Journal

The inimitable beauty of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones will be brought to life this festive season, when Gemfields partners with Whitewall to present ‘GEOCHROM’ by Los Angeles-based artist and designer Sebastien Leon for the Design Miami/ global design forum.

This unique installation – whose name is taken from “geo” (the earth) and “chrom” (colours) – will celebrate the unique story within every gem. Focussing on the seasonally appropriate colours red and green, it explores the geological structure of emeralds and rubies in both 2D and 3D forms, with two geometric paintings, large glass installations coloured by LED tubes and a sound sculpture.

Sebastien Leon, originally from France, is renowned for his work in the fields of painting, installation, video, sculpture and music. He is inspired by the logic of the cosmos: the formation of the earth, the nature of time and space and the physical manifestation of sound. His fascination with crystal formations – for their beauty, their mathematical logic, and the way light illuminates their core – informs much of this work, whether he is mirroring their shapes into sculptures or projecting their structure onto paintings.

Leon was drawn to Gemfields, when he was looking into emeralds and learned that some of Gemfields’ Zambian emeralds date back as far as 500 million years. He says: “Emeralds and rubies are considered the finest gemstones, so it is an honour to be working with Gemfields.”

He adds: “All [of my] pieces are inspired by the geometry of crystal formations. I designed three glass pieces for the installation: two large pendants transpierced by coloured LED tubes, and a tabletop sound sculpture using a transducer speaker, which transmits sonic vibrations to a surface through a coil, basically using matter to propagate sound. I created the music with composer Romain Strugala, using bold elemental sounds. As for colours, one pendant is green with red light, another is red with green light, and the sound sculpture is treated with a dichroic green-to-red finish.”

This cutting-edge installation was enabled by Whitewall, a cultural brand and platform that champions the creative visionaries of the future – talents and people that are changing the fields of art, design, fashion and lifestyle – with an eye towards social responsibility, sustainable impact and equal representation. Their spokesperson says: “We are thrilled to connect Gemfields with the works of art and design presented at Design Miami/ this December. Working with the artist Sebastien Leon, an installation has been created that resonates with the values that Gemfields, Design Miami/ and Whitewall share: sustainability and transparency on a local and global level.”

As well as supplying the majority of the world’s rough rubies and emeralds, Gemfields seeks out collaborations that will increase demand for coloured gemstones, and, thus, benefit their communities of origin in Africa. These have included partnerships with international jewellery brands – like Fabergé, an iconic name with an exceptional heritage and a member of the Gemfields Group – and artistic collaborations, such as VOID by Dan Tobin Smith, an immersive experience combining large-scale projections of gemstones, accompanied by the female electronic drone choir NYX, and The Experience Machine, exhibited at the London Design Festival in September 2019. More recently, Gemfields brought larger-than-life ruby and emerald sculptures to Art021, Shanghai’s Contemporary Art Fair, complete with new video footage showing gemstone discovery at mine sites in Zambia and Mozambique.

Gemfields’ director of marketing and communications, Emily Dungey, comments: “Gemfields is partnering with the fashion and art worlds, opening up new audiences to consider coloured gemstones and the stories involved in their discovery at Gemfields’ mines in Africa. The collaboration with Sebastien Leon is a perfect example of this. His study into the depths of gemstone colour provides a fascinating take on these marvels of nature.”