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Friday, October 29, 2010

Jason of Beverly Hills Has a Ball Designing LA Lakers Championship Rings

All members of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball organization received their second consecutive championship rings before the team’s opening game on October 26 at the Staples Center. In what is becoming a tradition, the rings, for the second straight year, were design by Jason of Beverly Hills. But this year, Jason Arasheben, CEO of jeweler known for its celebrity clientele, added something new by adorning each ring with a piece the actual ball used in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

The underside of each ring contains a piece of the championship game ball

It’s the Lakers 16th NBA championship. To mark this milestone, Arasheben made the rings out of a custom batch of 16k gold and placed eight oversized round brilliant white diamonds around the top and bottom edge of each ring, totaling 16. Diamond pave is used for the center of the ring. Over the diamonds is the design of a basketball and the Lakers’ names made of gold. The front of the ring is finished with a gold replica of a championship trophy on each side, commemorating the back-to-back championships.

One side of the ring is etched with a replica of a scoreboard with the final score of the championship game. On the other side is used to personalize each ring with a three-dimensional sculpture of their face. The piece of the game-day basketball appears on the underside of each ring.

“More than any other year, this year’s ring allows the owner to relive and own a piece of Lakers’ history with the leather from the Game 7 ball,” Arasheben said.

At the ceremony, each ring was presented in custom boxes, containing a rotating platform and LED lights to display the rings. Players, coaches, owners and staff members received rings.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tiffany’s 2010-2011 Blue Book Collection

Tiffany & Co. has released the 2010-2011 Blue Book Collection, the jeweler’s annual presentation of the world’s most spectacular diamond and gemstone jewelry.

This year’s collection includes the Tiffany Majestic necklace (pictured), which contains more than 300 pear-shaped and round brilliant stones. It took over 700 hours to create the necklace. Each stone was hand cut and set in diamond florets that surround a 30.31-ct., E color, internally flawless detachable diamond drop. The platinum mountings were individually crafted and discreetly linked to create a flexible setting that sparkles as it moves.

Another item featured in the catalog is the Fringe necklace, which has a 20.01-ct., D color, internally flawless diamond in a rectangular modified brilliant cut with 61 round, 33 cushion and 30 marquise diamonds in platinum. In addition, there’s a diamond ring collection that includes internally flawless diamonds of 14.42 cts. and 12 cts. in gem-encrusted settings.

The Blue Book Collection also includes a necklace based on Art Deco jewels in the Tiffany & Co. Archives. The design features a triple-drop pendant with three rare fancy vivid yellow diamonds. The rectangular-shaped 13.09-ct. yellow diamond and two 6-ct. yellow diamonds, surrounded by 642 round brilliant white diamonds.

Tiffany highlights a 28.01-carat unenhanced, esteemed Kashmir sapphire in a necklace of 1,097 round brilliant diamonds. The Blue Book also includes color-rich sapphires, vibrant tourmalines and rubellites surrounded by diamonds in rings and drop earrings. The book showcases tanzanite, introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1969, with two matched pear-shaped tanzanites in drop earrings of striking beauty.

Tiffany jewelers in New York and Paris went to the original drawings of world-renowned designer Jean Schlumberger to create the Leaves necklace of hand set turquoise beads with diamonds, 18k gold and platinum; and the Bird on a Rock clip.

Other creations include diamond and platinum chandelier earrings and diamond bracelets based on the Art Deco period of the early 20th century; and the flexible geometric patterns of the Zigzag diamond bracelet with over 1,300 round diamonds and a five-row bracelet of 260 round and square-shaped diamonds.

Retailers Upbeat on Platinum Jewelry Sales

Platinum "Triad" ring that recently received an AGTA Spectrum Award in the Bridal Wear - Platinum Honors category.
Retailers are showing a renewed sense of optimism when it comes to sales of platinum jewelry, according to a recent survey by Platinum Guild International, an organization that promotes the platinum jewelry to consumers and the jewelry trade.

The survey, conducted by GFK Audits and Surveys, reports positive growth in platinum bridal jewelry sales for the first half of 2010, and a projected 3 percent increase through the end of the year.

A total of 56 percent of the 419 small chain and independent retailers surveyed plan to purchase additional platinum product through the end of 2010. In particular, they are stocking up on platinum bridal inventory as they prepare for increased engagement business during the holidays.

The strongest factor contributing to the strength of platinum sales in 2010 was the rising price of gold, PGI said. Platinum’s competitive pricing against gold attributed to 31 percent of retailers stating platinum’s price as a positive attribute, while an additional 29 percent found value in platinum’s unique properties of durability and strength.

The survey also reported that some retailers attributed platinum sales increases due to their staff suggesting platinum to customers more often than before, PGI said.

More than a quarter of the retailers surveyed are considered Preferred Platinum Partners, those who work closely with PGI to increase platinum jewelry sales.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

‘The Luxury Drought’

There’s a gap between older affluent households and younger folks who are eager to purchase life’s better things but don’t quite have the earning power. Add to this a broad division between very high net worth households and those who are modestly well off and the recent recession that has changed buying habits, and you are looking at a foundation of slow growth in the luxury sector for the next ten years, according to marketing expert Pam Danziger.

“Demographics is destiny in lots of ways,” Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, Stevens, Pa., told an audience of luxury professionals Tuesday in New York. The she explained how demographic trends are creating a slow period in luxury spending.

The main consumers of luxury goods and services are affluent households, she explained. They are the top 20 percent of households in income with average earnings of about $170,000.

Danziger divides affluent households into three groups: 25-34 (made up of Millennials) who are “not quite there,” in terms of earnings; 35-44, “younger affluents” (mostly Generation X), the “most prolific consumers;” and the 45-54, “mature affluents” (mostly Baby Boomers), who don’t spend as much on luxury as their younger counterparts. The older affluents is the dominate age group in the luxury market today and until at least 2019. The recession plays into this but the main reason is because the younger affluent group is a relatively small compared to the other two age groups.

“Mature affluents are going to dominate the market between now and 2020,” she told the audience at the event sponsored by The Luxury Marketing Council. “We’ve got to wait for the Millennials, the babies of the baby boomers, to come on board and they’re not going to reach middle age and reach that window of affluence until about 2019 and 2020.”

To make her point, Danziger showed a chart of population projections of by age. One line which curves in an upward manner consists of mature affluents who “are really peaking.” Another line, which started high but then went on a downward curve represents the young affluents. The space in between is what she calls “the luxury drought.”

“This period is going to be dominated by more mature affluents who just do not spend as much or have as heavy an appetite for luxury as the younger affluents,” she said. 

“I call it a drought because it doesn’t mean that it’s drying up,” she continued. “It doesn’t mean the luxury market is going away, but it does mean you’re going to have to work harder to make ready in this marketplace. You’re going to have to work harder and be smarter than the next guy because there aren’t as many people that you can sell to.”

Danziger said marketers need to target the 25- to 34-year-old group by providing products and services geared for that demographic and engaging them with social media.

“We knows these people have a heavy appetite for luxury,” she said. “We know they are friending all the luxury brands on Facebook. But guess what? They don’t have the money to buy those brands yet so there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for marketers to figure out how to connect luxury brands with 25 to 34 years old before they get money in their pockets.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Timepiece Tuesday: Watches and Cars

Cars and watches have gone together since the early days of driving. Whether the person is an antique car enthusiast, a luxury car lover, or someone who demands performance and speed, watch brands have always created timepieces that catered to these passions. Below is a selection of new watches that are designed to fuel the passionate car enthusiast.

Frédérique Constant Honors Peking to Paris Participants
Frédérique Constant on October 16 welcomed the participants of the 2010 edition of the Peking to Paris Rally, an antique car race that spans 14,360 km (8,930 miles) through 11 countries (opening photo).\

The race, billed as “'The Ultimate Driving Adventure” began September 10 at the Great Wall of China and ended in Place Vendôme at the Frédérique Constant finish line. A total of 103 teams of drivers struggled through difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions and mechanical mishaps. In the Frederique Constant VIP Area, guests were able to preview the brand’s new Peking to Paris Limited Edition timepieces (image not available). The collection will be launched officially during BaselWorld, the international watch & jewelry fair, being held March 2011 in Basel, Switzerland.

The Swiss watch brand hosted a gala dinner for all participants on October 17 at the InterContinental Paris-Le Grand (above photo). During the dinner, Peter Stas, Frederique Constant founder and CEO, awarded “The Spirit of the Rally” prize to Daniel Ward and David Ingleby who drove a 1914 Lancia Theta, one of the oldest cars in the race. The award is given to the team that overcame the most obstacles during the grueling race.

The Shelby Mustang Watch 
MARCH LA.B has rolled out a limited-edition Shelby watch that commemorates the 1968 Shelby EXP 500 Mustang hardtop prototype, Edmunds InsideLine reports. A total of 200 watches will be made. The Shelby watch has a black "chassis" and a wood dial that are meant to imitate the look of the EXP 500's dashboard. The car that serves as muse, known as the Green Hornet, had a custom Shelby hood, independent suspension and fuel-injected 428 "X" engine. The watch will be available starting November 10, at an as-yet-unannounced price.

A New Ferrari Collection
Ferrari Stores of the world are bringing out a limited edition of 299 Ferrari Paddock Chronograph timepieces, Edmunds InsideLine reports. The new watch is actually a set of three Paddock Chronograph models, which come in green, white or red lacquered presentation boxes. One is a Black Carbon version that comes with a pair of Prancing Horse logo cuff links made of carbon fiber and stainless steel. Another has a Ferrari-logo-shaped paperweight and the third has a special Ferrari jacquard necktie. All three have leather straps with Ferrari shield embossing, matte polished stainless steel case and Swiss quartz movements. They are priced starting at the equivalent of $1,050 at Ferrari's stores or online.

The Spyker Supercar Watch
Dutch supercar manufacturer and Saab owner Spyker launched its own line of fine watches, MotorCrave writes. Manufactured by Geneva-based Thierry Chaunu of Expression D’Artistes International, the watches feature Spyker badge bezels, hand stitched leather bands and a variety of components that take inspiration from Spyker design. The watch will be offered in 18K grey and rose gold finishes, of which 250 examples each will be made, and polished steel and matt black titanium finishes, of which 1,000 each. Prices range from $9,750 to $30,500.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Affluent Shoppers are Spending Less on Luxury

Affluent consumers continue to express pessimism when it comes to the U.S. economy and it’s affecting how they shop, according to Unity Marketing's Luxury Consumption Index.

The quarterly survey of 1,364 affluent luxury consumers (avg. income $298,300) dropped 6.2 points to 72.1 points in the third quarter with these high-net worth individuals spending 1.4 percent less than they did in the second quarter.

“Luxury consumers started 2010 with a feeling of optimism that the worst of the economic turmoil was over,” said Pam Danziger, president of the Steven, Pa.-based marketing research firm and author of the upcoming book, Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury. “But through the course of the year, reality hasn't lived up to those expectations, so we have seen a retreat of the LCI throughout the year. Lower levels of affluent consumer confidence are playing out in terms of reduced of spending on luxuries.”

Danziger said the survey reported declines in expenditures in most of the 22 categories of luxury goods and services.

Among the findings in the third quarter Luxury Tracking Study:

* Spending on luxury declined 1.4 percent overall in the third quarter, when compared to the second quarter. However, ultra-affluents (top 2 percent of U.S. households with incomes over $250,000) cut their luxury spending by 11 percent for the period. Luxury consumer spending dropped from $31,665 on average in the second quarter to $31,225 in the third quarter. “This pull back … will have the strongest impact on the heritage luxury brands at the high end of the luxury market,” Danziger said. “The good news for luxury marketers is that luxury consumers spent 33 percent more this year as compared with last year. But marketers should prepare for another tough fourth quarter as the affluent look once again for more bargains and discounts.”

* Personal electronics will be the most popular holiday present for these consumers. The only luxury goods category posting quarter-to-quarter growth was personal electronics, including laptop computers, GPS, cell phones, MP3 players and eBook readers.

* More affluent consumers purchased luxury in the third quarter, even though they spent less overall. Luxury goods and services categories that captured a greater share of affluent shoppers this quarter included luxury clothing and apparel, wine and spirits, fine dining, entertainment and travel. “What the data says about the third quarter is that in these five categories marketers attracted a greater share of customers, but they were not able to convert them into higher-spending customers,” Danziger said.

* Luxury consumers traded down to more mass brands in search of value. For example, more ultra-affluent shoppers frequented Costco (35.5 percent) and Target (36.1 percent) this quarter than Neiman Marcus (21.3 percent).  

* In the fashion boutique sector, Ann Taylor (17.6 percent), Banana Republic (16.6 percent) and Ann Taylor Loft (16.1 percent), were patronized more by ultra-affluent shoppers this quarter than traditional 'luxe' brands such as Chanel (10.8 percent), Louis Vuitton (11 percent) or Coach (11.8 percent).

AGTA's 2011 Spectrum Award Winners

The 27th annual AGTA Spectrum Awards competition, sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association was held October 23-24, in New York. Judges for the 2011 competition included magazine editors, jewelry designers and gemstone cutters. The annual AGTA Spectrum Awards Media Day was held Monday and featured all of the jewelry and gemstone submissions. Attendees included top fashion/accessory editors from the trade and consumer press, stylists and bloggers.


Best of Show
Todd Reed, Todd Reed, Inc. (opening photo)
Palladium cuff bracelet featuring a 22.40 ct. Aquamarine accented with gray diamonds (6.90 ctw.) and white diamonds (2.20 ctw.).

Best Use of Color
Martin Key, Martin Key Co. 
22K yellow gold "Frame" ring featuring a 1.50 ct. blue tourmaline accented with four Mexican fire opal baguettes (1.82 ctw.).

Best Use of Platinum and Color
Niveet Nagpal, Omi Gems, Inc.
Platinum "Princess of Ratnapura" bracelet featuring nine round sapphires (14.0 ctw.) and round diamonds (8.48 ctw.).

Best Use of Pearls
Llyn L. Strelau, Jewels by Design
Sculpture titled "Who Are You" featuring two-tone gold and silver with freshwater baroque Pearls, South Sea keshi Pearls, akoya seed Pearls, demantoid garnets (.25 ctw.), .20 ct. ruby and cognac diamonds (.03 ctw.) on a crystal quartz base (242 ctw.).

Fashion Forward
Gregore Morin, Gregore Joailliers
18K white and yellow gold earrings featuring lemon chrysoprase (22.0 ctw.) accented with garnets (2.38 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - 1st Place
Niveet Nagpal, Omi Gems, Inc.
Platinum and 18K yellow gold ring featuring a 5.55 ct. oval tsavorite garnet accented with fancy yellow diamonds (.71 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - 2nd Place
Guilherme Ferreira, Vielle Jewelers, LLC
18K yellow gold, palladium and titanium ring featuring a 3.14 ct. yellow tourmaline accented with fancy-colored diamonds (.74 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - 3rd Place
Michael Endlich, Pave Fine Jewelry
Platinum ring featuring a 10.08 ct. cushion-cut spinel accented with diamond baguettes (1.09 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - Honorable Mention
Ryan Roberts, Ryan Roberts, Ltd.
18K white gold ring featuring a 3.02 ct. pink diamond, white diamonds (29.5 ctw.) and pink and brown diamonds (24.5 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - Platinum Honors
Yehouda Saketkhou, Yael Designs
Platinum "Triad" ring featuring a 6.34 ct. unheated blue sapphire accented with white diamonds (1.03 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - Entry Platinum Honors
Robert Pelliccia, J.R. Dunn Jewelers
Platinum ring featuring a 1.37 ct. round blue sapphire accented with diamonds (.46 ctw.) and blue sapphires (.28 ctw.).

Bridal Wear - Manufacturing Honors
Neda Benham, Diamonds For A Cure: 18K rose gold ring with a 3.80 ct. emerald-shaped, rough-cut pink diamond and round diamonds (0.88 ctw.).


Business/Day Wear - 1st Place and Best of Show
Todd Reed, Todd Reed, Inc.: 
Palladium cuff bracelet featuring a 22.40 ct. aquamarine accented with grey diamonds (6.90 ctw.) and white diamonds (2.20 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - 2nd Place and Fashion Forward
Gregore Morin, Gregore Joailliers
18K white and yellow gold earrings featuring lemon Chrysoprase (22.0 ctw.) accented with garnets (2.38 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - 3rd Place and Best Use of Color
Martin Key, Martin Key Co.
22K yellow gold "Frame" ring featuring a 1.50 ct. blue tourmaline accented with four Mexican fire opal baguettes (1.82 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - Honorable Mention
Eva Cheng, Elite Import
18K rose gold pendant/brooch featuring a freeform rose Quartz set with a .70 ct. round diamond and accented with 178 diamonds (1.20 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - Platinum Honors
Maria Canale, Richard Krementz Gemstones
Platinum "Wave" pendant featuring a 2.18 ct. Paraiba tourmaline accented with diamonds (3.72 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - Platinum Honors
Ron Lodholz, Stonehaven Jewelry Gallery: Platinum ring featuring a 1.41 ct. aquamarine accented with Diamonds (.06 ctw.).

Business/Day Wear - Manufacturing Honors
Alan Friedman, Alan Friedman
14K white and rose gold ring featuring a 12.59 ct. emerald-cut aquamarine.


Classical - 1st Place
Samuel Getz, Samuel Getz Designs
Platinum and 18K yellow gold necklace featuring yellow sapphires (68.77 ctw.), blue sapphires (24.34 ctw.), red spinels (24.20 ctw.) and diamonds (22.38 ctw.).

Classical - 2nd Place
Sean Ryan, Schmitt Jewelers
18K white and rose gold "Just Peachy" ring featuring a 4.50 ct. oval padparadscha sapphire accented with white micropave diamonds (1.13 ctw.).

Classical - 3rd Place
Patricia Van Wagoner, Beija Flor
22K yellow gold necklace featuring a 17.17 ct. rhodochrosite briolette and a 3.58 ct. rhodochrosite kite accented with Paraiba tourmalines (.45 ctw.).

Classical - Honorable Mention
Frederic Sage, Frederic Sage
18K white gold "Modern Deco" cufflinks featuring “seafoam” green tourmalines (4.48 ctw.) and diamonds (.56 ctw.).

Classical - Platinum Honors
Christopher Olson, Molina Fine Jewelers
Platinum "Temple of the Sacred Heart" ring featuring a 10.05 ct. oval untreated ruby accented with white diamonds (7.18 ctw.) and rubies (.22 ctw.).

Classical - Manufacturing Honors
Christopher Duquet, Christopher Duquet Fine Jewelry Design
14K white gold ring featuring a 12.5mm South Sea black pearl.


Evening Wear - 1st Place
Cynthia Renee Zava, Cynthia Renee Zava
Palladium necklace featuring a suite of green tourmalines (75.89 ctw.).

Evening Wear - 2nd Place
Evelyn Clothier, Evelyn Clothier Jewelry
18K yellow gold earrings featuring aquamarine briolettes (50.95 ctw.) accented with Diamonds (9.29 ctw.).

Evening Wear - 3rd Place
Samuel Getz, Samuel Getz Designs
18K white gold ring featuring a 43.05 ct. spherical black opal accented with tsavorite garnets (2.70 ctw.), blue sapphires (2.51 ctw.), iolites (1.53 ctw.), Paraiba Tourmalines (.71 ctw.) and Diamonds (.63 ctw.).

Evening Wear - Honorable Mention
Erica Courtney, Erica Courtney
18K yellow gold earrings featuring tanzanites (77.99 ctw.) and diamonds (3.38 ctw.).

Evening Wear - Platinum Honors
Ralph Wobito, Zultanite Gems, LLC
Platinum earrings featuring zultanite (diaspore) briolettes (25.15 ctw.) accented with white diamonds (0.95 ctw.).

Evening Wear - Manufacturing Honors
Laura Jackowski-Dickson, LJD Designs
18K white gold cuff featuring two South Sea cultured Pearls (14.8mm and 11.3mm) and four freshwater pink cultured Pearls accented with Diamonds.


Men's Wear - 1st Place
Mark Lauer, Mark Michael Designs
18K yellow gold cufflinks featuring Jasper agate and lapis lazuli composite accented with 2mm spessartite garnets and sapphires.

Men's Wear – 2nd Place
Eddie Sakamoto, Schmitt Jewelers
Platinum "Suspense" ring featuring a 14.49 ct. blue star sapphire accented with diamond baguettes (3.60 ctw.).

Men's Wear - 3rd Place
Ron Lodholz, Stonehaven Jewelry Gallery
18K yellow and rose gold cufflinks featuring cone-cut garnets (10.96 ctw.) with platinum suspensions.

Men's Wear - Honorable Mention
Michael Endlich, Pave Fine Jewelry
22K yellow gold ring featuring an 8.01 ct. purple star sapphire cabochon.

Men's Wear - Platinum Honors
Alan Friedman, Alan Friedman
Platinum ring with a cushion-cut purple spinel (6.62 ct.).
Men's Wear - Manufacturing Honors
Oliver Smith, Oliver Smith Jeweler
Sterling silver and rose gold ring featuring Madagascar Ocean Jasper.



A1 - Open Category Classic Gemstone - 1st Place
Joseph Ambalu, Amba Gem Corp.
8.04 ct. pigeon blood ruby.

A1 - Open Category Classic Gemstone -2nd Place
Sailesh Lakhi, Lakhi Impex, Inc.
43.42 ct. cushion-shape, step-cut blue sapphire.

A1 - Open Category Classic Gemstone - 3rd Place
Allen Kleiman, A. Kleiman & Co.
6.66 ct. cushion-cut pink sapphire.

A1 - Open Category Classic Gemstone - Honorable Mention
Gonen Abrahami, ABC Gems
4.93 ct. emerald-cut emerald.

A2 - Open Category All Other Faceted - 1st Place
Ruben Bindra, B & B Fine Gems
9.59 ct. trillion-cut red spinel.

A2 - Open Category All Other Faceted - 2nd Place
Ruben Bindra, B & B Fine Gems
32.58 ct. oval-shape tsavorite garnet.

A2 - Open Category All Other Faceted - 3rd Place
Ben Kho, Kho International, Inc.
12.91 ct. princess-cut rhodochrosite.

A2 - Open Category All Other Faceted - Honorable Mention
Ben Kho, Kho International, Inc.
15.28 ct. ct. oval-cut Imperial topaz.

A2 - Open Category All Other Faceted - Honorable Mention
Jeffrey Bilgore, Jeffrey Bilgore, LLC
49.24 ct. Asscher-cut aquamarine.

A3 - Open Category Phenomenal - 1st Place
Robyn Dufty, DuftyWeis Opals, Inc.
36.73 ct. Mexican fire opal cabochon.

A3 - Open Category Phenomenal - 2nd Place
Allen Kleiman, A. Kleiman & Co.
Pair of oval alexandrites (3.25 ctw.).

A3 - Open Category Phenomenal – 3rd Place
Jeffrey Bilgore, Jeffrey Bilgore, LLC
15.0 ct. oval cat's eye chrysoberyl.


B - Pairs & Suites - 1st Place
Clay Zava, Zava Mastercuts
Suite of pastel cuprian tourmalines (127.40 ctw.).

B - Pairs & Suites - 2nd Place
Allen Kleiman, A. Kleiman & Co.
15-piece round blue Sapphire necklace layout (68.75 ctw.).

B - Pairs & Suites - 3rd Place
Hemant Phophaliya, AG Color, Inc.
Pair of pear-shaped cabochon tanzanites (41.62 ctw.).

B - Pairs & Suites - Honorable Mention
Darrell Jang, Darrell Jang
Aspen-shaped leaves cut from a 15.09 ct. peridot and a 11.15 ct. heliodor

C – Faceting - 1st Place
Jeff L. White, J.L. White Fine Gemstones
48.83 ct. square, cushion-cut morganite.

C – Faceting - 2nd Place
John Dyer, John Dyer & Co.
14.43 ct. cushion-cut pink tourmaline (left).

C – Faceting - 3rd Place
Ben Kho, Kho International, Inc.
13.78 ct. sunburst-cut sphalerite.

C – Faceting - Honorable Mention
Ben Kho, Kho International, Inc.
50.20 ct. kaleidoscope-cut kunzite.

D – Carving - 1st Place
Joseph August Voss, Joseph August Voss
220.30 ct. crystal quartz carving.

D – Carving - 2nd Place
John Dyer, John Dyer & Co.
62.64 ct. "Golden Reflections" beryl (left).

 D – Carving - 3rd Place
Naomi Sarna, Naomi Sarna Designs
Carved white opal sculpture (149 grams).

E – Combination - 1st Place
Thomas Trozzo, Trozzo
66.48 ct. square, dimple, concaved, scissor-cut aquamarine.

E – Combination - 2nd Place
John Dyer, John Dyer & Co.
50.92 ct. trillion custom-cut morganite (left).

 E – Combination - 3rd Place
John Dyer, John Dyer & Co.
9.50 ct. Umbalite Garnet (left).

F - Objects of Art - 1st Place
Gregore Morin, Gregore Joailliers
Kokeshi Princess featuring white Opal (83.98 ctw.), basinite (36.29 ctw.), rubellite tourmalines (2.91 ctw.) and diamonds (.72 ctw.) with 18K white gold and platinum on a base of silver, brass and wood.

F - Objects of Art - 2nd Place and Best Use of Pearls
Llyn L. Strelau, Jewels by Design
Sculpture titled "Who Are You" featuring two-tone gold and silver with freshwater baroque Pearls, South Sea keshi Pearls, akoya seed pearls, demantoid Garnets (.25 ctw.), .20 ct. ruby and cognac diamonds (.03 ctw.) on a crystal quartz base (242 ctw.).

F - Objects of Art - 3rd Place
Tigran Lementsyan, Repair Restoration Center
"Dandelion" featuring quartz and diamonds (.36 ctw.) with silver, 18K yellow gold and gold-plated leaves.

F - Objects of Art - Honorable Mention
Darryl Alexander, Alexander's Jewelers
"Got Paint?"- opalized wood with a sterling frame in a black marble base. The paint is sugalite, mookite, turquoise and onyx, with quartz dish & sterling tube with coral. The brushes are onyx, Agate, hematite, quartz and multiple woods.

This year's AGTA Spectrum Award will be presented during the 2011 AGTA GemFair Tucson, February 1 – 6, 2011, at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, Ariz. Winning entries will be displayed during the show and AGTA Spectrum Awards recipients will be recognized during the AGTA Dinner Dance and Awards Gala on February 5.

AGTA Spectrum Awards entries were judged on the basis of overall beauty and wearability, innovative design, effective use of materials, quality of gemstones, quality of workmanship, broad-base consumer appeal and potential to generate positive publicity for natural colored gemstones.

AGTA Cutting Edge Awards honor excellence and creativity in lapidary arts, including natural colored gemstones and cultured pearls, carvings, other gem materials and objects of art.

Platinum Honors were once again awarded with the support of Platinum Guild International. All entries whose primary metal was platinum were eligible in this category.

All designs that qualified for the Spectrum Awards competition were considered for Manufacturing Honors. This award celebrates outstanding use of colored gemstones and cultured pearls in jewelry appropriate to be manufactured in production quantities.

Fashion Forward Honors recognizes the outstanding use of colored gemstone and/or cultured pearl beads in artful, trend-setting jewelry. All necklaces, earrings, bracelets or other jewelry that qualified for judging in the AGTA Spectrum Awards competition automatically qualified for Fashion Forward Honors judging.

Damiani Designs $2M Victoria Secret Diamond Bra

Lingerie retail brand Victoria's Secret unveiled its $2 million Bombshell Fantasy Bra Monday. Designed by Damiani, the once-off undergarment is made with 60 carats of diamonds and 82 carats of sapphires and topazes in patterns designed to evoke a heavenly display of swirling stars and constellations.

The bra consists of 3,000 brilliant cut white diamonds, light blue sapphires and oval-shaped topazes, set in 18k white gold. It took six Damiani craftsmen 1,500 hours of full-time labor to complete the wearable art.

Victoria's Secret Angel Adriana Lima has been chosen to wear the bejeweled bra, which is featured in the 2010 Victoria's Secret Christmas Dreams and Fantasies catalog and on the runway at the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" which airs November 30 on CBS.

LVMH Buys 14% of Hermes

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's leading luxury products group, said it has bought 14.2 percent of the share capital Hermès International. The luxury good conglomerate now holds a 17.2 percent of the famed fashion house.

Its objective is to be a long-term shareholder of Hermes and to contribute to the preservation of the family and French attributes, “which are at the heart of the global success of this iconic brand,” LVMH said in a statement. The company adds that it has no intention of launching a tender offer, taking control of Hermès or seeking board representation.

According LVMH paid less than half the market price for the shares due to the use of derivatives. The $2 billion cost of the 17.1 percent stake equates to about $112.50 per share, about half of what the company was valued because of the use of derivatives, according to the Financial Times. Following news of the acquisition over the weekend, shares shot up an additional 15 percent.

Hermes said it learned of the move on Saturday, just an hour before a public announcement by LVMH, according to media reports. Heirs of the Hermès family, who own 70 percent of the fashion house, on Sunday said they had no plans to sell any of their stake and had not sold any shares to LVMH.

‘Stars of Africa’ on the Runway for Charity

Royal Asscher lit up the runway Thursday night in New York with its “Stars of Africa” collection, by Toronto jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia.

Model with Stars of 
Photo: Barry J. Holmes
For each piece sold at the “Lingerie New York” event and over the next six months, 50 percent of the profits will go to the Seven Bar Foundation, an organization, through an online collaboration on Royal Asscher’s Web site. The foundation provides small loans (via micro-financing) to underprivileged women to start their own small business as an exit out of poverty.

Actress Sofia Vergara hosted the runway event at Cipriani’s 42nd Street, which attracted a number of celebrities and jewelry industry official, most notably Russell Simmons, the hip-hop entrepreneur and founder of the Diamond Empowerment Fund, and actress Minnie Driver.

From left: Actress Sofia Vergara, Renata M. Black, Seven Bar Foundation director, and Lita Asscher, president of Royal Asscher of America

The MTV produced show included eight aerialist performers; two top couture and luxury lingerie designers—Atsuko Kudo and Carine Gilson—DJ Michelle Rodriguez; and models Veronica Webb, Elsa Benitez and Crystal Renn walking the runway.

The Stars of Africa by Royal Asscher collection consists of rings, pendants, earrings and necklaces. Diamonds are encased in fluid filled sapphire dome, allowing them to fall freely, like snowflakes in a snow globe. For each piece of Stars of Africa jewelry sold, at least three women will get microfinance loans.

The scene at Cipriani's
“We are extremely proud to have the opportunity through our collections and success to provide women living in poverty with an opportunity to sustain themselves for life and create their own legacy,” said Lita Asscher, president of Amsterdam-based Royal Asscher diamond company.

Bulgari Blue Diamond Fetches $15.7M at Auction

The Bulgari Blue Diamond, the largest triangular-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction, sold for $15.7 million—making it the top jewel sold at auction thus far in 2010. The gem, mounted as a two-stone diamond ring designed in the 1970s by the House of Bulgari in Rome, was the star lot of Christie’s “Jewels: The New York Sale” on October 20.

After five minutes of bidding, the hammer fell to an unidentified Asian collector who paid a world record price per carat for a blue diamond.

“The bidding opened with an $8 million bid from a client on the phone with Vickie Sek, Christie’s head of Jewelry for Asia,” said François Curiel, president of Christie’s Asia and international head of Jewelry at Christie’s. “It swiftly turned into a one-on-one bidding war with a European collector on the phone with Rahul Kadakia, head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas. The pair traded bids back and forth in $500,000 increments until the final bid was reached.”

The ring features a triangular-shaped colorless diamond of 9.87 cts. paired with a triangular-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond of 10.95 cts. Fancy vivid blue diamonds are among the rarest and most sought-after of colored diamonds, as only one in about 10 million possess a color pure enough to qualify as “fancy vivid.” Due to their rarity and increasingly limited supply, demand has rapidly driven prices to great heights, with particular strength seen for those stones weighing more than 10 cts., Christies said. Large, natural blue diamonds, in particular those possessing the coveted vivid blue tone and saturation, have become highly prized on the international market.

The ring was offered for sale by a private European collector who has kept the ring in his family for almost 40 years. He had originally purchased the ring at the Bulgari flagship boutique on Via dei Condotti in Rome in 1972, as a gift for his wife in celebration of the birth of their first child, a baby boy. The final sale price in 1972 was about $1 million.

The Bulgari Blue provided a dramatic finish to the 447-lot auction and brought the collective total to $52.5 million. Earlier in the day, Christie’s achieved an impressive 100 percent sell-through rate for Jeweled Elegance: The Eye of A Distinguished Collector, a single-owner collection of signed jewels from celebrated designers, including Cartier, David Webb, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston. The entire morning session of the October 20 auction was devoted to this assemblage of more than 160 individual pieces, which raised $11.4 million, far above its pre-sale high estimate.

Diamond Adorned Barbie Fetches $302,000 at Auction

Billed as the world’s most expensive Barbie, the doll, designed by Stefano Canturi was sold at auction for $302,000.

The Australian jewelry designer spent four weeks working on the doll. It is adorned with a diamond collar necklace made of three carats of white diamonds centered by a 1-ct. emerald cut fancy vivid pink diamond.

All proceeds from the October 20 auction at Christie's New York went toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jewelry Art with a Latin American Beat at MAD

Mariana Acosta
Tube socks, balloons, shattered windshields and more familiar materials are all interpreted as objects of adornment and artistic statements with a modern Latin American perspective in an exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. 

Think Again: Latin American Jewelry is the first comprehensive overview of contemporary art jewelry from Latin America to be seen in the United States, according to museum officials. It contains more than eighty works by over fifty Latin American jewelry artists and designers from some 23 countries. 

Maria Constanza Ochoa

Latin America spans beyond the U.S. border in the north to the tip Antarctica in the south. While sharing Native American, Spanish and African heritage; culturally and historically the vast region is extremely complex. Add to this geography that includes vast mountain ranges, deserts, rainforests and island chains and the isolation these terrains represent, and you get an idea of the challenges of organizing an exhibit that represents such breadth—even though it takes up a small space on the second floor of the museum.
The guest-curator, Netherlands-based, Mexican-born architect Valeria Vallarta Siemelink, president of the Otro Diseño Foundation for Cultural Cooperation and Development, which organized the show, recognized this challenged and so she organized the show around three themes: “History, Memory, Tradition,” “A Knack for Invention” and “Seeking and Expressing Identity.”

The themes weren’t clear to me while viewing the exhibit and I don’t think it matters. If there is a commonality, it’s that the individual statements, use of materials and creativity employed are as diverse as the region these works represent.

Teresa Margolles
For example, one display houses two simple and elegant 18k gold rings by Teresa Margolles of Mexico (above). The sparkle from the pave patterns of these rings are the result of diamonds mixed with the shattered glass from car windshields. Margolles, an artist and forensic doctor, created these rings with the help of a jeweler who makes ostentatious jewelry for Mexican drug lords. The windshield glass was shattered during violent drug battles.

Raquel Paiewonsk
Compare that to a large display of coffee stained tube socks tied together to create a necklace that covers most of a person’s body (left). The work by Raquel Paiewonsky of the Dominican Republic, is an attempt to display how the quest for beauty often interferes with the body’s natural purpose. The socks represents breasts and despite poverty and inadequate healthcare, breasts implants are on the rise in the Dominican Republic, while only about 8 percent of women breastfeed their babies.

Reny Golcman
A large neckpiece displayed like a round cake with shades of gray, blue and green by Mariana Acosta of Mexico (first photo) is designed to protect the wearer against the grayness of northern winters. Another necklace made of deflated black and white latex balloons slightly filled with flour by Maria Constanza Ochoa of Colombia (second photo), is open to different interpretations. And there’s a necklace with a pendant adorned with a barracuda jaw bone that the artist, Reny Golcman of Brazil, describes as an exploration of taboo subjects like death (left).

The exhibition, which began October 12, will run through Jan. 8, 2011, at the museum located on 2 Columbus Circle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Departures Welcomes its Newest Publisher

Departures Editor-in-Chief Richard David Story (left) with new Departures publisher Steven DeLuca
Well wishers packed a New York mid-town restaurant Thursday to welcome Steven DeLuca as the new publisher of Departures magazine. He began overseeing the luxury lifestyle publication in June, replacing Ed Ventimiglia, who announced his retirement in March.

The party in a private room on the second floor at The Lambs Club Restaurant and Bar also served as a fitting backdrop for the release of the periodical’s November/December issue, as the cover photo and fashion spread were photographed inside the sleek space with the art deco flourishes.

The title of the issue, “The Art of Living Now Cool Chic and Classic” matched the 1930s-themed high fashion feature. It may also signal a change of a sort for the publication in this post-recession era, where timeless glamor can be chic and cool as opposed to the frivolous spending and ostentatious displays of wealth that marked the “Naughties” decade. Not coincidentally, it is the first issue led by DeLuca.

From the size and jovial nature of the crowd that crammed into the room on a crisp fall Manhattan night, it appears that luxury, although maybe looking a bit different, is truly making a comeback.

Departures, owned by American Express Publishing, is published seven times per year for American Express Platinum Card and Centurion members.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold Exhibit at Chicago Field Museum

Crystallized gold, Leadville, Colo., American Museum of Natural History. © Denis Finnin, AMNH

With the value of gold breaking records daily now is the perfect time for The Field Museum in Chicago to host an exhibit on the precious metal that will explore how the mineral is found, mined, processed, and turned into both beautiful and useful objects. The traveling exhibition opened Wednesday and will run through March 6, 2011.

18K Picasso Gold Brooch,Tiffany & Co., designed by Paloma Picasso Scribble Collection, Graffiti Line, New York, 1988, Tiffany & Co. Archives.
The exhibit will explore gold’s physical properties and examine the history of how cultures around the world have valued the mineral as a status symbol, religious emblem and form of currency.

Gold Earrings, Hellenistic, Greece; c. late 400s-200s BC, American Museum of Natural History. © Craig Chesek AMNH
Cartier shell necklace
More than 550 gold items will be on display—including the largest placer nugget found in the Western hemisphere, the world’s first minted coins (from ancient Anatolia), pre-Columbian jewelry and sacred objects, doubloons retrieved from sunken Spanish galleons and the 2005 World Series Championship trophy.

 The Field Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive. It’s hours are from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. and is open every day except Christmas.

U.S. Double Eagle $20 gold coin

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kanye West: ‘I Just Thought the Diamonds were Cooler’

Last month Jewelry News Network placed a story about Kanye West’s new diamond teeth. I and others speculated that it was most likely an expensive grille. But it turns they really are his teeth. He told Ellen DeGeneres that he had bottom front teeth removed and replaced with gem quality diamonds, and also gold, for that sparkling smile. “I just thought the diamonds were cooler,” he told DeGeneres.

Below is a video clip of West telling DeGeneres the story behind the teeth. If you don’t want to listen to the entire video, the part of the teeth begins at the 2.55 mark near the end of the video.

Jewelry is Making a Comeback this Holiday Season

Jewelry has returned to many holiday wish lists, a sign that discretionary spending is back in vogue this holiday season, according to a just released survey.

A total of 23 percent of people surveyed will be asking for jewelry this holiday season, a 10 percent jump from last year’s 20.8 percent, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

Gift cards will remain the most requested holiday gift this year with 57 percent of people asking for plastic, followed by clothing (48.2%) and books (47.3%).

Overall, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $688.87 on holiday-related shopping, a slight rise from last year’s $681.83, according to the annual survey.

As in years past, most holiday gift-givers will spend the largest portion of their budget buying gifts for family ($393.55) and friends ($71.45), though they’ll still carve out room in their budget for small tokens of appreciation for both co-workers ($18.26) and others ($34.82). Total spending on gifts ($518.08) is expected to rise 2.1 percent from last year, which is in line with NRF says. Americans will also spend an average of $41.51 on decorations, $26.10 on greeting cards and postage, $86.32 on candy and food, and $16.86 on flowers.

“Consumers will still shop with the economy in the back of their minds, but we’re starting to see shoppers take baby steps toward a new normal,” said, Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “As Americans open up their wallets for more discretionary gifts like jewelry or take advantage of sales to buy for themselves, retailers will begin to truly believe that the worst may be behind them.”

According to the survey, 61.7 percent of shoppers say the economy will impact their spending, down from last year’s 65.3 percent. Many shoppers say they will compensate by spending less (81.5%), comparison shopping online (30.9%) or with newspapers and circulars (28.1%), shopping for sales (54.1%) or using more coupons (40.6%). Although the economy continues to impact shoppers, a number of survey results indicate that shoppers may be ready to emerge from their shells this holiday season.

When asked which factor will be most important when shopping this holiday season, the majority of shoppers said that sales or price discounts (41.8%) or everyday low prices (12.7%) were most important. While those factors either declined or remained flat this year, two other categories rose in importance. The number of people who counted customer service as the most important factor rose from 4.4 percent last year to 5.3 percent this year, while shoppers who touted quality as the overriding factor rose from 11.8 percent to 12.7 percent.

“Price is paramount during any recession, but when the economy begins to recover other factors take on greater importance,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “When shoppers consider other factors like customer service and quality in buying decisions, retailers have the ability to highlight a variety of other features to help their company stand out from the competition.”

Another sign that shoppers feel a bit of breathing room in their budget, the number of persons who say they will make a holiday purchase from a discounter dropped from 70.1 percent last year to 65.1 percent this year. Popular holiday shopping destinations will include department stores (54.5%), grocery stores (46.7%), the Internet (43.9%) and clothing stores (33.6%).

Americans aren’t only shifting where they’re shopping—how they’re shopping is changing, too. Mobile devices like iPhones and Androids are becoming more popular among consumers, and many shoppers plan to use these devices this holiday season to look for gift ideas, compare prices and find items in nearby stores. According to the survey, more than quarter of adults with a smartphone will use these devices to research or make holiday purchases, and that number jumps to 45 percent among young adults 18-24. Retailers are expected to take advantage of this trend by offering more robust mobile apps and Web sites, along with enhanced features like mobile reviews, to cater to Americans looking to shop from their phones.

Yet another hopeful indicator: the number of people who plan to take advantage of holiday sales to make non-gift purchases for themselves will rise 8 percent this year (52.9% in ’09 to 57.1% this year), with the average holiday shopper spending $107.50 on themselves, up from $101.37 last year.

Though the holiday season won’t kick off for many retailers until at least November 1, a sizeable number of shoppers are already planning ahead. According to the survey, 37.2 percent of Americans will begin holiday shopping by Halloween. Women are the most likely to begin shopping by the end of October (42.1%) while young adults 18-24 are among the least likely (27.7%).

NRF expects holiday sales to rise 2.3 percent to $447.1 billion.