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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Graff Diamonds Unveils the $55 Million 'Hallucination' Multi-Colored Diamond Watch At Baselworld


Graff Diamonds has set the stage for a one-of-kind unveiling during Baselworld’s opening day. The first time exhibitor at the annual watch and jewelry fair will present the $55 million “Hallucination” ladies watch Thursday.

The London-based diamond and jewelry firm says the timepiece covered in a kaleidoscope of 110 carats of rare fancy colored diamonds is “estimated to be the most valuable watch ever created.”

Even the hour indicators on the petite dial of this candy-colored watch are made of diamonds. The company said a team of designers, gemologists and master craftsmen worked on this piece for thousands of hours to perfect the concept, which came directly from Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds.

“The Graff Hallucination is a sculptural masterpiece; a celebration of the miracle of colored diamonds,” Laurence Graff said in a statement. “For many years I have thought about creating a truly remarkable watch that illustrates our all consuming passion for diamonds. The Hallucination has made my diamond dream a reality.”

Tomorrow I get to see it for myself.

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The Paris Haute Jewelry Scene Sparkles

Antique Amethyst and gold set created by Mellerio dits Meller

The rain fell as I was retrieving my Rail Europe ticket at the Gare de Lyon rail station. The spring rain in Paris is often romanticized in books and movies. But this was just a cold, hard drizzle, marking a sad goodbye to an exceptional four days in the “City of Light.”

In a brief period of time I was able to visit the oldest family-owned jewelry firm in the world, meet with one of the top independent jewelry designers in the city and an up-and-coming independent designer who is making a mark creating haute couture jewelry with an edge. 
Inside Mellerio dits Meller

My last meeting was the most anticipated and the most memorable. As I have written in the past, Mellerio dits Meller is the oldest family-owned jewelry business. It is a claim rather than a fact in that there may be others out there that are older. However, no one else has stepped forward. What is fact is its history from the beginning is fully documented, with almost all the records in the store. This is indisputable. In fact, the business may have been in operation up to 100 years before its first 1613 documentation.

I spent an afternoon there with Larent Baty, Diane-Sophie Lanselle and Emilie Merillio, board president and the 15th generation family member working at the company. 

Part of the archives at Mellerio dits Meller

Being old is only part of the story with this firm located at 9 Rue de la Paix, a stone’s throw from Place Vandome. As the jeweler to royalty in France and most of Europe, it was front and center as a continent controlled by monarchies gradually changed to democratic rule. Its meticulous archives located two floors below the oak-paneled sales floor chronicles this history in sales receipts written in worn large-bound books. One inscription reads of a sale to a member of the French monarchy on July 14, 1789. This is Bastille Day. “She was certainly optimistic,” Lanselle said. 

Historic drawings

One floor above contains what is basically an historic exhibition of its jewels through the past 200 years or so loaned to them from the established families who still do business with Mellerio. A necklace, earrings and tiara made of large round amethyst gems set in and crowned by yellow gold filigree. A white ribbon made of gold-plated silver and diamond pave. An unusual piece is gold jewelry designed to be placed over fingernails.  

The jeweler still caters to royalty but this time it is the family rulers from the Middle East who walk through the doors. It also serves a new royalty, the business elite. Some of the names include … well, Emilie Mellerio would not say. “We are discreet.” 

A lace pearl and emerald necklace part of the Mellerio dits Meller anniversary collection.

It is an exclusive shop but you don’t need an appointment to enter. Just like the Cartier store practically next door you can come in from the street. It also provides something that other corporate-owned jewelers and watchmakers cannot: value. Baty, the general manager, explains it’s because nearly all of the jewels are made in a workshop above the store. So custom-made or limited-edition pieces are made on premise and without the added cost of supporting the marketing, advertising and in many cases the corporate structure of a conglomerate-owned business.

While it is an exclusive company there’s also a recognition that this is a small family owned, entrepreneurial business. There’s no pretense among the managers. Emilie, who previously worked for LVMH, explained that everyone, including herself, do a number of jobs to keep the business humming.

I previously wrote about the 400th-anniversary collection the company released last spring. I received a first-hand look at the pieces. They were created by Parisian jewelry designer Edéenne. In a stroke of luck I met the designer with her agent, Erwann Bigot, whom I contacted as a way of getting an introduction to the Parisian high jewelry world. 

A magic carpet by Edéenne

Edéenne is more than a jeweler. She is a storyteller who specializes in making custom jewelry pieces for clients based on their own personal histories, aspirations and even fantasies. She will interview a client for two hours before deciding on the piece she will create. She also creates pieces based on movies and books; and occasionally special creations. 

A lantern with three diamonds inside instead of wishes by Edéenne.

The thing about Edéenne that makes her stand out to me is that I can’t discern a particular style in her pieces. She showed me pieces that were wildly different from one another. Whether it’s a white gold ring containing a carved flower inside as if it is in a bubble or a large flower-shaped emerald inside a flower-shaped ring. 

A flower inside of a sapphire crystal bubble by Edéenne.
 
One hallmark about her pieces is that they are often “engineered” to perform multiple tasks. For example, a magic carpet ring made of white gold and emeralds is paired with petite lantern pendant necklace. When “rubbed” or opened at the top it reveals, instead of three wishes, three round faceted diamonds.

Long white gold and diamond ring by Pamela Hastry.
 
Finally, there’s Pamela Hastry and her brand Morphée Joaillerie, whose office/showroom I visited. She opened her business in September and quickly made inroads in the UK and Europe. She’s well-versed in social media so she is known in the US as well. She describes her pieces as haute jewelry with a street edge. 

A sapphire pave bird perches on a by white goby ld twig Pamela Hastry.

The Belgium native who speaks impeccable French and English makes limited edition collections that have the traditional delicacy of fine French jewelry but with a slant that would be appealing for a more fashion-or-trend conscience consumer with taste. Her earrings are made to be worn on the side and above the ears. Her long, open-worked rings, whether for one or two fingers, run above and turn slightly along the side of the finger.

This is just an overview of what I saw during my short stay in Paris. Each person and business will receive special treatment in the future. For now it’s time for Baselworld.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

JNA Awards Now Accepting Entries in 16 Categories

(From left) Nissim Palomo, chief marketing officer of Israel Diamond Institute; Gilat Elizov-Gefen, managing director of IDI Asia Pacific; Naresh Surana, director of Diarough (Hong Kong); Helen Molesworth, managing director of Gübelin Academy; Albert Cheng, managing director of World Gold Council Far East; Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and director of Business Development - Jewellery Group of UBM Asia; Kent Wong, managing director of Chow Tai Fook; Rita Maltez, manager of Rio Tinto Diamond's Greater China Region

Entries by individuals or companies are now being accepted for the JNA Awards. Applications are available online by following this link. Deadline for submissions will be midnight (Hong Kong time) of April 17, 2014.

Organized by Jewellery News Asia, Asia’s leading jewelry trade publication, the annual JNA Awards honors innovators and leaders of the international jewelry industry in manufacturing, branding, retailing, best business practice, innovation, sustainability and outstanding contribution.

There will be 16 categories this year, including a new category that spotlights the ASEAN region. The full list of JNA Awards 2014 categories is as follows:

* Lifetime Achievement Award
* Outstanding Contribution of the Year
* Brand of the Year – Retail
* Employer of the Year
* Industry Innovation of the Year - Manufacturing - Business
* Industry Innovation of the Year - Manufacturing - Technology
* Manufacturer of the Year - Diamond Cutting and Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Gem-set Jewellery
* Manufacturer of the Year - Precious Metal Only Jewellery
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - ASEAN Countries
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - India
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - Mainland China
* Retailer of the Year
* E-tailer of the Year
* Sustainability Initiative of the Year
* Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Age 40 and below)

Entries will be judged May and June by an international panel of judges representing key sectors of the jewelry industry. The honorees or shortlisted candidates will be revealed on June 19, and will be feted together with the Recipients at the JNA Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner on Tuesday, September 16, at the InterContinental Hong Kong, during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2014.

Now on its third year, JNA Awards 2014 is led by Rio Tinto Diamonds and Chow Tai Fook as Headline Partners, with Diarough Group, Gubelin Group, the Israel Diamond Institute, KARP Group, Paspaley Pearling Company and Shanghai Diamond Exchange as Honored Partners.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pope Paul VI Diamond Jewelry Once Owned By Evel Knievel Available for $1.9 Million

Pope Paul VI's Diamond Cross and Ring in Case

It was first owned by Pope Paul VI (1963 – 1978) and after changing hands numerous times it last appeared three years ago on eBay. Now the diamond pectoral cross and ring has reappeared. This time at M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans where the items are now on sale for $1.9 million.

Did I mention that daredevil Evel Knievel once owned the jewels?

“Not only are these two pieces historically significant, they are remarkable due to the fact that Papal jewelry rarely comes on the market,” said Bill Rau, owner of the fine art and antiques business.

Pope Paul VI’s Diamond Cross

The intricately carved 18k yellow gold cross is 7 inches in length and decorated with diamonds and Colombian emeralds. Twelve mine-cut diamonds, ranging in size from 3 to 8 carats with VVS and VC clarity, run the length and width of the cross totaling more than 60 carats. The emeralds and smaller diamonds fill in the 18k carvings of scrolls and leaves along the edges of the cross.

The cross bears a stamp of “Cassio,” which refers to Cassio Studios, one of the artisan ateliers at the service of the Vatican, Bill Rau said. It is valued by the antique dealer at $1.25 million.

Pectoral crosses are given to clergy who attain the rank of bishop or higher.

Pope Paul VI’s Diamond Ring

The ring is centered with a 13-carat white diamond surrounded by 14 smaller round diamonds totaling 3.5 carats. It is set in platinum and flanked by two diamond pavé squares on either side inset with a cross made of rubies. It is valued at $650,000.

Both the ring and cross are engraved with the Christian Chi Rho symbol, which indicates that both were most probably made by Vatican jewelers in the early 1900's with existing jewels from the Vatican's own collection, Bill Rau said.

According to documents provided by the Vatican, Pope Paul VI made an historic visit to the UN to address the General Assembly in 1965 and at that time requested that these two pieces of jewelry be auctioned with the proceeds going to human relief funds.

The auction took two years to prepare and was handled by Parke-Bernet, the nation's largest fine art auction house until it was acquired by Sotheby's in the late 1960's. An eight-page brochure about these two pieces was printed for this unusual sale which took place in November, 1967. Chicago jeweler Harry Levinson bought both pieces of jewelry for $64,000 and the entire amount was divided between four UN agencies.

After that, the two pieces of jewelry were bought and sold several times. At one point they were even owned by Evel Knievel. According to published reports, the items were last placed on public sale by Perry’s Emporium, a Wilmington, N.C., jewelry store, whose owner, Alan Perry, placed the pieces on eBay with a starting bid of $850,000. Perry reportedly was selling the jewelry on behalf of a widow whose husband had purchased the ring and cross in the 1970s.

There is no word on whether they ever sold. A call made to Alan Perry was not returned.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gurhan Opens New York Atelier

Gurhan at work in his new atelier.

Gurhan, the man and brand, has a public home where his international following, which includes celebrities and notable collectors, can purchase his 24k hand-made jewelry or even work with the man to build a unique piece.

I recently visited the 1,500-square-foot atelier in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York and met the man.

Furnishings and objects from different cultures and periods of time reflect Gurhan's eclectic interests.

Exposed brick walls, antique furnishings and along the back wall, “walk-in” doors of what was once an entrance to a large refrigerated room. In its former life, the building on 160 Franklin St. was a meatpacking house. Gurhan jewelry doesn’t sit in display cases. Instead, it hangs on walls in antique frames like works of art or on antique tables. An eight-foot-long bar is for coffee during the day and cocktails after 5 p.m.

Behind the bar and out in the open is Gurhan’s personal workshop, which he compares to the design of an “open kitchen of a restaurant.” So when he’s not traveling, he will likely be in the store at work, or “playing” as he likes to say, in front of customers.

He has a large operation in Turkey which produces his hand-made designs. However, if someone has a strong ideal about a specific piece, he or she can work with the man himself and possibly have the entire piece made by him.

An eight-foot-long bar is open for business for coffee during the workday and cocktails after 5 p.m. Behind the bar is Gurhan's open workshop. 

Gurhan came from behind his workshop to greet me and immediately started showing me the space and his recent antique and gemological finds. He showed me various gemstones (precious and otherwise), cameos, religious mementoes and other items that could end up on a custom piece made by Gurhan in his atelier.

Clearly, this is what he enjoys. “I will be able to meet the woman, listen to her dreams and desires, and create a piece of jewelry uniquely suited for her lifestyle,” he said.

Gurhan Cleopatra Viper bracelet. The six stations on the bracelet are set in hand-hammered 24k gold and oxidized silver with pave diamonds and rubies.

Even though the store has barely been open three months, this already this has happened. A couple flew in from Seattle to meet him and have him make their bridal jewelry.

24k butterfly micro mosaic pendant necklace

The place is a representation of Gurhan’s eclectic tastes and lifestyle. Like his jewelry, highlights of his career, such as magazine articles, are displayed in antique frames at the front of the store. Furnishings and other objects throughout the space represent the man’s obsession with Western, Middle Eastern and Asian history and culture.

24k Pietersite teardrop necklace

Gurhan’s jewelry is known for his personal, modern take on ancient gold-making techniques combined with artifacts he collects, such as antique coins and Italian cameos. Those who prefer to come in and leave with a piece will find a good representation of his work, including his more accessible silver and gold collection.

However, for those more patient, he can now create a special piece while others watch.

Jewelry designer Gurhan with his 24k jewelry pieces, which are presented in antique frames like works of art.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Oscars 2014: What About the Men? A Male Perspective at the 86th Annual Academy Awards

Best Actor Award Winner Matthew McConaughey wearing Chopard's L.U.C. XP Tonneau timepiece in 18k white gold, with white dial and black leather strap. He also wore onyx cufflinks, set in 18k white gold with white diamond pave.

Chopard hit the jackpot at the 2014 Oscars as the luxury brand had its products on both the male and female best actor winners. The only luxury jeweler that may have fared better was Fred Leighton, whose jewelry adorned everyone’s favorite Lupita Nyong’o.

Chopard's L.U.C. XP Tonneau worn by Matthew McConaughey.

Montblanc, one of the most masculine of the luxury brands on the red carpet, helped several male stars look their best Sunday night. Those who saw my piece yesterday on ladies jewelry at the Oscars will notice some familiar names, such as Robert Procop, Lorraine Schwartz, Neil Lane, and, yet again, Fred Leighton. Below is list of what was worn by the men at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

Steve McQueen, director of the Best Motion Picture of the Year, “12 Years a Slave,” (pictured with the film's producer, Brad Pitt), wearing a Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Open Home Time timepiece (pictured below) and Montblanc cufflinks.


Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Open Home Time


Jared Leto received his Best Supporting Actor award in a platinum and diamond dress set by Neil Lane.

Brad Pitt (with Angelina Jolie) wearing a men’s diamond dress set, consisting of tablet cut white diamond and yellow gold tuxedo buttons and cufflinks, and Star Sapphire ring all from the Style of Jolie collection, designed by Jolie and Robert Procop, gem expert and private jeweler. 

Style of Jolie cufflinks worn by Brad Pitt., designed by Angelina Jolie and Robert Procop.

The Black Star Sapphire ring worn by Brad Pitt and designed by Angelina Jolie and Robert Procop.

Steve Coogan wearing a Montblanc Star Classique Automatic timepiece and Montblanc cufflinks and studs set.

Montblanc cufflinks worn by Steve Coogan.

Jeremy Renner wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 41 on the Oscars Red Carpet.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 41


Bradley Cooper wearing the Chopard L.U.C 1937 Classic timepiece on the red carpet.

Chopard L.U.C 1937 Classic timepiece

Pharrell Williams was “Happy” in his Lorraine Schwartz gold and yellow diamond studs and “Be Happy” gold bracelets with Ofira Jewels gold ball bracelets with multi-colored diamonds.

Chris Hemsworth wearing a Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Automatic Date timepiece and Fred Leighton platinum cufflinks with diamonds and onyx and dress studs.

Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Automatic Date

Ryan Seacrest wearing dressed in white gold with onyx button cufflinks by Gentleman by David Thomas and Jason of Beverly Hills.

Chiwetel Ejiofor wearing a Montblanc Star Roman Date Automatic timepiece and Montblanc cufflinks.

Montblanc Star Roman Date Automatic timepiece


John Legend wearing Gentleman by David Thomas and Jason of Beverly Hills yellow gold and white diamond button cufflinks and yellow gold and white diamond lapel buttonhole.

Joseph Gordon Levitt in a Montblanc Star Watch and Montblanc cufflinks.

Montblanc stainless steel and onyx bar cufflinks worn by Joseph Gordon Levitt.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Oscar Jewelry that Ruled the Red Carpet

Lupita Nyong’o celebrates her Best Supporting Actress win wearing Fred Leighton.

The designers with the biggest influence on Oscar jewelry this year were Fred Leighton, Chopard, Lorraine Schwartz and Neil Lane. They certainly weren’t alone but their direction in this year's looks cannot be denied.

Statement necklaces were big this year along with a few large drop earrings.Classic white was most prominent.  

Gold is always a big part of the jewelry being worn by the stars on the red carpet. However, this year the precious metal seemed to be more prevalent. Two things can account for this. First, the work of LoveGold, the fashion jewelry initiative of the World Gold Council in making sure that those on the red carpet are aware of the gold jewelry available. Second, the dramatic drop in the price of the precious metal in 2013. So gold is not only back on the red carpet it is again working its way into retail stores in the US and other countries.

Diamonds always sparkle on the red carpet but maybe this year that sparkle was a little brighter.  That’s because Forevermark, the diamond jewelry brand from De Beers, helped dress several celebrities with its high jewelry pieces made primarily of white diamonds on white gold and platinum. Speaking of platinum the white precious metal certainly had its moments at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

Below is run down of what the stars wore on the red carpet.

Lupita Nyong’o, was dressed from head to fingers in Fred Leighton, including an 18k yellow gold and diamond headband, a 19th Century yellow gold and diamond coiled snake bracelet, an 18k yellow gold and rose-cut diamond spiked crescent earrings, an 18k yellow gold Frog ring, a 19th Century yellow gold, pearl and diamond ring, a 19th Century yellow gold and opal ring, and finally a 1960s 18k gold, turquoise, and diamond ring.

Jennifer Lawrence wore a $2 million Neil Lane crystal, diamond (100 carats) and platinum necklace that draped down her back. She matched it with Neil Lane platinum and 10-carat diamond stud earrings and a $1 million platinum and diamond ring set with 3 fancy colored diamonds.

The statement necklace of the evening had to be the $15 million Harry Winston Cluster Pendant worn by Charlize Theron. The feature stone is a 31-carat square-emerald-cut flawless diamond set in a cluster of diamonds. It has 155 total diamonds.

Best Actress winner Cate Blanchett wore drop earrings featuring 62 white opals (33 carats) set in white diamond pave and 18k white gold. It is the first preview of Chopard’s 2014 Red Carpet Collection. She also selected a brown diamond bracelet (49 carats) set in 18k white gold, and a toi y moi (you are me) pear-shape diamond ring (4 carats) set in 18k white gold from the luxury brand.

Angelina Jolie wore 42-carat round diamond drop earrings set in yellow gold by Robert Procop—the gem expert, private luxury jeweler and jewelry design partner of Jolie.

Idina Menzel wore a Chimento 77.12-carat diamond collar worth more than $300,000, a Chimento 34.6-carat diamond bracelet worth over $100,000 on the red carpet along with Demarco diamond earrings, and a Suzanne Kalan diamond ring.

Amy Adams wore a reported $1.4 million worth of jewelry from the Tiffany & Co. Blue Book Collection. It included 18k yellow gold rhodochrosite, lapis and turquoise earrings with diamonds; 18k yellow gold square modified brilliant yellow diamond bracelet; 18k yellow gold ring with fire opal, pink sapphire, yellow diamond and spessertite garnet beads; and gold Tiffany Metro diamond band rings.

Best Actress nominee Sandra Bullock chose to wear a Lorraine Schwartz $1.8 million platinum and diamond cluster earrings along with a Lorraine Schwartz platinum and diamond bracelet.

Anne Hathaway wore a $1 million platinum and 100-carat diamond bracelet by Neil Lane who also supplied a $250,000 platinum and square-cut emerald and diamond ring, and platinum and diamond stud earrings.

Margot Robbie chose Forevermark Exceptional Diamond Jewelry by Rahaminov that included a 55.26-carat necklace set in platinum, along with Forevermark by Premier Gem Martini Set Diamond Studs set in 18k white gold, and a Forevermark Swirl Ring set in 18k White Gold.

Jennifer Garner wore Forevermark Exceptional Diamond Jewelry by Rahaminov that included a 28.02ctw line bracelet set in platinum, Forevermark by Maria Canale Madison ring with three fancy yellow cushion diamonds set in 18k white gold, Forevermark Radiant Diamond Solitaire ring, Forevermark Diamond Line Earrings set in 18k white gold and Forevermark diamond bracelets set in 18k white gold.

Naomi Watts wore a web-like statement necklace and bracelet by Bulgari. 

Kate Hudson was decked out in Neil Lane platinum jewelry that included 10 carat diamond drop earrings, a faceted crystal ring and a bracelet with sapphire and diamonds.

Kelly Osbourne stood out in the jewelry department by choosing pieces from designer Solange Azagury-Partridge. She wore an 18k yellow gold and diamond Crinoline earrings, 18k yellow gold and diamond Spaghetti Bombe ring, 18k yellow gold Skeleton square ring, and 18k yellow gold and diamond Offering ring.

Olivia Wilde wore several pieces by Lorraine Schwartz including platinum earrings with white diamonds and jade, platinum bangles with white and black jade, and a platinum ring with black and white diamonds.

Penelope Cruz wore Chopard, including platinum and diamond chandelier earrings, featuring a floral cluster of pear shaped diamonds (12 carats) and brilliant cut diamonds drops (4 carats); and a platinum bracelet with fancy shape diamonds (35 carats).

Kristen Bell in Piaget necklace and earrings.

Kristin Chenoweth wears Neil Lane yellow gold and diamond pin wheel earrings, yellow gold chain bracelet, and yellow gold and diamond ring. 

Jessica Biel in platinum jewelry by Tiffany & Co.

Sally Hawkins In Fred Leighton antique diamond double drop earrings in gold and an old mine diamond ring set in gold.

Lady Gaga in Lorraine Schwartz rose gold and 20 carat diamond studs, rose gold and diamond bracelet, and a rose gold and fancy grey diamond ring surrounded by pink diamonds.

Camila Alves in Lorraine Schwartz rose gold and pink diamond earrings with rose gold and diamond ring.

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