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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Burmese Ruby and Diamond Necklace Highlights Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale

Burmese rubies, colored diamonds and Cartier jewels led Sotheby’s Hong Kong Fine Jewels and Jadeite sale. 

The top lot was a ruby and diamond necklace with 50.57 carats of unheated “Pigeon’s Blood” Mogok Burmese rubies that sold for $805,128 (top photo). 

The necklace is set with 37 graduated oval rubies, decorated with approximately 42.70 carats of pear-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds mounted in 18k white and yellow gold. 

Other items of note at the November 28 sale include the following: 

* A 13.88-carat fancy intense yellow diamond and white diamond ring sold for $466,667. The yellow diamond is flanked by two trapeze-shaped diamonds together weighing approximately 3 carats, mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold.

* A Cartier “Tiger” clip-brooch sold for $451,282, more than double its high estimate of $206,352. Set with brilliant-cut yellow diamonds and diamonds together weighing approximately 9.95 carats, speckled by onyx, embellished by pear-shaped emerald-set eyes, mounted in 18k yellow gold, signed and numbered.

* A 4.79-carat unheated “Pigeon’s Blood” Mogok Burmese ruby and diamond ring by Cartier sold for $435,897. The oval ruby is flanked on each side by a half-moon shaped diamond, decorated by brilliant cut and baguette diamonds together weighing approximately 1.30 carats, mounted in platinum, signed and numbered. 

* Fancy intense yellow diamond and white diamond ear clips that sold for $312,821. Each ear clip has a cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamond weighing 6.30 and 6.15 carats respectively, suspended from a pear-shaped and brilliant-cut diamonds weighing a total of 4.45 carats, mounted in platinum and 18k yellow gold.

The 180-lot auction of signed pieces, colored gems and diamonds, modern and vintage pieces, and a charity session to aid Operation Smile China Medical Mission, which provides free surgery to underprivileged children and young adults with cleft lips or cleft palates in China, fetched more than $7.85 million, with 87.2 percent of the items sold by lot and 75.8 percent sold by value. 

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Two Blue Sapphires Fetch Big Prices at Christie’s London Sale

A sapphire and diamond brooch, circa 1890s, centered with a 14.66-carat, Kashmir sapphire (pictured above) sold for nearly $2.2 million (150,000 per carat), nearly triple its 783,499 high estimate. It was the top lot at Christie’s London Important Jewels sale. 

The cushion shaped sapphire is surrounded by an old-cut diamond cluster raised on a scalloped gallery mounted in silver and gold. The auction house said the jewel was from the collection of the late Clive Behrens, and before that part of the collection of the late Evelina Rothschild. 

In addition, a sapphire and diamond pendant, circa 1880 (above), centered with a 41.54-carat Burma sapphire sold for more than $1.6 million ($39,000 per carat), more than triple its high estimate of $470,099. The sapphire on the gold plated pendant has an old-cut diamond line border and is further surrounded by cushion shaped diamonds. 

Both sapphires show no indications of being heat treated, according to the accompanying reports. 

Colored diamonds continue to demand high prices as a ring featuring a crossover design, set with two opposing pear shaped diamonds, a 1.54-carat fancy deep blue and a 1.78-carat fancy intense pink, sold for nearly $1.2 million, well above its $783,499 estimate.

The November 26 auction totaled $22.75 million in sales with 75 percent sold by lot and 89 percent sold by value. 

“The London sale of Important Jewels showed that quality, rarity and provenance continue to be the key factors sought by collectors worldwide,” said Keith Penton, head of Christie’s London Jewellery Department. 

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks for the Courage of Malala Yousafzai

Photo credit: Christopher Furlong

The Taliban didn’t know what it was up against when it picked a fight with Malala Yousafzai

Two years ago, the then 15-year-old native of northwest Pakistan was shot in the head by members the Muslim extremist group while on a bus to school because of her advocacy for education and equal rights for women. 

There was one problem with this brutal plan. She didn’t die from this act of extreme violence. In fact, her recovery has been described as miraculous. Nor did she and her family cower from her attackers, despite additional calls for her death. 

Now at the age of 17 living in Birmingham, England, Malala’s advocacy for women and for education is now an international movement and she is its star. The youngest person to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize, she now commands audiences with world leaders and at events around the world. Every public appearance is an act of defiance, striking a blow against the religious extremist group. 

On October 21, Malala was in Philadelphia to receive The Liberty Medal, presented annually to those who "strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over." Earlier in the day, she was a speaker at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, also in Philadelphia. This is where I had a chance to see her speak to a crowd of young entrepreneurs. 

Thanksgiving Day is a time when we give thanks for what we have. I give thanks for the access my job allows me to listen to someone with the courage of Malala Yousafzai. 

Being interviewed by Ronan Farrow of MSNBC, Malala describes her life as being divided between the normal routines of home and school and her advocacy for education and for women’s rights, appearing remarkably grounded when she discusses life at home and at school and even displaying a sly smile when discussing her relationship with her two brothers. She also hinted at very ambitious plans for her future.

“When I go outside I look 27 or 30 but when I go home I look 10 or 12, so at home I’m enjoying my time and fighting with my brothers, which is also quite nice sometimes. I try to tease them and annoy them. At home things are quite normal. I do my homework. I don’t feel like I am a global figure. When I go outside this is a role that I have right now speaking for girls’ education and for the education of every child. It’s not something that has been given to me by someone. It is what I have decided and it is what I’ve chosen for myself, so I’m happy with it. Malala, when she is home and she is in school she is a different person who has to obey her teachers. Here is the adult Malala, so these are two different parts of my life and I’m happy with that.”

There are also times when her two worlds intersect. For example, she was in chemistry class when she learned she won the Nobel Peace Prize. 

“They called an assembly at school. It was the first time I spoke on the stage at my school and I was so nervous,” she said. “I was not nervous at the UN. Not nervous here. But I was nervous at the school because the teachers were there and so were the students…. I told them that you are very lucky because you have such a great school. You have all the facilities. You have a science lab, a computer lab, you have wonderful teachers, you have good classrooms and chairs and tables, everything. But there are schools in some parts of the world where children do not have these facilities and some children do not have schools at all so you should be thankful that you have all these facilities and you are getting a quality education. It was a good opportunity to speak to my friends and speak to my teachers and thank all of them so I was very happy.”

She says at home or school she gets no special treatment. She also expresses thanks that her teachers challenge her at school. 

“They treat me like a normal student which is good in some ways and not good in some ways,” she said. “When I got the Nobel peace prize I was very busy with phone calls coming in and I couldn’t finish my English homework. So the next day my teacher asked me, ‘Where’s your homework?’ I said, ‘Miss I won the Nobel Peace Prize and I was quite busy and she replied ‘So what?’ and I said I will do it tomorrow.”

But when she talks about her advocacy, her resolve is apparent. 

“I fight for women’s rights and I believe everyone has equal rights as men have because why should there be a difference? … We have to change this idea that women are only suppose to work in the house not only just cooking and cleaning but she also has the ability to go outside and be in business, be a doctor, a teacher, an engineer. She should have a job as equally as men and she should be treated equally as men are. So I think equal treatment is very important and this is what Islam teaches.”

She jokes about the irony in her life of being a worldwide advocate for education and not being able to convince her brothers to study more.

“When I say to my younger brother are you doing your homework? Stop playing on the computer, he tells me to get lost,” she said. “I always tell them that you should focus on your education because when I go outside I tell every child that education is very important to you so at home I have two brothers who are not doing their homework and the younger is cheeky as well.”

She describes her life as being similar to a classic story. 

“I consider my story like a movie where in the beginning I have a happy life living a quality life in happiness and then a villain comes but in the end the villain loses and the hero wins and there’s a happy ending.”

When talking to world leaders she isn’t intimidated at all and focuses on keeping her message simple. 

“I have met a lot of people who are well known like presidents and prime ministers and I think it’s very important to reach out to those people and to ask them to contribute to education and make it very important and make it their top priority.”

She continued, “When I was in Pakistan, sometimes people ask me what do you say to the prime minister? And I say make sure every child goes to school but I think the prime minister wouldn’t be able to do it so I’m not going request the prime ministers anymore and when I grow up I’ll become a prime minister and I’ll bring the change.”

You can view video excerpts of Malala’s talk at the Forbes website.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

‘Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century’ At Denver Art Museum

Flamingo brooch worn by Duchess of Windsor. Cartier Paris, special order, 1940. Platinum, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, citrine; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nils Herrmann

It was the most creative time for what is arguably the supreme international jeweler of the 20th Century.

Necklace worn by Elizabeth Taylor. Cartier Paris, 1951, altered in 1953. Platinum, diamonds, rubies. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

The Denver Art Museum is the sole venue worldwide for “Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century,” on view till March 15, 2015. The exhibition contains more than 250 pieces of jewelry, timepieces and precious objects produced between 1900 and 1975. Most of the pieces are from the jeweler’s “Cartier Collection,” with items on loan from other museums and private collections.

Tiara worn by Mrs. Townsend Cartier. Cartier Paris, special order, 1905. Platinum, diamonds; Height at center 9.8 cm. Provenance: Mary Scott Townsend and Mrs. Donald McElroy. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

Curated by Margaret Young-Sánchez, curator of the museum’s Frederick and Jan Mayer Center, the exhibition celebrates and chronicles the creative rise of Cartier in the 20th Century and its place in the dynamic history of the period.

Necklace worn by Countess of Granard. Cartier London, special order, 1932. Platinum, diamonds, emerald; Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Vincent Wulveryck

It was a time when old world royalty was being replaced by democratically elected governments and when captains of industry, world class entertainers and a handful of politicians stood on equal terms with the old aristocracy. Cartier stood at the intersection of this cultural change and took a leadership role, creating jewelry, timepieces and objects of art for some of the most important and famous people of the period. The exhibition has items belonging to the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mexican film star María Félix.

Engagement Ring worn by Princess Grace of Monaco.Cartier Paris, 1956. Platinum, one 10.48-carat emerald-cut diamond, two baguette- cut diamonds. Palais Princier de Monaco 

This is an exhibition for those who cherish Cartier’s most creative period when it was a family-owned firm (family members sold the business in 1964).

Crocodile Necklace made for Maria Félix.Cartier Paris, special order, 1975. Gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

“The evolution of Cartier takes us on a journey through 20th century history, from the era of the last czars in Russia to the Roaring ’20s in America to the onset of Hollywood glamour as we know it,” said Christoph Heinrich, director of the Frederick and Jan Mayer Center. “Focusing in on the creativity and pioneering vision of the Cartier brothers and their designers, visitors will walk away not only in awe of Cartier’s stunning works of art but also aware of the drastic cultural shifts that took place throughout the history of the maison.”

Laurel Leaf Tiara owned by Marie Bonaparte. Cartier Paris, 1907. Platinum and diamonds. Qatar Museums Authority.

Cartier’s international clientele reflected the rapid changes of the 20th Century. The jeweler’s rise took place in the context of an increasingly cosmopolitan cultural scene and aligned with international social, political and economic trends. The exhibition will present a selection of themes that span time periods and styles to display the influence and innovation of the jeweler.  

Tiger Lorgnette owned by Duchess of Windsor. Cartier Paris, special order, 1954. Gold, enamel, emeralds, glass. Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Nick Welsh

Exhibition themes include: 

* Aristocracy and Aspiration: Focusing on objects from 1900–1918, this section features diamond, sapphire, rock crystal and pearl jewelry and enameled decorative items that showcase a refined and elegant aesthetic embraced by European royalty and aristocrats—and the wealthy Americans who aspired to join their social class. 

Stomacher Brooch, Cartier Paris, special order, 1907. Platinum, sapphires, diamonds. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Art Deco: New Outlook: Cartier was a leader in the Art Deco movement of the 1910s to 1920s that highlighted a bold look with a new emphasis on color and geometry. The firm used new materials in this era such as jade, coral and black onyx.

Necklace created for Sir Bhupindra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala. Cartier Paris, special order, 1928. Platinum, diamonds, zirconias, topazes, synthetic rubies, smoky quartz, citrine; Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh  

* Art Deco: Foreign Fascination: After World War I, Cartier created original designs that incorporated exotic styles and materials including imported carved jade, lacquer and faience. This style culminated in the colorful tutti-frutti jewelry and sculptural mystery clocks. 

Tutti Frutti Strap Bracelet worn by Mrs. Cole Porter.Cartier Paris, 1929. Platinum, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies. Cartier Collection.  Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Masculine View: Louis Cartier is credited with inventing the modern men’s wristwatch. The exhibition includes numerous models and styles, in addition to elegant and complex pocket watches, cuff links, pocket items, cocktail and desk accessories, and inscribed cigarette cases. Historic events commemorated by inscribed gift items made by Cartier are featured in the exhibition. 

Santos wristwatch, Cartier Paris, 1915. Gold, sapphire, leather strap. Cartier Collection. Photo credit: Nick Welsh

* Art of Smoking: Textured, enameled and jeweled cigar cutters, cigarette cases and lighters from 1907 through the 1940s. 

Five-Dial Clock owned by Franklin D. Roosevelt.Cartier New York, 1930. Ebonite, silver, nephrite, enamel, clock movement. Private collection. 

* Age of Glamour: Designs from the 1930s to 1960s preferred by celebrities and “Café Society.”  

Set of Three Clip Brooches worn by Princess Grace of Monaco. Cartier Paris, 1955. Platinum, brilliant- and baguette-cut diamonds, three cabochon rubies weighing approximately 49 carats. Palais Princier de Monaco.  
More photographs from the exhibition can be viewed by following this link

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Friday, November 21, 2014

9.75-Carat Blue Diamond Fetches World Auction Record $32.6 Million

A 9.75-carat fancy vivid blue diamond from the collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon set two world auction records Thursday when it sold for more than $32.6 million Sotheby’s New York. 

The price, smashing its high estimate of $15 million, set a world auction record for any blue diamond; and set a world auction record for price-per-carat for any diamond, at more than $3.3 million per carat.

Seven bidders competed for 20 minutes for the pear-shaped diamond, Sotheby’s said. It ultimately sold to a Hong Kong private collector who named it “The Zoe Diamond.”

The previous auction record for any blue diamond was $24.3 million, set by the Wittelsbach Diamond at Christie’s London in December 2008. The previous per-carat auction record for any diamond was nearly $2.4 million, set by a 14.82 carat fancy vivid orange diamond at Christie’s in Geneva in November 2013.

“From the moment I saw this diamond, I knew that it would be one of the most important stones that I will ever have the privilege of presenting at auction,” said Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in New York. “Mrs. Mellon’s diamond absolutely deserves the place in the record books that it achieved tonight.”

The diamond was the top lot on the first day of a two-day sale of “Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon: Jewels & Objects of Vertu.” Other jewelry pieces in the sale, which resumes today (Friday), include Verdura, Schlumberger and Givenchy, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Black Starr & Frost. 

Sotheby’s New York auctions of the Mellon Collection continue through Sunday.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Navajo Jewelry ‘Glitters’ at American Indian Museum Exhibition

Bracelet by Raymond C. Yazzie, 2005. Silver inlaid with coral, turquoise, lapis lazuli, 14k gold accents. Collection of Mark and Martha Alexander.

Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family” explores the intersection of art and commerce through Navajo jewelry making. The exhibition of 300 items will run till January 10, 2015, at the by The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center, located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York.

Blue Corn Bracelet by Lee A. Yazzie, 1980. Bisbee and Royal Web turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral and opal. Private Collection of Joe and Cindy Tanner.

The exhibition focuses on jewelry made by members of Yazzie family of Gallup, N.M., which the museum describes as “one of the most celebrated jewelry making families of our time” for their silver, gold and stone inlay works. The bead and stone work of Mary Marie Yazzie is also featured in the exhibition.

Sun Face Bolo by Raymond C. Yazzie, 2013. Lone Mountain turquoise, 14k gold, silver. Diameter, 2 in. Collection of Lloyd and Betty Van Horn.

Various types of turquoise, coral and opal are used to create the pieces along with other materials, such as lapis lazuli and sugilite set with gold and silver. Many of the materials have both spiritual and economic value for Navajo peoples and are sacred stones in Navajo beliefs.

Nugget Necklace by Raymond C. Yazzie, 2009. Fossilized Lone Mountain turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, sugilite, opal, 14-karat gold. Overall length, 31 in. Collection of Susan Heyneman.

The majority of the objects are based on nature with traditional Navajo themes, such as the Blue Corn bracelet, which replicates an open ear of corn with the kernels made of coral, turquoise or lapis lazuli with 14k gold accents. In addition, the painting-like Blessings bracelet is an abstract depiction of katsinas, a spirit being. It is constructed from approximately 485 stones of various turquoises, black onyx, Australian opal, lapis lazuli, sugilite, coral, gaspeite, and 14k gold, with a base of rare Water Web Kingman turquoise.

Lapis Bracelet by Lee A. Yazzie, 1984. Lapis lazuli, 18k gold. National Museum of the American Indian collection.

The displays show the relationship with the family’s artistic and crafts skills, their Southwest environments and their strong connection to their Navajo culture.

Squash Blossom Necklace by Lee A. Yazzie, 2012. Lone Mountain turquoise, silver. Collection of Jeffrey and Carole Katz.

“This exhibition tells a story of both the artisans and the craftsmanship, exploring the natural materials, cultural influences and surroundings that inspire the Yazzie family,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “The exhibition goes beyond Native art to tell the story of the interplay between Navajo culture and commerce, which is in keeping with the museum’s mission to evolve the way visitors see and experience the long saga and continuing life of Native peoples.”

Blessing Bracelet by Raymond C. Yazzie, 2002-3. Height, 1 1/2 in. Collection of Daniel Hidding.

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Ring by Raymond C. Yazzie, 2006. Opal, coral, lapis lazuli, jade, Blue Gem turquoise, Orvil Jack turquoise, 14k gold. Height. Collection of Leota and Phil Knight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Last Chance To View ‘Cycles of Life’ Rings Exhibition

De Clercq Roman diamond ring

“Cycles of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection,” will come to end on December 6. So time is running out to view a private collection of more than 40 rings that run from the 3rd to the 19th centuries. In addition, to it being on public view at till December 6 at the Les Enluminures New York gallery, 23 East 73rd St.

Ruby and enamel gold ring

This is the first time that the entire collection is on display together and it will be the last as the entire collection is for sale. 

Ring with diamond-set Shoulders and bezel

Zucker is a well-known gem merchant and author who’s written scholarly publications and practical guides about gems and jewels, as well as novels. An illustrated catalog published by Paul Holberton, London, will accompany the exhibition, which will include contributions by Zucker, Sandra Hindman, founder of Les Enluminures, and Jack Ogden, chief executive of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

Gold ring with hand holding a heart

Many of the rings in the exhibition were previously on loan at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which is known for its extensive jewelry collection, and a few pieces were at other museums. 

Mourning ring of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas

“Zucker is a great private collector and owns countless jewels,” said Cecilia Bonn, Les Enluminures Marketing and Communications director. “He really wanted the work cataloged. Sondra is good at applying scholarship to collections and specializes in Medieval and Renaissance manuscript illuminations, and Roman and byzantine jewelry. There’s a real compatibility here.”

Gold Jewish Marriage ring

Among the standouts is a Roman diamond ring that dates back to the third or fourth century. Once part of the de Clercq collection of Roman and Byzantine jewelry, the ring is centered by a natural uncut diamond with a double pyramid set in a high openwork bezel. It was acquired by Zucker in the 1970s, and loaned as the showpiece of the international traveling exhibition, “Diamonds and the Power of Love,” organized by the De Beers. The diamond giant declared that “the story of the diamond ring begins here”. It was most recently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is second largest known surviving rough Roman diamond ring. 

Gold Signet ring with a merchant's mark and initials

“The roman uncut diamond ring one of 12 in existence that we know of,” Bonn said. “Seven of the rings are in the British museum and six are in private collections.”

Jewish marriage ring

Other standouts are an Italian made 14th Century Medieval sapphire and gold ring set with a 10th- century sapphire inscribed in Arabic; and a German-made 1631 diamond, ruby, and enamel gimmel ring, from the Rothschild Collection. 

Rothschild diamond ring

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Temple St. Clair Enters the World of High Jewelry

Flying Fish bracelet made with sapphire, Paraiba tourmaline, tsavorite and Royal Blue Moonstone.

Luxury jewelry designer Temple St. Clair held a public unveiling of her first high jewelry collection at The Salon: Art + Design show in New York. 

Titled Mythical Creatures each of the nine, one-of-kind pieces represents artistic representations of the work she has done for 30 years. Nature themes with more colored gemstones, a few either extremely rare or almost never used for jewelry, used in a variety of intricate ways go together with the goldsmith and jewelry craftsmen in Florence, many of whom having with St. Clair for decades. The pieces are complex and elaborate but still retain a sense of refinement.

Secret Garden Serpent necklace made with tsavorite scales, a tanzanite head, Royal Blue Moonstone eyes and diamond accents.

To reinforce their status as works of art and collectibles, she collaborated with artists outside of the jewelry world to create a complete individual package for each piece. Her main partner in this project is fine contemporary artist and personal friend, Nancy Lorenz—known for working with precious materials such as mother-of-pearl inlay, lacquer, and gold leaf—who created a signature jewel box for each piece. She also brought in the services of photographer Robert Clark, best known for his work with National Geographic. His stylized photographs, along with St. Clair’s sketches and stories behind each piece are included in a personalized, hand-bound leather book designed and built in Florence. The book and each jewel are sized to fit inside the wooden box, which were made in Kyoto and then lined in leather in Florence.

Sleeping Fox ring made with spinel, mandarin garnet, emerald & diamond.

The display at The Salon: Art + Design art show at The Park Avenue Armory in New York, opened Friday and runs till Monday, is the first public viewing of the jewelry creations. The only other public viewing will be at Les Arts Decoratifs, January 29, 2015, during Paris’ Haute Couture Week. After that, these pieces, which are commanding six-figure prices, will be sold and delivered to private owners. In fact, in an interview months ago, St. Clair says that the interest is so strong that she expects the entire collection will be sold before the Paris exhibition. 

Sea Dragon earrings using emeralds, rubies, sapphires, Royal Blue Moonstone and diamond..

For St. Clair this project is the culmination of a life in jewelry, art and design. 

“Three years in actually making (the collection) and 30 years of having it come together,” St. Clair said during an interview in her New York studio. “I do a lot of bespoke work in the high jewelry realm (for private clients) but I haven’t worked in that realm necessarily on my own. And most of the bespoke work and high jewelry work goes to individuals. So we can’t show it or really talk about it that much. This is my first entrance into this level.” 

Medusa Moon Jellyfish ring in 18k gold with Australian Andamooka opal, Lightening Ridge black opal, sapphire, tsavorite, hauyn & rock crystal.

She continued, “I love nature and animals so I played with my interpretation. I refer to them as my mythical creatures but I’m actually making natural creatures mythical.” 

Each piece uses a variety of gemstones, cut, polished and set in many ways. Several are extremely rare, such as Paraiba tourmaline and Australian Andamooka opal. One gem known as hauyn, considered too soft to be set in jewelry, makes an appearance in at least one piece. 

Phoenix Chicks earrings using 18k gold with tanzanite, Lightening Ridge black opal, tourmaline, Royal Blue Moonstone, tsavorite & sapphire.

“No one puts this in jewelry,” she said. “I’ve seen it for years at gem shows but I’m told it’s only for collectors, not to be put in jewelry. But we managed.”

In addition, a variety of gem setting techniques and elaborate gold adornments are used for each item. They are extremely complex pieces. For example, the Secret Garden Serpent necklace has more than 1,000 gems. Green garnet serpent tsavorite cut in cabochons is used for the vertebrae, finely crafted with flexible joints to give it a proper look and feel.

“He feels so real and scaly,” she said.

Turtles on the Rocks ring using 18K gold with diamonds and Paraíba tourmalines. 

Some pieces move with the light like the Flying Fish bracelet, which is taken from her time spent at sea actually viewing these fishes. Different shades of green tsavorite along with various blue gems (Paraiba tourmaline, blue sapphires and blue moonstones) are used to recreate the changing colors of scales when it reflected in the sun. 

“You catch a fish and turn it at different angles and it shows its colors differently,” she said. “It’s a super intricate piece. I’ve seen flying fish so I know what they should look like.”

Frog Prince ring in 18k gold with Mandarin garnet, tsavorite, sapphire and cat's eye.

St. Clair says that as her children have grown and become more independent and with her business is doing well, she is able to take time to create in new ways, which will lead to similar projects in the future.  

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Travel and Architecture's Influence on Jewelry Design

Disosceles ring inspired by the CCTV building in Beijing.
Jewelry News Network guest columnist, Chris Benham, is co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd., Wellington, New Zealand, a global creative studio for specialist jewelry design.  

Each piece of jewelry designed by Ian Douglas, design director of Inspired Jewellery, has a story behind it. Inspirations that only a creative mind could weave into works of art in such abstract ways. Something we can all relate to is the endless inspiration that travel provides. Some people keep a diary to recount their travels, some take thousands of photos. Ian designs jewelry that acts as a visual journal of his travels, taking inspiration from what he has seen and turning this into beautifully crafted pieces.

A recurring theme seen in Ian’s jewelry is architecture from around the globe. Not surprising, as Ian’s original ambition was to become an architect. It is clear that the passion's still there as it influences many of his designs. Each ring design is like a mini building. Like buildings, they are complex structures that must hold together and form a function while still looking beautiful and aesthetically balanced on the hand. As architecture takes many forms in different cultures and contexts, each piece of jewelry is unique and serves as a real reminder of the places Ian has traveled.

In Beijing, a true marvel of architecture is the new CCTV building designed by Dutch and German architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA. As Ian travelled to Beijing a number of times while working on a contract with Hiersun’s I Do stores in China, the striking design of the building continued to resonate with him; the offset form, cantilevered structure and overhanging center begged to be transformed into a ring. The resulting Disosceles ring (top photo) plays with rigid form and lines, yet blends perfectly around the finger; an architecturally-inspired wonder and a lasting memory of Beijing.

The CCTV building

In New York, inspiration is on every corner - you only need to look up. The Empire ring is one of the mementos of Ian’s time in Manhattan. The ring bears a style and energy that can only be described as quintessentially New York. “It’s a city that has a rawness and a refinement, incredible architecture and people, all interacting to create a feeling you can only connect to if you visit and, better still, live there. Inspired by the Empire State Building, the Empire ring is designed to distil those feelings,” says Ian.

A trip to Paris inspired the Pompidou ring. The Museum of Modern Art, with the services of the building placed on the exterior, is an exciting and visually challenging building. The wonderful contrast of line, color and movement is reflected in the Pompidou ring’s abstract patterns of contrasting gold and platinum, set off with a beautiful pear shape diamond, which serves as a collision of form and a design that exudes modern Paris chic.

A little closer to our home in New Zealand, inspiration taken from the scenery and landscapes of Australia that trace the origin of the diamonds in the Sol Ring are combined with the imagery of the sun dancing on the sweeping curves of the Sydney Opera House. Modern, urban architecture and rough outback terrain may seem like an unlikely combination, but one that epitomizes the beauty of Australia. The ring was created as part of the Terra Sol Collection designed for De Beers DTC Sightholder Diambel NV. 

The Leela ring is simply named after the hotel that Ian stayed at while in Bangalore. The architectural forms and exquisite detail in the hotel facade were enough to inspire this intricate ring.

Ian’s hometown of Wellington provides more architectural inspiration for his ring designs. The architecture of the Te Papa National Museum showcases a building that is a contrast of color and form. Using subtle color tones of palladium against white gold, Pacifica patterns of yellow gold and a blue topaz portraying the surrounding ocean, the Te Papa ring symbolizes the city. 

Ian’s travels and his appreciation of architecture are celebrated through his jewelry designs. As a designer, inspiration is gained from all facets of life; it is clear that travel and architecture is an endless inspiration source in the design of jewelry. For Ian, his visual travel journal continues to expand as he transforms wondrous sites into beautifully crafted pieces of jewelry, bringing a piece of the world home with him each time.

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