Two years ago, I was travelling to Geneva to attend the auction exhibitions but also to attend GemGenève, another time. It was on the train that I met Meera Hiralal. Young, sparkling, passionate, she told me about the House of Geneva family adventure. I listened attentively, telling myself that such a passionate person could only do good things. And I followed closely what she was doing and how the house was developing. Coming from a diamond family, Meera has a perfect knowledge of the trade and its codes. So I wanted to introduce her to you and hope that I will be able to see her again soon, in Geneva of course!
Dilip and Meera Hiralal. Photo: House of Geneva
1. Hello Meera, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Of course! I’m Meera, I’m passionate about creative industries with a positive social and environmental impact. Bringing tradition, history and heritage into the landscape of tomorrow is a passion of mine and part of my daily life! I grew up in Switzerland and am now the Managing Director of House of Geneva.
2. When you were a child, what were your plans for the future?
When I was younger, I received a very creative and entrepreneurial upbringing from both my parents. In their own way, they are both creative and independent in their work and thinking. This was something I aspired to do in my own work and was to be part of my future. I didn’t have a set path for myself as a child, I have had many interests and passions over the years! For example, I love science, I studied chemistry and biology all the way through university. I wanted everything I was passionate about to be a part of my career!
Blue Isabella brooch, white gold, diamonds, plique-à-jour enamel and 20+ carat unheated Myanmar sapphire. Photo: House of Geneva
3. And finally, what is your job today?
Currently, I run the House of Fine Jewellery, founded by my family in 2017. House of Geneva is a family House, and our first pieces were exhibited in 2018. We only create unique pieces of Haute Joaillerie, made in Geneva by the city’s master craftsmen. My family has over 100 years of knowledge and experience in the gem and diamond trade, we are fortunate to be able to purchase some of the most beautiful and rare gemstones. We draw inspiration for our unique and bespoke creations from this passion and fascination for nature’s most fascinating treasure, which has been passed down through four generations. The craftsmanship of Geneva’s artisans enhances the natural beauty of gems and diamonds. In my current position, I have the incredible opportunity to see these treasures transformed into jewellery!
4. What was your training? Specifically in jewellery and gemology?
As I mentioned earlier, my family has been in the business for many generations. As children, we have always been close to this heritage and this work, which is at the heart of our family. I think for my family, at least for my father, it’s always been more than just work; it’s become a real passion not only for gems, but also for the industry. Indeed, the stories of Mogok, Ragoon or Sri Lanka in the early 1900s were known to everyone in my family and were continually shared. It is part of our family history. However, I have a much shorter history! It does not extend over 100 years. After finishing my studies in Switzerland, I studied gemology for a while, but ended up studying the fashion business. This was a rich experience where I discovered a range of tools and strategies in marketing, supply chain management and product development.
Early on, I became interested in sourcing materials. I was lucky enough to travel with my father to Asia to source gemstones and learned from him. I now share his enthusiasm and continue to learn at every opportunity. I have also been lucky enough to be surrounded by expert gemologists and academics who have taught me many aspects of the work and laboratory protocols. It is a fascinating and meticulous job, which requires a high level of concentration and knowledge in different areas. I think it is essential in this sector to remain curious and have a real passion for your work to be continually surprised, to learn and to remain in awe of the beauty.
5. Tell us how your day works?
Since 2020, like many people, my schedule has changed dramatically! A lot of our work and meetings are done digitally. We have just completed a number of new pieces from our Flower Clock Collection. We were delighted to be able to present these spring pieces, especially after the past year. We really wanted to present colourful pieces. Bringing these new designs to life was a big challenge during the pandemic, but we continually worked and supported our partners in creating unique pieces.
6. The jewellery industry is still unknown to the general public, although things are changing. Can you explain to us where your motivation comes from and what you like best about your work?
I know exactly what you mean! When I was younger, I was always fascinated by the Place Vendôme. Behind those big windows and inside those buildings was a world I didn’t know or understand. Somewhere and somehow those beautiful ballerinas were so meticulously crafted. Their faces looking at us and keeping these secrets to themselves.
I think that’s what I love about my work! I love creating that magical piece, creating that level of intense emotion. The moment when we understand everything that the piece is and will continue to be through time. It is iconic, magical, timeless because of the gems that have been individually selected, down to the smallest size, the craftsmen who have put in many hours to perfect the curve of the gold, or to create together the details that we hide in a piece. These are the people who bring this incredible piece of Haute Joaillerie to life! I love collaborating with artisans, partners, clients. We all see the piece differently, and we all contribute to the piece in our own way. That’s what a family business is all about!
Number 2 ring, white gold and diamond. Photo: House of Geneva
7. Are there any more boring aspects though?
To be honest, nothing is ever boring these days! There is always a challenge or project to keep me busy. We are a young House, so we all contribute to all aspects of the work. At the moment we can’t say we’re bored!
8. Can you tell us if there are any trends in the stones? Isn’t it more complicated now that clients want more and more reports and certifications?
We have been in this business for a long time and it has evolved. We have grown with it and adapted not only to customer demand, but also to shape our own vision of our business. For those of us who have entered the industry in the last 10 years, this is the only framework we know. Being able to work with certified gold and gemstones has also allowed us to add value to our work and to our customers. As a customer, I like and need to know where my purchases are made and the source of the raw materials.
As in all sectors, we are seeing an increase in demand for transparent, ethical and sustainable practices. We all have our interpretation, but for us at House of Geneva, this is part of our core values. We want to have a positive impact on all social aspects throughout our creative process and minimise our environmental impact. These are elements that guide all of our design ideas, whether it’s the gold or gemstones we use, or the design of our jewellery boxes. As a young House, we are thinking ahead every step of the way, as we want to create value for the future through our pieces.
The Blue Isabella brooch being made. Photo: House of Geneva
9. What is your favourite stone and why?
I would have to say that my favourite gemstones are spinels. I think they are often underrated, but some of my favourite pieces and gems throughout history are spinels! They are such a versatile material, but perfect matches are rare and hard to find. The pair of spinels we have in our Flower Clock Collection is, for me, truly extraordinary. It is rare to find such a pair, not only because of its beautiful material but also because of its character. The antique cut of the spinels gives them a unique character, a quality we look for in all our gems. I think it is important to mention that the emotional connection we feel with a gemstone includes all aspects of its character. It is a feeling that is transmitted to the jewellery created around the chosen gems.
10. Do you have a special memory you would like to share with us?
Talking about gems! My father and I often look at the first gems I bought. That was over 10 years ago now, and I was quite young. Thinking about that time makes us both smile. He had bought the gems, and I was learning and happy to be there. I left that meeting with my first purchase, a pair of spinels (can you believe it!). Today, when I look at them, they are not particularly beautiful but I know I still have the same love for them. Their shape is unique and I still understand why they fascinated me over 10 years ago. I am also grateful that by giving me this opportunity, my father gave me the confidence to follow my heart and instincts.
The Number 3 earrings, yellow gold, diamonds, Myanmar spinels of 7.26 and 6.79 carats. Photo: House of Geneva
11. How do you see the future?
For me, integrating our social and environmental promise was an extension of our work and values. It guides many of the decisions we make naturally, and I think the further we go, the more it pushes us to create new opportunities beyond the boundaries we set. With House of Geneva, we want to take fine jewellery into the future by creating our own vision of it.
12. What would be your advice to the younger generation?
I know many of them and I think they will all succeed on their own path, because they all have the same passion! It’s no surprise, but you have to love what you do to do it every day. Also, put your own vision and ideas into every job, because that’s how you connect with people. Just like in a play, we give our inspiration and passion to each level of creation, emotions that are then felt in a piece of jewellery for many generations.
See you soon!