With a father who was a gourmet chef and a brother who was a perfume designer, the Bonneville family has a natural predisposition to the art of craftsmanship and the rigour that it imposes. Passionate about gems and minerals since childhood, Jérôme Bonneville chose to enter the jewellery industry and make it his profession. The first step was an apprenticeship with the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France: the first stage was at the Houillon jeweller’s in Le Mans under the direction of MOF Jean-Charles Rocher, where he stayed for several years. Before setting up his own business, first in France and then very quickly in Lausanne where he is now based.
Jérôme Bonneville in his workshop in Lausanne. Photo: Jérôme Bonneville
In 2008, he graduated from the Institut de Bijouterie de Saumur (IBS) after having passed his CAP and then went on to the HRD in Antwerp where he studied diamonds and coloured stones in order to become a gemmologist. His objective was to be able to source interesting and atypical stones for his clients. After graduating, he travels to Asia to discover the producing countries and visit the mines. In 2011, he became a MOF in jewellery, a feat when you consider that he obtained it on the first try at only 29 years old. When we tell you that he is gifted! After obtaining the prestigious title, Jérôme Bonneville seriously considered moving outside of France, and by chance he settled in the old town of Lausanne.
White gold, diamond and natural (untreated) blue topaz ring from Australia, weighing 4.5 carats. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
“I didn’t necessarily want to go to Switzerland, but I thought that the title of MOF was a springboard to try one’s luck abroad. I had few ties at the time. So leaving was easy! Afterwards, I wanted a simpler country from an economic point of view, with a culture of crafts and know-how. And then, I came to see a friend in Lausanne and I haven’t gone back!
Gold, diamond and tsavorite garnet ring. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
So 2013 marks his move to the beautiful city of Lausanne. Although he had once considered opening in Geneva, he admits that“it is more complicated economically because you need very significant financial resources because rents are extremely high there“. He then started from scratch in Lausanne:“I had no networks, no family, but I liked the city. I liked its atmosphere, the people, the way people live together. We have an extraordinary living environment in this city, the lake, the fresh air, nature everywhere and as soon as you leave the city. I live in the Lavaux area, and it’s a real postcard.
10.52 carat white gold, diamond and tanzanite ring from Arusha. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
Jérôme’s boutique opened in 2013, in the city centre with a prime location, he found a vacant space right opposite brands such as Hermès and Vuitton. Fortune favours the bold says the adage, it seems to be true! “I found this place by sheer force of will, as they say. As I had no network, I went door to door for weeks, asking if anyone knew of a place that was for sale, of a space that would soon become available. And then I walked into this shop and I didn’t really believe in it anymore. I must have done 80 shops that day… And then the man who owned the place told me he was selling It would take several more months, some work, but in November 2013, Jérôme proudly put up his sign in rue Saint-Pierre and the story could begin.
White gold and diamond ring, including a 3.5-carat F VS2 centre. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
When asked if the installation was easy, Jérôme says yes. “When you come from France, you realise how Latin France is in its culture. And that’s what makes it beautiful and endearing. But Switzerland is very different. Everything is very structured and organised. There arevery strict procedures and you have to accept this from the start The welcome from the locals is also very positive. “The title of MOF is very much appreciated in Switzerland, they recognise know-how and like excellence as well as a job well done. Not least, I decided to settle in Switzerland and not to be a frontier worker. I wanted to integrate into the landscape. Next step, I would like to become Swiss. I live here, I work here and my clients are from the area. At some point, you have to go through with your choice and change your life!“
Ring in white gold, diamonds including a 2.70 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow centre (GIA). Photo: Jérome Bonneville
Of course, it took some time to build up a loyal clientele. After six years in Lausanne, Jérome explains to us that his company has found a good cruising speed for a little over two years. The time to make himself known, to carry out some very beautiful projects and to impose his brand in the minds of the people of Lausanne. As a jeweller and gemologist, he has gradually won over a clientele of connoisseurs in search of beautiful stones and perfect workmanship. “I wanted to offer different, rarer gems and take them away from the traditional sapphires and emeralds that we still see too often.” It was this expertise that made the difference. By offering sound advice and knowledge of materials, he offers his customers the chance to discover luminous garnets, coloured spinels or tanzanites, to name but a few. Of course, the stones are all certified and remarkably cut.
Gold and diamond necklace with a natural spinel (Burma) of more than 30 carats as the centre stone. It took him more than 1000 hours of work to make this jewel. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
As for his creations, Jérome Bonneville specialises in made-to-measure jewellery. He likes to lead his clients towards a less classical but extremely well-proportioned jewellery. He is progressively imposing more contemporary volumes that highlight the gems that his clients choose or bring to him. Among the latest remarkable creations, an impressive necklace in white gold and D IF diamonds, at the centre of which sits a superb cushion-cut Burmese grey spinel of more than thirty carats. A piece that required more than 1000 hours of work.
Entrance to a mine in Tanzania. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
Jérome Bonneville in Tanzania. Photo: Jérome Bonneville
Among his future projects, incorporating more titanium in his work, continuing to develop spinels or garnets and especially those with rare colours. And of course, to continue to travel. The last one was the discovery of the tsavorite mines in Tanzania, from which he keeps unforgettable memories, such as the descent to a depth of 145 m. “We had to go down to 50 m. “We were supposed to go down to 50 metres and then we went on. At the bottom, it’s 55-60°, it’s unbearable. We stayed less than 10 minutes. It’s unbreathable. Despite everything, it was a great and enriching experience. And the exchange with the miners is worth all the gold in the world! Finally, Jérome Bonneville is beginning to consider opening an office in Geneva. Proof of the development of his company. And that’s all the good we wish him!
See you soon!