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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Online High Fashion Retailers Net-A-Porter And Yoox To Merge

Net-A-Porter website

Richemont said Tuesday that it has entered into a binding, conditional agreement to merge the operations of its subsidiary, The Net-A-Porter Group, with Yoox S.p.A. in an all-share transaction.

The agreement is conditional upon the approval of Yoox shareholders at a meeting expected to be held in June. Upon completion of the transaction, the combined entity will be renamed “Yoox Net-A-Porter Group.” It will be incorporated in Italy and listed on the Milan stock exchange. Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of The Net-A-Porter Group, will serve as executive chairman and Federico Marchetti, founder and CEO of Yoox Group, will be CEO of the combined entity.

The combined company is reportedly expected to be valued at more than $2.5 billion.

Richemont said Monday in a statement that it will receive 50 percent of the share capital of the combined company. Its voting rights will be limited to 25 percent. Richemont said it is committed to a lock-up period of three years in respect of shares equivalent to 25 percent of the total share capital of the combined entity. Upon completion, Richemont will appoint two representatives to the combined company board of directors that will have a minimum of 12 members. 

The combined company is expected to have a capitalization of up to 200 million euro ($214.4 million) to fund growth, Richemont said.

Richemont was a minority shareholder of Net-A-Porter in its infancy and became a controlling shareholder in 2010.

“We are proud of Net-A-Porter’s achievements under the leadership of Natalie Massenet, ably assisted by a wonderful team of professionals,” Johann Rupert, Richemont chairman, said in a statement. “Established business models are being increasingly disrupted by the technological giants. It is with this in mind that we believe it is important to increase leadership and size to protect the uniqueness of the luxury industry. The merger of the two leaders will further enhance an independent, neutral platform for a sophisticated clientele looking for luxury brands.”

Yoox is a multi-brand online fashion store launched in 2000 with operations in China, Europe, the U.S. China and Hong Kong. It is listed on the Milan stock exchange. It specializes in selling off-season luxury goods online in its own stores, as well as trendier brands on, and operates the online stores for more than 30 other luxury brands.

In 2012, Yoox partnered with luxury and fashion holding group, Kering, a rival of Richemont, managing the online stores of several luxury brands owned by Kering, including Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Stella McCartney. 

Net-a-Porter has offices in London, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Net-a-Porter’s website sells clothing, jewelry, shoes and other accessories from a variety of top designers and labels, including Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. It also publishes the magazine Porter, which allows readers to buy featured items.

The transaction, expected to be completed in September 2015, will generate a one-off, non-cash, accounting gain in of approximately 317 million euro for Richemont. 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Buccellati Patriarch, Gianmaria Buccellati, Dies At Age 86

Gianmaria Buccellati

The man most credited for turning a family owned jewelry business into the international luxury brand, Buccellati, has died, according to family members and reports.

Gianmaria Buccellati died Saturday at the age of 86, according to a report in the Italian publication, Arts Life.

The Buccellati family confirmed the death in a brief announcement—written by Andrea Buccellati, one of Gianmaria’s three children and Buccellati president and creative director—sent from the brand’s US office Monday via e-mail. It reads as follows:

“With my deepest sorrow and together with my brother and sister and their families, and my father’s wife Rosie, I would like to inform you that Gianmaria – Honorary President of the Group – passed away last night.

“We want to remember him with affection for his great entrepreneurial spirit and the creative genius that made him famous in the whole world.”

Buccellati’s roots go back to 1919 when Mario Buccellati (Gianmaria’s father) opened a store on Largo Santa Margherita in Milan, Italy. However, it was Gianmaria’s vision that brought the company to international fame, opening stores in Paris on Place Vendome, London, Moscow, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hong Kong, Milan via Monte Napoleone, Costa Smeralda, Capri, Elba, Beverly Hills in Rodeo Drive, Aspen and Sydney. The company already had a New York boutique founded by his father.

In a 2012 interview in Elite Traveler Gianmaria explained the international growth:

“After my father’s death in 1965, my three brothers and I founded MABUTI S.r.l to carry on the family tradition but as the brand grew two of our brothers chose to stay in Italy to pursue less hectic lifestyles. Eventually my brother Luca and I broke off to pursue our worldwide vision, creating Buccellati in the process.”

Gianmaria also served as creative director of the brand, which he officially relinquished to Andrea last year. It is tradition that a family member creates all of Buccellati’s designs.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Graff Unveils A ‘Fascinating’ $40 Million Interchangeable Jewelry Watch At Baselworld 2015

The Fascination

Last year for its inaugural Baselworld Graff Diamonds unveiled the $55 million “Hallucination” watch made of 110 carats of fancy colored diamonds.

It certainly was tough opening act to follow but the London-based luxury jeweler came close with “The Fascination,” a "transformable" watch covered in 153 carats of white diamonds (okay 152.96 carats). For those who may have found the Hallucination a little too pricey, this new watch is valued at a mere $40 million.

With the savings comes a bit of a twist. The pear shaped watch dial on the center of the diamond covered bracelet is removable and can be replaced with a 38.13 carat D Flawless pear shaped diamond, cut and polished by Graff. When the center diamond isn’t in use on the bracelet it is placed on a shank of a ring. So a woman can wear a pure diamond bracelet, wear an opulent diamond covered watch with a matching ring, or wear either piece by itself.

The company is calling it “The world’s most valuable transformable timepiece.” Compared to the Hallucination, one might also call it a value.

“The Fascination is an outstanding piece, carefully crafted so it can be worn in a number of different ways--adding a touch of magic to the jewel,” said Laurence Graff, founder and chairman of Graff Diamonds.

The Fascination is being exhibited at Graff’s Baselworld exhibition space, Hall 1.1, Stand D51.

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A Very Busy Baselworld 2015 Press Conference And Mourning An Untimely Death

Baselworld 2015 opening day press conference. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Baselworld 2015 is set to officially begin Thursday but Wednesday was the opening press conference for the world’s largest watch and jewelry show, where a number of changes were discussed.

Sylvie Ritter, Baselworld managing director, described the past year as “a very busy time where we’ve seen some fundamental changes” that included the unpegging of the Swiss franc to the euro, the crisis in Russia and Ukraine, the decline of growth in China, and Smart watches.
Growth in the industry in 2014 was modest. François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee, said that Swiss watch exports increased 1.9% year-over-year to nearly $22.2 billion.

The show continues its transformation to a pure luxury event, which caused a number of exhibitors to drop out during the past two years because of a steep increase for exhibit space and demands that they spend even more for larger and more elaborate booths. This resulted in the opening of two other trade fairs last year to accommodate these exhibitors. The largest of the two is Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe, March 22 – 25 at Messe Freiburg, Germany, will have approximately 400 exhibitors representing all facets of the jewelry industry. The other is The Diamond Show, March 19 – 23 in Basel, which as the name suggests, is dedicated to diamond industry exhibitors.

Two years ago the fair unveiled a new design for the massive exhibition space. Many watch exhibitors in Hall 1.0, the prime real estate at the fair, were booted upstairs to Hall 1.1 to make way for brands owned by luxury conglomerates (Swatch Group, LVMH and Kering) and the few large independent brands able to afford to exhibit there (such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Chopard). This year many jewelry exhibitors who were exhibiting at Hall 1.1 have moved to Hall 2 in the adjacent building.

The move to pure luxury seems to have worked for the show. There may have been fewer exhibitors last year but visitor numbers grew. And there are still plenty of exhibitors. In fact, the show even attracted a few luxury brands who haven’t exhibited in the past, like Graff Diamonds who exhibited for the first time last year.

Smart watches was a major focus of the press conference where two of the three speakers said they view the new timepieces as something that can co-exist with the traditional Swiss watch industry. No one viewed it as a threat.

“Smart watches have been around for years,” Ritter said. “Lots have already been written about them but it will have no effect on traditional watchmaking.”

A comparison to the introduction of Japanese quartz movements in the 1970s and ’80s, which was a major crises at the time to the watch industry, were brushed aside by the speakers.
“The watch crises of the 1980s was totally different,” said François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee.

The speakers said that they view smart watches as different markets with appeal that can coexist.
“I am convinced it is a different world,” Ritter said. “These two worlds are complimentary rather than antagonistic.”

Another topic at the press conference was the sudden removal in January of the 1.20 Swiss franc currency cap to the Euro. The Swiss National bank placed the currency peg three years so stabilize prices of exports in Europe. The removal in January by the Swiss National Bank caused the Swiss currency to rise against the Euro and other world currencies, increasing Swiss exports.

Thiébaud, said the currency change so far hasn’t impacted the market. Since January, Swiss exports have increased by 3.7% to $1.6 billion.

The press conference began with the announcement that Jacques J. Duchêne, former president of the Baselworld Exhibitors, died Tuesday (yesterday). It would have been his 60th appearance at the show, which dates back to 1917. He is normally on stage with the other speakers. The cause of death wasn’t revealed but it appears to have been unexpected as the other speakers appeared visibly shaken. There was a moment of silence for him.

“He was a man with a vision and his heart was in the right place,” said René Kamm, CEO of MCH Group, which operates the Basel exhibition center (Messe Basel).

“He knew about the real value of time and he always said to make the most of it,” added Thiébaud.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Rhodolite Garnet: The Journey from Kenya to the Workshop, Via a New Zealand Winemaker

Behind this beautifully balanced natural color rhodolite garnet lies an intriguing story. 

By Chris Benham, co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd.

The Umba river flows through the north-eastern mountain ranges of Tanzania and across Kenya, before meeting the Indian Ocean. This area is renowned for some of the world’s richest deposits of colored gemstones. It was in the Umba riverbed that this rhodolite garnet stone was found and purchased in its rough form by Neil McCallum, gemstone enthusiast, trader and cutter.

Neil has been described as “an incredibly clever man, a scientist (with a PHD from Oxford) and a perfectionist.” Well known as a pioneer in the wine industry for establishing the Dry River Vineyard, he is regarded as one of New Zealand’s greatest winemakers. Neil recently sold Dry River to American billionaire businessman Julian Robertson, so that he could pursue his other passion: gemstones. 

Upon Neil’s travels around the world in search of coveted gemstones, he came across this rhodolite garnet in Kenya, which he then brought back to New Zealand for cutting. It has been described by an industry expert quite simply as “without a doubt the finest rhodolite garnet you’ll ever see in your life.” Rhodolite garnets are red or purple in color and lighter in tone than typical garnet stones. The beauty of this 100% natural stone is that you will not find a finer color. Its balance is exceptional. You can turn the stone in any direction and the saturation remains absolutely even. 

The way the stone catches the light, showing off its fire and internal brilliance is quite mesmerizing. The next challenge is creating a design that does a gem such as this justice. 

The goal with designing this ring was to maintain its simplicity. The open four-claw setting surrounds the stone in a way that allows the viewer to appreciate the garnet in its entirety. The boldness of the stone is subtly and intentionally transitioned into the yellow gold band using two D color, VVS clarity heart shaped diamonds. The reason the heart shaped diamonds were used is that they take the big bold shape of the garnet and transition the eye nicely into the band. The claws have been set in the crest of the heart to give the visual appearance of a wider pear shaped diamond.

Jewelry News Network guest columnist, Chris Benham, is co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd., Wellington, New Zealand, a global creative studio for specialist jewelry design. 

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Yves Piaget Discusses Fashion, Watches, Jewelry And Roses

Piaget Mediterranean Garden earrings in 18K pink gold set with 5 pear-shaped emeralds (approx. 3.73 cts), 278 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 3.63 cts), 4 pear-shaped aquamarines (approx. 2.50 cts) and 2 pear-shaped green tourmalines (approx. 1.85 cts). You may recognize these earrings as the ones Scarlett Johansson wore on the Oscar's Red Carpet last month

Not everyone has a rose named after them. Yves Piaget does. He also has the surname of one of the world’s top luxury watch and jewelry brands.

Yves Piaget made a rare appearance in New York Thursday to promote the book about his family and company, Piaget, and for the New York unveiling of the Piaget’s new Mediterranean Garden high jewelry collection.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden necklace in 18K white gold set with 224 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 44.82 cts), 45 marquise-cut diamonds (approx. 14.78 cts), 3 cushion-cut emeralds (approx. 7.66 cts), 3 cushion-cut green tourmalines (approx. 6.85 cts) and 2 marquise-cut emeralds (approx. 1.86 cts)

The 327-page coffee table book is the first definitive record of the brand in its 140-year history, in which Yves oversaw 50 of those years. He currently serves as chairman of Piaget, a brand now owned by the Richemont luxury holding company. The book was a two-year undertaking and the difficulty of putting such a book together was compounded because of the difficulty of finding early company records.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden Pinkb racelet in 18K pink gold set with 1 oval-cut black opal (approx. 14.82 cts), 8 marquise-cut blue tourmalines (approx. 2.88 cts), 6 marquise-cut emeralds (approx. 1.86 cts) and 12 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.73 ct)

The business was founded in 1874 in the village of La Côte-aux-Fées by Georges Piaget, a farmer who built pocket watches during the winter for extra money, according to Wikipedia. In 1911, Timothée Piaget, the son of Georges, took over the family firm and made the timepiece business a full-time endeavor. Its watches were built for other companies who placed their name on the timepiece. The founder’s grandsons, Gérald and Valentin Piaget, registered the Piaget brand as a trademark in 1943. Since then, the manufacture at La Côte-aux-Fées has produced its own creations and the family name became an international brand.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden brooch in 18K pink gold set with 1 cushion-cut yellow sapphire (approx. 20.61 cts), 16 marquise-cut yellow beryls (approx. 6.80 cts), 8 marquise-cut spessartites (approx. 3.84 cts), 8 marquise-cut diamonds (approx. 2.80 cts), 16 round spessartites (approx. 2.32 cts) and 16 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.97 cts)

“We had to go back to the archives that we didn’t find so easily, because my family was very, very modest, very simple, very authentic,” Yves says on the second floor of the Piaget’s New York boutique on Fifth Avenue. “Also my great-grandfather never signed one of his watches. The logo Piaget came in the late ’40s beginning of the ’50s for the first time. Up until that time they manufactured very sophisticated movements of watches of high quality but they didn’t put their name on a watch. So we had almost no archive.”

Yves had two stipulations for the book. He wanted the world to be aware that Piaget was a family name. In addition, he wanted the company’s craftspeople and mechanics to receive proper acknowledgment. Piaget currently employs more than 1,000 people worldwide, including approximately 400 artisans at its locations in La Côte-aux-Fées and Geneva, Yves says.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden ring in 18K pink gold set with 1 oval-cut bluish-green tourmaline (approx. 18.74 cts), 382 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 6.49 cts) and 7 pear-shaped green tourmalines (approx. 1.96 cts)

“I was so pleased by this book because it is the link between the past and the present but through human beings. I insisted on that and wanted the book to talk first about the human beings behind that brand until my generation. Piaget was the name of a family,” he says. “It means there are people behind it.”

He adds, “Behind the name of Piaget there are people and still today the most important people in the company are our workers: artisans, jewelers, watchmakers, designers, engineers … thanks to them we are able to present our watches and jewelry collections. The book illustrates very much that spirit, basically about human beings and then about the collections so the 140 years are really described by both human terms and the evolution of the collections. This is very important for me because it’s a proof a legitimacy that Piaget can show (to others) that lasted for four generations in watchmaking and jewelry.”

Piaget Mediterranean Garden necklace in 18K white gold set with 1 pear-shaped blue sapphire (approx. 21.71 cts), 357 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 20.86 cts) and 4 pear-shaped blue sapphires (approx. 15.23 cts)

In the late 1950s, the company began making watches known for being thin. In fact, over the years, including this year, the company has created some of the thinnest watches in the world, particularly with its Altiplano line. Yves says the thin watches were first borne out of solving a common problem with timepieces then later became a fashion statement.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden watch; 18K pink gold. Case set with 668 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 8.68 cts). Silvered dial. Piaget 56P quartz movement. Bracelet set with 12 pear-shaped green tourmalines (approx.9.43 cts) and 488 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 6.92 cts)

“In the ’40s, watches were very small and it was very difficult to see the time so we developed a larger face and larger movement and also made it thinner in able to make it more fashionable,” he says. “It really crated the fashion of that time, beginning in the early ’50s. It was very ingenious to make this movement very thin and this movement was part of our identity and became our icon.”

Despite creating all of their watches and movements in house, Yves sees Piaget as first a fashion brand.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden ring in 18K white gold set with 1 cushion-cut rubellite (approx. 25.09 cts) and 345 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 3.56 cts)

“Piaget was always known for having a wide collection with many designs. We created the fashion of watches and we lead the fashion of watches having the ultra-thin movements in the ’50s and ’60s, having been the first to decorate our watches in semi-precious stones lapis lazuli, opal tiger’s eye, jade,” he says. “We were the first to use the thinnest quartz electronic movement. That’s really our identity. Our marketing is also influenced by this fashion of watches and I would say that we promoted our watches in a more flashy way than our colleagues … The last 15 years we (created) a number of new thin calibers and Piaget today can say it has a great and long-live legitimacy in mechanical watches.”

Piaget Mediterranean Garden necklace in 18K white gold set with 5 cushion-cut green tourmalines (approx. 35.90 cts), 4 oval-cut green tourmalines (approx. 21.08 cts), 6 oval-cut aquamarines (approx. 24.84 cts), 1 pear-shaped aquamarine (approx. 23.12 cts), 233 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 17.47 cts) and 1 cushion-cut aquamarine (approx. 5.65 cts)

The company began creating jewelry in the 1960s to complement its watches. Yves led this effort saying jewelry was a natural progression for the company because it already had the skills in house to produce jewels. The company dramatically increased its jewelry business in the past 15 to 20 years. Today, he says, high jewelry and other jewelry collections now account for more than a third of total sales for the company.

“It was a natural link as we are in high-end luxury watches. All of our watches are in gold and platinum. Most of our ladies watches are set with diamonds and precious stones. So my forbearers and my generation always considered a watch not as timepiece but as a piece of jewelry,” he says. “In the 1960s we started to develop the jewelry business because our company is vertically integrated. It means a Piaget watch always had been manufactured A to Z in our workshops. We have on one side, engineers, technical watchmakers who manufactur the movements and on the other side we had the jewelers who design the watch and the cases and bracelets and all the settings. We have lapidaries, gem cutters, gem setters all under the same roof. I think it was quite natural asking our designers not to design exclusively watches but to let their imagination go and design jewelry. It’s the same world, the same work to design jewelry. Now we can say that we are watchmakers and jewelers.”

Piaget Mediterranean Garden earrings in 18K white gold set with 84 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 8.20 cts), 26 marquise-cut diamonds (approx. 5.55 cts), 2 marquise-cut emeralds (approx. 1.45 cts), 2 cushion-cut green tourmalines (approx. 2.83 cts), 2 cushion-cut emeralds (approx. 2.62 cts), 1 round green tourmaline (approx. 0.26 ct) and 1 round emerald (approx. 0.22 ct).

The Mediterranean Garden high jewelry collection is very much in the Piaget tradition focusing on watches and jewelry in roses and petals done in gold and platinum and set with a mix of diamonds and colored gems.

Yves says the collection is meant to replicate the carefree, casual lifestyle of the sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden ring in 18K white gold set with 1 pear-shaped blue sapphire (approx. 8.48 cts) and 116 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.96 cts)

“Mediterranean Garden is a lifestyle,” he says. “It expresses joy and sunshine. It’s another spirit we can really express compared to the spirit of our (Swiss) mountains where we are more strict and discreet because of our nature. It expresses joy, pleasure, style and luck.”

The fact that the jewelry collection interprets roses, as many of the company’s collections do, is no coincidence. The namesake of Piaget also has an award winning rose named after him: Yves Piaget Rose. Yves has had a lifelong passion for roses and has been long-time advocate for the flowers.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden necklace in 18K white gold set with 19 fancy-shaped green tourmalines (approx. 23.44 cts), 89 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 9.62 cts), 10 pear-shaped diamonds (approx. 3.04 cts) and 9 round Paraiba tourmalines (approx. 0.92 ct)

“Yves Piaget rose was dedicated to me personally in 1982 because I have done for roses and for the rose world and because I am very close to the rose breeders and chaired a lot of international rose competitions,” he says. “In the Geneva competition the breeder of this particular rose spontaneously decided to name it Yves Piaget. It was a very emotional moment for me.”

While the company did venture into jewelry, Yves says it will never place its brand on other products and accessories it does not make. Even the Yves Piaget Rose will never become a perfume.

Piaget Mediterranean Garden earrings in 18K white gold set with 2 pear-shaped emeralds (approx. 8.56 cts), 2 cushion-cut emeralds (approx. 5.69 cts) and 150 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1.37 cts).

“We have this expertise and this legitimacy of 140 years in watchmaking and nothing else. Piaget never will produce luggage or handbags or fragrances. We do what we know how to do,” he says. “Even with Piaget rose. I never had the idea to use the Piaget rose to make a fragrance out of it…. I think it’s another field.”

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Career of Steven Lagos Comes Full Circle

Steven Lagos

Steven Lagos founded his eponymous jewelry brand 1977 in Philadelphia. The company gradually grew to become one of the best-known jewelry brands in the US, with an extremely loyal following. LAGOS specializing in sterling silver jewelry. Its products are sold in more than 300 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and independent jewelry retailers. 

In February Lagos announced that he will step down from his CEO position to focus on his roles as chairman and creative director of the company. He described the change as both a natural progression for him and the company and as a dream come true as he can now put all of his focus on designing jewelry, which is why he entered the business in the first place. 

What follows is an interview I had with Lagos as he prepares for the next stage of his career. 

Anthony DeMarco: Why make this move now?
Steven Lagos: These management changes are the result of reaching our objectives within our long term strategic plan. While the wholesale customer base has consolidated, the retail marketplace is more fragmented than ever. When I first started you just focused on the stores, it was so easy. Today the customer is shopping everywhere. To stay competitive, the business must be scalable, and that requires significant resources. We define resources as "Money, Time and People." All three are critical and must work in unison.  Today, we are on track with our plan and know exactly what we want to do. This is the perfect time for me to step aside.

AD: How long have you been planning this?
SL: It’s been part of the master plan for a while.  In big companies they say it’s best to have a new CEO every seven years. I think 37 years is a pretty long run. 

Caviar, made of textured sterling silver, is the company’s iconic jewelry design 

AD: Is this a first step toward retirement?
SL: Retire from what? I love my work and my job. It provides me a fantastic lifestyle and is really interesting. I’m a creative type. I managed the business for all this time to get exactly where I am. Design Director is my dream title.  

AD: What are your responsibilities going to be?
SL: I started the business from the creative side. To relinquish my day to day business responsibilities is a dream come true for me. While I’m proud of the creative work I‘ve been doing, I think I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. There is much more to explore. Creativity and design will be my main responsibility.

AD: You are showing a lot of faith in Chris Cullen, how has he earned it?
SL: Chris joined the company seven years ago as president and was charged with transforming LAGOS into a professionally operated, world‐class brand. For 31 years, I was creating products and selling in the best channels. We developed a cult following but were never able break through and scale our success. Chris is a team builder and professional manager. He created and has executed a vision of the company that leveraged our heritage and product portfolio, while developing new systems that focused on adapting to the changing marketplace. He has definitely earned it.

AD: Are you looking at creating new designs? New materials? New price points? Last year you seemed to introduce more expensive items? 
SL: I’m 100% interested in new designs and materials. Jewelry is so dynamic and versatile. Gold was logical as it build on our existing portfolio in both materials and price points.  With any product you have to innovate to stay relevant.   We won’t be adding new categories.  We are focused on being a women’s lifestyle jewelry brand.  We want to offer our customers jewelry for every time and occasion. 

AD: Is the company itself going to update its brand image?
SL: We are not updating the brand image, but rather re-affirming what the brand stands for and what makes it successful, which is our signature Caviar design, the bold femininity we want to convey, as well as our values; strength and integrity. The campaign we launched last fall “MY LAGOS MY WAY” (pictured below) is a result of this strategy.

AD: What is one or two of your best memories and/or accomplishments at Lagos?
SL: In 37 years there have been so many it would be hard to single out one or two. I think my best memories all involve people.  Jewelry is so intimate and personal. It’s an honor to be able to create and have people purchase and cherish your work for its beauty. The magic is the personal stories attached to each piece.  

AD: How do you see your future and the future of your company?
SL: We are building a brand. We have always prided ourselves in running a balanced, well run organization.  We believe that there is a lot of opportunity in the market and want to stay focused on building our brand.

AD: When you first started what were your goals and how have they changed over the years?
SL: When I started it was so much easier to focus. The distribution was simple–some retail stores and some mail order clients. Today the customer is shopping everywhere. It’s so different and fragmented. You need to focus on a lot of different distributions, often for the same business. 

AD: Did you ever think you would have a created a brand such as Lagos? 
SL: Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist and sign and sell my work. Creating LAGOS was my way of realizing this dream. I am super proud of what we have accomplished and humbled with what is left to do. 

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Buccellati Unveils 5-Piece Jewelry Collection Inspired By Master Artists

Gold ring inspired by The Spider's Web by Mikhail Larionov (pictured below) 

Buccellati unveiled a jewelry collection Thursday inspired by the individual works of five master artists from the impressionist and post-impressionist periods. The five one-of-a-kind pieces designed by, Andrea Buccellati, president and creative director, and his 25-year-old daughter, Lucrezia Buccellati, the first woman to be a designer for Buccellati and its youngest family member to be given the title, are based masterpieces from Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, Winslow Homer, Mikhail Larionov and Odilon Redon. 

Gold bracelet inspired by Winslow Homer's Light Blue Sea at Prout's Neck (pictured below)

It will be shown in an exhibition format during the grand opening of its flagship at 714 Madison Avenue Thursday March 12. Entitled “Timeless Blue,” the evening will support the restoration foundation, Save Venice. The new pieces will be displayed with the painting that provided the inspiration.

Gold earrings inspired by Claude Monet's Tempête sur les cotes de Belle-Ile (pictured below)

Andrea explained the color blue is very important to Buccellati.

“The blue color reflects the historical roots of Buccellati and has nothing to do with the blue period of Impressionism,” he said. “With the new rebranding of the company we have wanted to preserve many of the historical concepts of Buccellati, and the blue color is one of them.”

Gold earrings inspired by Odilon Redon's  La Chute de Phaéton (pictured below)

Andrea said even though the jewelry created for the flagship opening event had international influences, it wasn’t an attempt to create a more international image.

“Lucrezia and I were particularly inspired by the impressionist and post-impressionist time periods. We had at our disposal, some different masters and works of art to choose from. Specifically, Lucrezia was inspired by the works of art of Winslow Homer and Odilon Redon,” he said. 

Pendant necklace inspired by Pierre Bonnard's  Deux Vases de fleurs (pictured below)

“My inspiration to create jewels has never had geographic boundaries,” he added. “Lucrezia’s inspiration comes more from different cultures and traditions from around the world. Being based in New York helps, as it is a city with a mixture of people from all different parts of the world.”

The creative team, Andrea Buccellati and his daughter, Lucrezia

The new five-story retail store was the former home of French jeweler, Mauboussin. Andrea said this space represents a new design conceived and developed with architectural firm, Vudafieri Saverino Partners. It is defined by wood floors, plush white and cream-colored furnishings and neutral colors highlighted by modern artistic touches. 

Inside the new Buccellati New York flagship

“The New York flagship perfectly represents the new concept of Buccellati and thanks to the dimensions of the New York space, we will have the possibility to express it at its best,” Andrea said. “We have succeeded in maintaining the concept of Buccellati’s traditional style combined with a more modern sobriety and elegance. I think this new essential look will emphasize the unique and incomparable style of our creations, and they will finally stand out with all their beauty.”

Andrea explained that its previous space on Madison Avenue was a temporary solution while the new five-story space will be its permanent home in New York.

“After the move of our townhouse at 57th Street, due to a new real estate project, we wanted to find a new place to reside on Madison Avenue,” he said. “It was hard to immediately find the right place for Buccellati, the place we felt we deserved. Therefore we found a temporary solution at 810 Madison Avenue in order to wait until something more exciting could be found.”

In 2014, the Mauboussin space opened up and Andrea said it had the size to properly show its pieces and the elegance that reflects the brand. 

The facade of the new Buccellati flagship on Madison Avenue

“This new space is the best we could have imagined for ourselves on Madison Avenue,” he said. “We are among all the important jewelers of the world present on Madison and we could not miss being there. It matches the prestige of our brand…. This move marks the expansion of the brand here in the U.S. as well as the evolution of the brand further into the 21st Century.”

Andrea explained the first floor will be dedicated to jewelry, watches and some silver pieces. The second floor will host silverware and its new collection of bridal rings, released a year ago as a new category for the jeweler. 

“The bridal world is an important segment in jewelry, and it will give us the possibility to offer our clients a wider range of choices mostly focused on young couples,” he said. “At the same time, these young couples will have the chance to admire the silver pieces for table and home decoration, which have always been crucial as bridal presents.”

The third floor will be dedicated to vintage products and historical items of the high jewelry house; and serve as a place to privately meet with clients. 

The fourth floor is for exhibitions of special collections, while the fifth floor will be dedicated to the “Buccellati Club,” a place to host friends and clients for a drink, breakfast or dinner. 

“The dimensions of the boutique, the entire space will be exploited in the best way to express all our savoir-faire and the world of Buccellati,” Andrea said.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Book Presents Sparkling History of London Royal Jeweler, Wartski

“Wartski – The First 150 Years,” by Geoffrey Munn

Wartski, the 150-year-old London antique dealer, is perhaps best known for its “royal warrant of appointment,” as one of a handful of jewelers that supply goods and services to the royal family. The retail store just off New Bond Street is also known for its famous and well-heeled clientele and for its ever-changing collection of rare jewels and gems.

The person who has kept the store humming for more than 40 years is Geoffrey Munn, Wartski’s managing director. He is a masterful storyteller and one of the world’s leading experts in antique jewelry and other objects, particularly the work of Carl Fabergé. This blog has benefited from Munn’s expertise and his generosity on several occasions. 

Munn’s relationship with Wartski and its history are now detailed in a 300-page book titled, “Wartski - The First 150 Years.” The book by Munn documents the store’s famous transactions and his personal stories. The 61-year-old jeweler has worked at the store since he was 19, so he has personally experienced a significant part of the store’s history.

Geoffrey Munn inside Wartski in 2012. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Munn and the store made headlines about a year ago for being instrumental in identifying the long lost Third Imperial Fabergé Egg. It wasn’t the first time the store was the center of world attention and it won’t be the last. 

Munn is also well-known in the UK from his appearances on the BBC Antiques Road Show.

One chapter in Munn’s book, “The Great and the Good,” is devoted to the rich spectrum of Wartski customers. The list includes John F Kennedy, Sir Noel Coward, Merle Oberon, Tyrone Power, Ian Fleming, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Hutton, Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Edith Sitwell, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Joan Rivers, Barbra Streisand, Sir Elton John and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Another chapter is devoted to European royal patronage. Wartski has served six generations of the British Royal family, including Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. Welsh gold from was used by Wartski to make the wedding ring for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on her marriage to Prince William. Other Royal families with a close link to Wartski include those of Denmark, Greece, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Collectors have played a big part in the history of Wartski. Munn gives an insight into their compulsion and how Wartski has been instrumental in forming many remarkable collections, including those of Arthur E. Bradshaw, Malcolm Forbes and Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The book will be published by the Antique Collectors’ Club (ACC) and will be available in May for $125 or 65 British pounds sterling.

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2,400 Buyers Registered for Jewellery and Gem Fair – Europe 2015

The second edition of Jewellery & Gem Fair - Europe (JGF Europe) will be held March 22 - 25 in Messe Freiburg, Germany. The fair has so far attracted 2,400 buyers, primarily from Europe, and around 440 exhibitors from 27 countries and regions.

Positioned as a B2B mid-end jewelry sourcing platform for continental Europe, JGF Europe has expanded from three halls to four halls, including the central foyer, occupying all 19,000sqm of exhibition space at Messe Freiburg. The tradeshow is being held the same time and about 45 miles north of Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair. 

The fair is divided into three sections—loose materials, fine jewelry and packaging, tools & equipment—to make it easier for buyers to locate suppliers, show organizers UBM Asia said. It also has nine group pavilions: Antwerp, ACODES, Germany, Hong Kong, International Colored Gemstone Association, Italy, Mauritius, Thailand and the United States, where exhibitors display their distinct market specialties.

“Many of the exhibitors who joined in the first edition are returning with bigger booths,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia. “Buyers can expect to view and source a wide range of mid-priced finished jewelry and loose materials. The fair is open on Sunday, which enables retailers to restock on inventory conveniently.” 

On Jan 2015, the Swiss National Bank announced the unpegging of the Swiss franc from the euro, impacting various industries including jewelry, across Europe. 

“Although it is too early to predict the consequences for the jewelry industry, German exports to Switzerland will certainly be cheaper,” said Uwe Staib, president of the German Federation of Jewellery, Watches, Clocks, Silverware and Related Industries e.V. in Pforzheim.

“Buying within the European countries has become more reasonable but selling Swiss products is much more a challenge now,” added Jörg Lindemann, managing director of Bundesverband der Edelstein– und Diamantindustrie e.V.

The fair will host a series of seminars organized by jewelry associations, including Deutsche Gemmologische Gesellschaft e.V., USE Uhren Schmuck Edelsteine Bildungszentrum Pforzheim and GRS Gemresearch Swisslab AG.

A reception will be held on March 22.

The fair also will bring in buyer delegations totaling approximately 260 buyers from China, Brazil, Italy, Israel, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Visit to register. Pre-registration enables visitors to avoid long lines at the registration counters and save the admission fee of 30 euro. 

For visitor convenience of visitors, UBM Asia will offer a free shuttle bus service running between Basel Badischer Bahnhof/Freiburg Hauptbahnhof and Messe Freiburg throughout the fair’s four-day run. It is also working with Deutsche Bahn AG for train ticket for visitors travelling from any German city to JGF Europe in Freiburg, Germany. For details about shuttle bus service and train offer, visit:

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Leibish & Co. Names Sandy Ray Head of North American Sales

Sandy Ray

Leibish & Co. has named Sandy Ray as its new Executive VP of North American Sales. He will oversee the expansion of the wholesale division of the online fancy color diamond and jewelry company in North America.

Ray, a second generation diamantaire, has more than 35 years of experience serving the trade predominantly in the United States. He is an early pioneer of the online diamond industry in 1999, and the founder of one the first B2B diamond global sales platforms. His experience also includes stints as director of sales and marketing for Argyle Pink Diamonds and Forevermark.

“Sandy comes along with a strong background in branding, eCommerce, and network development,” said Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co. “His multifaceted background is a testament to his expertise and proves that he will be a significant contribution to our global team.” 

Leibish & Co. was founded in 1979 and is based in Ramat Gan, Israel, with customers around the globe. The company offers GIA-certified color diamonds as well as collections of multi-colored diamond jewelry designed in-house. 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

JNA Awards Unveils 16 Competitive Jewelry Industry Categories for 2015

The JNA Awards, the annual industry-wide event that honors innovators, leaders and outstanding enterprises of the international jewelry and gemstone industry with a focus on their contributions in Asia, has released its 16 award categories for 2015.

Organized by jewelry trade publication, Jewellery News Asia, JNA Awards 2015 will hold competitions in 16 categories. The number is unchanged from last year but the organizers said they made adjustments to encourage more companies and individuals to participate in the awards program.

The list of categories for 2015 is as follows:

* Lifetime Achievement Award
* 3 Decades of Excellence
* Brand of the Year - Retail
* Employer of the Year
* Industry Innovation of the Year
* Manufacturer of the Year - Coloured Gemstone Cutting & Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Diamond Cutting & Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Gem-Set Jewellery
* Manufacturer of the Year - Precious Metals-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 (450 outlets and below)
* E-tailer of the Year
* Sustainability Initiative of the Year
* Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Age 40 and below)

Individuals or companies may submit their entries or may be nominated by others by completing the online application form available at the JNA awards website. Deadline for submissions will be midnight (Hong Kong time) April 30.

An international panel will judge the entries starting from May to mid-June. The shortlisted candidates will be announced on June 25 and will be feted together with the award recipients at the JNA Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner on September 17, during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2015.

“Entering the fourth year of the JNA Awards, we have broadened the categories to encourage the participation of a wider jewelry community,” said Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and director of Business Development - Jewellery Group at UBM Asia. “Specifically, we have expanded the scope in Innovation of the Year Award to include other business disciplines beyond the manufacturing sector. We welcome companies that are innovative in areas, including but not limited to, technologies, business models, product developments, marketing initiatives and gemological research to enter.”

She added “We have also reintroduced the 3 Decades of Excellence Award to honor companies with outstanding achievements and a long-term commitment to developing the industry.”

The 2015 JNA Awards is led by Rio Tinto Diamonds and Chow Tai Fook as Headline Partners, with Diarough Group, Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies, Shanghai Diamond Exchange, and Guangdong Land Holdings Limited as Honoured Partners.

For more information about the event, visit or contact:

JNA Awards Marketing 
UBM Asia (Hong Kong) 
+852 2516-1683

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