17 September 2020

Tradition meets conservation: Q&A with Vartkess Knadjian, Chief Executive of Backes & Strauss

Esteemed British watchmaker Backes & Strauss has created the Green African Elephant watch especially to support Walk for Giants.

The stunning timepiece features a slim diamond case attached to a bracelet, which is set with a row of Gemfields Zambian emeralds in the centre, surrounded by a row of Backes & Strauss’ signature ideal cut diamonds on either side. At the core of the watch is the natural green mother-of-pearl dial, which has a beautifully hand-painted elephant at its centre. Backes & Strauss was established in 1789 in Hanau, Germany – as the world’s first diamond company. Having just celebrated their 230th birthday, their mission remains the same: to be the world’s quintessential jewellery timepiece creator. Marrying Swiss horology to the worlds of jewellery, fashion – and now conservation – their formula is as successful as ever.   Why do your clients choose Backes & Strauss? We feel our clients are very discerning and do not wear the watches just for exhibition. They are people who appreciate the fine craftsmanship of our timepieces.   What conservation measures do you undertake? As part of the luxury industry, we are constantly undertaking different measures to support sustainability. I was born in Ethiopia, and my African roots have attracted me towards animal conservation projects, especially in Africa. In the past, we have supported the Lewa and Borana Conservancy in Kenya and are delighted to be part of the Gemfields and Space for Giants project.   Has interest in coloured gemstones grown among your clients? There has definitely been a renaissance in the use of coloured gemstones in jewellery and watches. Incorporating diamonds and coloured gemstones into a design adds excitement to the product. We have found that combining different coloured gemstones with diamonds gives a lovely rainbow effect.   Why did you want to collaborate with Gemfields and Space for Giants? We have collaborated with Gemfields on a number of occasions. We appreciate and laud their ethical mining and distribution process. It also gives us confidence when we can trace the provenance of the gemstones we are sourcing.   If you could wear one of the pieces from the collaboration (not from your own collection) which would it be? This would not be for me, but my wife would be delighted to wear Bina Goenka’s Elephant Earrings.   Click here to view this exciting capsule collection.
Image Credits: ‘Walk For Giants’, photography by Federico Pestilli, creative direction by Riccardo Ruini, shot on location at Enasoit Game Sanctuary