How one family business is making jewelry crystal clear
The diamond and gemstone industry has always been one full of controversy, and Meera Hiralal, director of House of Geneva, is noticing a consumer shift to jewelry that is sourced responsibly and transparent about its process. The Switzerland-based, custom jewelry label was founded by Dilip Hiralal, Meera’s father, and the two comprise the brand’s full-time team. Meera sat down with FM to give us the inside scoop on her success.
What is your background in jewelry?
I am the fourth generation of our family to be in the jewelry and gemstone industry. For the past three generations, our family has been an active member of the gemstone and diamond trade. Although we are now based in Switzerland, my family’s heritage traces back to the great ancient mines of Mogok, Myanmar.
How did House of Geneva get started?
House of Geneva was officially launched in October 2018 on the shore of the Léman lake. The Maison was born from our passion for gems and Genevan savoir-faire.
From where do you source your gems and gold?
We have a unique position in the market, with a network of families, which we’ve worked with for many generations. We select the most beautiful gemstones, mainly from ancient mines such as Mogok and Kashmir. With regards to our gold, we work with the initiative PX Impact. The Swiss group launched the label Ethical Gold, working with artisanal miners in Peru in order to protect miners and the environment from the dangerous processes of gold extraction. The initiative supports independent miners, protecting their livelihood. This social aspect is important to us. Many people depend on the jewelry industry to support their families, with gold or diamond mining being their sole source of income.
Tell me more about your social and environmental commitments.
We have chosen to create a limited number of pieces each year in order to maintain the control we have over sourcing our raw materials and remain sustainable. As a family-run maison, we maintain a small-scale production to guarantee and secure the best raw materials, as well as to control provenance and authenticity. In addition to our sourcing process, the brand is vegan. All our jewelry boxes and accessories are animal cruelty-free.
From where do you draw inspiration for your collections?
Our collections are all inspired and named after one of Geneva’s symbols. We have three main collections: Collection Jet d’Eau, Collection Vieille-Ville and Collection Horloge Fleurie. They symbolically regroup jewels by gemstones; for example, all of our diamond pieces are under the Collection Jet d’Eau.
We also create pieces which are “Masterpieces.” They may showcase a specific or traditional technique or savoir-faire or even a particular gemstone. Our Blue Isabellae features not only a unique natural sapphire from Myanmar (over 20 carats), but also traditional Grand Feu enamel in filigree. The enamel was developed in Geneva for the watch industry. On our piece, it was created in filigree, using ancient enamel from an old Genevan manufacturer, Millenet.
What trends do you see emerging in fine jewelry?
I have noticed that young women are more attracted to our rings, and there is still a fascination for natural diamonds. Personally, I love working with colored gemstones. I find that discovering the perfect gemstone and facing its challenges when being set into a jewel renders the colored gemstone truly mesmerizing.
[Some] of the rising trends in our industry — and I think it applies to fashion and the luxury industry as well — are accountability, traceability and transparency. As brands and consumers, we are accountable for our choices and decisions. We need to be more mindful as consumers, and as brands, we need to be able to answer questions, give assurances and gain trust. There has always been a part of mystery in haute joaillerie, which has fascinated people over decades. I think customer education and knowledge about our industry is important in order to make a conscious purchase.
What is your vision for your future as a brand?
Because we are a young maison, we have multiple projects and many opportunities to still explore. We want to maintain our quality and excellence in gems, diamonds, gold and craftsmanship. We also want to share the legacy of Genevan craftsmanship. In the future, we hope to offer more unique and exclusive experiences to our customers. We want our customers to immerse themselves in our universe and experience our love for gemstones, jewelry and excellence.