A Conversation with Valery Demure, Jewellery Curator and Owner, Objet d’Emotion

by Reema Farooqui
Pearl earrings, Melanie Georgocopolous

A jewellery expert and curator who enjoys telling stories through jewellery pieces of uncommon beauty

When you look at the curation of fine jewellery and objects at Objet d’Emotion, you are struck by the singular uniqueness and exuberant personality of each piece. The pieces also tell an intimate story that can be read in their bold colours, exquisite designs and impeccable craftsmanship.

The brainchild of London-based jewellery expert Valery Demure, Objet d’Emotion is a curated shopping concept, where jewellery and object lovers can enjoy, appreciate and purchase the works of a host of very talented jewellery and object designers. The one-of-a-kind pieces in this curation stand out for their strong design aesthetics, distinctive styles and exceptional craftsmanship.

Valery is always looking for new designers, whose work is original, avant garde and striking. Her approach to jewellery and art is a considered one, where pieces speak through their beauty, innovative designs and timelessness. At the same time, Valery also engages jewellery and art lovers in an enriching dialogue through talks and exhibitions at her gallery. This is something her dedicated and growing list of clients have come to expect from her.

This month, Valery will be curating a special selling exhibition at Objet d’Emotion called ‘PEARL PLEASURE.’ The exhibition will showcase the work of eleven contemporary jewellery designers whose use of pearls is not only innovative, it is sometimes downright irreverent. The jewellery designers include Melanie Georgacopoulos, Wilfredo Rosado, Frances Wadsworth-Jones, Lin Cheung, Franca Berr, Rachel Quinn, Mariko Tsuchiyama, Stella Flame, Azenor, Lia di Gregorio and Ambroise Degenève. With this exhibition, Valery wants to challenge the conventional image of pearls in jewellery – modest, pure, conservative. Instead she wants to present them in a new light, one that is both contemporary and a touch insolent.

In my conversation with Valery, we discussed her jewellery journey to Objet d’Emotion, why jewellery and storytelling go hand in hand, and what inspired her to put together a selling exhibition based entirely on pearls.

Jewellery is all about emotions. Tell us a little bit about your jewellery journey to Objet d’Emotion.

I arrived to the world of jewellery at the age of 32 by complete chance, I was headhunted by a jewellery company in London. I knew very little about jewellery. I taught myself through books, exhibitions, encounters, we also had a workshop so I could experience the making of bespoke jewellery as we had two fantastic craftsmen. When I left that company, I established my PR/sales agency focusing solely on jewellery at first, and then we expanded to fashion accessories. At the time there was no such agency, focusing on jewellery and offering both PR and sales.

Once the company was established with a solid database of retailers, I developed the fine jewellery category, working with the likes of Melanie Georgacopoulos, Fernando Jorge, Monique Pean, Delfina Delettrez, …etc. and more. Recently I have shifted a lot of my work to business development with jewellery brands, putting to use the expertise I have gained during these last 20 years. From branding, brand positioning to product strategy & merchandising as well as marketing and sales strategy. Our objective is to add value and guide brands to launch and achieve their business objectives, allocating the right resources and budgets to each part of their business.

I opened Objet d’Emotion in 2018 from frustration and a desire to nourish a dialogue with discerning jewellery lovers as I felt mainstream retailers were taking little risk and carrying the same soulless jewellery brands (often overpriced and with little design to justify prices ).

At Objet D’Emotion, jewellery and storytelling go hand in hand. Valery, why is it important to tell stories through jewellery?

Jewellery carries emotions as it tells us about the maker as well as the wearer, jewellery has been telling about both identity and rituals for many centuries and especially the human bond. Thus, jewellery creates memories, jewellery is part of history. Jewellery weaves a story, whatever story it is. Jewellery is worn on the skin, is passed on, is gifted…It celebrates moments in life, it celebrates customs and is part of rituals in many parts of the world. Jewellery is probably one of the most intimate objects that one can own, wear and transmit. Jewellery is also crafted through skills that have been again developed and honed for centuries. Jewellery is part of the fabric of our societies much like garments, it tells of a time, of a culture, of the evolution of humanity. Jewellery is Storytelling.

You curate pieces from an exceptional group of jewellery designers. What is the most exciting part jewellery curation?

I want the jewellery pieces to converse with each other and to dialogue with the viewer, the wearer, the collector, the novice…I love nothing more than when jewels add to the jewellery conversation, when they surprise, intrigue, provoke, challenge, when they create all sorts of emotions. And of course,  when they are innovative. I love to think from the point of view of a novice collector, what pieces I would like to own, to wear, to pass on. I like the jewels to tell a story, so I am not interested in commercial trinkets, design is key, as is the storytelling. I love discovering new, fresh work…and it is not so easy today. I admire Taffin hugely as an example, I think James (Taffin) is so innovative and his designs are so simple and yet so complex and elegant. He still surprises me. As much as I love the earlier work of Melanie Georgacopoulos, the slicing, drilling, plating of pearls and her work with mother of pearl, she has elevated the material through her experimentation.

At Objet d’Emotion, innovative design and fine craftsmanship come first. What do design and craftsmanship mean to you?

Craftsmanship is crucial, absolutely crucial. Craftsmanship to me symbolizes time and magic, skill and perseverance. It is a physical and emotional practice. Design to me is more cerebral, nonetheless visceral and when the two together create magic…it is bewildering. Both require research, time, failures too… I am fascinated by craft and design, they are pure magic: textures, colour, proportions, shapes. Jewellery really lets the emphasis be about the human body. The ears, the nose, the hands, the fingers, the wrists, the neck, the belly, shoulders, ankles, feet…

What inspired you to put together “PEARL PLEASURE” an exhibition based entirely on pearls and pearl jewellery?

Pearls are my favourite gems, no question. I love pearls to be experimented with, I love how pearls can become subversive. I love the bipolar (chic and punk) personality of pearls, their demure as well as their rebellious/punk possibilities. I have always been intrigued by their provenance, their sourcing, their history and their attributes, I find them truly, truly mysterious. There is this idea that pearls are proper, polite, shy. They almost seem too pure to me and need to be debauched. I like pearls to be naughty. There are artists who experiment with pearls, and I wanted to show the work of some of these designers/artists who have been changing our perception of pearls. With the selling exhibition I really want to approach a wider audience too, with different price points and aesthetics. We will show pearls dipped in resin, pearls that have been sliced, drilled, or set with precious stones, carved…etc.

From a communications and marketing perspective, what does it take to put together an exhibition with such a stellar group of jewellery designers?

I will be inviting our discerning clients, the ones who have also visited us at PAD, the art and design fair that takes place in London during Frieze. I have also reached out to a wonderful women’s art club and will also promote this exhibition within the industry. I also have a great Japanese friend who happens to be a vintage kimono dealer, she will spread the word about this exhibition. I am considering hosting a small event during which I will have an intimate conversation with one of my closest friends, Naomi Filmer, who is a contemporary jewellery designer and Course Leader MA “Fashion Artefact” at UAL . I have always loved her sensitive and sensual approach to jewellery.  

What can we next look forward to at Objet d’Emotion in spring and summer 2023?

We are working on various projects. I would like to exhibit a small number of Indian designers and work on a curation of great floral jewels during the Chelsea Flower show. I am also supporting an emerging brand based in Geneva, called Altaas. Sonia Lacroix works with aluminium and precious gemstones; I think she is a promising talent and needs guidance. We are looking into events in Monaco, Geneva, possibly in the Aix en Provence during the International Opera festival too. A lot of what we do and plan is often instinctive and organic, it just needs to feel right. I would love one day to curate a selling event with forward thinking jewellery for men. I regret that when it comes to jewellery, men often have a limited choice: cufflinks, watches, skulls, crosses, chains, leather bracelets…

The “PEARL PLEASURE” exhibition will run from March 11-21, 2023, at Objet d’Emotion, London.

You can follow Objet d’Emotion on Instagram @objet_d_emotion

Featured Image: Couture Losange Dress Earrings, Melanie Georgacopoulos

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