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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The High Jewels To See At 2017 Masterpiece London

A scene from the 2016 edition of Masterpiece London

All of the top names from the past and present of the high jewelry world will be there, such as Fabergé, Van Cleef & Arpels, Verdura, Belperron, Wallace Chan and Hemmerle. Other familiar names for avid jewelry collectors will be present as well, including Gustave Baugrand, Andrew Grima and Raymond Yard. There will be jewels from all periods and names that will be new to some of us as well.

The eighth edition of Masterpiece London opens to the public Thursday and will run till July 5. It’s an art fair first but the amount of quality jewels (old and new) on display is impressive. For the first time I will be attending the event although I will miss the today’s (Wednesday) preview, arguably the best time to go.

What follows is a preview of some of the jewels that will on display:


It appears that Van Cleef & Arpels will be bringing its Automate Fée Ondine to Masterpiece London, the bejeweled automaton that was the showstopper at the January SIHH 2017 luxury watch fair. The table-sized “jewel” consists of engraved and enameled silver strips, white, pink and yellow gold, diamonds, blue and colored sapphires, aquamarine, plique-à-jour enamel, silver, spessartite garnets, white opal, onyx, Mystery Set rubies and ebony veneer.


A diamond and natural pearl bracelet by Boghossian.


The "Bliss and Peace" necklace by Wallace Chan, which uses an imperial snuff bottle from the Daoguang period (1821-1850) of Qing dynasty.


From London dealer, Hancocks, an Egyptian gold scarab and multi-gem bead necklace by Marcus & Co., circa 1905.


Earrings crafted out of emeralds, silver and white gold, 2016, by Hemmerle.


From Monaco jewelry dealer, Véronique Bamps, Van Cleef & Arpels “Ludo Hexagone” clip brooches and bracelet made of 18k gold and diamonds, circa 1935.


From London dealer, Sandra Cronan, an emerald-shaped aquamarine gem on a clip by Raymond Yard with four tapered slivers of opal on two diagonally opposing corners with two rows of diamond running up each side, circa 1933.


From the jointly owned jewelry brands, Verdura and Belperron, the Verdura Raja ring with a Ceylon sapphire center stone surrounded by turquoise and diamonds.


From London dealer, S.J. Phillips, a 19th century pink topaz, diamond and emerald insect brooch, circa 1890.


From London dealer, Wartski, an enamel and gem-set neo-Egyptian brooch by Gustave Baugrand.


The Underwater Ring by London jeweler, Theo Fennell.


From London jeweler, Chatila, an 8.18-carat pear shaped fancy purplish pink diamond on a ring flanked by two white diamonds.


From London dealer, Didier, an 18k gold ring in the form of a self-portrait of the artist, Marisol Escobar, her hair tied in coils around her ears, and set with ruby eyes. Number 32 from an edition of 100, circa 1970.


From London jewelry brand, Grima, yellow gold drop earrings set with golden diamonds and drop-shaped garnets by Jojo Grima, 2006.


From London dealer, Symbolic & Chase, a cultured pearl and platinum ring by Jean Despres.


From New York dealer, A La Vieille Russie, a miniature fish-form egg pendant by Fabergé, using wood and gem-set gold.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Asteria Is Bringing Colored Diamonds Online To U.S. Consumers


Natural fancy colored diamonds are among the most sought after gems in the world, with the very best and rarest regularly breaking worldwide auction records. Israeli-based Asteria Diamonds is one of a few companies that provide high-quality colored diamonds online to consumers. The brand is currently targeting the U.S. market with new offices in New York and Chicago.

Asteria was founded by Bashari Diamonds (Israel) Ltd., a wholesale diamond manufacturing business founded in 1973.

2.29-carat fancy light greenish blue radiant shaped diamond on a diamond ring

As technology in how diamonds are manufactured and distributed advanced in recent years, Bashari saw it was time to create a diamond brand for consumers using its wholesale inventory. Asteria Diamonds was born in 2008. The brand first specialized in white diamonds for the burgeoning luxury market in China, which it had already entered with its wholesale business.

As online retail, marketing and social media continued changing and becoming more global, in 2012 Asteria launched its global eCommerce website (www.asteriadiamonds.com).

1.84-carat fancy yellow-green diamond surrounded by white and colored diamonds, $28,661

Today Asteria specializes in fancy colored diamonds, but also sells white diamonds, colored gemstones and diamond jewelry. The company says it offers its entire inventory directly to consumers at wholesale prices. Even though it is an online retailer, the company says it can provide personalized service throughout the world.

The website offers a full breadth of fancy colored diamonds, spanning all different sizes, cuts, qualities and colors. Prices reflect this diversity, ranging from as low as $400 to more than $150,000. The brand also offers statement diamonds not listed on the website.

3.3-carat fancy light yellow diamond engagement ring

Prices for a full collection of diamond jewels also vary widely based on the quality of the diamond and the design and can run more than $600,000. There were several pieces in which the price was only given upon request.

The brand is certainly keen on pushing fancy colored diamonds for engagement rings, something that has had limited success in the past with U.S. consumers. The trend in colored gems for engagement has a long history among the rich and famous and Asteria is working hard to increase the popularity of this trend.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Top Jewels and Designers At The 2017 Couture Show


If I could I would spend four days of my time in Las Vegas during jewelry week at The Couture Show. It’s become the best show in terms of the quality of pieces and the most enjoyable in terms of the overall comfortable, informal yet luxurious environment. This year I had two days and it just wasn’t enough time to see all of the quality designers. So this list of 26 jewels is among the best I saw at the show but there were certainly much more to see.


New York-based designer, Coomi, presented an exceptional offering of jewels ranging from traditional high jewelry pieces to a special collection based on an historic piece of architecture to items made with objects from antiquity. In many ways it was typical of what Coomi produces each year at Couture but this year the artistry and creativity was prolific. The items on display included a collection of beautiful, sea-blue paraiba tourmalines set in 20k white gold and paired with diamonds.


An extremely rare and very large natural saltwater pearl from the Melo Melo sea snail. The 23.8 x 23.3 x 23.1 mm, “non-nacreous pearl” is set in an 18k rose gold and diamond pavé bezel enclosure. It is valued at well over $700,000, says the pearl house, Assael, which presented this and other sea treasures at its booth.


The David Webb brand made its first appearance at Couture, featuring new and period pieces that combine materials, colors and themes.


The Atoli (atolls) pendant necklace Antonini. An 18k yellow gold oval with delicate curves surrounds a circle of diamond pavé over rough textured white gold that enhances the sparkle of the diamonds.


Spectacular blue opals and azurite (rarely used in jewelry) mounted on gold and surrounded by assorted gems is the latest collection from the dreamlike world of Lydia Courteille.


To celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2017, Picchiotti created “L’Anfiteatro,” an 8.05-carat ruby ring inspired by a classic amphitheater.


French designer, Elie Top, unveiled a new collection of elaborate two-sided pieces based on astrology and other celestial imagery called, “Cosmogonie secrete” (Secret Cosmogony).


The House of Garrard brought some of its high jewelry to Couture including this statement diamond and ruby necklace.


Mother of pearl earrings by Goshwara.


The unusual ametrine stone, a mix of amethyst and citrine, used for a pair of earrings by John Hardy.


Designer Lisa Nik introduced her own “kite”-shaped gemstones at Couture.


Paraiba tourmaline and opal cuff by Saboo Fine Jewels.

Sterling silver with the look and feel of swirling twigs enhanced with golden leaves and white diamond tips make up this organic and artistic cuff by Michael Aram


A 22k gold locket with oxidized silver and diamonds by Arman Sarkisyan.


A bracelet featuring an opal owl surrounded with multi-colored gems by Wendy Yue.


Round precious materials inside golden cages is the premise behind Yael Sonia’s geometric inspired perpetual motion collection.


The Plumage three-finger ring by Stephen Webster in 18k white gold, white rhodium plating, marquise shape emeralds 4.58ct and white diamond pavé.


Three fluid 18k yellow gold bands connect and topped with six brilliant round diamonds in the Whirl Ring by Carelle.


White gold star clusters set with white diamonds by Colette.


Fabergé Emotion ring made with multi-colored sapphires, white diamonds, rubies, tsavorites and emeralds, set in 18k yellow gold.


Sterling silver with the look and feel of swirling twigs enhanced with golden leaves and white diamond tips make up this organic and artistic cuff by Michael Arman.


Pearl-centric designer, Mizuki, presented creative ways to match her multi-colored and –shaped pearls with gems and diamonds.


The jewelry brand, Noudar, uses Arabian themes and influences in its jewels, including its popular lace-like gold chokers in several colors.


A three-layer cluster diamond necklace with matching ring by Qayten.


18k gold with white and black diamond pavé with three center diamonds are used for Sara Weinstock’s Veena Shield pendant.


A bracelet in topaz and white gold in a signature design by Selim Mouzannar.


Anita Ko necklace using two rows of diamonds, each row with a different shape.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Hot Air Balloon Engagement Proposal: Jamie and Tom’s Unforgettable Trip To India

Jamie in front of the Taj Mahal with her round diamond solitaire engagement ring

By Chris Benham, co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd., and Angelka Vegar, marketing coordinator of Inspired Jewellery Ltd.

After a couple of years talking about it, Jamie and Tom finally decided that 2017 was the year they would move their lives to London. Tom also decided that it was the year he was going to ask Jamie to marry him. 

Before flying to London, the couple set their sights on India with a month long trip exploring the “famously chaotic” country. “Truth be told”, says Jamie, “India wasn't next on my must-see list. In fact, it wasn’t on there at all. But it was first on Tom's bucket list so we booked tickets." 

Tom readies to propose to Jamie at sunrise on a hot air balloon

The date was set, the bags were packed and Jamie was unsure what to expect but if one thing was for certain it was that an adventure awaited. Little did she know, Tom had been working with the team at The Village Goldsmith to design and craft the perfect engagement ring to come along for the ride. 

In fact, Jamie had no idea that Tom was planning to propose until the very moment he dropped down on one knee.

“He did an incredible job at keeping it hidden from me. He had already asked my Dad for his blessing before we left New Zealand and the ring box was couriered to him when he knew I would be at work.

“The ring itself was sent to Auckland Airport in a peppermints container so when he wandered off and came back with a book and mints for the plane, I didn’t think anything of it.

“He also managed to stay cool, calm and collected for a whole two weeks every time I kept going near and getting things out of his suitcase (and probably being a few millimeters away from finding the box.)”

Tom had his work cut out for him to try and make sure everything went to plan. He, and Jamie, quickly learned that, “you may have planned the trip but India is the one in control”.

“I had always joked to Tom that he was never allowed to propose unless my nails had been manicured so while we were in Pushkar, Tom and I both went to have a pedicure and he incredibly subtly enticed me into getting my hands done too. They did a terrible job though so I went back to the room incredibly grumpy that my “nails had been ruined” (drama queen). That wasn’t exactly part of Tom’s plan but, as he said, at least he tried and it wasn’t his fault.”

Tom proposed to Jamie two weeks into the trip in Jaipur, the Capital of Rajasthan, also known as 'The Pink City'.

“When we were researching India before our trip, we had read that doing a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur was meant to be spectacular so we arranged to have a private balloon ride over the Jaipur countryside to watch the sunrise”. 

Tom and Jamie were picked up by a driver at 5am for the hour-long ride to the hot air balloon launch site but, after all the preparation and inflation of the balloon, the ride was called off at the last minute because the wind conditions had changed.
 
The hot air balloon launch site in Jaipur

“Poor Tom had already had a sleepless night (all the anxiety and excitement of the proposal) and now he had to wait another long 24 hours before we could give it another attempt."
 

Luckily, the next morning was the most perfect morning; the couple successfully took off and watched the sun rise over the mountains from their hot air balloon. 

“Floating in a balloon surrounded by pink skies and mountain tops was already the most surreal experience and then Tom asked the pilot to take some photos of us. He quickly leant down to ‘have a drink of water’ while I was staring out at the view, and then when I turned around, at 3150 ft in the air, Tom got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. 

Tom on one knee with the diamond solitaire ring asking Jamie to marry him high above the city of Jaipur

"Apparently, I said “of course I will” before I even looked at the ring - and while I absolutely adore the ring, Tom joked that my answer meant even more because it wasn’t dependent on whether I liked what was in the box.

“What I hadn’t realized until afterwards was Tom had put together a playlist of all our favorite songs which was playing for the duration of our balloon ride. 

“The proposal was a truly magical moment - one that still feels very surreal and out of a fairytale."

“Tom took particular amusement in the fact that I stubbed my toe the other day because I was too busy staring at the ring instead of looking where I was going.”

The happy couple celebrating 4,000 feet in the air

Both Tom and Jamie agree without a doubt that India was the most incredible country that they have been lucky enough to explore. With a marriage proposal thrown in the mix, it’s a trip, and a place, they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. 

Read Jamie’s latest post on her blog, The Blondini Chronicles - India as Female, Foreign and Fair-headed - plus travel tips and amazing photos from each Indian destination

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