SAD SIGNS OF THE SAD TIMES
Very recent news: the once-upon-a-time pearl & jewelry giant Swiss company, Golay (nee Golay Buchel), is closing up its Lausanne headquarters and letting the last batch of their employees go this month. “A sad saga of an old empire withering after one century” as one former Golay worker put it. A handful of ex-employees have set up a group called Golex, and every September plan to come together for what shall undoubtedly be a rather mournful dinner reunion.
Which leads me to ruminate upon the changing of the guard in these dismal pearling times. You know the old adage: “It takes one generation to make a success, and two to piss it away”? This seems to be happening everywhere. The Professor has written eloquently about the changes in Paspaley Pearling, with disparate family members being called in and elevated to places of responsibility, some of whom are reputed to be discreditable, unsuitable and/or unbefitting... something certainly their patriarch, Nick, and his father were not as they worked assiduously to build their vast holdings. Will we see that empire eventually wither and fade?
Speaking of withering and fading, have you noticed the dearth of pearling news in virtually every jewelry magazine? The U.S. publications have always been historically rather tawdry in this regard, but the saddest showing has to be Jewellery News Asia, once numero uno in this regard. The last several issues have covered the pearl scene by two dull recountings of the dismal and hopefully-soon-to-be-forgotten Dubai convocation quite sometime ago, and an extract from Andy Müller’s June 5th presentation to the European Gemmological Symposium in Berne, Switzerland, (which the Pearl Professor reprised in full not long after it took place).
As a dear friend, knowledgeable as any about the pearl industry, recently put it: “It is time to adapt, time to survive, time to hold on with a new philosophy, and maybe less consumerism.”