Where luxury is art…
July 28, 2006
Contemporary artist, gemologist, jeweler, designer and watchmaker…Anthony Bonja is a multitalented creator of timeless beauty. Surrounded by the magnificence of gems and jewels from birth, Bonja is an expert authority on luxury in all of its forms. The rich diversity of his character and taste is evident in his brand, every item of which is a much coveted objet d’art that carries a refined name, one that has become synonymous with pure opulence.
Born into a family that has been in the jewelry and gemology business for generations, Bonja has an undeniable affinity with beauty. He is in fact driven by it and it is unmistakably present in whatever he decides to work on, be it jewelry, one-of-a-kind 3D paintings, ultra luxurious accessories, watches and more.
From an early age, Bonja discovered his love for creating, for design, for art and for working with his hands. By the time he was in his teens he had no qualms about choosing his path in life and he went on to study gemology, pearls and watchmaking. “I felt a strong attraction to watchmaking in particular from the age of 17, and in spite of everything else that I do, it remains my main passion,” said Bonja.
Leaving Lebanon during the war, Bonja went to Belgium where he opened the Gemological School of Antwerp and the Gemological Laboratory of Antwerp. He was also very involved in his painting which influenced his style of cutting diamonds. “I cut stones differently than what you would find on the market; it has become my signature style and is immediately recognizable when you see it; I aim at cutting the diamond in a way that completely brings out its luster.”
For Bonja, the cut and shape of a stone is of utmost importance when it comes to designing jewelry. It is in fact the shape of the stone that is the ultimate inspiration for Bonja. Always on the lookout for original cuts and colors, he takes time crafting his magnificent jewelry as he allows the stones to lead his imagination and present him with an ocean of ideas that ultimately manifest as an exclusive item unique in design and value.
“Inspiration and imagination are ultimately some of my greatest strengths as an artist. Many a time I would start making something, a watch for instance, and end up creating something entirely different, like a painting!” This has certainly been a major point of strength for his brand as well, which, thanks to his multi-faceted mind and interests, has been enriched with diversity, and encompasses a large variety of high-end luxury products that include leather goods, accessories, sunglasses and a very special type of fragrance. “For years I have filled jars with gold dust and precious oils, over time a unique fragrance drenched in gold was created. When you dab it on your body the gold is immediately absorbed, magically it disappears,” he explained. This magnificent item is an exclusive limited edition product made and priced for a select few. Perfect for brides; it even comes with a little book of secrets on how to use it for maximum effect.
Yet, regardless of how fascinating these endeavors may be, they do not mesmerize and hold Bonja’s interest as much as watchmaking does. Celebrating three decades of Anthony Bonja watches this year, the first jewel timepiece in the brand was introduced in 1978, with a second breakthrough in the world of luxury watches launched in 1979. In 1982, Bonja Group presented its exclusive limited series of jewel watches during the Basel Jewelry and Watch Fair in Switzerland, a turning point that spurred him on to face all challenges and create items of beauty and perfection to please his clientele.
As precious to him as his fabulous watches are, Bonja’s clientele over the years have become close friends to him, and others that are only just discovering his work have found it simply irresistible. “We have a boutique at the airport and through our experience there, we know that our watches are bought on an impulse, especially for those who don’t know the brand, they just fall in love with the watches!” he smiles.
These customers are also mostly collectors, people who are in search of the ultimate in extravagant luxury and are easily able to recognize it when they see it. According to Bonja, his jewelry is made for them, for those who love his watches. “I get to know my customers through the watches they collect -- the jewelry is somewhat complimentary to the timepieces,” he said.
What may have once been a far-fetched dream is the wonderfully vivid reality that Bonja now revels in. His successes have truly been stellar and it is his infinitely creative spirit that propels him forward towards bigger accomplishments. A constant evolution of style and innovation definitely set him apart from other designers, artists and jewelers and the world waits to be further dazzled with his ideas and creations.