Olga Oleksenko, a renowned jewellery connoisseur, curator of private jewellery collections, and art collector, unveiled her passion project, the Strong & Precious Art Foundation. With a career spanning over 12 years as the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique director in Kyiv, followed by her role as their brand ambassador in Ukraine, Olga Oleksenko has emerged as a formidable force in the world of luxury jewellery.
The genesis of the Strong & Precious Art Foundation can be traced back to Oleksenko’s profound desire to celebrate Ukraine’s rich artistic legacy, particularly during challenging times like the war in Ukraine. Her unique blend of professional experience in the luxury jewellery sector and her deeply personal connection to Ukraine and its artisans fueled her determination to champion their talents on a global stage.
Established in April 2022, the Strong & Precious Art Foundation serves as an ambassador for Ukrainian jewellery art and craftsmanship, seeking to redefine the perception of jewellery from mere adornments to high art forms comparable to traditional disciplines like painting and sculpture.
Oleksenko’s vision for the foundation has evolved, expanding beyond a focus solely on showcasing Ukrainian jewellery art to encompass the past, present, and future of Ukrainian artistry. “Our foundation aims to be a bridge that joins the past and present intersect, offering a vibrant picture of Ukraine’s jewellery legacy through contemporary designs. We provide full funding for projects, allowing participating brands the freedom to explore innovative ideas, utilise precious materials, and embrace intricate techniques,” Olga says.
One of the foundation’s notable achievements has been its role in changing the perception of Ukrainian jewellery. “The Strong & Precious Art Foundation has shifted the perception of Ukrainian jewellery from ethnic keepsakes to luxury items. Showcasing the intricate craftsmanship of Ukrainian designers, our participation in events like GemGenève and collaborations with Sotheby’s have elevated the brand to international acclaim. We go beyond aesthetics because each piece tells a compelling story—whether of regional history or cultural resilience—that appeals to the high luxury market. This storytelling aspect has not only raised the desirability of our jewellery but also its investment value, with collectors now considering these pieces as long-term assets,” she adds.
Strategic collaborations with industry platforms have further propelled the foundation’s mission, providing Ukrainian designers with invaluable global exposure and opportunities. The foundation’s partnerships have not only elevated the status of Ukrainian jewellery but have also contributed to social causes, with proceeds directed to aid war-affected individuals in Ukraine.
Oleksenko’s vision for Ukrainian jewellery design centres on the harmonious blend of tradition and cultural heritage with modern innovation. Ukrainian designers draw inspiration from the nation’s rich craft history and infuse their creations with contemporary elements, resulting in pieces that tell a compelling story while showcasing cutting-edge design. The recent How Precious UA collection exemplifies the fusion of tradition and innovation. Each piece pays homage to Ukraine’s history, geography, and culture while showcasing the creativity and skill of its designers.
Looking ahead, Olga Oleksenko and the Strong & Precious Art Foundation have ambitious plans to introduce Ukrainian jewellers to the United States, launch an educational platform, and continue their collaborations with industry leaders.
“If someone wishes to support our foundation or Ukrainian jewellers, we are incredibly open and welcoming to any collaboration, assistance, or proposition. At its core, our entire project thrives because of the goodwill and aid of compassionate individuals. I’ve often emphasised in interviews how our participation at GemGenève was made possible solely due to the kind support of the event’s founders and organisers, Thomas Faerber and Ronnie Totah. Following that, Marie-Cécile Cisamolo, the director of Sotheby’s, approached us with a proposal to collaboratively assist Ukraine and its jewellers. We are truly proud and delighted to have collaborated with such esteemed organisations and individuals, and we remain open to further partnerships and propositions. From our end, we always strive to ensure that each collaboration is enriching, informative, and vibrant,” Olga says.
Under Olga Oleksenko’s leadership, the Strong & Precious Art Foundation is poised to continue its remarkable journey of elevating Ukrainian artistry on the global stage, showcasing the depth of Ukrainian jewellery and its modernisation to the world.