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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some Thoughts on Nicolas Hayek Sr.


 By William George Shuster

A powerful presence, suddenly gone. That’s what the unexpected death, by heart attack, of Nicolas Hayek, Sr., is like. It’s as if the mighty Matterhorn suddenly wasn’t there. Disappeared. Certainly, Hayek stood out among Swiss watchmakers like that famous peak does among the Swiss Alps.

That may sound grandiose—but Hayek, 82—chairman of the Swatch Group, the world’s biggest watchmaker, and the person who revitalized the Swiss watch industry—was a larger-than-life personality in the watch business. The center of attention wherever he went.

That was definitely the case at BaselWorld, the world’s largest and most important watch trade show, held annually in the Rhine River city of Basel, Switzerland. This is where, as the watch editor for JCK magazine, I most often had opportunities to see, interview or talk to him. Many of my memories of him there also exemplify aspects of the man and his professional life, such as:

* The many Swatch Group brands’ press conferences and events, most led by the multi-lingual Hayek, in Swatch Plaza (located in the center of the fair’s main watch building, with its 18 popular, mid-price and luxury watch brands located around the square). Hayek’s dominance of those press conferences and the location of Swatch Plaza itself were indicative the strength and importance of the man and his company to the Swiss watch industry.

* Patiently, happily posing for pictures for the frequent, small tumults of photographers and journalists that surrounded him, such as when he unveiled a replica of the famous "Marie-Antoinette” pocket watch (recreated by Swatch group-owned Breguet) at Baselworld 2008 or when he brought together astronauts and other heroes of the space age to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing at BaselWorld 2009.

* Journalists knew he was also a “good interview,” with informed, intelligent and sometimes provocative comments. He knew how to charm and intimidate interviewers, keeping them on their game.

* Driving a “Moon Buggy,” with Gene Cernan, the last astronaut to leave the moon, onto Swatch Plaza, at BaselWorld 2004 at an Omega press conference. That not only demonstrated Hayek’s showmanship, but also underlined the interest of this engineer—who also fathered the Smart Car and had created a company in 2007 to develop “clean power” fuel cells for cars—in innovative technology.

* Wearing two or more watches on each wrist, with the cuffs of his shirts rolled up, to show off the various timepieces of Swatch Group’s 18 brands.

* Presenting Swatch Group’s watch brands’ debuts to leading Swiss government officials on BaselWorld’s opening day. Hayek was respected in the Swiss government for reviving the Swiss watch industry—a major pillar of the Swiss economy—in the 1980s, with innovative production and promotion of the popular, fashionable plastic-cased Swatch watch (still a best-seller with more than 300 million sold) and for the strength of Swatch Group, named for it.

Hayek’s dominance and actions didn’t please all in the Swiss watch industry. One sometimes heard complaints at BaselWorld by some smaller watchmakers about what they saw as the influence of Hayek, and Swatch Group, on the industry.

Undeniably, though, Hayek was a strong force within the Swiss watch industry, affecting it and the international watch industry—including its retailers and customers—through his company, his products, his pronouncements, his strong beliefs and his actions now and for years to come. That’s an impressive epitaph for any entrepreneur.

William George Shuster is a multi-award winning writer—including three Jesse H. Neal Award, business journalism's highest honor. He has 40 years experience as a journalist, author and editor. He is considered one of the world’s top watch industry journalists, covering the industry for JCK magazine and its sister publications for nearly 29 years. He was kind enough to share his thoughts of Nicolas Hayek, Sr. for the Jewelry News Network.

Images of Mr. Hayek are from the Swatch Group Web site.

Diamond Jewelry Designs by Charade


Italian diamond jewelry designer Charade introduced new creations during the JCK Las Vegas jewelry trade show that highlight their skill in working with colored diamonds.

The Valenza-based company introduced black diamond pave rings that sparkle, white gold diamond rings that take on the look of a glittering spider web (top photo) and brooches and rings with various shades of green, yellow and white diamonds (above and below).

Nicolas G. Hayek, founder of Swatch Group, 82


The man who is credited with having saved the Swiss watch industry in the age of the “quartz” watch boom has died.

Nicolas Hayek, founder and chairman of the Swatch Group, died of heart failure Monday while working at the company’s headquarters in Biel, Switzerland, according to an announcement on the Swatch Group’s Web site. He was 82.

“Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek's greatest merit was his enormous contribution to the saving of the Swiss watch industry and the foundation and the commercial development of the Swatch Group,” the statement on the company’s Web site read. “(His) extraordinary vision enabled him to realize and ensure the sustainability of a strong watchmaking enterprise with high Swiss added value. He is rightly recognized as a leading entrepreneur in this country.”

The Lebanese-born business consultant and engineer was asked by creditor banks to reorganize and possibly close a group of mechanical watchmakers and component suppliers suffering in the early 1980s as watchmakers from Japan undercut Swiss prices and moved public tastes from mechanical to digital watches. Rather than follow the creditors’ opinion, he and some partners spotted the business's potential and invested in its future. He merged two of its former companies, Asuag and SSIH, which between them owned brands like Omega, Longines and Tissot.

In 1983, he launched the Swatch, a technological innovative watch manufactured far more easily than conventional watches by greatly reducing components and automating many processes. The Swatch soon became prized for its bright bands and novelty faces and developed into a global fashion item.

Over the years, the various manufacturing companies were restructured and, in 1998, renamed Swatch Group after their most familiar product. Brands and watch component companies were also acquired. The company owns 19 brands and sales this year are expected to exceed $5.8 billion.

Hayek had handed the chief executive's role to his son, Nick. However, he remained Swatch Group's chairman.


Read his obituary in The New York Times

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mark Schneider’s New Bridal Designs

 Charmed

Award-winning jewelry designer Mark Schneider introduced several new bridal designs during the Couture jewelry show in Las Vegas. The collection of the diamond engagement rings is available in 14k and 18k white gold and in platinum.
 Delicate

Schneider’s bridal designs have won numerous awards over the years. The company's headquarters is in Long Beach, Calif. 

 Honey


Below are some more images of the new collection:

 Innocence                             Kindle

Orchid

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tiffany’s Stellar Sustainability Record


There is probably no company in the jewelry industry more aggressive on sustainability issues than Tiffany. The luxury jeweler has come out against the harvesting of pink and red coral, a proposed mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the exploitation of workers in the jewelry supply chain. Not to mention that the company has had a sustainable bent long before it was cool. Yet, it does little to promote or market its leadership role in these and many other issues that have to do with the betterment of the planet and the people on it. Michael Kowalski, Tiffany & Co. and CEO, told about 200 luxury industry executives why.

Caption: Michael Kowalski (second from right) and Christopher Cowdray field questions from Nancy Novogrod. Not seen is architect Adam D. Tihany.

“I think what we always assume as part of any luxury brand promise, certainly part of the Tiffany brand promise, even if unarticulated, is the assumption that nothing terrible happened in the creation of that product,” Kowalski said during a panel discussion at the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit held in April at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas. “Implicitly, I think we all operate with robust margins here and I think the consumer understands that as part of the promise, a luxury brand attends to those issues on behalf of the consumer. We didn’t wait to be told that by our customers, we have simply taken care of it and if someone asks we’ll speak about it but in general I think it doesn’t need to be articulated.”



Kowalski participated in a panel titled, “The Power of Being (and Doing) Good,” where he was flanked by Christopher Cowdray, CEO of the Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel company, and Adam D. Tihany, principal and founder of Tihany Design, an architecture firm that specializes in luxury hotels and restaurants, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Las Vegas. Both persons also have been recognized for taking a leadership roles on sustainable issues. Nancy Novogrod, editor in chief of Travel + Leisure, moderated the panel.

 
Kowalski spoke about Tiffany’s effort to pursue its goal of producing a sustainable product throughout the supply chain and the pains he personally takes to deflect criticism that the company is pursuing his personal agenda.

“For years we would have declined to talk about the subject we are talking about today because I probably would have categorize it as a subtle form of brainwashing,” he said. “I think that one of the fundamental issues we have always had at Tiffany is that we like to think that we create objects that last, beauty that lasts.  … The reality is that mining needn’t be, but often is a very difficult business in terms of social issues and environmental issues.”

Novogrod asked if Tiffany ever considered producing fine jewelry with unusual materials that were created in sustainable ways.

“Rather than change our business model in terms of materials, we changed our business model (in order) to have as much control as possible over the supply change as we can,” he said.  “We said the only way to ensure responsibly sourced materials is to, in essence, do it yourself. We integrated downward. We don’t mine. We don’t cut anything from the ground, yet. But we’ve gone right to the mine heads so we could say to the consumer, we’ve seen the mine this particular diamond comes from and we’ve seen that it is done in an appropriate way.”

Some of what Tiffany does is ensure that mines operate in a way that allows its workers to earn fair pay. The company set up its own diamond and cutting facilities in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. Ten years ago, before any standards existed, the company fought for third-party certification of mines. According to Kowalski, that’s the easy part. What has become more difficult is to spread its philosophy of sustainability throughout the industry.

“To make sure our own industry isn’t part of the degradation of the planet has been a huge challenge for us,” he said. “So we spend as much time doing the right thing in terms of our own business and spend as much time being advocates.”

He added, “One of our big objectives is to create a social infrastructure so that those who mine and source products have a more equitable share of the profits of the entire supply chain.”

When asked whether any other company in the jewelry industry has taken this kind of leadership role, Kowalski answered, Wal-Mart. “In the jewelry space you have to take your hat off to Wal-Mart for what they have accomplished and because they seem to be quite serious, for example, in identifying the mine.”

This brought a quick response from Tihany the architect, who noted that the vast majority of goods it sells are manufactured in China. “If 50 percent of their things came from the United States, they’ll be doing 10 times more commitment than they’re doing right now.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Kowalski responded, “but short of abandoning their basic business model I wouldn’t ask them. I hope no one would ask us to do that.”

An audience member asked for some anecdotes from customers that compelled them to use their product or service because of their commitment to sustainability. Kowalski produced a letter that he said he just received from his staff before the conference. It was from a person who supported Tiffany’s stance against establishing a mine for the excavation of copper, gold and molybdenum (often used in high-strength steel alloys) in Bristol Bay, Alaska, because of the possible detriment to the salmon fishing industry and the possible environmental impact.

He read the letter aloud: “Who would have thought that advocacy or a heritage of great beauty and a vital fishery, a heritage that rightly belongs to our three sons and their children, would come out of a blue box. But it makes perfect sense. I’ll always shop at Tiffany. “

“We hear that over and over,” Kowalski said. “But having said that I have no idea what that means quantitatively. I wouldn’t go to the next step and say I can build a business case about it. There’s plenty of anecdotal information. What it ends up meaning in terms of the bottom line, I’d like to think a lot, but that would be dishonest.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Light, Durable Silver and Gold Jewelry from Calgaro


Combining the art and techniques of gold jewelry making and textile design has been the cornerstone of the fine jewelry creations of Calgaro, based in Vicenza, Italy.

Goldsmith Giuseppe Calgaro and textile designer Monica Fin first began working together in 2000 as technological advancements in gold and jewelry manufacturing met their vision of creating elegant, woven, fabric-like gold and silver jewelry designs. They formed the company, Calgaro, three years later. In January, the company merged with Italian gold and silver fashion jewelry designer Rosato, but will continue to produce its own designs under its brand. Among their design innovations are the development of gold crochet (pictured left) and dying silver thread in many bold, vibrant colors.

During the Couture Show at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, held early June, they released their latest collections for the U.S. market, including “Jealousy,” (pictured above and left) and Asia.

In Jealousy, silver colored wire has the appearance and feel of soft fabric while retaining its strength and elasticity. The creators call it a “long-lasting embrace, an embrace of love, of passion.”

In Asia (below), inspiration was taken from the orient as the “hypnotic appeal of this land becomes a story carved on the surface of these jewels.” And again technology is employed as laser drawings to create silk-like embroideries.

The collection includes long necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Again there’s contrast. On one hand the precious metal is in its natural color, in a shine black or in a particular shade of rose. On the other hand the silver turns into a myriad of fine threads, feather-light, yet tough.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There’s Gold in Them Vending Machines

I don’t know about you but buying gold with my recession era dollars has been such a drag lately. You either have to go through a trading exchange and deal with minimal bids and multiple layers of bureaucracy. Or you have to go to a bank and fill out mountains of paperwork to buy gold bars. And then where do you place all these heavy bars? Under the bed? Would I have to buy a safe? If only there was only a convenient way to buy the precious metal.

Well, jewelry manufacturer and distributor Hon Corp. of South Korea has an answer: A vending machine that spits out miniature gold bars inside elaborately decorated cards. The “gold bar card kiosk,” aptly named “Gold Rush” was unveiled during the JCK Las Vegas jewelry show. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see it. However, I did get one of their nifty USB flash memory drives press kits designed like a gold bar.

The kiosks sell six types of 999.9 gold bars: 0.5g, 1g, 2g, 3g, 5g and 10g. The price of the gold fluctuates with the market value of the precious metal.

The machines have a 42-inch LCD touch screen (the largest LCD screen for vending machines in the world according to the company). They accept cash and credit. Customers can design the cards that house the gold bars. And they can be sent as gifts from the machine by just entering a shipping address. The vending machines will be installed in shopping malls, jewelry stores, duty-free shops, airports and hotels, the company said.

The Gold Rush Web site contains a video with young, giddy South Koreans buying gold from one of the machines. It’s as if they never saw gold bars come out of a vending machine.

Soon, we will all be giddy with excitement watching gold bars flow from vending machines.

Jorg Gray New Watch Collection

 The JG-7200 Men's dress watch

Tustin, Calif.-based watch brand Jorg Gray released 14 new lines of timepieces (a total of 90 models) for men and women during the JCK Las Vegas jewelry show.

The JG 1850 Men's casual watch

The collection includes men’s dress, men’s casual and ladies’ styles. For the collection the company, which has traditionally used Japanese movements, introduced Swiss movements.

The JG 2400 Ladies' watch

The men’s lines will include chronograph and non-chronograph models. Men’s watches will contain 40-47.5 mm dials ladies’ watches will house 31.5-38.5 mm dials

The watches will retail for $350-$1,900 are will be available by the end of the July at retailers in the U.S.

The Jorg Gray watch brand gained international attention when President Barack Obama was seen wearing the JG 6500 Chronograph. Pictured below is the JG 6500 series of watches available in bronze, rose gold and stainless steel casings with a black matte finish for the dials. The straps are available in Italian-made buffalo or crocodile, or stainless steel.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Window Display Allows Consumers to Virtually Wear Watches


If you were in London in late May hopefully you were able to pass Selfridges department store on Oxford Street and participate in the outside window display that allowed you to virtually try on a number of watches from the Tissot T-Touch collection before walking into the store.

The touch-screen interactive interface is known as “augmented reality application.” It was created by a London-based company called Holition. The screen allowed potential customers to virtually try on and interact with a number of different watch styles, colors and sizes—as if they were actually wearing a T-Touch collection watch. The virtual watch is brought to life with what the company calls “real time light reflecting technology.” A person using the system was given a paper wristband that, when shown to the camera on the Holition system, allows them to view an image of themselves on a computer LCD screen in the window wearing the chosen watch. The person can experience the different designs of the watch by twisting his wrist.

You should be seeing more of this technology as the company is working with several luxury jewelry and other high end fashion houses.
.
If you missed the live promotion, below is a video demonstration of the technology.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Italian Handmade Bracelets


Valencia-based Stefano E C was among several Italian jewelry companies showcasing their new products for the American market during JCK Las Vegas.


All of the company’s products are handmade. The top picture are 18k yellow and pink gold elastic bracelets with diamonds. The next image is a collection of bracelets made of 18k white gold with rock crystal with diamond highlights. The black bracelets are made of onyx.

Amazon and eBay to Tap High-End Fashion Markets


Online giants Amazon.com and eBay are both targeting high-end apparel, shoes and accessories retail segments.

The new initiative for Amazon will rival established high-end online fashion sites Yoox and Net-A-Porter, according to a story in the Financial Times (subscription required). It will improve the experience for shoppers with more viewing options for clothing and will offer free returns for clothing items of more than $25, tapping into the success of a similar program from Zappos, the shoe Web site Amazon acquired this past November. The company reportedly said it will be ready to launch the new site by October, in time for the holiday shopping season.


Meanwhile, eBay relaunched its clothing sales under the eBay fashion brand in April, adding videos and comments from fashion stylists and a “find similar items” image-matching feature, the FT reports. It has also launched a “fashion outlet” site in the U.K. and created “storefronts” in the U.S. with retailers including Brooks Brothers and Timberland selling excess and discounted stock directly to buyers.

Here is a link to the story on the Zacks Web site.

Will Zale Corp. Disappear?


I’d like to thank noted journalist and watch expert William George Shuster for alerting me to this story. The Web site 24/7 Wall Street recently released a list of brands that it says will disappear in 2011, and among those mentioned is Zale Corp. The Irving-Texas based company has been struggling for the past few years and has undergone several management changes during that time.

The specialty retailer of fine jewelry in North America owns Zales, Zales Outlets, Gordon Jewelers, Peoples, Mappins, and Piercing Pagoda. The company was founded in 1927 by the Zale Brothers and was one of the earliest retailers to offer credit for its customers.

The story in the financial publication mentions that in the last quarter the company lost $12 million on revenue of $360 million and it recently made the Forbes list of companies with extreme financial list. Its market value is $78 million. The article mentions the company is competing in crowded field that includes bog box retailers such as Wal-Mart and its traditional rivals such as Sterling Jewelers.

The company recently received some funding from Golden Gate Capital but the publication says it will just delay the inevitable.

Zale has pulled itself from the brink in the past. Let’s see if it can do it again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FT Business of Luxury Summit: Boucheron Leads the Way Online as Most Luxury Companies Lag

At the podium Vanessa Friedman, FT Fashion Editor. From left: Luca Solca, senior analyst luxury goods and general retail of Sanford C. Bernstein, Fabio d’Angelantonio,. executive vice president and luxury retail and chief marketing officer of Luxottica Group, William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry; Reggie Bradford, chief executive officer of Vitrue, and Jean-Christophe Bédos, president and CEO of Boucheron.

The Internet was the main topic of conversation during the FT Business of Luxury Summit. It was refreshing to see that the luxury industry was finally waking up to online marketing and e-commerce opportunities. However, the questions raised at the two-day conference show that the industry as a whole is still behind the times when it comes to understanding and using the medium.

The frustration over the questions being raised during the summit at the Beverly Hills Hotel was summed up by a marketing director from Paris who said the following during the black tie gala outside Paramount Studios: “They are asking the questions that were answered two years ago,” he said. “They keep asking whether luxury companies should get on the Internet. That question has been answered. The question they should be asking is how we should do it.”

Indeed, panel after panel, often led by editors of the Financial Times (which hosts the annual event), focused on whether companies, whose main selling point is their exclusivity, should be online promoting and selling their products to the mass market online. The answer, by and large, is yes. That promoting and selling their products and services online doesn’t delude the exclusivity of the brand or cannibalize sales. That if done correctly, this medium can increase awareness, aspiration and sales for a company’s product the same way that advertising and event marketing has done for years. Not that it will work for every company that wants to attract and service wealthy clientele, but for the vast majority, a sophisticated online strategy will be a benefit to the brand.

It’s refreshing to know that a luxury jeweler is one of those taking a leadership position online. Jean-Christophe Bédos, president and CEO of Boucheron, talked about the venerable Paris-based company’s decision to start selling products online in September 2007, before many others and how they use social media sites, such as Facebook, as a marketing tool.

“We realized through surveys that the majority of our clients are affluent people who were buying online already,” he told the audience of luxury professionals. “The studies are still showing that the highest spenders online are the most affluent people. At the same time our objective and our decision was if these people are online we have to meet them where they like to be. They like to come to our stores. They like to have a retail experience. But increasingly affluent people also want to meet wherever they decide. And the internet is one of those places where they like to be. So consequently we like to be there. There were no real metrics behind it. No real sales pitches. We built our site like a service to our clients. And we decided on a learning approach because we are learning as we go.”

So if you go to the Boucheron Web site (which like many luxury Web sites is a bit flash heavy, thus, a little slow for an online medium), you will be able to buy a $10,000 watch, a $9,800 diamond and platinum pendant or a $4,800 diamond and gold ring. And if you go to the company’s official Facebook page you will find the latest product releases and stories written about the company. There are also two Facebook sites that appear to have been started by fans of the company.

Bédos stresses the importance of being on social network sites in order to become part of the online conversation. He says on the Web you do lose control of at least some of your message. However, if you are not part of the discussion about your company, then you have no control over your message online.

This might be old hat for most industries but for many traditional luxury brands it is a sea change in how they do business. Bédos recognizes this but he says it’s more important to a luxury brand’s future to embrace the change rather than fight it.

“At the end of the day, who people trust is very important and I believe that in recent years, increasingly, people trust their friends and their family rather than institutions, rather than media, rather than politicians, rather than brands. So how can brands address people without being mistrusted? I think the issue for me is to see where the people go, where consumers go in order to meet those who they trust and Facebook is a very good example. When something is recommended by a friend it has more value than by the brand that sits in its ivory tower and doesn’t talk to people. By tradition, especially luxury brands, tends to talk at people. There is a very huge shift at the way luxury brands have to market themselves and have to try to meet people because the consumers of today, they don’t want to just be taught. They want to share. They want to give their opinion. And they want to tell us, the brand, what they think about us. Therefore, the Web is definitely a marketing vehicle that will trigger viral marketing. It’s very efficient from that point of view and the question for me is not whether we should be marketing on the Web or not—whether we like it or not. I know the hard luxury goods industry is extremely cautious about the Web. They fear it might destroy their brand image. They fear it might destroy the control they have on their distribution network. But you have to accept today that to a certain extent that you lose a little bit of control.”

Vanessa Friedman, FT Fashion Editor who moderated the panel discussion, asked whether it is a good business or marketing strategy to be reactive to the Web, in the sense that you have to be on it just because everyone else is or because someone will take that space even if it isn’t the right thing to do for a company. 



“Sometimes you have to be reactive. Sometimes you have to be proactive if you’re a brand manager,” Bédos said. “One of those preconceived ideas I think is that we consider the Web as being a mass market vehicle. We should question this. It’s not more mass market than the street is mass market. Yet, specialty brands have directly operated stores on streets. The web to me … is like a street. You have the best. You have the worst. You have dirty streets. You have clean streets. You have affluent streets. You have down market streets. And when as much as a street could be, you can find everything. The question is not whether you should be on the street or not. The question is not whether you should be on the Web or not. The question is how you want to be there and how you want to be perceived there. This is still under your control. If you decide not to be there, you are totally losing what can be said about you and therefore I think you’re not facing your responsibilities as a brand manager to monitor what is being said about you on this space.”

In addition to Bédos and Friedman, participants for the panel titled, “Do 600,000 Facebook Friends Equal one Sale,” were Reggie Bradford, chief executive officer of Vitrue, a social media management company; Fabio d’Angelantonio. executive vice president and luxury retail and chief marketing officer of Luxottica Group, a luxury eyewear company, Luca Solca, senior analyst luxury goods and general retail of Sanford C. Bernstein, a wealth management company; and William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry.

The FT Business of Luxury Summit was held June 14 and 15 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Stars of Africa Jewelry Unveiled

As reported earlier, Royal Asscher selected Toronto jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia to create five new jewelry designs to complement its Stars of Africa rings, which were released last year. The new jewelry line of pendants, necklaces and earrings was unveiled during jewelry week recently held in Las Vegas.

The diamond and 18k gold and platinum rings incorporated a clear half-sphere made of sapphire crystal filled with small diamonds. The crystal half shells are filled with a clear silicone, which allow the diamonds to float inside the ring in the same manner that paper confetti floats inside a snow globe. Of course the diamonds have a lot more sparkle.


Ahluwalia took that half-sphere concept and using what she calls a combination of mechanics and geometry (let’s not forget exceptional design) expanded it into full globes. In some cases, as with the pendants and earrings, the entire globe rotates inside the housing. The new designs incorporate diamond micro pavé in a way that appears to orbit the globes. With one of the necklaces, the orbiting ring spins around the globe. All of the pieces are substantial, in particular the earrings, and all are variations and even advancements of the design theme introduced by Royal Asscher last year.

The collection is available in pink, yellow and white 18k gold and in platinum.

The jewelry is being used to raise funds to support children’s programs in Africa through its Star of Africa initiative. Much of the world’s diamonds are mined in Africa but in many cases the local population do not benefit. A portion of all sales will go toward the Diamond Empowerment Fund, the organization founded by entrepreneur Russell Simmons, which has two beneficiaries: CIDA City Campus and ALA, both of which are based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lita Asscher president of Royal Asscher of America Inc. was recently named an advisory board member of D.E.F.

Lita and her brother Mike Asscher, vice president of Royal Asscher in Europe and Asia (sixth generation representatives of the famed Amsterdam-based diamond company) said they wanted to show the industry how it can have a positive impact on Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, which Lita visited in 2008. They came away with a strong belief in "diamonds for development" that became the main goal of the Star of Africa initiative.

In keeping with the theme of the jewelry collection, one of Ahluwalia’s new designs includes three diamond micro pavé satellites circling the diamond globe, which she says represent education, healthcare and empowerment.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pamela Froman Launches Two Collections during Jewelry Week

Fine jewelry designer Pamela Froman launched two collections in Las Vegas that will be available in stores in the fall. The award-winning artist specializes in hand-crafted works in 18k and 22k gold and platinum with diamonds and gemstones.

The first collection is called “Arabesque Crush,” in which the Los Angeles-based designer uses one of her favorite elements: the undulating “S”-shaped scroll. In these new designs, Forman forms 18k pink and yellow gold into different shapes and sizes of scrolls. “I find the curves of a scroll to be very feminine,” Froman says. In some pieces she uses Ethiopian opals that flash with pinks, reds, and oranges complementing the colors of her gold.

Pictured is the Arabesque Crush Ball made with sections of 18k yellow and pink gold shaped into undulating s-scrolls that alternate with sections of diamond-studded crushed gold. The ball fades from yellow to pink in Pamela’s signature. The globe hangs from an 18k yellow “scroll crush” chain.

The next collection features a variety of colored gemstones along with gold and platinum in which she calls, “Color Crush.”

The collection includes three distinct earring cap styles—each piece begins with the gemstone and, depending on it size, shape and color, Pamela decides which cap style, color of gold, and amount of diamonds would best complement the specific stone. 

Pictured is the “Royal Cap” earrings set made of 18k yellow gold with carnelian briolettes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Diamond and Gem Jewelry Designs by John Apel


Turkish born American jewelry designer John Apelian introduced three new collections during jewelry week using diamonds, gemstones and 18k gold or platinum, under the company name of John Apel.

The first (pictured above) is an 18k yellow gold necklace with beryl stones and diamonds. It is part of the Colors Collection.

The Marquees shaped platinum and rose cut diamond earrings from the Shimmers Collection, one of the company's signature lines.

Below is Larissa micropave diamond and platinum setting with round center cut diamond from the Serendipity Collection. The ring also is available in 18k gold.

The New York-based company was formerly known as DiLaro Jewelry Co.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Collections from Rosato


Rosato Jewelry was one of the busier Italian companies during jewelry week in Las Vegas. They launched several new collections and judging from the activity at their booths throughout the week I’d say you will be seeing plenty of their designs for the fall and holiday seasons.
Among the new lines from the company, known for its silver and enamel charms, has partner with the creators of the new movie Letters to Juliet, to create silver love letter charm pendant. The new piece features a .925 sterling silver envelope engraved with “Love Is…” linked by a short chain to a sterling silver love letter reading a selection of four messages: “What If, Forever,” “Ti Ador” (“I adore you”) or “Love is Family.” It is now available exclusively at Bloomingdale’s stores where it retails for $95.




The company, based in Arezzo and Milan, also introduced a canine-inspired line called “My Dog Collection.” It features necklaces, bracelets and pendants adorned with enamel charms decorated with the faces of popular dog breeds. Again the line is available at Bloomingdale’s and fine retail stores in the United States, with retail prices ranging from $195 to $495.

Rosato introduced three new lines: “Bouquet,” “Aphrodite” and “Peace & Love,” for the upcoming seasons.

The Bouquet collection (pictured at the top) consists of a line of black and white flowers made into silver necklaces, earrings and rings with prices starting at $485.

Aphrodite is a colorful collection of silver bangles, rings and earrings that range from $75 to $295.

 




The Peace and Love collection of pendants and necklaces are inscribed with the words “Peace” and/or “Love” on circular silver pieces in a number of different designs. Prices range from $150 to $475.

Rosato was founded in 2004 by Simona Rosato, its creative director, with the idea of turning fine jewelry into a more trend-driven accessory.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Colorful New World of Damiani




The Damiani Group has been extremely busy lately. The Italian luxury jeweler has introduced a number of lines that marks a new direction for the venerable company. Primarily it has brought color to the party. 

Wendell Figueroa Ruiz, Damiani director of communications, showed me a number of designs Thursday that use color diamonds, color gemstones, and gold (including various shades of pink, rose, brown and champaign). When white diamonds are used, they are often offset by oxidized gold. The black background intensifies the sparkle of the diamonds.

An example of this trend is the company’s Metropolitan Dream collection (pictured), which uses yellow, pink, black and brown gold. The rounded edges of the gold rings, earrings, bangles and pendants are shaped into miniature squares. The inspiration for this line comes from the skylines of major cities at various stages of the day.

Another design innovation is the introduction of hoop earrings that fit sideways.

Ruiz said societal pressures and economic conditions spurred customer demand for more color. “People feel less guilty about buying a piece with color.” 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Designers Use Color in their Luxury Jewelry Creations








LAS VEGAS – Color is one of the early trends at Jewelry Week in Sin City as luxury designers are using a variety of materials to offset their gold, diamonds and platinum jewelry.

For example, Montreal-based designer Claude Thibaudeau uses a rose sapphire to add a touch of color for his new design from the La Royale Collection. This beauty, called “La Vie en Rose,” uses a centered semi-mount diamond accented by a diamond pave on its four prong setting. Then there’s the “floating set” side diamond. It’s available in platinum or 18k white gold and the center diamond is available from 1 ct. to 4 cts.

Meanwhile, Rina Limor, for her Caviar Collection, uses studded gemstones like black onyx and sapphires combined with trendy turquoise and coral gemstones offering what she calls a “mod” look for contemporary women. Pictured is an 18k gold wide cuff bangle with diamonds and a center moonstone.

More to come.