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Collectors Gallery: An Object of Passion

Dec 8, 2019

TLmag caught up with Betty de Stefano, founder of Brussels based Collectors Gallery, to get her take on Belgian style and innovation in contemporary jewellery making.

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Text by Marie Honnay
Photography by Mireille Roobaert

In the chic and discreet Sablon setting that perfectly matches her personality, this Collectors Gallery owner advocates for design in the broadest sense. A graduate in painting and photography from the Brussels Academy of Fine Arts, she quickly developed a passion for collecting 20th-century objects and furniture. Since 2005, Betty de Stefano has specialised in unusual jewels, both modern and contemporary, that she sells to collectors and international museums.

TLmag: How would you define Belgian style? And is there, in fact, a Belgian style?

Betty de Stefano (B.d.S): We live in a global world. Information, fashion and styles blend together. So, I recommend that each person find their own. However, it is certainly true that Belgium is full of talents.

TLmag: Why and how did you develop this passion for jewellery?

B.d.S: It is firstly the object that interests me, the idea that leads to the design. Modernist and artists’ jewellery perfectly reflect this. The passion then developed on its own, the result of my interest in the object.

TLmag: Is there a designer who can still surprise you?

B.d.S: Every day, I come across incredible designers and designs. You just have to open your eyes. The broader world of art inspires me. It seems unfair to mention only one. But if I had to, I would have to say, Jean-Paul Knott. I had the great pleasure of discovering his creations in 2002, and I have remained a fan.

TLmag: You share your neighbourhood, the Sablon, with Jean-Paul Knott, Pierre Marcolini, etc. What is your perception of Belgian-born know-how?

B.d.S.: As I said earlier, Belgium is full of talents. It’s a young country with an incredible history, but also welcomes artists from around the world. This mixing, of course, enriches our own know-how.

TLmag: The world of retail changes in the blink of an eye, but you, with your speciality, clearly stand out. Do you feel a renewed sense of interest in collector’s items and designer accessories?

B.d.S: I have always worked with collectors; they are fantastic people. We have discussions on the history, influences, sources of inspiration of the artists that we present. We build collections in Belgium and abroad. This approach is in our DNA. In addition to their highly developed and in-depth knowledge, our collectors also have a sense of humour. The collection of the adorable Galila Barzilai-Hollander, which is presented in her private space P.O.C. (near Wiels) is a good example.

TLmag: Why is contemporary jewellery, as you define it, considered to be a “niche”?

B.d.S: Innovation comes from everywhere. This has been true for a long time. Since the end of the 19th century, innovation has come from artists but also from science, industry, etc. Jewellery is just the culmination of the applied arts.

TLmag: You specialise in 20th-century jewellery. What is there today that can still be created? In other words, where must innovation come from? Today, for example, there is a lot of talk about ethical jewellery.

B.d.S: As consumers or collectors. Collectors Gallery has always had a place for the innovations and the pioneering designers of the 20th-century decorative arts, such as Georg Jensen, and now also the 21st century. Our world is going through significant changes, and the young generation of designers has a conscience. They are our future. We have to show that we are responsible. I am delighted to see and to meet this new generation of designers. They have an emotional intelligence that, to me, is the synthesis of what previous generations have sought: gender equality, ecological responsibility, and the importance of friendship and love.


Georg Jensen, Photo: Astrid Fog

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