From the Tsars to the Kardashians, uniqueness outweighs carat-count when it comes to fine jewelry ownership. The demand for statement pieces has powered the evolution of jewelry as a true art form. Historically, Europe and Russia have been at the forefront of this development, both in terms of natural resources and visionary talent. Russia still accounts for about a fifth of raw diamond production in the world. The Fabergé Eggs have fascinated art lovers and broken auction records for two centuries. Not all precious glory is in the past. Russia is experiencing a fine jewelry Renaissance. Meet a designer duo working to solidify the country’s future on the demanding market: Gennady and Natalia Bykovs.
St. Petersburg is the cradle of influential art movements and home to Russia’s many cultural riches. Gennady and Natalia capitalize on this rich heritage. Bykovs experimented with diverse design conventions, but their own practice is closer to conceptual art than any other commercial trend. “We create objects that live on their own,” comments Natalia. A series of milestones is finally raising the brand’s profile worldwide. They were featured in an exhibition at the Birmingham Royal School of Jewellery in the United Kingdom and a documentary Path of Inspiration at the Cannes Film Festival. Both presentations were met with high praise and helped bring Bykovs to the attention of jewelry enthusiasts seeking unique investment opportunities. Wearable art is still the ultimate status frontier.
Fine jewelry history is made of legendary events and grand gestures. For example, Tiffany & Co. made an exceptional loan to Lady Gaga for the 2019 Oscars: a diamond necklace last worn by Audrey Hepburn. Many credit it for Gaga’s good luck at the ceremony. Passion for perfection in all forms of art drive real jewelry connoisseurs. Recently, a pendant by Bykovs helped create a powerful moment of grace at the prestigious Amber Lounge charity auction in Monaco. During this Formula One Grand Prix event, the Princess of Monaco was enthusiastically bidding for the unique piece against Javed Fiyaz, the famous Pakistani-British entrepreneur and philanthropist. In the last moment, Mr. Fiyaz won the Bykovs pendant for 80 000 euros (about $90,000) and immediately presented it to Princess Charlene as a gift.
Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State and avid jewelry collector, once wrote: “Jewelry and pins have been worn throughout history as symbols of power, sending messages…” The Bykovs’ message is clear: aim both for the global luxury consumers and posterity. The iconic Hermitage Museum and the Kremlin Armory have already secured Bykovs artworks for their permanent collections. According to art historian Dr. Fritz Falk of Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, one of Europe’s leading jewelry institutions, the duo has every chance of making a lasting impression on the field.
“From the very beginning I was fascinated by the very high quality of Bykovs’ artistic work, both in creativity and in technical craftsmanship. They developed their own personal style as jewelers. In my understanding, Bykovs belongs to the rather small group of really important Russian jewelry artists. I am convinced they are the leading personalities in this field!” notes Falk.
Today Bykovs’ conceptual jewelry art pieces are sought after by premier retailers and collectors in established capitals of global luxury lifestyle from London to Monaco. The Bykovs have arrived.