Grad's Career, Jewellery Line Celebrate Modern Women

Noelle Vieillard-Jordi
Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi on one of her annual trips to Vicenza, Italy to select Venetian glass cameos for Bahina Jewels’ designs. Courtesy Bahina Jewels
Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi watched her new boss, a respected antique gem and jewellery dealer, inspect the Burmese ruby a dealer brought to their Geneva offices.

She worked up her courage and asked if she, too, could have a look.

Vieillard-Jordi, a recent GIA graduate only a few months into her first job in the jewellery industry, got a knot in her stomach when she took a close look at the stone. Her extensive laboratory class training told her something was off.

The “Burmese ruby” looked to Vieillard-Jordi like a synthetic stone, and her boss agreed. They asked the dealer to have the stone identified in a local gem lab, which confirmed two days later that the ruby was synthetic.  

“I was so proud,” says Vieillard-Jordi, the managing partner of Bahina Jewels. “Not only because we had seen stones like it during our GIA lab classes and I recognised it, but also because I had the courage to tell my boss.”
Vieillard-Jordi, born and raised in Berne, Switzerland, is the daughter of an architect and art history aficionado, and was raised to appreciate beauty and design. She speaks several languages (German, Swiss German, English, French and Spanish) and first pursued studies at the Hotel Management School in Lausanne, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management.  

An 18K yellow gold “Gold Rush” bracelet features garnet, carnelian, citrine, tourmaline, blue topaz, iolite and amethyst. Photo by Sandra Stampfli, courtesy Bahina Jewels
Once she completed her studies, she accepted a position as operations manager at Christie’s Geneva, where she organised all Swiss auctions and daily operations, as well as managing human resources for the firm’s Geneva and Zurich offices. She left Christie’s for a year-and-a-half-long stint as product manager for L’Oreal’s luxury brand, Kerastase, but found herself missing the incredible gems and jewellery she used to see in the auction rooms.

Two friends – an expert at Christie’s and a director from a renowned jewellery company – strongly recommended she look into GIA, saying it would be nearly impossible for her to break into the gem and jewellery industry otherwise.

“When I decide to do something or to undertake something, I choose the best, whether it’s a school or employer,” Vieillard-Jordi says. “Even if it means that I have to study in a language I do not speak fluently, or live far away from my husband and family.”

So Vieillard-Jordi enrolled in GIA and moved to New York City, where she lived and immersed herself in all things gemmological. She loved the city, her studies at GIA and having near-instant access to the diamond district and auction houses.

“I was one of the oldest students, and one of the most serious,” she says. “I was absolutely sure that the gem industry was my future and wanted to absorb all the knowledge the teachers were willing to share with us.”

Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi and her sister, Annick Jordi, say they design jewellery that celebrates the independence of modern women. Courtesy Bahina Jewels
Vieillard-Jordi and her sister, Annick Jordi, design jewellery that celebrates the independence of modern women. Courtesy Bahina Jewels
She finished her studies in 2004, earning her Graduate Gemmologist and Accredited Jewellery Professional diplomas. Vieillard-Jordi found a job – with the antique dealer in Geneva – almost immediately. Working in a small office meant she was able to learn nearly every aspect of the industry, from international trade show organisation and the Swiss import/export process, to inventory and jewellery evaluation.

Vieillard-Jordi’s sister, Annick Jordi, studied design in Paris and earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York, as well as a master’s degree in political science from the University of Geneva. The two realised how complementary their skill sets were, and started to dream up a line of jewellery that would celebrate the independence of the modern woman – the one who finds joy, beauty and fun in everyday life, and who buys her own jewellery that’s not just reserved for “special occasions”.

Sisters and Bahina Jewels owners Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi, left, and Annick Jordi, right, with a few of their designs. “Bahina” is a Hindi term meaning “two sisters”. Photo by Guy Perrenoud, courtesy Bahina Jewels
Sisters and Bahina Jewels owners Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi, left, and Annick Jordi, right, with a few of their designs. “Bahina” is a Hindi term meaning “two sisters”. Photo by Guy Perrenoud, courtesy Bahina Jewels
The sisters’ dream became a reality in 2007, when they established Bahina Jewels. “Bahina”, a Hindi term for “two sisters”, captures the spirit of their venture, Vieillard-Jordi says.

Vieillard-Jordi manages stone purchases, importing and exporting, and inventory, while Jordi handles design and marketing. They work closely together, traveling to trade shows around the world, and making trips to Italy for Venetian glass cameos and to India to inspect and buy loose stones for their designs, which are set in 18K gold. Bahina’s designs are available through private viewings in Switzerland, as well as at high-end boutiques in Berne and Zurich, international trade shows like JCK and the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, and through the company’s website.
Vieilliard-Jordi, who lives in Geneva with her husband of 14 years, Stephane, and their 8- and 6-year-old children, says her GIA education was “a door-opener” and gave her the right skills to build her ideal career.

“At GIA, I learned skills like identifying high-quality stones and good cutting,” she says. “But even the small details – like knowing how to correctly use a loupe – changes the way dealers look at you.”

Noëlle Vieillard-Jordi inspects loose coloured stones during a visit to a dealer in India. Courtesy Bahina Jewels
Vieillard-Jordi manages stone purchases and inventory for Bahina Jewels.
Courtesy Bahina Jewels

Jaime Kautsky, a contributing writer, is a GIA Diamonds Graduate and GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional and was an associate editor of The Loupe magazine for several years.