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20 november 2023

ilgiz_fazulzyanov_fullsize.jpgIlgiz Fazulzyanov is a jeweler who needs no introduction. He is renowned for his Ilgiz F. brand existing on the Russian market for more than 30 years and famous among true connoisseurs of jewelry art.

Ilgiz Fazulzyanov is the only jewelry designer from today’s Russia to have had the honor of displaying his jewelry art works at Christie’s auctions in London.

His jewelry was exhibited at the Kremlin’s Diamond Treasury twice and purchased by the Kremlin Armoury for its collection and by the Van Cleef’s museum.

In 2016, his solo exhibition was held at the Kremlin Museums (it ranked second in attendance after the Cartier exhibitions).

In 2017, he set up his own gallery Ilgiz F. on Leningradsky Prospect in Moscow where exhibitions of contemporary jewelers’ fine pieces are held.

Ilgiz Fazulzyanov spoke to Rough&Polished about his new collections, upcoming exhibitions, his plans for the nearest future and the importance of perfectionism.

Below are some excerpts from the interview.


Few people did not complain about crises, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions ... You were the only person who said that an artist could have one type of crisis only - a creative one. Do you still think so?

Right. Thanks to all the above circumstances, I began to give more attention and time to creative work and finally began creating large-scale collections displayed at exhibitions. I had time for reenvisioning, looking for other artistic movements in the jewelry, as well as the opportunity to develop creativity.

What are your plans for the nearest future?

We are currently preparing the jewelry items to be displayed at the exhibition at the Peterhof State Museum and Reserve.

You didn’t even have to lower the bar after your exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin’s Belfry Tower, did you?

We also have plans to exhibit one of the existing collections in the new halls of the Kremlin Armoury.

As for Peterhof, it is truly one of the most popular museums in Russia, and a huge number of people, including foreigners, come there every day, so I consider this exhibition not as a way to make a name for myself but as a way to promote the Russian jewelry art.

The exhibition will be opened in the spring of 2024, there are plans to bring it to Kazan, and then to some other Russian cities. The new collection is a ready exhibition portfolio. Previously, there were many exhibitions arranged that were brought from abroad, but now many doors are opening due to the fact that they are not brought to our country any longer.

Can you tell us more about this exhibition and the collection that will be displayed in Peterhof?

A greenhouse located in the park next to the fountains in Peterhof has been restored and we will show our exhibits there. The exhibition is called Awakening, meaning the awakening of spring and nature. The greenhouse was built by Peter I to grow tulips popular during that time and to store tulip bulbs in winter. Therefore, the main jewelry item at the exhibition will be in the form of a tulip, and several other jewelry art works are dedicated to this flower. 96 jewelry items will be displayed, the concept of the exhibition will be thoroughly thought through taking into account my vision of how jewelry items should be displayed. The entirety of the exposition will be quite large-scale and beautiful, the greenhouse will be full of flowers. I invited the necessary experts to aid me. The opening of the exhibition is scheduled for mid-May when the fountains will be turned on and it will last until late September. Many jewelry pieces are selected, including necklaces, earrings, rings, and some additional jewelry items will be created to properly present and fully reveal the theme, conception, and give information. There are a lot of options and all jewelry art works are made in different styles. I have assistants for certain types of work, but I do the sketches and all the amendments myself. The variety of jewelry items is quite large, and now we are approximately 70 percent ready.

Your previous jewelry collection was Great Peaks of the World, what was its fate?

We presented only its catalogue, but not the collection itself. It consists of 30 jewelry works. Several individuals have intentions to purchase the collection, and after that, it can be presented to the public.

You experience a surge in your creative activity now. You have your own gallery, support young jewelry designers, chair the jury panel for jewelry competitions, and create new collections, although you could just rest on your laurels. How do you have time to do all this?

All previous years were a time of gaining experience, skills and craftmanship. Creativity is the main thing. I find a ‘time window’ for doing other things, and I allocate time for them, including the time for all my trips abroad. Now, a large group of Iranian jewelers invited me to hold a workshop in their country, and there is an issue of fitting it into my schedule. I’m planning much fewer trips now as I don’t want unnecessary activities. I deal more with the Middle East and Orient now, including my negotiations with Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and China. This summer, I gave a 4-hour lecture in Beijing at the joint meeting of the Chinese Academy of Arts, there was a huge audience, over a million people; so, China is waiting for me.

Are your aesthetic preferences changing? Your famous Poppies and Bullfinches are of an art nouveau style.

In fact, I wouldn’t define it so precisely - after all, to simplify understanding, normally, they say that a flower is an art nouveau style, and geometric shapes are an art deco one. Actually, everything is more complicated: when you choose an idea and want to implement it the right way, you choose the shapes and lines you need, without even thinking about a style. Later on, art experts start determining a style used. There is a mixture of different styles in my works and there is always something radically new, especially in the jewelry work that I am doing now - this is contemporary jewelry art. I was brought up and educated on the classics, and I believe that a classical basis is of main importance. Abstract forms that express nothing are not my story. If I make an avant-garde jewelry item, then it fits into classical images for understanding, because people must read the information that was originally embedded in a jewelry work; once upon a time, symbols and signs were embedded in jewelry created thousands of years ago. The use of certain stones also had a certain meaning - this is the basis comprising a lot of symbolism, using many materials, different properties of stones and metals... Everything is included and combined into a piece of jewelry. If you say ‘This is my idea, I see it that way’ but don’t put anything from the historical heritage into the work, is it a piece of jewelry?


National traditions are always strong in jewelry, aren’t they?

I think this is not exactly correct: of course, traditions should be respected and preserved but at the same time, traditional jewelry should be made modern. This is the task of any artist. If you are a craftsman, you build upon what was created earlier, before you. But an artist always brings something new to convey the spirit of his time to future generations. How to save the spirit? 100 years will pass, and it will be difficult for people to determine when a jewelry item was created - one or two centuries ago. Any art work should capture the epoch we live in.

You have a gallery where exhibitions of young, unknown jewelers and even beginners are held. Is there any feedback or benefit to you personally?

Now, it is probably the time when attempts to work with young jewelers cannot become a long-lasting story. It was possible to do interesting projects, but it’s always easier for me to do everything on my own, in my studio. Although my doors are always open for young people, they can always study and work there, get my advice in person or on social networks.

Are you inspired by the latest technologies and modern materials?

This is most likely just a tool, an opportunity to express the necessary idea. Modern technologies also speed up the production process. Today, people do not want to wait for an art work for years - they need to get it quickly, since the pace of life has changed. I believe that this has a detrimental effect on any art as artists do not have an opportunity to completely go deep, plunge in their ideas, because they need to make a huge number of drawings, sketches to find the only correct line of work.

You once said that you often use diamonds because they add sparkle and luxury and emphasize status.

You know, this has been like a borderline between good and evil for me lately. Against the backdrop of diamonds, the warmth of human hands and all the work comes into full play in a completely different way. I thought ‘Why diamonds are used and not any other gemstones?’ In fact, there is a clear borderline going on here, and that is the contrast between coldness and warmth. Probably, that is why. Diamonds emphasize warmth, humanity, and reveal the soul of a jeweler. For example, there is a diamond jewelry item without much soul in it, then a small ‘quirk’ made by a jeweler designer is added and the jewelry item is perceived completely in a different way against the background of these diamonds. It’s a unique thing, but it’s true.

Do you have any favorite stones?

They are constantly changing: there was a time when opals were my favorite gemstones, then moonstones, and then cloudy aquamarines, which no one uses in jewelry but they give an amazing effect as if there is life in these gemstones, and you utilize this feature. It depends on your mood, on the thought or idea inspired, on what you want to create at a certain moment. We tend to change. Sometimes, some color of a gemstone is very suitable for your mood. Among metals, in addition to gold and silver, I recently began to use titanium that has an effect that no other metals possess. Electrochemical treatment can change its color, which is actively used, for example, in China, but it will take a very long time for titanium to become a true metal for jewelry. I also started using lab-grown stones; their color and properties do not differ from those of natural ones, and you often need them for your design when you can no longer find suitable natural ones. Tourmalines, chrysolites and other lab-grown stones can be used in your jewelry items - for me it makes no difference what paintbrush a painter uses to make a stroke on the canvas.

Please forgive my indelicacy, don’t you think that jewelry in our time of wars and civil strife has become an unaffordable luxury?

In the midst of all life’s events - the pandemic, the political situation, wars - it is probably no longer correct to talk about luxury and jewelry. And I’m moving towards pure art - collectible jewelry items that I could show to people. Life will show whether this will give me some kind of support to continue creating. It’s difficult to talk about this now. But I want to create large collections now so that people can really see them. I understand perfectly well that no one else creates collections like mine - even large companies cannot afford creating such quantities of jewelry items for exhibitions. Even the famous Cartier and Bvlgari companies have recently displayed their historical jewelry pieces only, and as for modern jewelry items, they can create small collections of no more than 10 jewelry pieces, and these are usually the same jewelry designs with different combinations of gemstones. They cannot be called works of art, although they are usually called high jewelry art.


You are the winner of prestigious competitions, a member of many jury panels at various competitions, and you are often a judging panel chairman. Can you remember any strong recent impressions?

The Chinese make huge items from titanium, for example, studded with precious stones but it is a question whether they are pieces of art. The skill of the stone-setters rather than the talent of the artists is amazing in these cases.

But in general, there is nothing special, it’s just remaking everything that has been already created. Sometimes, you see works by some high-skilled designers, but they are few, and it is difficult to enter the market with them. Everyone thinks about marketing and business now, but almost no one thinks about creativity. Everyone thinks whether or not a jewelry item can bring income to a creator to be able to continue working tomorrow. This can be understood because creating jewelry is costly.

And, of course, I have a dream to gather jewelers from all over the world and create a single collection, on one hottest topic of the day. It’s worth thinking about this as it can really become an important event and attract interested people to show their jewelry works to the whole world.

Now, when the world is torn by various rivalries, do you think this idea is timely?

Firstly, there are always people who have never gotten involved in political strife. Gandhi said that the word ‘peace’ opened all doors. After all, actors, singers, painters sometimes unite to stand for a common cause - why shouldn’t jewelers do this?

You know, even ugly things can be turned into beautiful ones. Take Pushkin’s fairy tales - aren’t they amazing? But so many problems that existed at that time were reflected in them, even political ones and social relations - many of them were depicted in those and presented in a ‘beautiful’ way. As well as our legends and epics - everything was reflected in them, including a code of conduct in difficult situations.

Maybe, it’s easier to express all this in words rather than in gemstones?

And only an artist has a gift to do this. I have two jewelry works. America and Europe are trying to control this world playing their own game - I designed a brooch called Game. I also designed a brooch called Genesis showing knitting sticks used to make lace from human destinies. For some people, it is a beautiful jewelry item, but for someone who understands, it is something to mull over. I got the trick of it. I love doing it and find enjoyment in it.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished