Traditional and Contemporary | GUZEMA Fine Jewelry from Ukraine

Traditional and Contemporary | GUZEMA Fine Jewelry from Ukraine

How can a jewelry brand be both global and at the same time local? This is the question GUZEMA Fine Jewelry is trying to answer. Their creations are often seen on celebrities such as Olena Zelenskaya, the first lady of Ukraine, Milla Jovovich, or Kim Cattrall. Valeriya Guzema, founder of the brand, talks about the creation process, the new collection, and the charitable foundation that bears her name.

Why did you choose jewelry as an art form?
When I decided to set up my own business, I asked myself what I was passionate about. My grandmother sparked my interest in jewelry as a child, which is how the idea of a jewelry brand came to me.

When did you start the brand?
I made my first collection in 2015, but unfortunately, I was robbed and all the products were stolen. I needed another year to raise the seed capital and officially launch the business.

How would you capture the essence of GUZEMA Fine Jewelry?
The philosophy is to be yourself while feeling special. GUZEMA Fine Jewelry is not only about jewelry, but also about a woman’s love for herself. Our mission is to emphasize natural and inner beauty. GUZEMA is all about jewelry that transcends time and circumstance, my collections from many years ago are still relevant today. I’m happy to hear that our jewelry has become part of family stories and has already created many pleasant moments.

What materials do you use most often?
All GUZEMA Fine Jewelry products are made of 14-carat gold, and we also use 18-carat gold and natural diamonds in our premium collections. Occasionally, I also incorporate semi-precious stones into the jewelry, such as sapphire, opal, aquamarine, or amber.

What inspired the main theme of the new collection?
Our new collection is inspired by our national cultural heritage: Ukrainian embroidery and the guelder rose, a symbol of our homeland. These motifs symbolize our strength and courage. With the Spadok Collection, we are not only returning to our roots but also rethinking our national identity, put in a modern guise. Necklaces and earrings are made of amber and coral, traditional elements of Ukrainian jewelry. Once my grandmother gave me her personal jewelry, which included an amber ring. To me, this proves that no matter how much time passes, this material will always be relevant. I consider this ring to be my family heirloom and will one day pass it on to my descendants. The shape of the pendants and earrings is inspired by the guelder rose. Since our ancestors often embroidered this on towels and shirts, I decided to use the shape of the embroidery pattern when making the jewelry. At the same time, this evokes the pixel design of Ukrainian military clothing and reminds us that Ukraine is still at war and fighting for independence.

How has the war affected the day-to-day running of the business?
The war has completely changed the way we work. In addition to carrying out our daily tasks, we now have to pay attention to news broadcasts, and air raid warnings, and we are also dependent on planned or emergency power cuts. At any moment something could change, so we are all constantly on alert. Since February, we have been in 24-hour contact with the team, and the boundaries of the usual work schedule have become completely blurred. Despite the attacks and bombings, our jewelers continue to work once the air raids stop, creating something beautiful even in the most difficult times. Everyone in the GUZEMA team knows that we can’t stop because we are supporting the country’s economy with our work.

In such uncertain times, how do you tune in to creation?
It’s very difficult to find inspiration these days. The terrible news doesn’t leave much room for creativity, not for me, neither my team nor for other Ukrainians. But sadly, one can get used to the sound of sirens and explosions accompanying the work, and we are forced to plan our days thinking about a potential blackout. It is now an integral part of our lives and work. For me, the greatest motivational force and source of inspiration today is the strength of our people and our nation as a whole. The projects that Ukrainians create, and the perseverance with which they enthusiastically go about their lives, all impress me enormously. I draw strength from the example of my friends and colleagues to create new products.

What are the achievements you are most proud of?
I’m very proud of my team, which never stops working and volunteering despite the difficulties caused by the war. I’m proud of all the charity projects we have been able to carry out in the past six years. These are our Charity Chain and Inspiration Chain jewelry collections—profits from sales are donated to help children and women entrepreneurs. Another is the Freedom collection, which we designed to help the army during the war, with the proceeds going to the GUZEMA Foundation, the charity I set up. I am proud that since the beginning of Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, we have been able to help with a total of over US$246,000. I established the foundation in the spring of 2021 to help children with heart disease. We have helped hospitals, orphanages, and migrants, but since 24 February 2022, we have focused exclusively on helping soldiers serving on the front line. We buy them ammunition, communication equipment, generators, cars, thermal cameras, uniforms, binoculars, etc. Although we are a small fund, we try to respond as quickly as possible, because every minute is precious in war. I am incredibly proud of the activities of the GUZEMA Foundation, I draw a lot of strength and motivation from it.

Photos: GUZEMA Fine Jewelry

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