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Friday, July 29, 2016

Tissot Keeps Time At The Tour de France

Tissot needs to keep track of the individual times of each racer at the start and finish of each race and throughout each day. 

For Swiss watch brand, Tissot, being the official timekeeper of the Tour de France isn’t just about product placement. It’s about keeping accurate times for 198 cyclists during the 2,200-mile, 23-day race throughout France. It’s a challenging job, particularly since the start and finish line moves daily. In addition, there are two “time trials,” sprints in which cyclists race alone against the clock.

To keep accurate times for all of the racers, organize the data and distribute the results immediately throughout the world, the 2016 Tour de France required a team of eight technicians using a proprietary integrated system tailor-made to cycling, explains Alain Zobrist, CEO of Tissot Timing.  This year marked the first time Tissot has been the Tour de France official timekeeper since 1992.

Alain Zobrist, CEO of Tissot Timing, explains the process of timing the Tour de France. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

“What we basically provide is start to finish timekeeping and everything that happens in between for the normal stages and time trials,” he said. “The team gets up at 5 to 6 a.m. each day and builds everything in two to three hours and then tests the equipment (prior to the beginning of each day).”

In addition to the start and finish times, the time and speed for each racer is being recorded and transmitted during the race. To measure this, Zobrist says antennas and transformers are positioned on the front of the bikes.

One of the two cameras that record all of the racers as they cross the finish line. Photo by Anthony DeMarco 

Perhaps the most important pieces of equipment are two cameras positioned on either side of the finish line. They focus on a narrow five-meter space and take 2,000 photos per seconds, thus providing a real time look of the finish, including photo finishes, Zobrist explains. Two cameras are needed so they can clearly identify each cyclist as he crosses the line. 

“It is the only device to identify the winner at the end of the stages,” Zobrist said. 

A technician works at organizing the race data inside the trailer. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

The images are transferred to a small trailer at the finish line, manned by four technicians and four race officials. The images are first transferred to two laptops, then they move to a PC where data is managed and then to a third laptop for broadcast. In addition, everything is backed up. 

Under normal circumstances, the world will learn about the results in seconds. If it’s a close finish, it will take longer. 

Some of the crowd at the Champs-Élysées  in Paris, where the 23-day race ends. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

“It's quite a job to provide all data to electronic Internet and broadcast it to media,” he said. “Normally it takes 15 seconds for first three finishers and for the first 10 finishers, 20 to 30 seconds.”

Of course there’s a product tie in. In the US it’s the Limited Edition Tissot PRC 200 Tour de France 2016 (pictured above). The 42mm steel chronograph has a black dial with Arabic and Index numerals with the Tour de France logo engraved on the caseback and a quartz movement. At a $475 price tag, the watch is currently sold out but more are expected and can be preordered. 

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Harry Winston Opens 12th US Salon In Houston

The House of Harry Winston opened its first retail salon in Houston in the River Oaks District shopping center. 

Among the architectural highlights, the floor of the foyer entrance, made of black marble from Belgium and white marble from Colorado, creates an image of a round brilliant diamond. The hanging chandelier, which seem to be in the shape of Harry Winston cluster diamond jewels, are custom-made in Italy. 

The soft taupe and grey color palette complements the furnishings, custom-made in Italy, which combine black lacquer and antique bronze furniture fabric with contemporary lines. The walled display cases are made in Switzerland.

There are dedicated areas for high jewelry, bridal, timepiece and fine jewelry collections; as well private rooms for more personalized service. For more privacy, the salon has a VIP entrance with private parking on the second level.

The store in the River Oaks District, a 14-acre outdoor luxury boutique shopping center, marks Harry Winston’s 12th US salon. 

The US luxury brand is owned by the Swiss conglomerate, Swatch Group. 

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Miners Partner With Designers To Create Sustainable Jewels

Emerald and diamond necklace by Carolina Bucci using Gemfields Zambian emeralds 

Two London-based mining companies worked with jewellery designers to create new pieces that promote the sustainable and humane practices of the mines they operate. Another key selling point is provenance, knowing which mine the gems were unearthed.

London-based mining and marketing company, Gemfields, worked with MUSE, a New York showroom for emerging and established fine jewellery designers, for a collection of limited-edition and well-priced jewels. Designers Carolina Bucci, Dezso by Sara Beltrán, Elena Votsi, Holly Dyment, Michelle Fantaci, Nikos Koulis, Savannah Stranger, Silvia Furmanovich, Yossi Harari and AYA by Chelsy Davy unveiled a range of jewels at the Couture Show using Mozambican rubies and Zambian emeralds from Gemfields’ mines in those two countries.

“Rose Petal” earrings by Silvia Furmanovich using Gemfields Mozambican rubies

Most styles are based on each of the designers’ bestsellers, recreated with Gemfields rubies and emeralds. The collection is for everyday wear targeting a fashion-forward consumer, with the majority of the limited production collection falling within the $1,000 and $10,000 price range (with the exception of a few high value statement pieces).

This type of approach isn’t new for Gemfields. The company has been producing collections through partnerships with designers (experienced and emerging) for a number of years. The difference with this particular collection is its affordability.

Ruby and diamond “Crisscross” ring by Yossi Harari using Gemfields Mozambican rubies

“Having done collaborations at both ends of the spectrum, we see the alignment with MUSE as the perfect opportunity to showcase the versatility of color and connect with a fresh new audience,” said Gabriella Harvey, Gemfields director of Procurement and Product Services.

18k yellow gold and diamond earrings by Suzanne Kalan with diamonds from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine

Mining giant Rio Tinto used unveiled their “Diamonds with Story” collection, working with six US designers: Paige Novick, Xiao Wang, Jennifer Dawes, Matthew Campbell Laurenza, Suzanne Kalan and Sandy Leong. All of the diamonds are sourced from Rio Tinto’s Argyle Mine in Western Australia. The mine is most famously known for its rare Argyle pink diamonds. However, diamonds being used for the collections are primarily white and champagne.

The “Infinity’ three row curved ring by Paige Novick with diamond pave from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine

Like Gemfields, affordability is important with these creations. Unlike Gemfields, all of the designers are experienced and well-known to the trade and consumers.

18k yellow gold band, 6g, .53ctw rose cut cognac diamonds, .05ctw round brilliant cut diamonds by Jennifer Dawes using Rio Tinto diamonds from its Argyle mine

“Increasingly, the value of a diamond is tied to where and how the diamond was mined, how it was cut and polished, and the process of bringing it to sale,” said Bruno Sané, general manager of marketing for Rio Tinto Diamonds. “This is a very reasonable expectation that is steadily reshaping the diamond industry for the better.” 

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

June Hong Kong Jewelry Fair Attracts Nearly 25,000 Buyers

A total of 24,861 visitors from 109 countries and regions attended the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. The four-day fair, which concluded June 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, featured 2,210 exhibitors in 70,000 square meters of exhibition space. 

“We are glad to see the overall number of visitors has remained steady compared to last year’s edition even under the current challenging world economy,” said Celine Lau, Director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia. “The number of visitors from Korea, Myanmar and Cambodia increased 72%, 45% and 43%, respectively. The implication of this growth is that the purchasing power of these emerging markets is unquestionable. Even more exciting is the increase of 15% of the visitor numbers from a traditional jewelry market, North America. The figures further confirm the strong position of the June Fair in the industry.”

Below are detailed visitor numbers at the June Fair:

* The total number of visitors over four days reached 24,861. These visitors, from 109 countries and regions, made 46,814 visits during the fair’s four-day run;

* Visitors from outside Hong Kong totaled 15,988, accounting for 64% of the total number of visitors;

* Hong Kong-based visitors totaled 8,873;

* The Top 10 sources of visitors from outside Hong Kong and mainland China were India, Taiwan region, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, the United States, Korea, Singapore, Australia and Indonesia. Overall, the Top 10 visiting countries accounted for 18.8% of the total number of visitors.

The June Fair will mark its 30th anniversary next year. Lau said new enhancements are being planned. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

‘Editor’s Choice’ Returns To September Asia Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair – September will be held September 13 -16 in Hall 2 and the Concourse of AsiaWorld-Expo, in Hong Kong, and will feature the “Editor’s Choice” display for the second time.

The 14th edition of the fair organized by UBM Asia will host more than 380 exhibitors from 12 countries. More than 80 percent of exhibitors are from outside Hong Kong. The event is expected to attract more than 6,600 global buyers who are eager to source collections for Spring/Summer 2017 as well as timeless favorites.

Following positive feedback to its launch in March, the “Editor’s Choice” display returns to the fair. The special display features select products chosen by the editors of AFJA Review. The products are based on four categories: stainless steel, natural materials, crystals and semi-precious stones, and pearls and imitation pearls. 

“We would like to bring more business opportunities to the industry by adding new attractions to the fair. We believe this showcase will make the sourcing trips of our visitors more interesting and inspiring,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at UBM Asia Ltd.

Other highlights of the fair include five group pavilions featuring exhibitors from mainland China, India, Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan region. In addition, the Stainless Steel Jewellery Pavilion has been expanded. 

UBM Asia has arranged free continuous bus service running from the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and Tsim Sha Tsui to AsiaWorld-Expo. The shuttle bus schedule and pick-up points can be found at http://exhibitions.asiafja.com/9fj/Transportation/ 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Paris Biennale des Antiquaires Includes Cindy Chao, de Grisogono, Boghossian, Nirav Modi And New Timepiece Exhibit

The Emerald Maharani Necklace by Nirav Modi made of graduated, rare, vivid green emerald beads totaling more than 870 carats complemented by more than 146 carats of oval shaped and pear shaped diamonds

The Paris Biennale des Antiquaires is not only one of the world’s most important antique fairs but it is also an important stage for international high jewelry brands. However, with the organization’s renewed focused on antique galleries, a number high jewelers left the show—from a reported 14 in 2014 to four this year. Among those who have pulled out are Parisian jewelers Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels Bocheron, Italian jewelry house Bulgari, and Hong Kong jewelry artist Wallace Chan.

Sketch of 2016 Black Label Masterpiece Winter Leaves Necklace by Cindy Chao The Art Jewel

Among the jewelers exhibiting at the 28th edition of the fair (being held September 10 – 18 at the Grand Palais), perhaps the biggest name and the most surprising is Cindy Chao, the Taiwanese jewelry artist who has gained international acclaim for her hand-sculptured, gem-encrusted jewels. It is not only her first time at the fair but it the first time her pieces will be open to a public exhibition.

The 41-year-old jewelry artist (who works under the brand, Cindy Chao Art Jewels) will be showing her most iconic pieces from her 12-year career and will unveil her latest “Black Label Masterpiece” pieces, her most celebrated and collectible jewels.

White gold ring set with a 10.15-carat round diamond, 84 emeralds (1.20 carats) and 387 white diamonds (8.97 carats) by de Grisogono

The Geneva luxury jewelry brand, de Grisogono, known for jewels and watches as flamboyant as the brand’s founder, Fawaz Gruosi, is returning to the Biennale for the first time since 2008. For the event the brand is focusing on larger precious stones of significant importance, most notably a 404-carat diamond it recently purchased that is being cut and polished in New York.

26.26-carat Ceylon cushion-shaped sapphire inlaid into a chalcedony bangle sapphire by Boghossian

Another art jeweler known for “audacious” designs and using outsized materials is Boghossian. The brand, based in Geneva and Antwerp is known for its interpretation of what it calls an “East meets West” style—based on Armenian, Persian, Syrian or Byzantine influences. It is also known for what its “art of inlay” technique where gems are set within one another.

Nirav Modi, a company known for its Indian-influenced luxury jewels, will be featuring three one-of-a-kind pieces led by the Emerald Maharani Necklace (top photo) made of graduated, rare, vivid green emerald beads totaling more than 870 carats complemented by more than 146 carats of oval shaped and pear shaped diamonds.

Portable sundial, Pierre LeMaire, Paris, early 18th Cnetury, from the Musée International de l’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. It’s part of the “The Conquest of Time” exhibition by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie

For the first time there will be an historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, an organization tasked with preserving the historical heritage of high watchmaking. “The Mastery of Time,” a thematic exhibition illustrating the history of watchmaking and tracing the measurement of the origins of time. The exhibit will include 100 artifacts and historic watchmaking in an exhibition made up of six sections, designed to highlight the developments that have made “watchmaking one of the finest achievements of humankind.”

While the number of jewelry exhibitors has shrunk dramatically, the overall show has grown by 30 percent, according to the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, which organizes the nine-day event. There will be a minimum of 113 galleries from 12 countries exhibiting, making it the largest art event in 2016, according to the Syndicat. It also is the last time the fair will be held biannually. After this year it will be an annual event. 

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Piaget Launches Polo S Watch In New York With 9 'Game Changers'

Polo S chronograph with blue dial

Swiss luxury brand Piaget came to New York to launch the newest version of its iconic Polo S timepiece at an event Thursday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In addition, the brand unveiled nine men they described as “game changers,” who have been chosen to wear and represent the timepiece.

Polo S watch with slate-grey dial

Philippe Leopold-Metzger, Piaget CEO, said the Piaget Polo watch always had a strong association with New York, which is why the brand returned to the city for this year’s launch.

Polo S watch with silver dial
“It was here in 1985 that the Piaget polo team celebrated the watch by riding down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue,” he told the crowd of approximately 800 retailers, VIP customers and press from around the world. “Thus, there could be no greater city or place for Piaget to celebrate the legacy of the original Piaget Polo with the launch of a new watch, for a new generation.”

Polo S chronograph with silver dial

The 42mm watch is housed in a round case that surrounds the cushion-shaped face. There are two models: the automatic Piaget Polo S, equipped with the 1110P movement with a blue, silver or slate-gray dial for $9,350; and the Piaget Polo S Chronograph with the 1160P movement for $12,400.

Polo S watch with blue dial

As part of the launch Piaget selected nine men to wear the Piaget Polo S and to be a “friend of the maison," describing each as a “game changer in his own profession and an influencer with digital power.”

They are led by actor and producer, Ryan Reynold, who is Piaget’s international brand ambassador.  The other eight men are:

* Malcolm Borwick, businessman and polo player

* Joël Dicker, novelist

* Hu Ge, actor and singer

* David Goffin, tennis player

* Mohammed Sultan Al Habtoor, artist and businessman

* Michael B. Jordan, actor

* Miyavi Musician, singer, songwriter and actor

* Jean-François Piège, chef

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