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Silver and diamonds - the "daily bread" of jeweler

26 july 2021
excl_02042018_xx.jpgGRINGOR is a St. Petersburg-based modern jewellery manufacturing company established in 2002. It successfully develops and implements the innovations, many of which resonate with the Russians and the people abroad.

In 2012, GRINGOR was awarded the honorary title of the “Official Supplier of the Russian Imperial House”, and the company’s president, Alexander Gorynya, was awarded the diploma “In recognition of Outstanding Services in Preserving and Developing the Traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church Jewellery Art and in Honour of the Special Esteem”.

Alexander Gorynya, the founder of the GRINGOR company, told Rough&Polished what his company has achieved for two decades and what contribution it makes to the development of the Russian jewellery industry.

Next year, it will be 20 years since the establishment of the GRINGOR company. What are your achievements to celebrate the anniversary?

The GRINGOR firm was founded at the turn of the century. But we released our first jewellery in 1999. And we entered the market with our know-how – diamond studded silver jewellery. We were the first to start producing it commercially, and for that time, it was a new approach, and our colleagues in the jewellery industry found this somewhat strange and wrong.

However, ten years later, the world-famous Tiffany & Co and Cartier also offered their jewellery collections in silver using diamonds.

And over the last eight to ten years, many of our rivals, even famous ones, also followed this way – at present, they produce this jewellery, too, and even on a large scale. We are proud of this achievement. In addition to the diamond studded silver jewellery, we were the first in the world to offer a jewellery collection with synthetic diamonds. It was in 2000, so, we were ahead of the Americans by three months. The first sales were held in the “Passage” shopping centre on Smolenskaya Square, the collection was small, since we were a small company, and we did not earn much money. But this is how we made ourselves known, although after that, we stopped using synthetic stones and switched completely to natural ones. And it was also interesting in terms of innovation.

In addition, we always wanted and want now to make some creative and sophisticated products. We have also made progress in this as evidenced by our diplomas and prizes won at the jewellery competitions. In 2012, the company was awarded the title of Supplier of the Russian Imperial House from Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanova. Since 1917, there have been only three such firms in Russia, and only one is in the jewellery sector.

We also made jewellery pieces for the Russian Orthodox Church – the “timeless classic” jewellery, as it’s called nowadays. This is a short story about what we can be proud of.

You were the first in the world to start making diamond studded silver jewellery collections commercially. Whose idea was it and how was it implemented?

The idea was mine, but it just didn’t come from the sky as everything develops on the earth evolutionarily. Before the 1917 revolution, silver frames were used in large quantities, silver was used as a frame, and the fittings were gold. That is why, when we see antique jewellery pieces, they are black, only diamonds shine that look white against a dark background – moreover, the diamond quality was very low: before the Soviet time, all diamonds were imported to Russia from Europe and India.

In 1998-1999, the manufactures started to plate silver with rhodium to keep it from tarnishing as long as possible. And the idea was quite simple: after the default in 1998, people had less money - and it should be noted that this happens in our country from time to time because the very concept of capitalism implies crises. White gold came into fashion. We began to combine silver with diamonds, using rhodium plating technology for the first time, and brought this new product to the market. There was a lot of reasoning whether it was necessary or not, so I even had to write and defend a thesis “Ensuring the Competitiveness of Jewellery Products”. The idea was quite simple: if you enter the market with this product, from scratch, you need at least three and a half years, and generally, more than four years. This is how we introduced these jewellery products and, in general, radically changed the market, bringing a new promising direction to the jewellery sector.

The diamond studded silver jewellery is our daily work and our “daily bread”. And this is our livelihood – not substantial windfall revenues, but normal and constant money.

What directions does GRINGOR develop in its production, what technologies does the company use?

We use all the up-to-date technologies available in the world now, such as 3D-modelling, which has quite developed over 15 years, and other advanced technologies in laser processing, in tools - we use all these, because otherwise, it is impossible to make high-quality jewellery pieces. We keep on developing new directions, mastering new materials, so, we used titanium, platinum, and palladium and we know how to work with them. There are only three such companies in Russia able to work with different metals – they are Krasnoyarsk Non-Ferrous Metals Plant (KZTsM), one Rostov-based company, and one firm in Yekaterinburg working with palladium.

Do you have any ideal among the jewellery brands - not for copying, imitating but as an example of artistic creativity and commercial success to follow?

As a brand, I think that Carl Faberge and Russkiye Samotsvety (Russian Gems) are all that we have in Russia.

As successful examples, I can count the jewellery firms in the post-Soviet times on the fingers of one hand. Kostroma Jewellery Factory - V. V. Sorokin kept it from “sinking”, which is his merit. Krasnoselsky Yuvelirprom (Krasnoselsky jewellery industry) – it is also great that it was saved from collapsing as it is the only company making 3D filigree pieces in the world. As an example of high art and creativity now in Russia, I would like to distinguish Ilgiz Fazulzyanov - he is great in all respects in his perseverance, hard work, and artistic taste. Among the new companies, the VIP-2000 firm is possibly the best today; it introduced new technologies and is one of the few companies supplying to most countries of the world, even to Australia; moreover, it supplies silver and offers the best prices (thanks to using advanced technologies) that are even better than those offered by the Chinese. And this company is the only example of commercial success as they both export and import the goods, and develop their own chain as well – a small but a stable one.

Tell us about your company, who are its founders, designers, and jewellers?

Prior to founding GRINGOR, I had worked at the Russian Gems company for 19 years. And I set myself the task of starting company from the ground up, without inviting the craftsmen and employees from that company. I invited five guys who had graduated from the Art Lyceum named after Carl Faberge, and we started working with them, and later on, a young technologist joined us. Together with them, we gained experience, got training, “suffered” and came up with new ideas, and this gave me an impetus, including in understanding the production process (although there was little to surprise me). We have done a lot of work from scratch, now they work at well-known firms taking higher posts - some of them are chief engineers, the others are leading specialists.

As for the designers, we had long discussions with Tatyana Platonova arguing over some things, and at the first stage, we made progress. Later on, I worked with Anastasia Kovalyova, she is from a group of young talented designers working in 3D-modelling. The good thing about the in the market though is it allows you working with at least a dozen designers at once, and all communications are very easy.

As for the founders: there must be a leader, a “charger” (sorry for the term: I have three university educations - all are different - and my first background is electrical engineering), so, I had to act as an initiator. Fortunately, I had a strong support from my family, and we still work together. Our jewellers also improved their skills, and all this is confirmed by the diplomas where all the names are mentioned. In addition, without engineering and technical personnel, we would not have made much progress. I had to take it upon myself, since I already knew all the jewellery technologies available in the world. From an economic point of view, I was lucky as E. P. Novikov who survived the WW2 blockade in Leningrad and was the former head of the pricing department at Yuvelirprom (USSR Jewellery Industry Association) joined our company, and he made a great contribution to the pricing policy of the company and the promotion of our products.

Is there anything you regret?

We never regret anything. We have lived a very difficult life - suffice it to say that for ten years, we have been constantly relying on loans. But we jumped out of this “trap” and continued our work. “Our years are our wealth”, but it must be hidden. We overcame all the trying obstacles with dignity, with our heads held high - this is especially true for my wife Tatyana Petrovna Gorynya, director of the GRINGOR company, who at first had to stand behind the counter and sell the goods.

How did you come to the jewellery business? And what does this business give you? Besides the fact that this is a family business ...

I was born in St. Petersburg on Vosstaniya Street, and in the apartment owned by Eugeny Yakobson, the leading painter at the Faberge firm, (although I did not know about it at that time). To some extent, I may say that the Jacobsons formed me, because it was an artistic family. In addition, after that, at the age of 12, I became the city’s champion in ship modelling – I made and glued small yachts, ships ...

So, you are pretty good with your hands.

Well, I have a clever pair of hands, but everyone also needs a head. Probably, this childhood hobby also played a role. Then, it happened so that I, being a good engineer at a defense enterprise, was appointed the chief of a workshop against my will, and as young specialists, I got an apartment in the Rzhevka district, and it took almost three hours to go to work and back home by tram. And when I saw the Russian Gems factory next to my house, I went there, and the head of the personnel department used to be the political officer of the scuba diving team (I was a part of the team long ago), and for some reason, he also remembered me ... That’s how I came to the jewellery workshop. I was told, “It’s difficult to work here,” but in my previous jobs, I used more complex technologies, so, to be honest, I almost had to laugh. So, I changed my job pretty easily.

As they say in India, “Dharma is your lifework, true calling”. And as they say, keep on working over and over again. Therefore, there are no super-tasks, but we should do our job better than somebody else. This, by the way, is a Japanese philosophy.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished