Ukrainian Jewelers Determined to Do More Than Survive


In Might, throughout a quick respite from the Russian rockets that had been hitting Kharkiv, Ukraine, Stanislav Drokin walked out of his jewellery atelier in his hometown’s metropolis heart to gather bomb fragments.

Mr. Drokin has lived within the atelier since Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. He moved there along with his spouse, Ludmila, together with two households of associates as a result of it was too harmful to stay at their residence in Saltivka, a neighborhood in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis.

Inside a number of weeks, nevertheless, everybody fled apart from Mr. Drokin, 53 and, like all Ukrainian males from ages 18 to 60, is prohibited from leaving the nation. (Ludmila joined the couple’s daughter, Alina, in Berlin, whereas the opposite households dispersed throughout Ukraine.)

For the primary two months Mr. Drokin devoted all his time to volunteering within the conflict effort. He allowed the atelier, which serves as each a manufacturing facility and showroom, to tackle a 3rd, de facto function: cupboard space for drugs and meals.

Sorting and taking stock of the provides occupied most of his time. By mid-Might, nevertheless, when the volunteer motion turned extra organized, Mr. Drokin was capable of resume his jewellery follow.

Many members of the Ukrainian jewellery group — those that stay within the nation and people in refuge overseas — mentioned the conflict had motivated them to help Ukraine’s jewellery trade like by no means earlier than.

In Mr. Drokin’s case, he created an art object created from an extended, branchlike bomb shard, which he set with seven flowers crafted from vivid blue titanium. Known as Nezabudka, or Neglect Me Not, the piece belongs to a set of one-of-a-kind jewels Mr. Drokin is making to protect “the reminiscence of the those that have died or have grow to be victims of this conflict,” he mentioned in early June on a three-way telephone name with Alina, who acted as an interpreter. “So they aren’t forgotten and their struggling will not be forgotten.”

The Neglect Me Not assortment is Mr. Drokin’s approach of displaying his fellow Ukrainians — and the world — that their nation’s centuries-old jewellery custom, a lot of it centered on Kharkiv, will survive the battle and should nicely emerge stronger.

Many Ukrainian jewelers echoed that message. “I used to work for Van Cleef & Arpels, a really well-known worldwide model with French roots,” Olga Oleksenko, the previous supervisor of the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in Kyiv, mentioned by telephone in early June from her momentary residence in Vienna. “I didn’t take note of Ukrainian jewellery. It wasn’t my focus. However now I’m so impressed at how proficient our artists are, and the conflict helped me to comprehend that.”

In early April, Ms. Oleksenko and her pal Natalia Kietiene, a Russian Lithuanian public relations and advertising advisor based mostly in London, pooled their assets to create a platform to help Ukrainian jewelers. Generally known as Strong & Precious, the challenge scored its first large win when Thomas Faerber, a co-founder of GemGenève, a global gem and jewellery commerce honest in Geneva, invited Ms. Oleksenko and Ms. Kietiene to take a sales space on the fourth version of the honest on the Palexpo conference heart in early Might.

Certainly one of Mr. Faerber’s first questions, mentioned Ms. Kietiene, was what number of items of bijou they deliberate to exhibit.

“We couldn’t reply him that we have now nothing,” she mentioned by telephone in early June after the honest. “I began to name and write jewelers from Ukraine to see if it was potential to deliver one thing to Geneva. Some Ukrainian jewelers had been refugees and in very fragile conditions and a few had been nonetheless in Ukraine. And accumulating items from Ukraine — it was like a spy film.”

Ms. Kietiene described the flowery planning that was required to ferry jewellery in another country from Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv. “We have now this courageous individual — it was a woman, after all, as a result of it’s not possible for males to cross borders with Ukraine due to the navy scenario — who introduced items from Chernivtsi, a metropolis in western Ukraine, to a small Romanian metropolis on the border. And after that we have now an individual with a automobile, who introduced the jewellery from the border to Paris, and another one who introduced it from Paris to Geneva.

“Some refugees had been in Berlin, Pforzheim [Germany], Portugal, a small city in France,” Ms. Kietiene added. “One woman who was in Berlin despatched items to Geneva, however I didn’t obtain the parcel. I requested her to ship me the monitoring quantity. And he or she mentioned, ‘Sorry, I don’t have a monitoring quantity. I used the most cost effective submit as a result of it was my final 17 euros.’ We acquired her jewellery two days earlier than the honest closed.”

Ultimately, the sales space showcased jewellery by a dozen Ukrainian designers, together with established manufacturers comparable to Oberig, which was based in 2009 as a fine-jewelry label based mostly on Ukrainian talismanic symbols, in addition to up-and-coming makers like Inesa Kovalova, a Central Saint Martins graduate whose nylon and titanium designs, created from 3-D printing, recall the metalwork vegetation in Kramatorsk, the economic metropolis in jap Ukraine the place she was born.

Information of the Ukrainian presence at GemGenève drew quite a few Ukrainian guests to Palexpo, mentioned Ms. Kietiene. “They weren’t involved in jewellery, truly, however they had been to take a look,” she mentioned. “They mentioned it signaled for them that the longer term would possibly occur. And for me it was an important truth of this challenge. That individuals who needed to run from their houses, who needed to go away their households — we deliver them hope indirectly.”

The identical could possibly be mentioned of the designers concerned with Sturdy & Valuable, a lot of whom have restarted manufacturing in Ukraine — together with in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and Odesa — regardless of the unpredictable nature of producing throughout wartime.

“There are quite a lot of small workshops which can be nonetheless working, however on the similar time quite a lot of them are bombed and destroyed,” Ms. Oleksenko wrote in a follow-up e mail. “I do know some jewelers who’re making solely marriage ceremony rings now and provides them without spending a dime to the individuals who wish to be married.”

Oberig, in Kyiv, is one among them. The model, identified for making 18-karat gold jewels that characteristic patterns based mostly on vyshyvankas, the normal Ukrainian embroidered shirts, was pressured to halt manufacturing in late February due to disrupted provide chains, labor shortages and fixed shelling in Kharkiv, residence to its manufacturing facility.

“We instantly started to search for methods to return to work,” Tatiana Kondratyuk, Oberig’s founder, wrote in an e mail.

“In Might, we relaunched our manufacturing facility to run a vital charity project for the defenders of Ukraine,” she added. “Now we don’t produce items on the market, we make just one kind of bijou — silver marriage ceremony rings — and supply these rings to troopers who marry in the course of the conflict completely without spending a dime. Our group delivers them to all areas of Ukraine, even to the new spots within the east and south.”

For Roxana Romanenko, founding father of Rockah, a three-year-old Ukrainian jewellery model impressed by historical cultures and mythologies, the conflict with Russia has served as a reminder of Ukraine’s lengthy historical past as a battleground. Within the fifteenth century, Cossack warriors had been the primary to defend the identical land that’s now, as soon as once more, beneath siege.

“From the start, they had been combating the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth, then the Ottoman Empire after which the Muscovy — the Russians,” Ms. Romanenko, who is predicated in Geneva, mentioned by telephone in late June. “Cossack tradition is a really wealthy archetype for us,” she added. “When the conflict began, lots of people began to speak about them, about how we’re a nation combating for freedom for a lot of centuries.”

Ms. Romanenko is designing a set of bijou devoted to Cossack tradition that she hopes to introduce by mid-November.

It’ll incorporate supplies together with Ukrainian hemp material, patinated bronze and “quite a lot of items not normally seen in jewellery, like a little bit field to place earth in as a result of the Cossacks believed in case you die exterior of your motherland, you’ll go to heaven as a result of you’ve got the earth with you,” she mentioned.

“After all, all of us really feel so patriotic now,” Ms. Romanenko added. “And on prime of that, no person is aware of about Ukrainian tradition. Jewellery is an excellent approach to inform individuals.”

For all their satisfaction in being Ukrainian, most of the nation’s jewelers additionally acknowledge that their work should stand by itself deserves.

Alyona Kiperman, founding father of the fine-jewelry model Nomis, which started in Kyiv two years in the past, put it bluntly: “We’re not promoting feelings concerning the conflict,” she mentioned throughout a preview occasion in early June on the Couture jewellery present in Las Vegas, the place she confirmed her convertible 18-karat gold jewels.

“We’re promoting actually good product, and in addition, we’re from Ukraine,” added Ms. Kiperman, who relocated to Geneva after the beginning of the conflict. “We’re proud we’re from Ukraine, that our product is made in Ukraine, however we’re not promoting souvenirs.”

In essentially the most excessive circumstances, comparable to these going through Mr. Drokin, gross sales are inappropriate. “Even being within the epicenter of the conflict, one might say it has a optimistic influence on my artwork,” he mentioned. “All of the feelings I expertise are going into my work.”

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