Maison A. Vernain SA was founded by our grand-father Honoré in 1900 and entered in the Geneva's commercial registry in 1903. Our grandfather, who was destined for a career as a notary public clerk but was not attracted to it, decided to learn the trade of diamond-cutter in a diamond-cutting workshop in an neighbouring french area called Gex. He then founded his own business in 1900 near the Geneva's train station in the district of Montbrillant. So called district not because you can see the mountain "Mont-Blanc", but because it was the place where brilliant diamonds were cut
The cutting workshop in these buildings was operated by hydraulic power and led to Geneva's first "Jet d'Eau". It was created by a pressure relief valve in the hydraulics system in the Rhône river. When the workshops closed in the evening, the hydraulic pressure then escaped through this release valve. The workshop was subsequently moved to la Coulouvrenière near the Rhône river where the machines were powere by means of an electric motor.Due to toughness increase in rough diamonds, difficulty increase to cut them and labour becoming too onerous in Switzerland, the cutting activity diminished.
Our grandfather, Honoré, and father, Auguste, developed diamond trading rather than diamond-cutting. They continued in the premises on "la Coulouvrenière" until the end of the 1950s, when two successive hold-ups made them decide to move their offices to their current site close to the police headquarters, and in a district where there were many workshops and factories making watches and jewellery.