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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Garrard Uses Its Heritage For Its Contemporary Jewels

1735 Marguerite sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring, modeled after the ring first presented to princess Diana and now worn by Kate Middleton

The world’s oldest jeweler is working hard to appeal to younger consumers by using a formula that is fairly common among luxury brands. It is taking the essence of its heritage and applying it in the design of new, contemporary jewels at a more accessible price.

The House of Garrard, under the leadership of creative director Sara Prentice, is producing petite, understated jewels designed to be worn daily with storylines and details that reference the brand’s history, which the company traces back to 1735.

18k white gold stud earrings from the Enchanted Palace collection, the bejeweled bugs are set with a turquoise body, diamond pave wings and yellow gold legs. It sits on removable diamond-shape patterned bars, set with white round diamonds

Among its new releases is the “Enchanted Palace” collection, which takes its inspiration from the Great Exhibition of 1851, celebrating the advancements of the Victorian age in manufacturing and design. Garrard displayed nearly 100 pieces of jewelry, silverware and trophies at the exhibition, inspired by their commissions for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The jewels included turquoise, blue sapphires and diamonds among other precious stones and featured quirky designs such as ‘fly’ brooches enormously popular with the Queen and the Victorian people as a symbol of humility.

The jewels as well as the architectural design of the Palace itself (which included 300,000 glass windows) inspired The Enchanted Palace collection. The fly returns, reproduced in turquoise with delicate diamond encrusted wings. There are jewels designed to spin, revealing diamonds or sapphires with each twist. There are also rock crystal windows studded with diamonds and multi-wear pendants and earrings with removable tassels and drops.

18k white gold tassel earrings from the Enchanted Palace collection, set with a detachable rock crystal motif and sapphire tassels

The collection “celebrates the fun and quirky side of design, so embraced by the Victorians,” Prentice says. “Each piece has a beautiful simplicity to its design but is incredibly technical in its construction and in this way I think we have captured the spirit of the era perfectly.”

Today the company is housed in a magnificent four-story corner building designed and built for Garrard on Albemarle Street, just off Bond Street. It contains a workshop, a showroom on the first floor for its newest creations, and the records and artifacts of the company’s unique history. On my visit in March, I was taken to the Queen Mary room on the second floor. Named with the consent of Queen Mary in 1911, among other artifacts, contains images of five of the nine royal crowns created by Garrard. They are as follows:


* The Imperial State Crown of India;


* The matching Queen Consort’s crown for King George V and Queen Mary, with Queen Mary’s crown set with the fabled Koh-i-Noor diamond;


* Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s consort’s crown and Imperial State Crown remodeled for George VI in 1937, with high arches. The entire crown was then remade again by Garrard for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 with lowered arches for a Queen, and a smaller band to fit her head, but still using the same stones, which include the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Cullinan II diamond, sister of the enormous Cullinan I, which is set into the Sovereign’s Sceptre;

In addition, Garrard created a petite crown for Queen Victoria, who couldn’t bear the weight of a normal-sized crown.

While the jewelry house has made some of the most iconic crowns and tiaras in history, it’s most famous piece is the sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring first owned by Princess Diana and now worn by Kate Middleton, upon her engagement to Diana’s son, Prince Harry. The luxury brand recreated many of the details of that ring with its 1735 Marguerite sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring. The center stone also is available in ruby and emerald, to add variety and bring a personal take for the iconic ring. The 1735 Marguerite collection also includes matching earrings and pendants with an oval or cushion shaped center stone.

So while the formula for using heritage to create contemporary products isn’t a new strategy for luxury brands, Garrard just has so much more history to work with that it stands a better chance of success. 

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Inside Graff’s Workshop Where The Most Desired Jewels In The World Are Made

"The Fascination," a $40 million transformable watch with more than 152 carats of diamonds

Sometimes I get to do some pretty cool things. For instance on a sunny, warm March afternoon in London I entered the Graff Diamonds workshop where I was able to see how some of the most desired jewels in the world are made.

Below street level a well-lit room with white walls and a low ceiling was tightly packed with rows of bench jewelers working independently while machinery buzzed and hummed around them. About 70 craftsmen produce roughly 350 jewels per month, says Raymond Graff, director of the workshop and brother of the company’s founder, Laurence Graff. This includes the unique jewels made with some of the world’s most sought-after diamonds and colored gems.

The making of a diamond necklace in the Graff workshop

The jewels are based on designs created a floor above done with both hand drawings and via CAD, which Raymond Graff says provides better design details.

One of the things that separates Graff’s workshop from other high jewelers is that it uses modern manufacturing principles to produce a high number of luxury jewels while adhering to traditional high jewelry hand craftsmanship. The operation produces so many jewels that it contains a branch of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office for the hallmarking of precious metals (a requirement in the U.K.). Precious metals come in raw forms and in various shapes, which are then refined by metalsmiths into the framework for the jewels. The diamonds and other gems are set by craftsmen that specialize in this work.

Diamond setting a flower brooch in the Graff workshop

One of Graff’s latest pieces that highlight the workshop's craftsmanship is the limited edition “Princess Butterfly Secret Watch,” which features white gold shaped into sensual curves and butterfly wings paved with diamonds and colored gems. The stones are mounted with the invisible set technique, where small grooves are cut in the underside of each diamond or gemstone allowing them to slide onto a grid hidden beneath the stones. To achieve a finish of pure color the stones must be color-matched, before being cut to fit tightly against one another as if made exactly for the delicate curvature of the butterfly wings.

The “secret” watch dial is revealed beneath the gem-paved wings by pressing on a round diamond, which allows the wings to slide apart.

Setting a large diamond on a ring

Graff is known for diamonds and all the diamonds used for Graff jewels (whether personally sourced by Laurence Graff or through the normal supply chain) go through the South African Diamond Corporation (SAFDICO), which is Graff’s diamond procurement and polishing division in Botswana. It is one of the largest such operations in Africa. This practice of vertical integration (sourcing the materials and making the jewels in-house) increases efficiency, enhances quality control and serves as another example of the luxury jewelry operation’s commitment to manufacturing principles.

The number of iconic statement diamonds purchased by Laurence Graff is legendary. In some cases he made a bold decision to re-cut the diamond. Recently, Graff unveiled “The Graff Venus.” At 118.78 carats, it is the world’s largest D-color, flawless heart-shaped diamond. Contributing to its rarity is that there is likely no other diamond manufacturer willing to cut such a large D-color, flawless diamond into such a challenging shape.

Enhancing the details of a sapphire bracelet

This shows the trust Laurence Graff has in its diamond cutters and polishers and the risks he’s willing to take to create such a gem. It’s the same trust that Laurence Graff shows throughout the operation and just one of the reasons for the success of Graff Diamonds.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Italian Jewelry Museum To Debut ‘Dames and Knights’ Exhibition

Colonial Order of the Star of Italy Plaque and Sign of Great Cross. Photo by Martina Pace

The Museo del Gioiello in Vicenza, Italy, will hold a temporary exhibition focusing on jewels presented as honors in Italy, other European countries and even other world regions, a practice that stretched from the Middle Ages to modern times. Titled “Dames and Knights. Jewels of Honors,” it opens to the public Wednesday, March 24 and runs till September 17. An opening reception will be held March 23.

The items are curated to celebrate this artistic genre as a subject worth noting due to its quality, origin and proof of the history of different countries and geographical areas.

Order of the Crown Knight with spade. Photo by Martina Pace 

The temporary exhibition on the ground floor of the jewelry museum is arranged in two sections. The first will display about 40 Knighthood honors and decorations selected from pre-eminent and rare collections around the world. 

In addition, 10 items pay tribute to the collection of former Italian Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, which were given to him by royal and government leaders.

Included in the display are honorary decorations that serve as symbols of Italian history. including: the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, the Insignia of the Grand Cross, the Collar of Our Lady of the Annunciation, the Grand Collar of St. George and the Colonial Order of the Star of Italy's Grand Cross.

Constantinian Order of St. George. Photo by Martina Pace 

A second section dedicated to Dames has about 10 items, including the Legion of Honor's Insignia of Knighthood and Insignia of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani.

The itinerary takes a visitor on a journey through time and honorary decoration culture with provides explanations of their intrinsic and evocative meanings. It serves as a piece of Italian and European history that recalls a value that was handed down through the years with the aim of rewarding praiseworthy actions in the fields of literature, arts and economy and for commitment in carrying out public duties and activities for social, philanthropic and humanitarian purposes as well as for long-standing and remarkable services in civil and military careers.

Order of the National Merit of Civil Division. Photo by Martina Pace

Insignia, decorations and medals that date back to the 11th century with Knighthood honors bestowed purely on men who highly distinguished themselves, a usage that was extended to women in 1662.

The exhibition will also be presenting about ten creations by G.B. Ballarino, a goldsmith from a company with a long tradition in the field of honorary decorations, authorized to raise the arms of the Royal House of Savoy and the Royal House of Bulgaria with the inscription “fornitore della Real Casa” (Royal House supplier) through gold, enamel and precious stone cross pendants.

Order of Danilo I of Montenegro. Photo by
Martina Pace

The museum, the first in Italy and one of a few in the world dedicated to jewelry, is located inside the Basilica Palladiana and is managed by Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A. (IEG)—the trade show company generated by a merger between Rimini Fiera and Fiera di Vicenza—in partnership with Vicenza Municipal Council.

The museum is the result of IEG’s commitment to promoting the universal culture of Italian gold and jewelry, a sector in which it is well known as a global Business Hub thanks to the VicenzaOro international jewelry trade show.

Royal Order of Cambodia. Photo by Martina Pace

For more information follow this link.

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Gemfields Biggest Shareholder Makes Unsolicited Offer For Remaining Shares

Emerald and diamond necklace by Carolina Bucci using Gemfields Zambian emeralds 

Private equity company, Pallinghurst Resources, has made an unsolicited offer for the 53% of shares in Gemfields it does not already own. 

Pallinghurst, based in South Africa, specializes in investments in the mining sector. It is offering approximately $150 million in its shares for the remaining stake in Gemfields, a London-based colored gemstone mining and marketing company, making it a core component of Pallinghurst’s value. 

Pallinghurst’s offer doesn’t provide any added value to Gemfields, which it values at approximately $295 million.

Gemfields Board, in a statement to shareholders, “strongly advises … to take no action at this time.” However, Gemfields shareholders owning 28% of the company had already agreed to the offer, Pallinghurst says, giving it 75 percent backing and making the offer unconditional. 

Gemfields in its current form was created in 2008 when Pallinghurst and its co-investors contributed the Kagem emerald mine to Gemfields, its core operating asset, for shares. This transaction made Pallinghurst and its co-investors the majority shareholders of Gemfields. In 2013, Pallinghurst added the luxury brand, Fabergé, to Gemfields holdings, increasing Pallinghurst group’s direct ownership in Gemfields to the current level of 47.09%.

The strategy from the beginning was for Gemfields to become the “De Beers of the Colored Gemstone Industry” by creating a mine-to-market strategy for its responsibly sourced gems that could be traced throughout the supply chain and communicated to the industry and consumers. Part of this communication involves creating a grading system for determining emerald quality. 

Pallinghurst contends that Gemfields is “an attractive and unique business” but in its current structure is constrained by limited access to equity and debt capital, low share liquidity and high costs.

“Pallinghurst believes that, since its investment, the performance of the Gemfields share price has been disappointing and despite the major positive developments, Gemfields’ shareholders, including Pallinghurst, have not benefited appropriately,” Pallinghurst said in a statement. “The share price of Gemfields has not increased over the last decade.” 

Gemfields key holdings are: 

* 75% of the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia; 
* 75% of the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique; 
* 50% of the Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia; and 
* 100% of Fabergé Limited. 

Once gaining full control of Gemfields, Pallinghurst will delist Gemfields from the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange for smaller, less-viable companies, and take it private, at least for the time being. Pallinghurst is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) and it said it would consider listing Gemfields on the LSE.

Pallinghurst, in order to create profitability for Gemfields, said it would do the following: 

* Focus on Gemfields’ core emerald and ruby operations in Zambia and Mozambique, respectively, and develop these to optimal scale;
* Accelerate the development of its existing portfolio of projects to mitigate the dependency on its attractive, but cyclical assets;
* Explore strategic alternatives for Fabergé, where significant growth capital is still required to reach its full potential; and
* Pursue cost reductions across the enlarged group.

Gemfields sells its rough gems through international auctions, which Pallinghurst says has “brought a level of professionalism and transparency previously not seen in the industry.” With its proprietary grading system for gems, Gemfields developed three auction classes, one offering higher quality gemstones, one for the larger volume of lower quality gemstones and the last offering mixed quality gemstones.

Pallinghurst said acquiring all of Gemfields would allow it to collapse its investment structure and simplify its management arrangements.

“The result will be a renewed Pallinghurst with a simplified operating model and an in-house management team,” Pallinghurst said in a statement. “The value of the underlying assets will be more clearly demonstrable with clearer earnings and operating metrics that can be benchmarked against industry peers. The revised structure model will allow Pallinghurst to rationalize costs across the group by simplifying the group's structures.”

The statement continued, “Post completion … Pallinghurst expects to have an enlarged market capitalization, improved trading liquidity and equity broker coverage. The board of directors of Pallinghurst believes that the combination of these factors should be value accretive for all shareholders.” 

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cartier To Unleash The 'Panthère Studio' Millennial Experience


Cartier is bringing its prestigious brand downtown by offering a luxurious pop up experience at a popular New York restaurant. 

The luxury brand will launch Panthère Studio—a public-facing, experiential pop up promising to bring a customized, interactive experience to millennial audiences of New York. It will be held at the downtown French-Vietnamese restaurant, Indochine, May 20 and May 21. 

“We’re coming out of our boutiques and bringing the world of Cartier downtown, to engage with our clients—and future clients for that matter—where they live, work and play,” said Mercedes Abramo, president and CEO of Cartier North America. “We’re excited to introduce the iconic Panthère de Cartier watch to a fun, fearless new generation in such a unique, experiential way.”

It’s the first time the luxury brand is focused on presenting an experience rather than a retail-first environment. 

The theme will be the 1980s when the French luxury brand launched the Panthère de Cartier watch, featuring its iconic panther. The watch—with a square case, screwed-down bezel and linked brick-lay bracelet—was reintroduced this year. 

The Panthère Studio takeover of Indochine will include innovative and inherently shareable elements throughout the space, with live DJs, social media components and interactive photo experiences, including a Panthère ‘stacking bar,’ where guests can style their own Cartier looks with the Panthère watch.

Panthère de Cartier watch

Special guests will be in attendance throughout the weekend, including model and actress, Olivia Culpo.

Panthère Studio will be open to the public on Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., with Olivia Culpo appearing from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.; and on Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

To sign up or for more information, follow this link.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

92-Carat Heart-Shaped Diamond Fetches World Auction Record $14.9


A 92-carat D Flawless heart-shaped diamond sold for $14.9 million at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday. It set a world record for the price of a heart-shaped diamond sold at auction. 

It sold just above its $14 million low estimate. The jewel was given the name, La Légende. It was created by Boehmer et Bassenge, a high jewelry house that was launched a year ago. The company began working with the auction house last year.


Another big sale for the evening was a 15.03-carat unheated Burmese ruby mounted on a diamond ring that sold for $12.9 million ($861,000 per carat), within its estimate of $10 - $15 million.

In addition, a 7.97-carat fancy intense blue cushion-shaped diamond fetched more than $12.7 million, smashing its $3 million high estimate and setting an auction record per carat at $1.6 million, according to Christie’s. 

These were the top three items of the sale held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues that featured 267 lots, achieving $94.5 million, with 85% sold by lot and 90% sold by value.  

Other highlights include:

A 56.03-carat, pear-shaped D color, potentially IF diamond pendent on a diamond necklace by Chopard fetched $6.3 million ($113,000 per carat);

A 4.05-carat square-cut, fancy deep blue VS1 diamond sold for $4.3 million ($1.05 million per carat);

A 47.63-carat cushion-shaped Burmese sapphire sold for more than $2.4 million ($50,500 per carat), three times its high estimate. 

A ruby and diamond four leaf clover brooch by Boucheron fetched $2.2 million, three times its high estimate. 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Updated: Fancy Colored Diamond Earrings Sell For World Record $57.4 Million


The Apollo and Artemis fancy colored diamond earrings sold for $57.4 million—a world record for earrings sold at auction.

The mismatched earrings were sold separately and were the top two lots at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale Tuesday.

The 14.54-carat, pear-shaped Apollo Blue was the big prize of the pair. It sold for more than $42.08 million (including buyers premium), within its estimate of $38 – $50 million.

Meanwhile, the 16-carat, pear-shaped Artemis Pink, sold for more than $15.3 million (including buyers premium), within its estimate of $12.5 – $18 million.

The two diamonds are named after the twin brother and sister who are among the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.

Update: Sotheby’s said later in the evening that both diamonds were purchased by the same person, who was not identified. “I am delighted that the stones will remain together as earrings,” David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division and chairman of Switzerland, said following the sale.

The Apollo Blue is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction, Sotheby’s said. It was graded as a Type IIb diamond, which amounts to less than 1% of all diamonds. In recent years, the only mine to produce blue diamonds with any regularity is the Cullinan mine in South Africa. When in full production, less than 0.1% of diamonds sourced showed any evidence of blue color, according to the Gemological Institute of America, which graded both diamonds and issued reports on them. An infinitesimally small percentage of those is graded Fancy Vivid Blue.

The Artemis Pink is a fancy intense pink diamond graded by the GIA as a Type IIa diamond, describing this category as “the most chemically pure type” of diamonds. The occurrence of pink diamonds is exceedingly rare. According to the GIA, of all diamonds it grades each year, “no more than 3% are classified as colored diamonds; less than 5% of those colored diamonds are predominantly pink.”

Other updated information:

In other news from the Sotheby’s sale, a 7.04-carat diamond by Piaget sold for more than $13.2 million, setting auction records for a fancy intense purplish pink diamond and for the price per carat for such a diamond at more than $6 million per carat.

The sale for the first time held at the Mandarin Oriental, Geneva, totaled more than $151.5 million, well above the presale estimate in the region of $100 million, with a sell-through rate of 90%. Three lots sold for more than $10 million and five sold for more than $5 million. Two-thirds of the lots sold above high estimate.

Other notable results from the auction include:

* Gem and jewels from a “Superb Private Collection” of diamonds and gemstones as well as signed jewels from iconic jewelry houses, doubled presale estimates to realize a combined total of $15.9 million and a sell-through rate of 96%. Items include the following:

- A 32.42-carat pear-shaped diamond ring by Harry Winston doubled its low estimate to realize more than $3.3 million;
- An emerald and diamond ring by Harry Winston achieved five times its estimate selling for $929,465; and
- A ruby and diamond brooch and ear clips by Van Cleef & Arpels which sold for a combined total of $477,551.

* A ruby, onyx and diamond bracelet by LaCloche, circa 1925, soared above estimate to achieve $748,498.

* A jadeite onyx, ruby and diamond pendant brooch by Cartier, Circa 1925, formerly in the collection of Mona, Countess von Bismarck, sold for $374,500, more than double its high estimate.

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