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Francois Garaude

Jewelry as a Journey

image francois Garaude

The purity and simplicity of François Garaude's jewelry point to a well-structured architecture. However, this jewelry, which seems to arrange light, is full of images and symbols, personal memories and reflections of travel; crossings to Brazil or escapes to Asia, to the confines of lands rich in the most precious gems and possessing an intense spirituality

François Garaude's source of inspiration are his travels, discoveries and encounters. The message contained in the jewelry, its style, design and the choice of stones, all reflect the patient yearning to explore that which, has always guided his steps towards new horizons with curiosity and tenacity.

The Visible and the Invisible

By the late 1960s the Western world had become unhinged and began to see red. François Garaude, who lived in the quiet middle-class district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, took this bolt from the blue like a shot in the arm. May '68 called him irresistibly towards the open seas, to India first of all. Aged just sixteen, he left behind his scandalized family and hitchhiked to the vast continent across Central Asia, which was as rough as it was inhospitable. Each new day presented a new challenge, each encounter a danger, a path to perdition ... or a fantastic discovery. It mattered not which; the unexpected was as adrenaline to François Garaude and he discovered a country where rites and beliefs patterned people's thinking and changed lives. He understood that in India, spirituality took precedence over everything, that it explained everything, justified everything. Memories of the Romanesque churches of his childhood mingled with the discovery of Hindu temples. In these sacred buildings where man looks up at the sky, the invisible inhabits the visible; each element has been positioned with care, nothing is due to chance.

François Garaude's adventure had turned into a spiritual quest, but it was rudely interrupted by an illness that brought him back to France. Despite this, he held within himself a great treasure: the desire to give meaning to all things. The journey would continue, in a different direction.

Was it a sign? In his pockets were a topaz and a moonstone that he had brought back with him: his first talismans.

The First Emerald

image francois Garaude

Back in France, François Garaude set to studying architecture, philosophy and cinema. Through philosophy and cinema, he reflected on a new vision of the world. It was as if his trip to India had suddenly wiped all slates clean and put everything back at stake, as though he suddenly wanted to look at Western culture through a different prism. With architecture, he wanted to understand everything about spatial organization and the great principles governing it. He understood that the primary material used in architecture is light, something that would later inspire him as a jeweler, because with a piece of jewelry it is the size and arrangement of the stones that shape space and light.

However, once again, he felt the call of the ocean preying on his mind. While he was still studying, the young man built a 14-meter boat and embarked on a fantastic journey across the Atlantic between France and Brazil.

It was there that he met the girl who would become his wife. However, the young Brazilian wanted to pursue her studies, so he had to wait a few years there for her. To occupy his time while waiting to return to Europe with her, François Garaude went to discover the emeralds of Bahia. And that is when everything changed. Fascinated by these exceptional stones, he quickly became a specialist. First he sold a single stone, then several, then a batch. The future jeweler had got into trading. He decided to make a career of it, traveling to the most beautiful mining regions of the world - Colombia, Sri Lanka, Burma -, gradually discovering the value and beauty of gemstones, learning to read them, evaluate them and their significance. What is more, he was one of the first to reintroduce jade, rich in a thousand virtues, into French high jewelry.

The Language of Stones

François Garaude continued to chart his course, becoming a dealer in precious stones. His jeweler customers liked this noble-hearted, passionate man, the hunter of the exceptional. As for him, he sometimes regretted having to let go of a beautiful emerald, a soft pink spinel or a vibrant Padparadscha sapphire that he could quite easily see at the heart of one of the creations he himself was beginning to design. Fascinated by what the stones expressed, he saw therein the millions of years that had slowly built them. They carried inclusions, tiny elements of the earth that they had accumulated as they grew, yielding valuable information about their provenance. Inside the emeralds, jades, rubies or rutilated quartz beat an amazing life generated by crystals, frosts, gardens and needles, endowing each stone its specificity. The multitude of colors were enchanting. That was why a sapphire from Kashmir, with its unique deep velvety blue color, could not be confused with a sapphire from any other place. And why Burmese rubies, which are the most precious, had an intense red color, while others, from Africa, had a slight hint of orange. But François Garaude's favorite was the spinel, whose rich palette of colors ranges from bright red to raspberry red, soft pink, fuchsia pink, green, mauve, gray ...

Closer to Natural Beauty

The gems are chosen for their natural beauty - none are treated or heated. His collections include the essential jade, green, lavender, gray and white... of sapphires, emeralds and a multitude of spinels, his beloved stones, to which diamonds are added simply to enhance their beauty. For him, cool colors like the blue of the sapphire symbolize precision and analysis, the bright red of the ruby evokes passion, while green represents activity, and the diamond omniscience ... In each piece of jewelry, the stone takes on a personal meaning. Cabochons are used alongside traditional rose cuts and stones that have barely been chipped at all, left in their original form.

François Garaude came back from his travels with a vision of the universe that resembles the discovery of the planet. He never ceases to structure metal and mass, to position, break and deconstruct to then rebuild and invent new shapes, interpreting in a thousand different ways the globe on which we live. Domes, circles and balls positioned in line with the four cardinal points; flexible and simple jewelry; almost untreated, or structured and very ordered: these features inspire the creations with their evocative names - India, Renaissance, Cardinale, Orbitale, Hokusaï and Byzance.

Isabelle Hossenlopp