The private event was held in Zurich in one of the city’s most unusual restaurants: Razzia. Razzia is truly one of the most amazing sights of the city: the space occupied by the restaurant was once one of the very first cinemas in Zurich – a fact illustrated by the interior design, which has not changed at all with the establishment of the restaurant. In the main hall, the stage and screen still tower over one end, and grand crystal chandeliers dangle from the ceiling.
At the entrance to Razzia there were check-in desks – as if one had just arrived at the airport - and guests were greeted by Swiss Air flight attendants in blue uniforms. It was as if every guest was about to set off in search of Burmese rubies, treading in the footsteps of the great Eduard Josef Gübelin himself. The journey did not end there: inside the restaurant stood vast pyramids of trunks, on which taxidermy peacocks sat. The peacock - I learnt - is a bird held in particularly high regard in Burma, to the extent that they were depicted on the royal flags before the English conquest.
While guests drank a welcome cocktail, and listened to the exotic music of the sitar, they were entertained with a performance by traditional Burmese puppeteers. From the 11th century until the end of the 19th, these dolls formed part of a theatre that was especially popular among the royal court. However - the true highlight of the evening’s entertainment was the acrobat’s performance - in which he folded 13 palm branches into an elaborate pyramid as he teetered, seemingly always on the verge of falling.
As soon as entered the main hall, I was immediately drawn to the sight of two enormous globetrotter trunks near the central staircase - and for good reason! It was here that the jewellery from the ‘Glowing Fire’ world was displayed. Of course; it was this collection which was the basis for the whole event, so naturally I found myself paying special attention to these pieces.
In general, Gübelin’s ‘Glowing Fire’ collection is divided into two lines – ‘Glowing Ember’ and ‘Sparks of Fire.’ Both of these lines are inspired by the inner worlds of these stones, which are clearly visible under a microscope. While developing the ‘Glowing Ember’ line, Gübelin’s designers focused upon an interesting detail found within one ruby – an inclusion, which resembles a double-rim circle. They took this element as the aesthetic basis of the ‘Glowing Ember’ pendants, rings and earrings; which feature rubies, sapphires and emeralds, all edged with thin lines of diamonds. During dinner, earrings and pendants from this collection were dazzlingly sported by the guest of honour: Nel-Olivia Waga.
The second line - ‘Sparks of Fire,’ which is inspired by an inclusion photograph taken by Eduard Josef Gübelin – consists of laconic bracelets and rings comprised of aquamarines, morganites, garnets, tanzanites, amethysts, fire opals, pink tourmaline and other round brilliant cut gemstones. These are set either in clusters, in a frame of pink gold, or individually – either with diamonds across the shank of the rings or without them, and they can be stacked and mixed and matched to create unique combinations. A minimalist design such as this - accompanied with an array of bright gemstone colours - works to embolden the flashes of brilliant light that lie at the heart of the ruby’s intimate beauty.
Finally, I want to mention the two unique pieces that sparkled on the necklines of myself and Wilvy Sy Gübelin. The first is a transformable ‘Dragonfly’ necklace, with a fiery Burmese ruby weighing in excess of 10 carats accompanied by diamonds, creating a total weight of 19.49 carats. Its central decorative element can be unfastened and attached to a brooch - or, alternatively – be fastened to the necklace completely covered with diamonds. The second jewel that invariably draws the eye is the ‘Red Dahlia’ pendant, comprised of Burmese ruby, sapphires and diamonds. This design is also transformable, and can be worn on a necklace, as a brooch, or as a ring.
As you can see, to become the owner of a precious ruby it is not necessary to make a dangerous trip to an exotic country. Nowadays, it’s enough to simply discover a wonderful jewellery house like Gübelin.