Warsaw’s Gold Silver Time Fair

In many ways the history of the Polish jewellery industry is also the history of Poland. Like the Polish people, it’s an industry that has risen from unbelievable devastation and horror to become a highly competitive world-class centre for design and manufacturing. 

By Diana S. Zimmerman

Brooch in silver and gems by Bogumil BytomskiMore than 6,000 visitors from across the globe attended Warsaw’s three-day Gold Silver Time (GST) show Oct 2–5, 2014 in Warsaw, Poland.

Statement necklace in gold-plated silver and by Arkadiusz Wolski.It’s a fair, as well as a city, that is definitely worth visiting. 2014 marked a dual celebration honouring the 15th anniversary of GST along with 25 years of hard-fought Polish freedom. The transformation is both profound and stunning.

Perhaps Monika Szpatowicz, the curator of the 25 for 25 – Jewellery in the Time of Freedom exhibition summed it up best: “The last 25 years have been extremely interesting for Polish jewellery.The political transformations have had a clear impact on the development of the jewellery market, while changes in the way of thinking have brought about new trends and new artists.”

Amber and driftwood pendant by Amberwood

This highly inspirational commemorative display within GST featured more than 100 pieces by 25 selected designers and manufacturers, each of whom have contributed significantly to post-1989 development—the year Poland won its freedom from Soviet Russia.The fair, overall, featured more than 300 exhibitors showcasing original jewellery, silverware, and watches in a wide range of price points and metals that included silver, gold, titanium, and steel, as well as a variety of unusual materials such as acrylic and resin.

 

Award-winning Ewa Lewanowicz with some of her fashion-forward creations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vast diversity of materials and the designs reinforce how the term “Polish Design” is becoming increasingly more important on the world stage. Polish jewellery has been developing without constraints for a mere 25 years. Designer, Marcin Zaremski explains that under the Soviet era, jewellers did not have formal education in the craft. As a result, much of the jewellery was created by artists, thus contributing greatly to the artistic development of the Polish jewellery sector. Though today’s designers integrate many current global trends, they have still retained certain design elements that make the label Made in Poland recognizable and ever-more appreciated worldwide.

Polish jewelry showcased at the fair could be categorized style-wise as follows: Classics, Fashion, and Design. The Classics comprise mainly of gold with diamonds and gemstones, plus silver with natural or synthetic gems, while Fashion follows the current trends, drawing inspiration from colour, texture, nature, geometric, and cultural motifs. The Design group features a varied range of designers who interpret jewellery in their own style. Regardless of the medium they work in, their creativity and originality attracted a great deal of interest from Polish and non-Polish buyers, alike.

“White Grapes” amber necklace by Agata Calka for Amber-Ring. Amber butterfly set in gold with diamonds by Malgorzata Wasowska. Raw amber matte silver bracelet by Marcin Zaremski.

 

Bracelet made of raw amber and silver threads by Pawel Kaczynski. Statement “Dragon” ring by designer, Jacek Ostrowski, made in silver and Swarovski crystal.

During the GST show, a fashion show highlighted Polish jewellery design and fashion.Baltic amber is, of course, synonymous with Poland. And one look at the innovative designs that were on display at GST explains why it is so very popular. Rafał Galimski, president of the fiar organizer, MCT International Fair Centre, explains, “The global amber jewellery market, with its tone set currently mainly by China, has forced Polish manufacturers to ensure much greater attention to product quality and visual appeal. Because the prices of raw amber have moved it to the sector of luxury gemstones, a fashion has developed for the most beautiful amber stones in luxurious, and often filigree, settings. They are no longer made only with silver, but also with gold, and at prices reaching as much as several dozen thousand Euros.”

Dr. Katarzyna Kwiatkowska explains the origins of amber, from resin to decorative art, to a group of journalists.Galimski continues by adding: “There is now great interest in amber by young designers, especially the alumni of the Gdańsk Academy of Fine Arts, who are not afraid to experiment. They look for unusual and surprising visual effects, and sometimes combine amber with synthetic materials to effectively freshen up its image.”

The range of colours and sheer elegance of Polish amber is certainly to be appreciated and treasured. Whether it's a statement piece by Malgorzata Wasowska, a bracelet in tarnished matte silver and raw amber by Marcin Zaremski, or the “White Grapes” necklace of amber by Agata Calka for Amber-Ring, this amazing gem is as rich in its history as it is in variety and beauty.

No visit to Warsaw is complete without a trip to the Amber Collection at the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences (www.mz.pan.pl).  The collection of amber and other fossil resins is one of the largest in the world and traces their formation to sites around the globe. The display adds a whole new meaning to amber’s illustrious beginning as tree sap, as well as a renewed sense of appreciation for the individuals who mine and work with it.

Warsaw’s Main Square was completely destroyed, along with most of the city during WWII, but is now a thriving meeting place for tourists and locals.

Another highlight of GST was its fashion show. Focusing on original jewellery by a number of Polish brands, the pieces ranged from high-end to more fashion-forward and affordable, such as those by the award-winning designer, Ewa Lewanowicz.

Under the Lewanowicz brand, she creates jewellery in sterling silver and natural gems, as well as elaborate pieces combining a variety of materials metal, crystals, stones.

Poland is both a remarkable and beautiful country—rich in history, lore, and determination. That alone is reason to visit this extraordinary land. But a trip to GST makes it the perfect getaway for both business and pleasure. The show’s amazing staff bends over backwards to ensure a fabulous experience—one that visitors will surely have. Next year’s Gold Silver Time show will take place October 1 to 3, 2015. (zlotosrebroczas.com)