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Monday, September 30, 2013

Only Watch Charity Timepiece Auction Raises $6.85 Million

The fifth edition of the biennial Only Watch auction held September 28 at the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco raised a record of more than 5 million euros (more than $6.85 million), with all proceeds benefiting research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

You can view all the watches from the auction by following this link.

The auction, part of the Monaco Yacht Show, attracted competitive bidding from China, Belgium, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, the United States, Monaco and many other parts of the world, according to the statement from Antiquorum Auctioneers, one of the event organizers. The other organizers were Association Monegasque Contre les Myopathies, the Monaco Yacht Show and the 33 watch brands who created one-of-a-kind timepieces for the event. Also up for bid was a selection of 14 vintage champagne bottles from Lanson. 

Participating watch brands were: Backes & Strauss, Bell & Ross, Blancpain, Breguet, Chanel, Chopard, Chronoswiss, Christophe Claret, Corum, Cyrus, deLaCour, De Bethune, DeWitt, Frédérique Constant, Girard Perregaux, Harry Winston, Hublot, Ikepod, Jaquet Droz, Julien Coudray, Laurent Ferrier, Louis Vuitton, Maurice Lacroix, Montblanc,  Patek Philippe, Piaget, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Armin Strom, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Zenith.

The auction was preceded with a worldwide preview that made stops in Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, New York City, Geneva and finally at the world renowned Monaco Yacht  Show.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Found: Long Lost Gems From Plane Crash on Mont Blanc

A French mountain climber scaling Mont Blanc came upon gems worth approximately $333,000, according to reports in The Guardian and other publications.

The precious stones almost certainly belonged to someone on one of two Air India flights that crashed into the famous mountain in 1950 and 1996, according to the reports. A total of 165 people were killed in those two crashes.

The gems, around 100, were found neatly packed in bags that were marked, “Made in India,” according to The Guardian report. The mountain climber immediately turned the stones over to local French authorities.

At 15,781 feet, Mont Blanc, which borders France and Italy, is the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union. The summit is ascended by an average 20,000 mountaineer-tourists each year. 

A special thank you to independent jewelry designer, Etienne Perret, for altering me to this story.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Italian Jewelry Designs from VicenzaOro

The subtle differences of the two tones of gold color and the texture of the precious metal are the hallmarks of Anna Maria Cammilli. The simplicity of this nature-inspired motif is used throughout the collection in complicated ways. Diamond accents enhance the design.

The recently concluded VicenzaOro Fall jewelry tradeshow may have marked a turning point for the Italian jewelry industry, which has been suffering due to the global recession, the spike in gold prices and high labor costs.

The butterfly from Damiani uses yellow gold accented by brown and white diamonds, and amethysts. Each butterfly is made with a variety of material combinations and can be worn as a pendant, brooch or set onto a ring.

At this year’s show, held September 7 -11, approximately, 1,200 Italian and foreign brands from 30 countries presented a breadth of jewelry products to more than 18,000 buyers (10,879 from Italy and 7,160 from 111 other countries).

18k yellow gold cuff with diamond pavé accent by Chimento.

Show officials were particularly excited about the “return” of some Italian retailers, seeing it as “an encouraging sign considering the much-desired end of the most critical phase of the recession.”

A silver star-shaped ring with a white pearl by Mayumi.

The show numbers coincide with data from the Italian government reporting second quarter growth for Italian jewelry exports, after two years of decline. Growth was recorded in terms of value (6%) and quantity (2.6%) over the same period of the previous year. Exports to the US, the world’s largest jewelry market, increased 12 percent in value in the second quarter.

From Fope’s Flex’it collection, patented ‘roll on’ mesh chain bracelets are crafted in 18k gold and fully flexible, without clasps. The Niue line is designed with a refined version of the classic gold mesh, enriched with black or white diamonds, multiple rondels and limited edition pink sapphire or gold cognac diamond balls.

“Among the industry players there is an atmosphere of moderate confidence,” show officials said.

Rose gold bracelet in a flowing design partially covered with white diamond pave by I Gregori Milano.

VicenzaOro, held four times a year, serves as a showcase of beautiful objects that combine artistry, international fashion trends and technical knowhow. Italian fine jewelry in terms of design and craftsmanship is unparalleled in the world of jewelry making. On this level, the show did not disappoint.

Inspired by the Boboli Gardens this collection of handmade jewellery by Nouvelle Bague uses in gold and diamonds, combined with colored enamel.

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Rings from Porrati with white pearls and rose gold; with pink sapphires set on rose gold; a rose gold ring; and a thin rose gold band set with pink sapphires.
I added a piece from Brazilian designer Carla Amorim who was inspired by the formation of sand dunes for these rose gold earrings.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sotheby’s To Sell ‘Most Valuable Diamond Ever to be Offered at Auction’

The 59.60 carat Pink Star may fetch $60 million.

Sotheby’s Geneva will offer a 59.60-carat internally flawless vivid pink diamond at its Magnificent Jewels sale on November 13. Known as The Pink Star, the auction house says it is the most valuable diamond ever to be offered at auction. It is estimated to sell for more than $60 million. For those counting that’s more than $1 million per carat.

The oval cut gem is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America has ever graded, the auction house said.

David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East and chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, said the diamond is one of the most important gems he has ever seen in his 35-year career.
“Its exceptional richness of color … combined with its extraordinary size, are characteristics that surpass those of any known pink diamond in state, royal, or private collections,” he said. “It is difficult to exaggerate the rarity of vivid pink diamonds weighing only five carats, so this 59.60 carat stone is simply off any scale, and passes, I believe, into the ranks of the earth’s greatest natural treasures.”

The diamond is also graded as Type IIa, rare for a pink diamond of this size and color. Cut over a period of two years, The Pink Star is still more than twice the size of the Graff Pink—a 24.78-carat fancy intense pink diamond that established a world auction record for a diamond and any gemstone or jewel at $46.2 million, at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2010.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gemvara Names Janet Holian CEO

Janet Holian
Gemvara, an online retailer of customizable fine jewelry, said Tuesday that it has extended Janet Holian’s role as interim CEO to a permanent position.

In Holian’s permanent role as CEO, “she will focus on distinguishing the Gemvara brand and seeing out founder Matt Lauzon’s vision to show consumers that jewelry customization leads to pieces that are uniquely personal and valued,” the company said in a statement.

The company added that Lauzon, "knew from the start of their professional relationship that she was the best person to lead the burgeoning jewelry company."

Prior to joining Gemvara in 2011, Holian spent 11 years at Vistaprint as president of the company’s European business, executive VP and chief marketing officer of Vistaprint USA, and various marketing roles for the corporation since being hired in 2000. 

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Frederic Cumenal Named President of Tiffany & Co.

Frederic Cumenal

Tiffany & Co. said Tuesday that it has named Frederic Cumenal as president and also appointed him to a newly-created seat on the company’s board of directors.

Cumenal, who was executive vice president responsible for international retail, joined the luxury retail jeweler in March 2011 as executive vice president with oversight for the Asia-Pacific, Japan, Europe and emerging markets. In 2012, the Americas region was added.

Prior to joining Tiffany he held senior leadership positions at LVMH Group, most recently as president and chief executive officer of Moët & Chandon.

“Frederic has made important contributions to the operational and strategic development of our business,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO. “He has brought a global luxury perspective to our brand management initiatives and, in particular, has led the evolution of our regional organizations to support our continued worldwide expansion.”

In his new role, Cumenal, 54, will retain his regional responsibilities and will assume responsibility for Tiffany’s  design, merchandising and marketing functions. He will continue to report directly to Kowalski.

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Haute Jewelry On Display at About J Jewelry Show

Unique Cobra necklace by Roberto Coin made of white gold with colorless and black diamonds, blue sapphires and rubies.

It was hard to tell that the About J jewelry show was an exclusive event. Buyers were constantly filling the booths of the 34 selected brands, making it a little difficult for me to spend time with exhibitors.

Nodo cuff by Vendorafa in 18k hammered gold with diamond accents. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Most vendors reported good sales and at least strong interest for their products. Buyers will often use this show for intimate conversations with vendors before placing their orders at VicenzaOro Fall, which immediately followed About J.
The Couture Paradis earrings from SHO are made of platinum and 18k rose gold with brilliant cut diamonds and conch pearls. Founded by Macau native and London resident, Sarah Ho, she produces jewelry that reflects her life and experiences.

This international haute couture jewelry show combines luxury and fashion with art and design. It is likely the most exclusive jewelry tradeshow in the world. A total of 197 invited buyers from 39 countries attended this year’s event, held September 4 – 7, in Venice, Italy, a jewel of a city.
The Plié collection by Luca Carati allows the same jewel to be worn in three distinct ways as the three pictures demonstrate. This piece is shown first as a flower made of black rhodium gold and sapphires. It is then turned over to the opposite where the same flower shape is now made of yellow gold with white and yellow diamonds. Finally, the shape of the piece changes completely using all of the materials, brown gold, yellow gold, diamonds and sapphires. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

I did manage to see most of the exhibitors and despite being so few there was a great deal of variety in artistic and finely crafted items on display. They included hand-made gold pieces from Vendorafa, the colorful creations of Casato Roma, the distinct and versatile pieces of Luca Carati, the personal objects of Sarah Oh, and the colorful and whimsy animal shapes of Roberto Coin.

Delicate 18k rose gold bracelet by Casato Roma with champagne and white diamonds.

A few of the brands focused on high-end pearl pieces and there was even jewelry for men. There’s a lot of optimism this year in the jewelry industry and the vendors at this show were certainly eager to put their highly creative pieces out in front.

Pair of diamond earrings by Sutra Jewels in rose cut blue sapphires and faceted rose cut diamonds.

This story contains photos of just some of the product highlights, where just about every brand featured the best of their best.

Unique bracelet by Utopia made of 18k white gold Gold with diamonds, moonstones, multicolor Tahitian pearls.

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18k white gold ring paved with white diamonds with enamel details inside the band Marco Valente Design.

Titanium men's rings with gold and diamond accents by Zancan.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Exhibitors Release Pent-Up Optimism at Hong Kong Jewelry Show

Byers and sellers at the Frank & Label booth during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco 

I’ve been writing about the jewelry industry for 13 years and attended many tradeshows during that time. I can’t remember when exhibitors have expressed as much optimism and excitement as there has been during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. Even the diamond dealers who had low expectations coming in were pleasantly surprised. 

The world’s largest fine jewelry show is held at two venues: The Asia-World Expo Centre, (September 11 – 15) for raw jewelry-making materials and jewelry-making equipment, and the main show for finished jewelry at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (September 13 -17). I’ve spent four days at the show so far (one day at the raw materials show and three days at the finished jewelry show) and nearly all exhibitors said business is strong to booming. 

For example, there was talk of a coral dealer at Asia-World Expo Centre who sold 80 percent of his inventory to other exhibitors a day before the show opened. On opening day at the HKCEC, several vendors and buyers were still conducting business after the show was closed. 

Myriam Gumuchian, owner of the fine jewelry design firm, Gumuchian, said at the HKCEC, that she has been busy throughout the first two days. 

“It’s my second year of the show and it’s been much better than last year,” she said. “It’s non stop.” 

The "Ring Cycle" by Gumuchian. It's a ring that turns into a bracelet.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Gumuchian said her most popular item by far is the “Ring Cycle.” It’s a ring that with the press of a button becomes a bracelet. It’s available in 18k yellow, rose and white gold and either in diamond pave or a hammered-gold finish with a diamond center stone. As she was showing me the ring a female Japanese buyer gasped with joy when she saw how it worked. 

Gumuchian was one of 10 high-end jewelry designers who were exhibiting from a single booth provided by Frank & Label, a company that provides marketing and sales services for independent luxury jewelry designers who want to enter into the China market. It was one of the more interesting concepts at the show. Other designers included Temple St. Clair, Alex Sepkus and Victor Mayer. 

Temple St. Clair at her jewelry stand inside the Frank & Label booth.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Evert deGraeve, Frank & Label China business development director, said this is the second year the company has been providing this space at the September Hong Kong fair. This year, possibly to accommodate approximately 100 new exhibitors, the company had its booth size cut in half. Looking at the crowd of buyers, deGraeve said, “We really could use the extra space.”

It’s a good problem to have. 
Buyers at one of the registration areas during the opening day of the finished jewelry portion of the show. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The new exhibitors bring the total number of vendors at the fair at both venues to 3,633 from 48 countries. Officials from UBM Asia, which owns and operates the show, have estimated that 52,000 buyers will visit the show but from looking at the registration areas on opening day at HKCEC and from reports on the floor, they may have underestimated. Regardless, the number of exhibitors easily cements its place as the world’s largest fine jewelry show. 

Also to accommodate new exhibitors, show officials moved antique and estate dealers in the last available hall in the HKCEC which is really a foyer. It’s a spacious area that had the hustle and bustle of business being done. 

Edward Faber, owner of Aaron Faber Gallery New York, which specializes in vintage watches and jewelry, said early during the opening day he made a number of sales. Among the biggest sellers were vintage Omegas, Patek Philippe pocket watches and erotica timepieces. 

This is Faber’s third time exhibiting at the show and he said he is impressed with how quickly Asian buyers have taken to the nuisances of fine watch collecting. 

“They’ve quickly become more sophisticated,” he said. “It’s surprising the comfort level they have when it come to style and design. It’s a good thing.” 

One of the big successes I’ve seen at the show is an area called “Designer Avenue.” It’s located on the mezzanine level of the HKCE. It’s basically a balcony-like space that houses small independent jewelry designers and artists, providing them with inexpensive booth space. I’ve seen small designers become overwhelmed and out of place at large jewelry shows. Here, these artists from every continent have their own separate space that constantly filled with admirers and buyers from all over the world. 

The jade, wood and enamel works of independent jewelry designer, Soco So of Shenzhen, China.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Etienne Perret, a US based independent jewelry designer who exhibited in the area, said buyers from Russia, China, Australia and several eastern European countries have expressed interest in his gem-ceramic designs. 

“The world is here and people seem to be buying,” he said. “People in the US have no clue how much money there is in Russia, China and even places like Iran.” 

Deep into the active main hall was Colin Shah, managing director of Kama Schachter, an India-based jewelry manufacturer that produces several brands. The company was introducing its newest brand, Fiamma, which features bridal and fashion jewelry using color-enhanced pink diamonds. It was quiet when I showed up but he said people have been coming in. 

“All appointments have showed up,” he said on the second day of the HKCEC portion of the show. “So far it’s been great.” 

Inside the Hong Kong Convention & Expo Centre.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Walking around the cavernous convention center, the only places where buyers did not fill were in Hall 3 inside the International Pavilion, where vendors are segmented by their country of origin, and in an area known as the Design Pavilion, for luxury jewelry design companies.

A collection of rare fancy colored diamonds from Francis Errera.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

My first day at the show was spent at the Asia-World Expo Centre during its day. This is where materials, such as diamonds, colored gems, pearls and other jewelry making materials and equipment were being sold. Most exhibitors I spoke with were generally happy with the show but aired some complaints. 

For example, fancy colored diamond dealer, Francis Errera, said the first day of the show was “very, very busy” with “high-quality” clients from all over the world but on the second day traffic trailed off. 

One reason he said was because his clients, primarily luxury jewelry brands and investment banks, shortened their time at the fair due to religious holidays. 

“I think major shows like this one should be held outside of any important holidays,” he said. 

Overall, Errera said the positive sales reflect the growth of the overall economy. “America is getting much better,” said the French native who moved his business to Hong Kong several years ago. “Japan is getting better as well but Japan is always strong for fancy colored diamonds. China is good.” 

The only economy that is lacking growth is Europe, he said, which also reflected his business at the fair, as only one representative from the continent came to his booth during the first two days. 

A collection of carved freshwater pearls from Galatea.  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Meanwhile, in the pearl section, Chi Huynh, owner of pearl company, Galatea, was selling its loose sculptured freshwater pearls for designers and manufactures. His booth was crowded. 

“Designers love them,” he said. “I don’t think wholesalers know what to do with them.” 

He said that in addition to his loose pearls, customers were interested in his finished jewelry and to accommodate these people he is considering opening a booth at the convention center. 

“I was surprised by the reaction,” he said. “So next year I might split the booth to two places.”

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

JNA Awards Ceremony Honors Jewelry Industry Leaders and Innovators

JNA Award winners

Leung Sik Wah and Wallace Chan received special honors at the JNA Awards, held Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. They were among 16 people honored for innovation and leadership in the jewelry trade. 

The awards and ceremony were organized by Jewellery News Asia, Asia’s leading jewelry industry publication, as part of the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair. The grand affair, only in its second year, was attended by more than 500 persons and lived up to the billing  of “one of the industry’s most important and much-anticipated nights.” 

Leung was honored with the prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” for transforming Hong Kong and Asia into a major jewelry trading and retailing hub. Leung was also instrumental in establishing the Hong Kong Diamond Bourse, and is currently Honorary Life President of the Diamond Federation of Hong Kong and Chairman of the Hong Kong Jewellers’ & Goldsmiths’ Association.

Chan was the first recipient of the “Outstanding Contribution of the Year Award,” recognizing his unique talent and creativity, and for placing his works and Asia on the global haute joaillerie scene. Acclaimed industry-wide as a “carving genius,” Chan remains, to date, the only Asian artist to be invited to the prestigious Paris Biennale des Antiquaires show.

Other recipients of the JNA Awards 2013 are:

* Brand of the Year – Retail: Luk Fook Holdings (International) Ltd

* Employer of the Year: Jewelmer International Corporation and Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt Ltd

* E-Tailer of the Year: Plukka (HK) Ltd

* Industry Innovation of the Year – Manufacturing – Business: China Stone Ltd

* Industry Innovation of the Year – Manufacturing – Technology: Shenzhen United BlueOcean Technology Development Co Ltd

* Manufacturer of the Year – Coloured Gemstone Cutting & Polishing: China Stone Ltd

* Manufacturer of the Year – Diamond Cutting & Polishing: Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt Ltd

* Manufacturer of the Year – Gem-Set Jewellery: Shenzhen Xingguangda Jewellery Industrial Co Ltd

* Manufacturer of the Year – Precious Metals-Only Jewellery: 3D Kaiente Jewellery Co Ltd

* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – India: Kiran Gems Pvt Ltd

* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year – Mainland China: ttf HAUTE JOAILLERIE

* Retailer of the Year: Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd

* Sustainability Initiative of the Year: Dharmanandan Diamonds Pvt Ltd and Pranda Group

* Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Age 40 and below): Zhou Defen, Shenzhen Yuehao Jewelry Co Ltd

The real winner Thursday night may have been JNA Awards. It’s rare that a young program such as this has gained such international importance. But it has and there is still has plenty of room to grow.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

About J Jewelry Show to Begin in the City of ‘Water and Light’

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Venice is a city of water and light. When the sky is clear and the sun is high the water that defines this city sparkles. The sun casts shadows on the ancient buildings throughout the day. At night the city twinkles with the glow of artificial light.

Buildings thousands of years old are set delicately on the water’s edge. A grand mosaic unified by centuries of unbounded creativity. The water is not only the lifeblood of this great Italian city but it is also it’s cruel enemy, through its constant, persistent and endless beating on the city’s grand buildings and small houses, adding to its overall character.

To put it briefly Venice is a jewel and I can’t think of a more appropriate place to hold a luxury jewelry show. The About J show will open this evening, an invitation-only event where 34 luxury jewelry designers from different parts of the world will present their works to a small, select group of buyers.

I will be supplying reports as often as possible while enjoying this unique place.

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How Many Facets are there on the ‘World’s Smallest Diamond?’

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

When it comes to diamonds bigger is almost universally accepted as better. However, luxury watch brand, Jaeger-LeCoultre, turned the tables a bit introducing what it claims to be the world’s smallest diamond. Perhaps the worlds smallest manufactured diamond or the world’s smallest faceted diamond may be a better claim.

Each diamond is 0.5mm in size and in an orange tray they are barely visible. However, under a microscope I can clearly see two faceted round diamonds. In fact, what I find more remarkable is that each diamond has 57 facets. No. I didn’t count the facets.

Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Carlos Carvalheiro, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master gem setter (pictured above), is the one who made the claim. He was demonstrating the miniature diamonds to guests attending the luxury watch brand’s 180th anniversary celebration, held at the Teatro La Fenice, the famed opera house in the city of Venice.

Carvalheiro’s claim peaked my interest. I have a lot of questions but the event was an inappropriate time for my queries. I will follow up.

My questions include whether these diamonds will appear on a watch? And whether the technique used to create them will be used for their gem-set timepieces or even used for their movements. Maybe the technique has already been applied to some of newer timepieces, such as the La Montre Extraordinaire La Rose (pictured above), which I wrote about just before leaving for Venice. I also would like to know if this is done in house.

For an industry that prides itself on innovations on a micro-level for watch movements, creating miniature gems for the exterior of watches this, in my humble opinion, is a new breakthrough in the use of micro-technology for watchmakers.

But first this claim needs to be clarified and verified.

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