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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Smithsonian To Add Zoltan David’s ‘Iris’ Moonstone Necklace To Its Collection

A pendant necklace by award-winning jewelry artist, Sir Zoltan David, will be added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in early 2018. 

The “Iris” pendant necklace, which will be placed in the Moonstone Collection in the Feldspar Exhibit, is centered by a rare 35.63-carat cat’s eye marquise cut moonstone from India. The chain for the pendant is mounted with 35 matching moonstones with an iridescent blue hue and a total weight of 18.20 carats. All of the stones are set in a blue patinated bronze with pure platinum shaped inlay and ideal cut diamonds, created by the jewelry artist. The reverse of the pendant is engraved with the expression, “By the light of a silvery moon, an ocean of life awaits your magical touch.”

The Texas jeweler is the only person from his home state to have a jewelry creation placed in the Smithsonian. 

“I am delighted to have my work become a part of American culture,” David said. “As a young man at the early stages of my training in fine jewelry, I remember standing in the Smithsonian in awe of the craftsmanship surrounding me and hoping that someday my work could be on display there. What an honor to have my Iris necklace showcased with the some of the finest jewelry houses in the world. I am a proud small business owner who is truly living the American dream, and I am grateful now to be sharing my work with people from around the country and across the globe.”

The Iris necklace received the 2016 American Gem Trade Association’s Spectrum Award and was on display at the AGTA show in Tucson last year where curators from the Smithsonian first saw it and eventually chose it to become part of the museum’s collection. 

David established his artisan brand, Zoltan David Precious Metal Art, in 1980 and developed a reputation for combining gemstones and metals in innovative ways to create functional and wearable works of art. He received more than two dozen national and international awards as well as two patents. In 1988, David was bestowed Hungarian knighthood in honor of Sir Zoltan David I, his father who is considered a hero of the nation. 

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Portland Jewelry Symposium Celebrates 10th Anniversary With Future-Focused Program

Peter Smith, CEO of Vibhor, will give the keynote address

The Portland Jewelry Symposium will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with the theme “Future Think: Innovate, Create, & Thrive.” 

The annual event, being held on October 1st and 2nd in Portland, Ore., will kick off with a Sunday night keynote dinner and address by jewelry industry veteran, Peter Smith, CEO of Vibhor and a columnist for National Jeweler, The Jewelry Book, and the World Diamond Magazine. He will share thoughts from his acclaimed 2016 article in National Jeweler, “What Will Become of Retail Jewelry Stores?”

“Given the rapid evolution we are experiencing in both retail business models and manufacturing technologies, it is very timely for the Symposium to take a deep dive into the innovative business models of tomorrow” says PJS Founder, Teresa Frye, owner of TechForm, which specializes in high-temperature platinum casting. “Beginning with our keynote Aadress and continuing across all presentations and bench demonstrations, we endeavor to create a sense of the visionary at this year’s event.”

Rounding out the "Future Think" program will be talks by digital manufacturing expert, Kevin Abernathy of BisVentures; Peggy Jo Donahue will moderate a tech-savvy panel featuring custom jewelers Calla Gold, Wendy Brandes, and Lisa Krikawa; retail business specialist, Becka Johnson Kibby of Edge Retail; responsible sourcing authority, Monica Stephenson of idazzle and Anza Gems; and specialist in XRF analytics technology, Jennifer Caban of Olympus.

Other presentations feature goldsmith and inventor Phil Poirier of Bonny Doon Engineering, designer Annie Koenig of Annie K & Motorhead Jewelry, gemstone carver Sherris Cottier Shank of Gemscapes, and bench expert Kristi Broussard of Stuller. A full line-up of the sessions and schedule can be found on the PJS website

Sponsors for the event include TechForm Advanced Casting Technology, Stuller, Platinum Guild International, Solidscape, Rio Grande, MJSA, Johnson Matthey, Otto Frei, Instore Magazine, Metalsmith Magazine, United Precious Metals Refining, Envisiontec, Hoover and Strong, Cad Blu, Red Sky Plating, A3DM Technologies, and the Santa Fe Symposium. 

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

3-Carat Fancy Blue Diamond To Be Featured At Heritage Auctions Jewelry Sale

A 3.23-carat natural fancy blue diamond is one of the top attractions of Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills Fine Jewelry sale on September 25. 

The gem with an SI2 clarity grade is set on a platinum ring flanked by two round white diamonds and has a pre-sale estimate of $900,000 to $1.2 million. 

The fancy blue diamond is one of a trio of gems being featured at the September 25 auction. The others are: 

* A 5.04-carat cushion-shaped fancy intense purplish-pink diamond mounted on a platinum ring and flanked by bullet-shaped diamonds. Its estimate is $100 - $150,000.

* A 10.45-carat oval modified brilliant-cut fancy yellow diamond measuring mounted on 18k gold, flanked by triangle-shaped diamonds weighing a total of approximately 1.00 carat. Its estimate is $40,000 to $70,000. 

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Mayors Jewelers To Be Sold To British Holding Company

Birks Yorkdale store in North York, Ontario, Canada

In a multi-tiered deal Canadian jeweler, Birks Group, has agreed to sell its U.S.-based subsidiary, Mayors Jewelers, to British holding company, Aurum, in a transaction valued at $104.6 million.

As part of the transaction Birks entered into a five-year distribution agreement with Aurum to sell Birks fine jewelry in the U.K. through Aurum-owned retailers, Mappin & Webb, Goldsmiths, and on its e-commerce sites. In addition, the Birks collections will continue to be sold in the United States through Mayors’ stores.

“The agreement is an important achievement in the company’s strategy to develop the Birks brand into a global luxury brand,” Birks said in a statement.

The transaction, subject to specified closing conditions and purchase price adjustments, is expected to close in the fall of 2017.

Birks is a Montreal-based designer and manufacturer of jewelry that it retails (along with timepieces and gifts) through approximately 30 luxury jewelry stores in Canada under the Birks and Brinkhaus brands, and through a wholesale network. It also owns the U.S. luxury jewelry retail chain, Mayors Jewelers, which has approximately 17 stores in Florida and Georgia.

Aurum Holdings is the largest prestige luxury jewelers and timepieces retailer in the U.K. with approximately 140 stores and online retail sites. Its portfolio includes Watches of Switzerland, Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb, Watchshop, The Watch Hut and The Watch Lab.

Birks in a statement said proceeds from the transaction will be used by to continue its “strategic growth initiatives,” specifically to invest in its Canadian stores and new store concepts, as well as in its whole activities and e-commerce, as part of the “company’s omni-channel plan.” Transaction proceeds will also be used to pay down outstanding debt under the company’s senior secured credit facilities that include term debt and working capital debt associated with Mayors.

“This transaction is a significant step in our efforts to strengthen our balance sheet to better position the company for growth as well as long-term shareholder value,” Jean-Christophe B├ędos, president and CEO of Birks Group, said in a statement. “We believe that monetizing the value of Mayors gives us the ability to execute our strategic vision of investing in the Birks brand together with the retailing of internationally renowned jewelry and timepiece brands in Canada, thus transforming Birks into a global, omni-channel business.”

He added, “This transaction with Aurum also opens the doors to the U.K. market for our jewelry collections and we are extremely proud to join such a prestigious network as Aurum’s under the Mappin & Webb and Goldsmiths banners.”

Brian Duffy, president of Aurum, said in a statement the purchase of Mayors works within the British company’s plan “to be an important part of the Swiss watch market in the USA.” The company recently announced that it will open a flagship Watches of Switzerland store in the new Hudson Yards development in New York.

“We have admired Mayors for some time and see a great deal of similarities with how we operate our business in the U.K. Mayors,” he said.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The 2017 Spectrum and Cutting Edge Award Winners

Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s with a pair of neon blue tourmalines (53.56 ctw.)

The AGTA Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards is already the most important and prestigious colored gemstone competition in the world. According to Douglas K. Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, which sponsors the annual event, this year’s group of approximately 500 entries shows that the competition just gets better.

“It is evident that the entrants take this competition very seriously,” Hucker said.

The Spectrum Awards, which honors the best in jewelry design using colored gemstones, usually gets the lion’s share of the publicity. However, this year it is the Cutting Edge Awards that stood out with it’s the rare gemstones, and the craft and artistry of the lapidaries. For example, the Best of Show was a pair of neon blue tourmalines and two pieces by gem artist, Naomi Sarna, which won overall awards. In the Objects of Art category there were three exceptional finalists with the winner creating a working kaleidoscope using gems to create the patterns inside.

Below are the best gems and jewels from a very competitive field.

Overall winners of Spectrum and Cutting Edge Awards

Best of Show (top photo)
Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s with a pair of neon blue tourmalines (53.56 ctw.).

Best Use of Color

Naomi Sarna of Naomi Sarna Designs with 18k and 24k yellow and 18k white gold maple leaf earrings featuring multicolored diamonds, sapphires and garnets.

Best Use of Pearls

Naomi Sarna of Naomi Sarna Designs with freshwater cultured pearls strung with sunstone beads with an 18k yellow gold and black rhodium clasp set with white, pink and green diamonds.

Best Use of Platinum and Color

Eddie Sakamoto of Somewhere in the Rainbow with platinum “Dancing Waves” neck collar featuring a 57-carat aquamarine accented with diamonds (8.0 ctw.).

Fashion Forward

Ardeshir Dabestani of Asha Gallery, Ltd. with 18k white and yellow gold “Solar Flare” back-drop necklace featuring a 436-carat citrine accented with aquamarines (44.50 ctw.), yellow beryls (87.30 ctw.) and diamonds (23.54ctw.).

AGTA Cutting Edge Award Winners

All Other Faceted

First Place: Brett Kosnar of Beija Flor Wholesale with a 24.26-carat round, Portuguese-cut rhodochrosite.

Second Place: Ruben Bindra of B & B Fine Gems with a 6.49-carat square East African natural tsavorite garnet.

Third Place: Hemant Phophaliya of A G Color, Inc. with a 22.15-carat fancy-shaped tanzanite, “Superman.”


First Place: Meg Berry of Pala International with a 625-carat chyrsocolla with druzy quartz carving, titled “Metamorphosis.”

Second Place: Dalan Hargrave of GemStarz Jewelry with a freestyle carved sunstone chameleon named “Henry.”

Third Place: John Dyer of John Dyer & Co. with a 115.71-carat morganite carving, titled “Joyful Morganite.”

Classic Gemstone

First Place: David Nassi of 100% Natural, Ltd. with a 15.30-carat unheated Ceylon pink sapphire.

Second Place: Allen Kleiman of A. Kleiman & Co. with a 38.48-carat unheated oval Madagascan blue sapphire.

Third Place: Joseph Ambalu of Amba Gem Corp. with a 5.80-carat untreated Colombian step-cut emerald.

Innovative Faceting

First Place: Christopher Wolfsbergwith a 32.75-carat specialty-cut quartz with chrysoprase and opal.

Second Place: John Dyer of John Dyer & Co. with a 21.58-carat red spinel hexagon.

Third Place: John Dyer of John Dyer & Co. with a 63.86-carat specialty-cut tourmaline.

Objects of Art

A view inside the “Colors of Maine” kaleidoscope by Derek Katzenbach of Katzenbach Designs with the images made of multicolored Maine tourmalines and Maine quartz lenses

First Place: Derek Katzenbach of Katzenbach Designs with “Colors of Maine” kaleidoscope featuring multicolored Maine tourmalines (71.74 ctw.) and Maine quartz lenses (24.92 ctw.) set in 18k yellow and white gold.

Second Place: Susan Helmich of “Somewhere in the Rainbow” with a “Straight on to Neverland” pendulum and brooch featuring a 14.01-carat rubellite tourmaline, an 8.94-carat rubellite tourmaline, a 4.08-carat indicolite tourmaline, a 13.8mm golden cultured pearl and diamonds (5.24 ctw.) on a carved frosted quartz base.

Third Place: Liam Powers of Liam Powers Jewelry, LLC with a sterling silver and multi-karat gold chalice featuring diamonds, alexandrites, sapphires, moldavites and phenakites.

Pairs & Suites

First Place and Best of Show (top photo): Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s with a pair of neon blue tourmalines (53.56 ctw.).

Second Place: Hemant Phophaliya, A G Color, Inc. with a pair of fancy pear-shaped tanzanites (49.38 ctw.).

Third Place:  Robyn Dufty, DuftyWeis Opals, Inc. with a pair of black opals (17.61 ctw.), titled “Tears of the Gods.”

Phenomenal (gemstones with special optical properties)

First Place: Joel Price with a 100.66-carat harlequin pattern black opal.

Second Place: Joseph Ambalu of Amba Gem Corp. with a 7.31-carat emerald-cut Brazilian alexandrite.

Third Place: Robert Shapiro with a 7.60-carat boulder opal.

AGTA Spectrum Award Winners

Bridal Wear

First Place: Ricardo Basta of E. Eichberg, Inc. with an 18k white gold and rhodium “Double the Love” ring featuring a 12.62-carat heart-shaped blue zircon accented with a 0.75-carat heart-shaped diamond and diamond pave.

Second Place: Lindsay Jane of Lindsay Jane Designs with platinum “Butterfly” earrings featuring detachable drops of boulder oopal (39.92 ctw.) accented with zoisites (2.10 ctw.), diamonds (1.02 ctw.) and Paraiba tourmalines (0.10 ctw.).

Third Place: Judy Evans of Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts with a platinum and 18k yellow gold ring featuring a 15.3mm South Sea golden cultured pearl accented with white diamonds (1.17 ctw.) and yellow diamonds (1.12 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear

First Place: Adam Neeley of Adam Neeley Fine Art Jewelry with an 18k rose and 14k rose and white gold “Cosmos” pendant featuring a 24.06-carat specialty-cut morganite accented with diamonds (3.14 ctw.).

Second Place: Llyn Strong, llyn strong fine art jewelry  with a lapis lazuli necklace (155.0 ctw.) featuring an 18k yellow gold clasp and a 30.90 ct. boulder opal accented with black diamonds, tsavorite garnets, rubies and sapphires.

Third Place: Mimi Favre of Mimi Favre Studio with platinum “Waterdrop” earrings featuring detachable Tanzanite drops (25.50ctw.) on Sapphire studs (1.75 ctw.) with white Sapphires (0.58 ctw.).


First Place: Allen Kleiman of A. Kleiman & Co. with platinum and 18k pink gold earrings featuring unheated oval pink sapphires (36.65 ctw.) accented with diamonds (5.09 ctw.).

Second Place: Niveet Nagpal of Omi Prive  with a platinum and black rhodium ring featuring a 20.03-carat cushion-cut blue sapphire accented with blue sapphires, baguette diamonds and round diamonds.

Third Place: Oscar Heyman platinum ring featuring a 32.30-carat Cat’s-Eye Chrysoberyl.

Evening Wear

First Place and Best Use of Platinum and Color (pictured above): Eddie Sakamoto of Somewhere in the Rainbow with the platinum “Dancing Waves” neck collar featuring a 57-carat aquamarine accented with diamonds (8.0 ctw.).

Second Place and Best Use of Color (pictured above): Naomi Sarna of Naomi Sarna Designs with 18k and 24k yellow and 18k white gold maple leaf earrings featuring multicolored diamonds, sapphires and garnets.

Third Place: Caroline Chartouni of Caroline C with a platinum ring featuring an 8.09-carat oval pink sapphire accented with round and pear pink sapphires (9.84 ctw.) and diamonds (8.67 ctw.).

Men's Wear

First Place: Ricardo Basta, E. Eichberg, Inc. an 18k yellow gold with black rhodium “Estrella” ring featuring a 7.50-carat starburst trapiche sapphire accented with black diamonds and yellow Sapphire melee.

Second Place: Peter Schmid, French Designer Jeweler with an 18k rose gold and platinum ring featuring a 15.74-carat garnet accented with a pink diamonds, green diamonds and white diamonds.

Third Place: Dawn Muscio of D. Muscio Designs with an 18k yellow gold and stainless steel ring featuring a 4.39-carat  emerald-cut green tourmaline accented with amethysts and diamonds. 

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

House Of Garrard Opens Its First Boutique In Shanghai

The entrance of the new Garrard boutique in Shanghai

The House of Garrard has set up a shop in Shanghai to introduced Chinese citizens and tourists to the heritage of the world’s longest serving fine jeweler, while browsing the collections that include bridal jewelry, tiaras and rare gems. 

The boutique is located in the Bund district in the longest baroque style building in China built in 1911, which also happens to be the same year that Garrard opened its flagship store in London. 

To celebrate the launch of the boutique, the British jeweler has drawn inspiration from its heritage and created a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces exclusive to Shanghai. The Emerald Ivy suite is a combination of emeralds and brilliant diamonds consisting of earrings, bracelet and a transformable necklace that can be worn in three different ways. In addition, there’s the Eternal Fringe suite, a necklace and earring combination containing more than 40 carats of diamonds, and the Azalea Tiara, an all-diamond headpiece that reflects the romantic royal heritage of Garrard.

The Emerald Ivy transformable necklace

Other lines housed in the new boutique include Garrard’s iconic Wings collection and the new Enchanted Palace collection, a whimsical and modern take on the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in London. Garrard has a strong reputation for designing bespoke pieces and this will continue in Shanghai with clients being able to work with the London design team to create one-offs.

“We are incredibly proud and excited to be bringing The House of Garrard directly to the Chinese market with the opening of our Shanghai boutique,” said Joanne Milner, CEO of The House of Garrard. “We are confident that our iconic collections and bespoke designs, coupled with our long standing British heritage will find a happy home in one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in the world.”

A rendering of the Azalea Tiara 

The House of Garrard is known for working closely with the British Royal Family throughout the jeweler’s storied history. First commissioned in 1736 by Fredrick, Prince of Wales, and appointed crown jewelers by Queen Victoria in 1943, Garrard has served each subsequent monarch since. The House has created iconic tiaras which are still worn at state occasions as well as the sapphire cluster engagement ring worn by Princess Diana and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. 

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Meet Audemars Piguet’s New North America CEO

Antonio Seward 

Luxury watch brand, Audemars Piguet, has named Antonio Seward as its new North America CEO, which became effective August 1. He replaced Xavier Nolot who held the position for four years. 

Seward joined Audemars Piguet in 2008 as managing director for Latin America and in 2010, moved to Madrid as CEO of Audemars Piguet, Spain and Portugal. From 2011 to 2013, he also oversaw the French market.  Most recently, Seward served as general manager, Audemars Piguet Southeast Asia. 

He began his career in the watch industry as a brand manager for a regional distributor for several luxury watch brands, including Audemars Piguet, in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Born in London to Argentinean parents, a diplomat father and an artist mother, Seward holds a degree in History from Kings College, London, and a Masters in Political Science from the Institute of Political Studies Paris (Sciences Po).  His diverse multicultural background was further developed from living in international cities including Buenos Aires, Paris, Miami and Singapore. 

“My focus for the Americas will be to connect directly with our clients and implement innovative ideas in both our retail experience and distribution,” Seward said in a statement. 

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First look At The Faidee ‘Imperial Necklace’ Worn By Russian Fashion Designer Ulyana Sergeenko

Russian fashion designer, Ulyana Sergeenko, wearing The Imperial Necklace

Faidee, the world’s largest Burmese ruby company, unveiled its latest statement creation, “The Imperial Necklace,” made with 50 “pigeon blood” natural Burmese rubies at a fashion show held in Monaco. Eight of the gems weigh more than 5 carats each. Situated within the rubies are 100 carats of D-color (colorless) diamonds with flawless and internally flawless clarity grades.

Pigeon blood is the most valuable shade of red for a ruby. The rubies used for the necklace are part of the family owned jeweler’s personal collection spanning four generations.

Ravi Lunia, director of Faidee, with Russian fashion designer, Ulyana Sergeenko, wearing The Imperial Necklace

“It is a piece of jewelry that no one could have created before, due to the scarcity of Burmese rubies with this highly desired natural ‘pigeon blood’ color,” said Ravi Lunia, director of Faidee. “Even those of us within Faidee never imagined that something like this would one day come to life.”

A few of the more than 100 natural Burmese ruby jewels on display until August 21 at Faidee's exhibition in the Hermitage Hotel

The necklace is the signature piece of the inaugural Burmese Ruby Exhibition in Monaco being held now till August 21 at the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco (where else). It boasts more than 100 jewels by Faidee made with natural Burmese rubies. Lunia says it is the largest gathering of jewels made with Burmese rubies in one place. It’s a claim that’s difficult to argue with. The exhibition is being presented by the Stardust Monte Carlo, a long-time Monaco-based luxury jeweler.

A model adorned in Faidee natural Burmese ruby jewels

A special event as part of the exhibition was held August 3 that combined high jewelry with high couture. A fashion runway show on the terrace of the Hermitage Hotel for 250 invited guests featured Russian fashion designer, Ulyana Sergeenko’s Couture and Demi Couture line, accessorized and completed by Faidee Burmese jewels.

The high jewelry, high couture fashion show by Faidee and Russian fashion designer, Ulyana Sergeenko

Faidee revealed The Imperial Necklace as the grand finale of the event with Sergeenko being the first to try it on. Jewelry News Network was the first to receive the top photo of Sergeenko wearing the necklace.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alrosa Unveils 51-Carat ‘Dynasty’ Diamond

Russian diamond mining company, Alrosa, said Wednesday that it wants to revive Russia's history as a skilled center for crafting diamond, gems and jewels.

To back those words the state-owned company unveiled “Dynasty”—a 51.38-carat traditional round brilliant-cut diamond, which it says is “the purest of all large diamonds manufactured throughout the Russian jewelry history.”

The Dynasty is part of a collection of five diamonds with the same name produced at Alrosa's cutting and polishing facilities. The company plans to sell the collection at an online auction scheduled for November 2017. The collection was unveiled at a press conference held Wednesday in Moscow.

All of the diamonds came from the same source—a 179-carat rough diamond named “Romanovs,” recovered in 2015 from Nyurbinskaya kimberlite pipe in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in northeast Russia.

The 179-carat Romanovs rough diamond that produced the Dynasty collection

The names Dynasty for the collection and Romanovs for the rough that created the collection were chosen because they are connected with the company’s intention to “revive the traditions and memory of renowned Russian jewelers famous for their craftsmanship and filigree.”

Specifically it honors Peter I, the Russian Tsar of the House of Romanov, who is credited with founding the country’s first cutting and polishing factory early in the 18th Century and the Romanov dynasty known for its appreciation of diamonds and jewels.

In addition to its size, the 57-facet Dynasty has been graded Triple Excellent (excellent in polish, symmetry and cut), D color (colorless) and VVS1(very, very slightly included), a clarity grading just below “flawless” and “internally flawless” meaning a tiny speck is visible at 10x magnification through the pavilion of the diamond.

Sergey Ivanov, Alrosa president, said a diamond of this size and with these characteristics has never been produced in Russia and it has the potential to be most expensive diamond ever sold in the country’s history. Less than 1% of diamonds have these characteristics.

The complete collection of five diamonds totaling 76.22 carats is also called Dynasty. They were created from a

Ivanov, said it took Alrosa technicians and craftsmen a year-and-a-half to create the collection.

“Such characteristics of polished diamonds obtained from one rough diamond are exceptional. To be sure, it is a masterpiece of Russian polishers,” Ivanov said.

The other diamonds in the Dynasty collection are as follows:

* The “Sheremetevs,” a 16.67-carat round brilliant-cut diamond, the second largest diamond in the collection;

* The “Orlovs,” a 5.05-carat oval diamond;

* The “Vorontsovs,” a 1.73-carat pear-cut diamond; and

* The “Yusupovs,” a 1.39-carat diamond.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chinese Conglomerate Completes Acquisition Of Buccellati

Gangsu Gangtai Holding has completed its acquisition of Italian high jewelry house Buccellati. 

The Chinese conglomerate has acquired an 85% stake in the luxury jeweler, internationally known for its time-honored hand-crafted techniques developed in Italy. The transaction price was based on an equity value of €230 million ($271 million) for 100% of the company.

Gangtai says it plans to both sustain its presence in existing markets—namely Italy, Europe and North America—and to develop in the new markets—such as China, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe—with a five-year investment of €200 million ($236 million) that will fund 88 new Buccellati boutiques.

The deal was first announced in December 2016 and the closing was completed Tuesday at a press conference in Milan. In attendance was Xu Jiangang, founder and chairman of Gangatai Group, Andrea Buccellati, who will maintain his position as creative director, and Gianluca Brozzetti, who will continue as honorary chairman and CEO.

Buccellati, founded in Milan in 1919, is one of the most prestigious jewelers in Italy. It was family owned until 2013 when Clessidra, an Italian investment holding company, acquired a 67 percent stake of the company, with the remaining 33 percent retained by the founding family. 

With the new agreement Clessidra and the Buccellati family will retain the remaining 15 percent stake in the company. In addition, all jewelry making will remain at Buccellati’s headquarters. 

“Our will is to maintain Buccellati’s identity while enhancing all of the elements which make it one of the best known brands worldwide in the fine jewelry sector, including its craftsmanship, design and originality, which are the heritage of Italian jewelry,” Xu Jiangang said. 

“It is the will of the new shareholder,” Andrea Buccellati added, “to preserve the company’s uniqueness, especially its excellence, craftsmanship and quality. In this respect, Gangtai Group’s recommendation to keep the production in Italy represents a solid commitment.”

Gangtai Group is a privately held conglomerate in the consumer, culture, finance and health industries with a capitalization of approximately $3.5 billion and revenues of more than 1.4 billion. Its subsidiary, Gangsu Gangtai Holding (Group) Co. Ltd, is one of largest gold jewelry distributers and a leading internet jewelry retailer in China with more than 1.200 employees, and is focused on growing its presence in international luxury. 

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Masterpiece London 2017: The Best Of The Best Jewels

The "Music on my Mind" necklace by Wallace Chan. All photos by Anthony DeMarco

My first trip to the Masterpiece London art fair, held June 28 – July 5, was short but nevertheless fruitful. There were 16 firms that presented jewelry at the annual art fair. They was a lot of diversity among contemporary and modern jewelry designers and branded firms that sell both period and modern pieces, and dealers of period and antique jewels. There were a number of exceptional pieces and quite a bit of variety.

Wallace Chan’s new pieces were whimsical and wild and wonderful. His standout piece was the colorful “Music on my Mind,” necklace, a titanium and gemstone masterpiece that appears like an extended bejeweled collar that floats and bounces on the neck when worn. The focal point of the necklace are seven, six-sided pendants made of lapis lazuli, crystal and a Burma ruby center stone. The piece was commissioned by a client who owned the Burmese rubies (more than 56 carats). Chan said he held onto the gems for many years until he decided on an appropriate design. The necklace comes with matching earrings and ring.

There were other exceptional pieces from Chan, including a colorful, gem-encrusted brooch (pictured above and below) that shimmered and an example of his famous “Wallace Cut,” an unconventional carving technique that creates a multi-layered, 3D relief illustration in transparent materials.

Chan began his artistic career as a sculptor and in recent years has returned to this art form, which he says he will continue. In his exhibition space was a large piece titled “A Dream of a Generation.” The focal point is a face of a person with suspended arms folded, with the right arm gripping the top of the left arm. Above the head is a bejeweled butterfly and spotlight behind, captures the shadow of the insect on the wall. The eyes on the face are just slightly open. Chan explained that he is in a semi-state of consciousness, being both in a dreamlike world while alert enough to be in the moment. He said the man’s unconscious self is looking inward at his internal struggles, while managing that struggle with the challenges of the world around him.

"A Dream of a Generation" sculpture by Wallace Chan

Tsavorite earrings and a tsavorite and copper ring by Hemmerle

Hemmerle presented its share of impressive artistic creations with new unique pieces that focus on combining precious gems with materials normally not associated with jewelry making. Its work with fashioning aluminum in ways never thought possible is well known. This year the Munich-based firm presented a few pieces that use copper and bronze. Among them is a ring with the metal darkened in grayish tones with a faceted tsavorite center stone. It could easily be paired with tsavorite and silver earrings that featured a rough textured cut that enhanced the sparkle. It’s a technique that is often used by the firm.

Various Grima rings cleverly displayed

The London firm Grima—founded by Andrew Grima, known for his modernist designs of the 1960s, and since his death in 2007, continued by his wife, Jojo and daughter, Francesca—presented a full complement of creative works, all cleverly displayed. Among the pieces that stood out was a large green tourmaline crystal pendant necklace set in white gold and diamonds, originally designed by Andrew, and a multicolored necklace made with amethysts, diamonds, tourmalines, citrines and aquamarines set in yellow gold, by Jojo.

Well crafted bejeweled crustaceans by Theo Fennell

One of the most outrageous and popular London jewelry designers, Theo Fennell, presented his whimsical pieces. The luxury jeweler was recently pulled out of bankruptcy protection by a “turnaround firm.” There are a lot of people in London’s jewelry industry breathing a sigh of relief that his jewels and personality will continue to be a fixture in the city. The pieces on view ranged from his iconic skulls to highly detailed sea crustaceans to more traditional opal jewels.

An aquamarine heart brooch wrapped with braided strands of gold by Verdura

The brands, Verdura and Belperron, were also on hand presenting collectable pieces and recently created jewels based on the drawings of the two iconic designers. Verdura was the most prevalent with highlights that included a large chunky peridot necklace and an aquamarine heart brooch, wrapped with braided strands of gold.

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