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Leibish & Co

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Colored Gem Engagement Rings

Small Twig ring with a 19.99 carat aquamarine available in 18k yellow, white, or rose gold and platinum by K. Brunini Jewels

Thanks to the De Beers “A Diamond is Forever” campaign, white diamonds matched with white metals have been the standard for engagement rings for more than 60 years in the United States. However, it wasn’t always that way, particularly among the rich, royal and famous when tying the knot.

Likoma ring in 18k white gold with a 4.18-carat pear-shaped pink tourmaline enhanced with grey, white and golden natural pearls and diamonds by Mellerio dits Meller

In 1796, a 26-year-old up-and-coming soldier named Napoleon Bonaparte presented his wife to be, Joséphine, with a sapphire and diamond engagement ring. The stones, each weighing 1 carat and mounted in gold, rest side by side facing opposite directions. Osenat auction house in Paris sold the ring in March 2013 for more than $1 million.

Majestic emerald-cut intense honey citrine and diamond ring by Alexandra Mor

When John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, he did it with a gold Van Cleef & Arpels ring with a 2.88-carat diamond and 2.84-carat emerald enhanced with baguette diamonds, which were later replaced with round and marquis cut diamonds. 

6.39-carat pear-shaped yellow sapphire ring by Robert Procop

Perhaps the most famous colored gem engagement ring is the 18k white gold ring centered with a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds that Prince William presented to Kate Middleton in 2010 when he proposed marriage. The ring is a family heirloom, belonging to his late mother Princess Diana who received it as her engagement ring.

Eloise ring featuring three-stone paraiba by Erica Courtney

There are a number of modern day celebrity couples choosing colored gems for engagement rings. Among them:

* Singer and actress Jessica Simpson, who received a gold engagement ring from guitarist Eric Johnson in 2010 centered with an oversized ruby flanked by two diamonds on either side. The ring was designed by Neil Lane, who is known for his work with celebrities.

Platinum Stack Rings composed of the five individual rings shown, designed by Barbara Heinrich to collect, mix and match with your favorite colored gem and wear as an engagement ring, a wedding band, as a group right-hand ring, or individually

* Academy Award winner Halle Berry received a hand-forged gold ring flashing a 4-carat emerald in a one-of-a-kind setting. Designed by French jeweler, Robert Mazio, the square cut emerald is flanked by two smaller diamonds on each side of the ring. The ring reportedly has symbols and codes that only the wearer could see and tells the story of the love between Berry and her one-time husband Olivier Martinez. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end well for the couple. 

18k white gold ring with an aquamarine center stone surrounded by diamonds by Pasquale Bruni

* Australian cricket player Shane Warne proposed to actress Elizabeth Hurley with a 9-carat square-cut sapphire flanked by two trillion-cut white diamonds.

The Valentina 18k yellow gold ring by Anabel Higgins with an 18.74-carat rubellite surrounded by diamonds

There have been attempts by gem dealers, designers and jewelry retailers to bring the appeal of colored gems to bridal jewelry in the U.S., but consumers never took to it. When Kate Middleton, (now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) was married with the Ceylon sapphire, Sri Lankan gem dealers were anticipating a rush to buy similar gems for proposals, but even royal star power couldn’t sway the masses. 

18k rose gold Tourmaline Ring by Lucifer vir Honestus

However, in the luxury segment of the jewelry market, jewelers are willing to cater to those who want something different and unique. For example, earlier this year jewelry artist, Katey Brunini, unveiled a complete line of bridal jewels (engagement rings and wedding bands) featuring a variety of colored gems, including ruby, sapphire, emeralds and Beryl in hues that run from pastel to bold. The pieces include classic looks and organic, rough-textured shapes, described as “twigs” and “vertebrae.” 

Rose gold ring with a 6.23-carat emerald and diamonds by Vhernier

Venerable Parisian high jeweler, Mellerio dits Meller, recently released a collection of high jewelry cocktails ring, the “Private Collection,” that also could be used as engagement rings. They are designed by Laure-Isabelle Mellerio, the wife of M. Laurent Mellerio, the 14th Mellerio to head the family owned jeweler since 1613. 

Platinum ring with 2.11-carat blue oval sapphire solitaire set in a diamond filigree mounting by Alishan

Using colored gems is a way to create a ring that more fully describes the story of your marriage. 

Blue Topaz and diamond “Sea Leaf” ring by Miseno

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“Dearest” enamel stack ring by Alison Lou

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Southeast Asia Jewelry And Gemstone Directory Available For Purchase

The Jewellery & Gemstone Directory 2017 – Southeast Asia Edition is the ultimate sourcing guide for trade buyers seeking business opportunities in the region’s manufacturing and distribution sectors. 

First published in 2015, this annual directory is the most comprehensive resource on jewelry and gemstone suppliers and retailers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Published by JNA, the latest edition of the directory lists more than 1,600, with more than 1,000 suppliers and 600 retailers, representing about 2,200 stores in the region. Specific sections in the directory cover jewelry and gemstone manufacturers, exporters and wholesalers; diamond and pearl dealers; gemological laboratories; trade organizations and training establishments. 

The “Suppliers” section lists companies by product and service and by country. The "Retailers" section features independent retailers, chain stores and distributors, providing information on the type of jewelry they sell and the source of their merchandise.

The directory is currently available at a special introductory rate of $40 per copy, as opposed to the regular cost of $60 and can be ordered by following this link

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Divisive Donald Trump Election Leads Jeweler To Donate 50% Of Sales To Charities

An Arizona jeweler became so disheartened with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States that she decided to create a campaign to donate half of her company’s sales to causes that she fears will be neglected when the new administration begins.

Konstantina Mahlia, owner of the jewelry brand, Mahlia Collection, “impulsively” started this campaign a week ago out of frustration, and it quickly gained traction with several non-profit organizations. The National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Equality Arizona, Planned Parenthood and Sea Turtle Conservancy are on board with this campaign and in some cases are providing marketing assistance.

No one is more surprised by this initial success than Mahlia.

“I (cold-called) the presidents of these organizations saying ‘I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m looking for help to make it work’ and everybody called me back,” Mahlia said.

The name of the campaign is “We Can” and the impulsive nature of it shows as it is incorrectly listed as “Our Way,” on the Mahlia Collection website. It has since been corrected. The campaign is scheduled to run until December 31 but she may extend it. Mahlia also purchased the domain for “We Can” and is in the process of creating a dedicated web presence for the campaign. 

For Mahlia, this isn’t a marketing ploy to increase sales or brand awareness. “If I get any money out of this it will be a miracle,” she said.

Konstantina Mahlia

The campaign is being managed directly through the Mahlia eCommerce website. When someone purchases a product, right before paying a pop up window comes up with the list of partner organizations. Buyers can direct half of the cost of the product to the non-profit of their choice. Each organization has dedicated space on their website for the campaign for accountability and credit to donors for tax purposes (donations are tax deductible).

Buyers can also choose to opt out of directing the money to any organization. 

Ultimately, she says she hopes to build a network of people who have the same concerns as she. 

“I hope it inspires others to step up the plate to do something that is civic minded and empowering,” she says. “Hopefully, we can create an affiliation of like-minded people and know that you’re not just huddled in your world depressed at the demise of the world that is on the way.” 

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

A. Lange & Söhne Celebrates Anniversary With Lange 1 Time Zone In Honey Gold

A. Lange & Söhne released a special edition of the Lange 1 Time Zone in honey gold to celebrate the 22-year anniversary of the first Lange collection of the company’s modern era. 

The watch was released October 24, on the same date in 1994 when the German watchmaker held a press conference in the Dresden Residential Palace to unveil its first watches since the re-forming of the company. 

A. Lange & Söhne’s founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, is credited with helping to create a watchmaking industry in the German city of Glashütte near Dresden in 1845. The company’s watchmaking facility was bombed during World War II and the post-war Soviet administration expropriated the company’s property. That’s when the Lange brand ceased to exist. 

Following the collapse of the East German government, Walter Lange, the great-grandson of the company’s founder, and his partner Günter Blümlein re-formed the company in 1990 and presented its first timepieces four years later.

The clearly organized dial of the Lange 1 Time Zone provides a reading of the home time and the time in a second time zone. The time zone is set with a lateral pusher. It advances the rotating city ring with the 24 place names from west to east. On the ring, Dresden—instead of Berlin as in the standard version—represents Central European Time. In addition, the hour hand on the small subsidiary dial moves forward by one step with each use of the pusher. A synchronization mechanism makes it possible to transfer the zone time on the subsidiary dial to the main dial.  

Subtle color changes in the design of the city ring differentiate it from the standard version. The dots between the city names and GMT are blue instead of red. The previously black peripheral ring of the second time zone has the same blue hue as well. 

The 41.9mm case is made of 18k honey gold, A. Lange & Söhn’s proprietary gold alloy. The watch is powered by the hand-finished in-house caliber L031.1 with a three-day power reserve. 

Limited to 100 pieces, it is available exclusively in the 17 A. Lange & Söhne boutiques worldwide. 

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Salvatore Ferragamo Shows Its Heart With New Watch

It is simply named, Cuore, the Italian word for heart, and this particular heart has a beat. 

The distinguishing feature of the Cuore Ferragamo timepiece is a heart on the dial above 6 o’clock. The heart beats by opening and closing once per second, powered by a Swiss quartz movement. The user controls the patented function by pressing the crown. The time is set with a button at 2 o’clock using a special heart-shaped tool. The off-centre hours and minutes indicator is embellished by a circle of diamonds or an engraved Clou de Paris motif, a guilloché pattern of hollowed lines that intersect to form tiny pyramidal shapes. The “Ferragamo” logo appears on the dial at 3 o’clock.

The other feature of the dial and the silver 39mm case is the subtle appearance of the iconic Ferragamo Gancino, the shape of a hook used as the symbol of the fashion brand. 

The watch was introduced in March at the Baselworld watch and jewelry show and was available since June. However, events were held in cities around the world to formally introduce the product. Wednesday was the U.S.’s turn as the watch was introduced during an event held at the Hotel Eventi in New York.

The watch is available with a bi-color gold plated bracelet or a crocodile print calfskin strap in yellow, black, red, purple, pink and grey. It can be purchased at Salvatore Ferragamo boutiques, authorized retailers or online from the Ferragamo website. The price runs from $1,595 to $2,995.

Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division—which manages the watch business for luxury brands Salvatore Ferragamo and other luxury fashion brands, through licensing agreements—says the watch is designed to be presented a gift, which is in line with the trends for fashion watches, in which more than than 50 percent are purchased as gifts.

It also is in line with the trend to wear watches as an accessory, he says.

“Brands such as ours, fashion brands, the design is more relevant than the movement inside,” he said. 

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Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus And Nautica To Leave Baselworld

Paolo Marai, president and CEO of Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division

The prestigious Hall 1 of Baselworld may have more empty space than originally planned as four fashion watch brands are the latest to pull out of the 2017 edition of the world’s largest watch and jewelry show.

The Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division—which manages the watch business for luxury brands Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus and Nautica through licensing agreements—is the latest to announce that it is leaving the annual fair held in Basel, Switzerland. 

Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the division of the Timex Group, in an exclusive interview, said the $3 million investment into the show could be better spent in other areas of its global business. The four brands occupied Hall 1.1, the second floor of the hall dedicated to “global” watch and jewelry brands. 

“I think that Baselworld is a huge investment for everybody and is in my opinion losing some effectiveness,” he said. “It used to be very important in different levels. First, it was a good opportunity to meet journalists but they’re coming less and less to Baselworld. And even those who come are reducing the time they are staying—running from one appointment to the next.”

He continued, “Second, in the past we used to meet a lot of retailers. This year not one single country sent retailers. So what you meet in Baselworld are distributors. But we know the distributors. I don’t need to go to Baselworld for that.”

Baselworld Hall. 1.1 (Photo Courtesy of Baselworld)

Marai says the changing luxury business demands that luxury brands, particularly fashion brands, need to be closer to the consumer. He argues Baselworld isn’t an efficient way to do this.

“Baselworld is becoming more of a place to show off. I’m there because I want to show that I’m at Basel rather than doing something that is really effective toward the end consumer,” said Marai, a native of Milan who now lives in Lugano, Switzerland, where the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division is located. “We need to move the needle and be close to the end consumer…. I can put in the same amount of money to be closer to the end consumer and be more effective…. It is a cost I do not believe we can afford anymore. 

He added, “I’m not the only one (leaving) Baselworld. Plenty of brands have decided to step out of there. When the market is suffering I think you need to try something new. It is worth it for us to do something different.”

In May, luxury watch brands, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, announced that they were exiting Baselworld to exhibit at the Salon International de Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), which is held January in Geneva. Both brands—owned by Kering, the French luxury goods holding company—occupied the most prestigious space at Baselworld, Hall 1.0, the first floor of the Global Hall where the most prestigious independent and corporate-owned watch brands are located. 

Watch, jewelry and gem companies have been leaving Baselworld since the trade show unveiled its $454.5 million upgrade to the Messe Basel fair complex in 2013. The new renovations came with hefty price increases for exhibition space as the trade show began positioning itself as a luxury event. In response, in 2013 there were 355 fewer exhibitors, primarily smaller players and those who provide products and services within the trade. However, a few large brands also balked at the new asking price. International jewelry brand, David Yurman, was perhaps the most high-profile company to leave the fair in 2013. 

The change did attract some luxury brands, most notably Graff Diamonds, which began exhibiting at Baselworld in 2014 at Hall 1.1.

Baselworld Hall 1.0 (Photo Courtesy of Baselworld)

Meanwhile, UBM Asia established “Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe” in 2014 in Freiburg, Germany. The dates and location line up nicely with Baselworld. Freiburg is less than an hour away from Basel, Switzerland. Many of the jewelry, gem and watch trade companies that used to exhibit at Baselworld now exhibit at the new show.

Despite the issues, Baselworld remains the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair. It is also the most important watch and jewelry show in the world for new product introductions and for international exposure. Show officials said in 2016 attracted 145,000 attendees—who include representatives from exhibiting companies, buyers and other visitors—a 3 percent decline from 2015. There were approximately 1,500 exhibitors. The number of journalists covering the event increased 3 percent to about 4,400 from 70 countries. 

It’s not just Baselworld. Large and small jewelry and watch trade shows throughout the world have been struggling to find their footing. The September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the world’s largest fine jewelry trade fair, reported attendance declines for two consecutive years. In the U.S., JCK Las Vegas (the largest jewelry trade show in North America and at one time the largest in the world) has never fully recovered from the 2008-2009 global recession. SIHH, known for its exclusivity, has opened its doors to more watch exhibitors and buyers.

Marai says driving this move is a change in the way that consumers relate to brands. This has prompted his push to find new ways for his company to get closer to its customers through its marketing practices and sales. The search for these new practices is further complicated by the various economic and geopolitical issues throughout the world that are affecting distribution and sales. This ranges from the steep decline in sales from the once booming China and Hong Kong marketplace, to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia and the surprise victory of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

He says the brands he manages through the Timex luxury division are doing better than most because they are a smaller and newer to the industry. The Versace and Versus part of the business was founded in 2004 and the Ferragamo and Nautilus business three years later. However, he says it’s necessary to be proactive.

“In tough moments you have to be more active. The market is suffering, the economy is not perfect everywhere. We are still very satisfied with what’s happening this year but I have to admit the market is not doing well,” he said. “We’re still showing growth because we are relatively small. We can still grow but in general the market is not performing well.”

Part of being active is embracing what Marai calls the “new digital revolution” with a “shop now, buy now” mentality.

“Everything is going digital at this moment and we’ve been struggling the past two years trying to embrace it. Because we work under license so we have some constraints. The brands cannot go in that direction just for watches. But more and more all luxury brands need to understand this digital revolution and need to manage it.” 

This requires a more direct relationship by brands with consumers through social media and through the availability of their products. This approach, in and of itself, is not new to those in the luxury market. However, achieving this relationship has been difficult for established luxury and fashion brands.

“Those who have the money in the next 10 years need to be reached in a completely different way,” he said. “Traditional communication is over. Those with the capacity to understand and to translate this into the market will be more effective.”

Marai is interested in using the Internet as a tool to communicate directly with consumers and present their products and brand. As an eCommerce tool, he still says traditional retail will still be primary source of sales, noting the data indicates that that eCommerce will account for 20 percent of total luxury sales in 2025. 

“There is a long way to go still. I’m pretty sure traditional distribution is frightened by the Internet and they should not be because it is used more as an information tool rather than just a purchasing tool. (However) it’s the best way to present your products. You can have your best show, your best shop where you can present all of your products exactly as you want them to be presented.”

Marai also is aware that online shopping is a fast and convenient way for consumers to buy products. 

“Through digital you can supply your customer with whatever he wants so when he comes to us for a different dial or different strap it is very simple (to fulfill that order). We have to try to create a bridge between the traditional distribution and the new tools that are offered through eCommerce in order to be more effective with the end consumer.”

Often overlooked Marai says is that more than 50 percent of watches are purchased as a gift. “This means the presentation needs to be more luxurious, more than the product itself sometimes.”

In addition, he says watches from fashion brands are considered an accessory and a vehicle of self expression and should be further addressed by luxury watch brands. 

“Brands such as ours, fashion brands, the design is more relevant than the movement inside. We have a good opportunity at the moment. Who cares today what is inside? The new generation they do not consider watches high-end technology.”

One piece of technology that muddled the watch market was the smart watch, Marai says, which after their initial success have failed keep the interest of consumers. However, it did cause damage by creating confusion with consumers and within the industry. He said the rush by traditional watch manufacturers to create their own digital watches was a mistake. 

“Apple was a huge success in the initial phase but people that bought it don’t use it,” he said. “It has created confusion for the end consumer and the distribution channels. Everybody wanted to be the first to produce the product and I think it was a mistake. It was a little bit too early.”

Marai says the luxury watch industry is still a “relatively rich market,” meaning that compared to other industries the margins are high. But he hinted that this may change down the road as brands continue to market and sell directly to consumers. 

“The distributor buys the product from the industry and then sells it to the retailer. (This) is not something that will last forever. The industry has to come closer to the distribution and become more direct and more effective, reducing a lot of the costs in distribution and (thus) making a more effective proposition to the end consumer.”

He added, “Some activities would have to possibly disappear.”

These are just some of the reasons Marai and others are reconsidering their commitment Baselworld. 

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Friday, November 18, 2016

12th China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shanghai Kicks Off

The China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shanghai opened Friday at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center and will run until November 21. The fair features around 250 exhibitors from 18 countries and regions. Exhibits include finished jewelry, diamonds, gemstones, raw materials, tools and packaging, luxury and antique timepieces, and arts and crafts. 

The Asia-Pacific Jewellery & Watch Expo, debuts in this edition. The new fair, which will be held concurrently with the Shanghai Fair, is a result of UBM Asia’s strategic alliance with the Shanghai NIU International Exhibition Co Ltd. Exhibitors offer a wide range of arts and crafts, timepieces and jewelry products, including embroidery, noble antique silverware from the east and west, and traditional China’s palace art from Beijing. 

Seven other pavilions debut as well. They are: the Beijing Arts and Crafts Association, Guangzhou Light Industry Arts and Crafts Enterprise, Hunan Embroidery Research Institute, Committee of Collection and Research of China Horologe Association, Shanghai Gem and Jade Trading Center Co Ltd, Shanghai Timepiece Trade Association,and the Shanghai Jade Carving Culture Association. 

Retail sales in China in April 2016 grew by about 10 percent year-over-year, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics show. China’s jewelry retail market remained steady in the first eight months of 2016, with data showing sales of gold and jewelry products totaled around $28.5 billion during the period. 

“We see a lot of opportunities in China. There is still much room for growth especially given the Chinese government’s efforts to shore up domestic consumption,” said Joe Ho, UBM Asia’s Fair Manager in China. “Wages have risen; we have an enormously huge population base, and millions of Chinese have moved into the cities from the countryside. I feel confident about China’s economy and the consumers’ spending power. I am also confident that the Shanghai Fair will do its job of serving the industry by matching our local and overseas exhibitors with serious buyers from the China market and beyond.” 

Other Attractions include:

Sri Lanka Pavilion – showcases the world renowned Ceylon Sapphire and a vast array of rough and polished gemstones

Taiwan Pavilion – specializes in Grade A fei cui jewelry and coral and gemstone jewelry

Korea Pavilion – offers a range of fashion jewelry with trendy and innovative designs popular among teens

India Pavilion – showcases India’s jewelry craftsmanship in gold jewelry manufacturing and diamond cutting and polishing

Special Events – Jewelry design award ceremony, jewelry and craft auction, and educational seminars give buyers the opportunity to learn and network.

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