heart set on an Art Deco ring, was to buy an antique.
But would you agree there is a Renaissance feel to some of your rings?
I may take visual cues from certain eras, knowing there is very little that hasn’t already been invented, and adapt them with coloured gems to create fresh associations of stones and volumes. I appreciate working in Geneva. Whereas Parisian women all want the same branded jewellery, Genevan women understand jewellery and prefer an original design.
“Reproducing antique jewellery makes no sense to me; it’s already beautiful for what it is.”
Where does your imagination take you?
Into a world full of colour! I’m passionate about stones, which is why I always want to guide clients towards an atypical or a rare stone, which I then give pride of place in a mount that will always be sophisticated, with hidden details. For example, the backs of certain earrings are set with gems so they will look equally beautiful when a woman wears her hair up, and someone sees them from behind. The stones come first, every time.
Does jewellery have magical powers?
Of course it does! But it’s up to the person wearing it to decide what those powers are. I’m convinced that when jewellery is passed down, something else is passed on with it. My grandmother gave me an accessory that was used with pocket watches, which I transformed into the necklace I’m wearing today. I always feel stronger when I wear it. We all have objects we were given that we think of as lucky charms.
“My grandmother gave me an accessory that was used with pocket watches, which I transformed into the necklace I’m wearing today. I always feel stronger when I wear it.”
Which is your favourite stone?
The one stone that always makes my heart flutter is the Padparadscha sapphire. Not that I have anything against a beautiful blue sapphire, it’s just that no other stone moves me like a Padparadscha does. Spinels are another favourite, because they come in such an array of colours. They can be grey, pink, red and many other shades. Most of all they have wonderful brilliance. I also have a soft spot for more unusual gems such as tsavorite or Paraiba tourmaline, which has a vivid turquoise hue. Demand for fine stones is rocketing which is pushing prices through the roof.
What is it in particular about the Padparadscha sapphire?
The fact it comes alive when placed under different lights, changing colour from pink to orange. I like that it “goes with everything”, which I don’t mean in a pejorative way. You can wear a Padparadscha with jeans and a hoodie or you can wear it with a beautiful evening gown. All you need is the right light and it will light up the room. I also like that it’s one of the lesser-known stones. I actually chose a Padparadscha for my engagement ring.
When a client comes to you for bespoke jewellery, do you advise her to consider the stone’s investment value?
Absolutely. My aim is to move the brand upmarket and investment value is interesting from that point of view. People don’t necessarily think of stones in investment terms. It’s still early days. I’ve been dealing in stones for twelve years and I’ve never seen one lose value. The only one whose price hasn’t really moved is tanzanite, which is still relatively recent. There’s a knack to knowing which stones will make a good investment and I’m trying more and more to bring clients round to this way of thinking. It means educating and explaining, but I don’t mind. Stones are my profession and also my passion.
“I’ve been dealing in stones for twelve years and I’ve never seen one lose value."