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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

28-Carat Kashmir Sapphire Sets World Auction Record

A 28.18-carat square emerald-cut Kashmir sapphire sold for nearly $5.1 million. It achieved $180,731 per carat, setting a world auction record of a price per carat for a sapphire.

“With its exceptional quality and deep color, I knew as soon as I saw it that the stone had the potential to reach historic heights,” Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in New York, said in a statement.

The untreated gem on a ring is framed by 32 tapered baguette diamonds with a mounting by Oscar Heyman & Brothers. It is described by the American Gemological Laboratories as “a gem of singular importance.” The proceeds of the sale will go toward charity, according to the auction house.

The sapphire was one of three colored gems that took top honors in Sotheby’s spring auction of Magnificent Jewels held Tuesday in New York.

The top lot of the auction went to a 15.23-carat fancy intense orangy pink diamond on ring that sold for $6.1 million (pictured above). The cushion-cut diamond with VS2 clarity “displays a soft, feminine color reminiscent of pink diamonds in historic and royal collections,” according to the auction house.

In addition, a 36.53-carat emerald-cut Colombian emerald, known as the “El Dorado,” fetched more than $2.1 million (pictured above). Mounted on a ring it is flanked by two triangle-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 6 carats.

Jewelry from the estate of American entertainer Eydie Gorme sold for $2.2 million. Almost all of the jewels in the collection were given to Gorme by her longtime husband and partner, award-winning singer Steve Lawrence. Top lots of this collection included a 15.44-carat platinum and diamond ring that sold for $677,000. The center diamond is flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 3 carats. And a 17.40-carat platinum and diamond ring by Harry Winston that sold for $569,000 (pictured above). The center diamond was flanked by two diamond baguettes. Both sold for well above their high estimate.

Sotheby’s auction of 445 lots fetched more than $44.3 million, with 81.8 percent sold by lot and 87 percent sold by value.

“Our results reflect the global participation of bidders throughout the day, with significant interest from private collectors, as well as the steady, strong market for diamonds and gemstones of outstanding quality,” Schuler said.

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First Jewelry Tradeshow in Freiburg Reports Positive Results, Plans Expansion

While at Baselworld I was planning to spend at least one day at the inaugural Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe 2014 tradeshow held in Freiburg, Germany. However, a Lufthansa pilot strike forced me to leave Europe early so I didn’t get to attend.

The only report I received on opening day was that there was a good crowd and positive feeling. A report from UBM, the organizer of the B2B sourcing fair held April 1 - 4, said that 6,000 trade professionals attended. 

The show presented a range of goods including finished jewelry, diamonds and colored gemstones, jewelry mountings, and manufacturing tools and equipment.

Of the 6,000 visitors, about 4,280 were professional buyers, according to UBM. Most of these buyers were from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Brazil. The show is held at approximately the same time as Baselworld and is about an hour away by train, giving jewelry industry professionals the opportunity to attend both shows. 

“The vast majority of exhibitors and traders viewed the exhibition as a success. We are very pleased with the positive feedback from the market and see this as a confirmation that JGF Europe is now listed as an important industry event in the jewelry calendar,” said Wolfram Diener, senior VP of UBM Asia.

The 2015 edition is scheduled for March 22 to 25. Due to an increase in the demand for exhibition space, the fair will occupy an additional hall at Messe Freiburg, UBM said.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pair Of Natural Pearls Belonging to Empress Eugenie Fetches Auction Record $3.3 Million

A pair of rare natural pearls believed to have been owned by the last empress of France sold for a world record auction price of more than $3.3 million. The Doyle New York auction house, which sold the pearls Monday, said they were purchased by a telephone bidder who requested anonymity.

The price surpassed the prior world record for a pair of natural pearls set in May 2013 by Sotheby’s Geneva belonging to actress Gina Lollobrigida for $2.4 million. That pair broke the earlier record of $1.99 million set by Christie’s New York at the sale of the collection of Elizabeth Taylor in December 2011.

The drop-shaped pearls were accompanied by a hand-written note that refers to them as having belonged to Empress Eugenie of France, the wife of Napoleon III (the last emperor of France), the auction house said. In 1887, following the fall of the monarchy, an historic auction of the French Crown Jewels took place in the Louvre, lasting 12 days.

Doyle New York has a detailed description of the pearls provenance, owned by the family of two prominent industrialists of America’s Gilded Age.

They were first purchased by George Crocker (1856-1909), the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California. They were later owned by the descendants of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Massachusetts, an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad.

The pearls measured nearly an inch in height and a half-inch wide, and were warm gray in color, according to the auction house. They were mounted with antique silver and diamond caps, which were set onto a circa 1920 platinum and diamond pendant. 

The pearls were accompanied by a report from the Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF describing them as natural saltwater pearls with no indications of artificial color modification. The Institute added a statement describing them as “very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.”

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Kering Strengthens its Focus On Luxury Jewelry and Watches

Tilda Swinton wearing colorful Pomellato rings. The Italian jeweler is owned by Kering.

French multinational holding company Kering (previously known as PPR) continues its transformation (at least three years in the making) into a luxury and lifestyle conglomerate with the recent announcement that it has reorganized most of its luxury brands into two divisions and appointed executives to lead those groups.

Albert Bensoussan, 55, a former LVMH executive, was named CEO of the “Luxury – Watches and Jewelry” division, which will house the brands Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Pomellato, Dodo and Qeelin.

The last three brands (Italian jewelers Pomellato and Dodo; and Hong Kong based jeweler Qeelin) were purchased by Kering within the past two years and is evidence of its pursuit of luxury jewelry companies.

Meanwhile, Marco Bizzarri, 51, a Kering employee who most recently served as president and CEO of Bottega Veneta, was named CEO of the “Luxury – Couture & Leather Goods” division, which will be made up of Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Christopher Kane, McQ, Stella McCartney, Tomas Maier and Sergio Rossi.

Bizzarri remains president of Bottega Veneta until a new CEO is appointed.

Gucci will remain under the responsibility of Patrizio di Marco, chairman and CEO, who will remain under Pinault’s supervision.

Both appointments take effect in May. They will both report to François-Henri Pinault, Kering chairman and CEO.

“The new structure reflects the specific character of the businesses of the Group’s different brands, and will provide better responses to their particular needs, adapted to each brand’s stage of development,” Pinault said in the April 24 announcement. “The introduction of this structure is a logical stage in the formation of a more integrated group, to further accelerate the development of our brands while respecting the autonomy and individual identity of each of them.”

Bensoussan, Bizzarri and di Marco are all members of Kering’s executive committee.

Along with the new appointments there will be resignation. Alexis Babeau, managing director of Kering’s luxury division since 2011, said he had successfully fulfilled his mission and wanted to take his career in a new direction. Pinault credited him for the development of luxury brands first at Gucci Group and then at Kering.

“Alexis played a key role in identifying and implementing operational synergies between our brands, while maintaining the creative independence that makes each of them unique,” Pinault said.

In addition, Pinault said he will remain the chairman of the board at Saint Laurent. “Saint Laurent is at a pivotal moment in its history and reform as undisputed reference for Parisian elegance,” Pinault said. “Retaining its chairmanship ensures the preservation of the unique individuality and positioning of this historical French Couture House.”

Kering also has a “Sport & Lifestyle” division with the brands Puma, Volcom, Cobra, Electric and Tretorn.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Warren Buffett Signed Diamonds Available at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

Warren Buffett’s signature is laser inscribed on the diamonds.

What’s more valuable, Warren Buffett’s signature or a diamond? Berkshire Hathaway shareholders attending the company’s annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., won’t have to choose. 

Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Gifts, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, will give shareholders attending the May 3 meeting the exclusive opportunity to buy a diamond laser-inscribed with Warren Buffett’s signature. Some will even be able to buy Buffett-signed diamonds directly from the man himself on May 4, as he will be selling jewelry from Borsheims for the fourth consecutive year.

The limited-edition diamonds went on sale Monday, said Adrienne Fay, Borsheims marketing and advertising director. There are 26 loose diamonds available, ranging in size from 0.75-carat to 5 carats and in price from $5,000 to more than $200,000. They are available in round and square cuts and are ready to be mounted as earrings, pendants or rings.

In addition, Fay said 25 of the Warren Buffett-signed diamonds have been set into diamond pendant necklaces and will be on sale only at the CenturyLink Center, the site of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. The 0.5-carat diamond pendant necklace featuring Buffett’s signature normally would retail for $2,500, but Berkshire Hathaway shareholders can purchase it for $1,750.

Each diamond comes with a pamphlet describing its special nature and a loupe so the buyer can see the inscription, the company said. There are no plans to sell any more of these Buffett-inscribed diamonds.

“All of the diamonds are already inscribed with Mr. Buffett’s signature,” Fay said. “We currently have no plans to sell more than more than the 25 pendants or 26 loose stones as they are a special and exclusive addition to our inventory for the shareholder weekend.”

The diamond sale serves as a promotion for the Borsheims Signature Diamond collection. Each diamond has a star cut into the culet of the diamond, giving the diamond additional fire and brilliance, the company said in a statement. The diamonds originate in Canada’s Northwest Territory in which the company says miners and companies use the “most environmentally friendly way to extract the diamonds.” Each diamond is laser-inscribed with an identification number, the Borsheims name and a maple leaf, guaranteeing its Canadian origin. The inscription allows buyers to identify their diamond and trace it back to its Canadian mine.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

MB&F Teams with L’Epée 1839 to Create Star Trek Themed Table Clock

Starfleet Machine in Dark Face

MB&Fin what is becoming a legacy for this young, innovative companyhas again teamed up with a traditional mechanical movement manufacturer to create a bold concept in design and function. The “Starfleet Machine,” is a traditionally functional table clock with a futuristic appearance.

The clock combines the innovative design skills of the multi-award-winning MB&F (known for its cutting-edge “horological machines”) with the traditional fine craftsmanship and engineering skills of table clock manufacturer, L’Epée 1839. It was unveiled by both companies at Baselworld 2014. The inspiration of the clock is based on the MB&F’s founder, Maximilian Büsser’s passion for high-end mechanical watchmaking and Science Fiction, in this case the Star Trek television and film franchise. The idea Büsser said was “to boldly go where no clock designer had gone before.”

This introduction follows last year’s Baselworld release of the “Music Machine,” which was the first piece by the Geneva-based firm that wasn’t a timepiece but a music box, created with luxury music box maker, Reuge. It was shaped like a futuristic spaceship and the songs it played included the Star Wars and Star Trek themes.

Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F chief communications officer, said during a meeting at Baselworld that the Starfleet Machine will be available in May and will be limited to 175 pieces in light and dark versions. Its cost is 28,000 Swiss francs ($31,763).

The C-shaped totally exposed and minimalistic Starfleet Machine looks different from any table clock ever made. The highly visible in-house movement has a power reserve of 40 days. (“You need a large fuel tank for long space voyages,” the company said.) Hours and minutes are indicated on the central black dome by hand-polished hands that follow the dome’s curved contours. Behind that, a smaller rotating dome, accompanied by a revolving “radar dish,” provides a view of remaining energy: five bars indicates the movement is fully wound; one bar means it has eight days of remaining power, which is the maximum power reserve on most table clocks.

Below 12 o’clock on the central hour-minute dome are double retrograde seconds in the form of what the company describes as “turret-mounted laser cannons.” The red-tipped cannons start in parallel and cross over one another before rapidly flying out again, an action marking off 20-second intervals.

L’Epée’s caliber has five main spring barrels that usually equips vertically standing clocks, but here it is laid flat. The escapement platform also had to be set horizontally.

Every component (except the 48 jewels) of the palladium-treated brass movement is designed and manufactured at L’Epée’s Swiss atelier. The gears and mainspring barrels are on full display due to the skeletonised mainplate and concentric C-shaped external structure in stainless steel. the clock can rest on both ends of its “vertical landing gear;” useful for turning it over to wind the mainspring and set the time.

It is covered with a glass dome, which isn’t shown in the photograph nor was it on display at Baselworld, Yadigaroglou said. 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

World’s Largest Flawless Vivid Blue Diamond May Fetch $25 Million

The Blue

A 13.22-carat blue diamond is the lead item at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale May 14. Known as “The Blue,” the auction house says it is the largest flawless vivid blue diamond in the world. It has a pre-auction estimate of $21 to $25 million.

The Ocean Dream

Another highlight of the 250-lot auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues is what the auction house is calling the largest fancy vivid blue-green diamond in the world to come to auction. Known as “The Ocean Dream,” the 5.50-carat gem has an estimate of $7.5 to $9.5 million. “The combination of its size, natural origin, hue, and saturated color makes it an extremely unusual occurrence,” Christie’s said in a statement.

Other diamonds expected to generate strong international interest include a 76.51-carat light pink cut-corned diamond set as necklace centerpiece by diamond dealer Lev Leviev with an estimate of $7 to $10 million (pictured above); and a 75.97-carat pear-shaped D-color flawless diamond with an estimate of $13.5 million to $15 million (pictured below).

The 250 lot sale is estimated to fetch a total of $80 million, Christie’s said. It includes the following:

* A collection of 14 jewels from a “European Gentleman” under the heading, “A Passion for Jewels.” It includes the Rajah diamond, a 26.14-carat, old-mine brilliant-cut diamond with an estimate of $3 to $5 million. 

* Another highlight of “A Passion for Jewels” collection is the Belle Époque Devant-de-Corsage brooch, crafted in 1912 by Cartier. It is estimated to fetch $7 million to $12 million. 

* 20 pieces from the Estate of Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kaszon will be another highpoint of the auction led by a natural pearl and diamond necklace estimated at $550,000 to $700,000.

* A five-strand necklace composed of 87, 81, 76, seventy-one and 65 natural pearls with an estimate of $2 to $3 million.

* A 21.41-carat cushion-shaped Alexandrite with no indications of treatment and a distinct color-change from green to purple with an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. 

* A necklace made of seven Mughal engraved spinel beads that date back to the 17th century with an estimate of $1.5 to $2 million. 

* A three rectangular-cut diamond ring designed by JAR with an estimate of $330,000 to $460,000. Proceeds will benefit Ospendale Pediatrico Bambino Gesu in Rome and the Pediatric department of the Ospedale San Paolo in Milan.

* Mystery-set ruby and diamond ear pendants, entitled Entrée en scène, was part of the “Une journée à Paris collection Van Cleef & Arpels launched in 2006 as an homage to Paris. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $310,000.

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Graff Diamonds Receives Queen’s Award For Enterprise

The Graff Diamonds store inside the fine jewelry room at Harrods.

For the fifth time in its history, Graff Diamonds has received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise, considered by many to be the highest accolade for a British company.

Graff Diamonds is one of the world’s top luxury jewelry and diamond retailers founded in 1960 by Laurence Graff, who still owns the company. The global firm has been recognized by the queen for its sustained increase in international operations over the past three years. It was one of more than 100 British companies to receive the award this year.

“Currently our portfolio incorporates 45 flagship stores spread globally and we plan to continue to expand our network through 2014 and beyond,” said Francois Graff, Graff Diamonds CEO. “We are extremely proud of our British heritage and whilst our global headcount is in excess of 600, our international headquarters, design studios and workshops are proudly located in the heart of London.”

The Queen’s Award for International Trade is granted on the advice of the Prime Minister, following a thorough examination of each application by an Advisory Committee composed of leading representatives from industry,

The awards are conferred by Queen Elizabeth II each year on April 21, her birthday.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Golden Easter

Among the most famous eggs in the world are the “Imperial” Easter Eggs created by Carl Fabergé of the House of Faberger. These were made for the Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II to give as Easter gifts for their wives and mothers.

As you probably have heard the one pictured, made of gold and containing a Vacheron Constantin watch, was recently found and almost sold for scrap. You can read more about it by following this link

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Riki and Jerome Shaw Jewelry Collection Raises $8.6 Million For Animal Welfare

6-carat fancy intense pink diamond ring by Harry Winston from Riki and Jerome Shaw collection sold for more than $5.7 million.

Jewelry from the collection of Riki and Jerome Shaw raised more than $8.6 million with all proceeds going toward cage-free animal shelters as part of the couple’s ongoing fight against animal cruelty. It was part of Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels Sale.

The private collection was led by a 6-carat fancy intense pink diamond ring by Harry Winston, which sold for more than $5.7 million. It was one of two items from the collection that were among the top 10 lots sold during the auction held Wednesday at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters. The other piece was a 6.25-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring that sold for more than $1.3 million. 

The top lot of the evening was a pair of circular-cut, D-color, internally flawless diamonds of 22.60 and 22.31 carats (pictured above) that sold for more than $8.5 million; followed by a 40.43-carat oval-cut D-color potentially flawless diamond of 40.43 carats (pictured below) that sold for more than $7.6 million. 

Another private collection, this one belonging to Kathleen and Martin Field, sold for more than $6 million with two items among the top ten lots sold: They were a 20.10-carat rectangular-cut, D-color, VVS1 diamond by Harry Winston that sold for more than $2.4 million; and a 42.88-carat rectangular-cut Colombian emerald and diamond brooch by Harry Winston that sold for more than $1.3 million.

A 2.49- carat, old mine cut fancy yellowish green diamond ring by JAR (pictured above) shattered its pre-auction estimate of $500,000 to sell for more than $1.8 million.

One high-ticket item that did not sell was a 50-carat briolette-cut D-color, flawless diamond that had an estimate of $5.5 - $7.5 million. 

The overall auction at took in more than $60.5 million, with 82 percent sold by lot and 80 percent sold by value. 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Harry Winston Gives $1 Million to UCLA Children’s Hospital To Establish Fellowship Fund

Honorees Maureen Stockton and Bryan Stockton attend the second annual Kaleidescope Ball.

Harry Winston, Inc. presented a $1 million gift to the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, part of the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, to establish the Harry Winston Fellowship Fund.

The gift was presented April 10 at the second annual Kaleidoscope Ball – Designing the Sweet Side of L.A. at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which benefits the children’s hospital. Hosted by Maria Menounos, the star-studded event honored Emmy Award-nominated Julianne Hough and Emmy Award-Winning Derek Hough with the Kaleidoscope Award - given to members of the entertainment industry who bring light and laughter into the lives of children through their professional achievements and personal humanitarianism. 

Additional honorees at this year’s event included Maureen & Bryan Stockton who received the Humanitarian Award for their commitment to civic philanthropy, and 9-year-old Grace Suomi - a former patient of Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA – who received the Innovator Award.

As the first corporate sponsor of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA’s innovative pediatric fellowship program, Harry Winston will support the work of young pediatric physician-scientists who are conducting research to prevent, treat, and cure disease and illness in children.

“The Los Angeles community holds a very special meaning for Harry Winston.  It is where Mr. Winston spent his own childhood, and first began to realize his passion and future would be in precious jewels.” said Nayla Hayek, CEO of Harry Winston, Inc. “Through the Harry Winston Fellowship Fund, we are so proud to support the vital work of these talented young physician-scientists.  It is our hope that through their innovative research and groundbreaking ideas, all children will have the opportunity for a more brilliant and healthy future, to realize their own dreams.”

Harry Winston Fellows and fund recipients will be chosen annually by an internal selection committee led by Dr. Sherin Devaskar, physician-in-chief of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and executive director of the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute. The Harry Winston Fellows will represent physician-scientists in their second and third year of fellowship who have demonstrated a commitment to a career in academic medicine. 

“The UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute promotes scholarship and lifelong learning at all levels of career development. The Harry Winston Fellowship Fund will support the best and brightest subspecialty fellows toward becoming exceptional academic physician-scientists who will go on to collaborate and establish networks locally, nationally and globally. The ultimate goal is to promote health and improve the quality of life for all children now and in the future,” said Dr. Devaskar.

The three Harry Winston Fellows, whose appointments are pending, are researching diseases that affect children and families worldwide.

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The Montblanc Meisterstück Turns 90

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection 149 fountain pen with guilloche engravings coated with black lacquer, mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, red gold-plated fittings and gold nib engraved with a “90.”

The Meisterstück is almost certainly the best known and most sought after writing instrument in the world. It is used by statesmen and dignitaries; writers and artists. It is the pen used to mark historical moments as it serves as a symbol of personal success and aspiration. 

It is also the identity of Montblanc. The company sells luxury timepieces, leather goods and men’s and women’s jewelry. However, even in this day and age of digitalized communications, writing instruments make up 40 percent of global sales, with the most significant chunk of those sales attributed to the Meisterstück, says Jerome Lambert, CEO of the German luxury brand.

It is the signature of the maison in terms of style, in terms of reputation, in terms of positioning in the market,” he says. “It plays an iconic role. It is a product that is the statement for the whole company.”

Actor Edward Norton and Montblanc CEO Jerome Lambert in attendenace at the 90th year anniversary celebration of the Meisterstück.  Photo credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Montblanc

This year the Meisterstück (which translates as “masterstroke”) turns 90 and the Hamburg-based luxury brand is celebrating this milestone. It began this January by introducing the Meisterstück Heritage Collection of timepieces. It continued in early April with the release of the Meisterstück Collection of leather goods, men’s jewelry and, of course, writing instruments, designed for the 90th anniversary. 

The company also held a star-studded international gathering in New York that included actors Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson and Penn Badgely. The April 3 event at Guastavino’s featured an exhibition of writing instruments for the past 90 years, the chance to have a personal message written by world-renowned calligrapher, Nicolas Ouchenir, and duplicates of documents written by famous authors, artists and scholars using the Meisterstück.

Model Chanel Iman at Montblanc's Meisterstuck celebration. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Gala Magazine.

Earlier in the day, Lambert used a little self-effacing humor to explain why he chose New York as the place to hold the event.

“New York has a great ability to reinvent itself,” he said. "The city is the place to be for old guys like us and for the generation to come.” 

Writing Instruments
The 90th anniversary Meisterstück Collection of writing instruments will only be available this year. It includes fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens in classic sizes with guilloche engravings coated with black lacquer, mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, red gold-plated fittings and gold nibs engraved with a “90.”

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection Skeleton Fountain Pen with ruthenium-plated cap and barrel topped by a quartz Montblanc emblem. The red gold nib has ruthenium-plated fittings and a “90” engraving.

In addition, there’s a skeleton fountain pen that pays tribute to Montblanc’s first skeleton pen created in 1999 for the Meisterstück 75th anniversary. The skeletonized, ruthenium-plated cap and barrel are topped by a quartz Montblanc emblem. The red gold nib has ruthenium-plated fittings and a “90” engraving.

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection Limited Edition 90 Fountain Pen. The cap ring is set with 90 diamonds, solid red gold attributes with guilloche engraving, a mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, and a gold nib with rhodium-plated inlay with the “90” years engraving. Limited to 90 pieces.

Finally, there’s the Limited Edition 90, a large fountain pen and a rollerball (each limited to 90 pieces), featuring a cap ring set with 90 diamonds, solid red gold attributes with guilloche engraving, a mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, and a gold nib with rhodium-plated inlay with the “90” years engraving.

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection
Lambert says the company is taking what is seen as a traditional product line and modernizing it by using the techniques at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence to make the leather softer and by redefining its uses. The pattern, however, is based on the historical jacquard pattern of Montblanc’s original 1924 logo.

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection Document Case

The range of products include a single gusset briefcase, document case, messenger bag, wallets and passport holders; and leather goods crafted for technical devices such as cases for smartphones and tablets that marry extra-slim design and refined details with protective synthetic moldings. 

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection SmartPhone Case Samsung Galaxy S4

Men’s Jewelry and Accessories
A key holder with a black PVD finish and platinum accents is engraved with the Meisterstück on the rim, and an abstract interpretation of a nib. The same “Meisterstück” font and distinctive touch of color (red gold-coloured PVD finish) were added to the cufflink collection, complete with bar cufflinks in black onyx, a reference to the Meisterstück’s precious black resin. A matching leather bracelet is from Montblanc’s Pelletteria in Florence.

MB Meisterstück 90 Years Collection cufflinks bar

Lambert says the new products capture the “spirit” of the Meisterstück. 

In addition to the celebrations and new product there was some personnel news at Montblanc. Lambert confirmed my suspicions that Susie Otero is no longer managing director of jewelry for the brand. Lambert says living in Paris and working at the company’s headquarters in Hamburg was a strain for her. She now does public relations for Montblanc in France. She was in attendance in New York. 

Otero is best known for creating the Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco for Montblanc, which featured delicate, feminine pieces in the shape of flower petals using rose and white gold with touches of diamonds. 

Lambert says the position will not be filled. Instead, the creative responsibility for all Montblanc products is under a single person who has yet-to-be-named.

Montblanc representatives told me that a new collection of women’s jewelry and watches will be released in June. 

In addition, in February Mike Giannattasio, was named the new president and chief executive officer of Montblanc North America. He is credited with steering the luxury brand’s growth in the United States and Canada, first as the company’s vice president of wholesale then most recently as the vice president of retail. He joined Montblanc in 2004. He replaces former CEO Jan-Patrick Schmitz, who held the position since 2003.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

UBM Asia’s Shenzhen Fair Sets Attendance Record

The 12th edition of the China International Gold, Jewellery & Gem Fair – Shenzhen (held February 26 – March 1) welcomed 12,828 unique visitors from 76 countries and regions, up 103.5 percent from last year, according to UBM Asia, which organizes the annual jewelry trade fair at the Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center. The total number of visits (including revisits) rose by 90.2 percent to 14,620. 

Celine Lau, UBM Asia director of Jewellery Fairs, attributed the dramatic increase in visitor traffic to the repositioning of the fair as a multi-faceted platform. 

“In this edition, we strategically re-positioned the Fair as a multi-facetted platform to launch new products, get the latest market intelligence, build brands and source new products," she said.

UBM Asia added that it enhanced visitor promotion, helping boost the number of quality buyers. It invited large-scale local retailers in mainland China to source in the fair as well as trade buyer delegations. The trade buyer delegations included members of Chinese jewelry associations, provinces and cities from Guangdong, Tianjing, Sichuan, Dalian, Jiangxi and Taizhou.

Media coverage of the fair by the 140-plus local and overseas media representatives also played a role in boosting visitor numbers, the organizers said. 

Nearly 400 exhibitors from 13 countries and regions, including Belgium, mainland China, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong region, India, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan region, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and USA, attended the fair this year.

Mainland Chinese visitors totaled 11,269 from 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of mainland China. The top 5 sources of local visitors were Guangdong, followed by Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Shandong.

Visitors from overseas and Hong Kong region reached 1,559, up around 40 percent year-over-year. Sources of the top 10 buyers (excluding mainland China and Hong Kong region) were India, followed by Taiwan, USA, Russian Federation, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Canada and Italy.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buccellati Unveils $485,000 iPad Case at Baselworld 2014

As I noted in February, Buccellati is undergoing an image update. The Italian luxury jeweler revealed this new look at Baselworld 2014 by unveiling products for a 21st Century consumer while maintaining the traditional craftsmanship that is the hallmark of the company’s identity. It was one of the few companies that used the recently concluded watch and jewelry show to make bold product statements. 

The Italian haute jeweler unveiled its first ever engagement ring collection, a bespoke timepiece program and introduced its new logo at Baselworld 2014. The company also plans to relocate its Madison Avenue store.

The new releases were led by what the company calls the “world’s most expensive” iPad and iPhone cases. The one-of-a-kind pieces are being sold for $485,000 and $208,000, respectively. These are the first products designed exclusively by Lucrezia Buccellati, the fourth generation designer of the family operated company. 

Gold iPhone case

While expensive and made with precious materials, these are not blinged-out tech adornments that are more commonplace in the high-end marketplace. Instead, these are new products for a new generation that reflect the techniques, traditions and refinement of the Buccellati brand. 

The gold cases feature Rigato etching, one of the company’s best known metal techniques in which parallel lines are cut onto the surface of the metal to obtain a sheen effect. Atop the gold are sunburst designs made of white gold and diamonds. Lucrezia said she was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of the sun. 

The new, sleeker Buccellati name logo is placed discretely on the covers as it also appears on the company’s redesigned website, which it quietly launched recently. 

These are the first cases that the company will produce for phones and tablets and perhaps other tech products under the Unica collection name. 

Buccellati one-diamond engagement ring using the company's Rigato metal technique.

The engagement ring collection, known as Romanza, is a first for the company. Again, it is an attempt to bring the traditional design and craftsmanship of the jeweler to a newer, younger audience. 

Three-diamond engagement ring using the Buccellati Oranto technique.

The pieces were co-designed by Lucrezia and her father, Andrea, who is the company’s head designer. The lead designer has always been a member of the Buccellati family. There are one-diamond and three-diamond rings that employ many of Buccellati’s best known techniques, including Rigato; and the signature Ornato patterns, which are decorations based on nature forms, such as animals, leaves and flowers. 

The most interesting rings to me are based on Buccellati’s famously delicate honeycomb patterns (pictured above), which resemble the netting of a bride’s tulle veil. It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process in which an artisan uses a fine blade to saw pentagon-shaped holes in the gold. These rings already existed. Buccellati added diamonds in traditional bridal one-stone and three-stone settings to create the engagement rings. 

The Romanza engagement ring collection starts at $10,000. 

The company is using technology with its old-world jewelry techniques to allow men and women to create their own timepieces. Alberto Milani, CEO of Buccellati Americas, explained at Baselworld that this isn’t watchmaking in a traditional sense, but as interpreted by Buccellati. 

The day and night watch features two dials and two movements that can be worn for casual and formal events. 

For example, in traditional watchmaking the movement often dictates much of the design of the watch, so the outer design in a large sense is dictated by what’s inside. The Buccellati formula is to have their clients work with company artisans to design the watch from the outside, including case shape and size, dial designs and types of precious materials used. Then decide on the movement. To provide a great deal of flexibility, Buccellati is working with five Swiss movement manufacturers in order to create watches with any number of complications. 

The combination of the designs and movements for the service, known as Autore, provides its clients with a menu of options to build a bespoke watch. The process takes approximately six months. Not only the does the client receive the watch but it also receives the tools, which were specially made by Buccellati to build the watch. The cost starts at $160,000.

Finally, it’s pretty much decided that the luxury jeweler will relocate its New York boutique, according to several sources. It will move from 810 Madison Avenue a few blocks south to a four-story building on 714 Madison Avenue. That space is currently the home of French arts jeweler, Mauboussin. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

April 17 Deadline for 2014 JNA Awards

The deadline for the JNA Awards is arriving fast for those individuals and companies who are still considering whether to enter the largest and most important jewelry awards event in Asia. 

The deadline for submitting applications is midnight (Hong Kong time) April 17. The JNA Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held September 17 at the InterContinental Hotel, Hong Kong, during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

Application forms and criteria can be accessed by visiting our website at Similar to last year, all entry forms are in English and applications will be completed in English. To facilitate Chinese-speaking countries, there is Chinese translation for key website pages. Entry forms must be submitted online and each applicant can only enter up to a maximum of three categories. 

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 Jewelry
* Manufacturer of the Year - Precious Metal Only Jewelry
* 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)

The competition is organized by Jewellery News Asia, Asia’s leading jewelry trade publication. The annual JNA Awards, entering its third year, honors innovators and leaders of the international jewelry industry in manufacturing, branding, retailing, best business practice, innovation, sustainability and outstanding contribution.

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.

The 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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Monday, April 7, 2014

Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace Fetches World Record $27.4 Million

For once diamonds wasn’t the top seller at a major jewelry auction.

A Cartier jadeite bead, ruby and diamond necklace owned by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton sold for more than $27.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Auction. The sale set world auction records for a Jadeite jewel and for a Cartier jewel, the auction house said. It was also sold for more than double its estimate of HK100 million. 

The item was purchased by The Cartier Collection, which acquires its most precious jewels and exhibits them around the world. 

The piece is composed of 27 graduated jadeite beads of what the auction house describes as “highly translucent bright emerald green color,” completed by a clasp set with caliber-cut rubies and baguette diamonds, mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold. The jadeite beads run from approximately 19.20 to 15.40mm.

The necklace was presented as a wedding gift to Hutton from her father, Frank Winfield Woolworth, on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Mdivani, Sotheby’s said. It was first worn publically by Barbara Hutton at her 21st birthday party, and remained in the Mdivani family for over five decades until it was first sold at auction in 1988 for $2 million, which at the time was considered to be the most expensive piece of jadeite jewelry in the world. Six years later in 1994 it was offered at auction again in Hong Kong, this time selling for $4.2 million.

Sotheby's called the piece the “greatest jadeite bead necklace of historical importance.”

Two more auction records were set in Hong Kong. 

The “Red Emperor,” Burmese ruby and diamond necklace by high jewelry designer James W. Currens for Fai Dee sold for more than $9.9 million—a world record for a ruby and diamond necklace sold at auction. Fai Dee is a Hong Kong company that specializes in acquiring and cutting Burmese rubies.

The graduating fringe necklace is set with 30 heart-shaped and 30 pear-shaped “Pigeon’s Blood” rubies weighing 104.51 carats. Between each ruby are brilliant-cut, pear-shaped and oval diamonds together weighing approximately 59.05 carats, mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold. 

A 29.62-carat oval Burmese ruby and diamond ring, mounted by Cartier sold for more than $7.3 million, setting a world record for a ruby sold at auction. The stylized platinum mount for the ring is set with brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.50 carats.

The three pieces were among the highest sellers at the auction, which took in more than $106.6 million, with 82.2 percent of the items sold by lot and 80.6 sold by value. 

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