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Monday, November 30, 2015

UBM Asia Launches Jewelry and Gemstone Directory For Southeast Asia

The Jewellery Publishing Group of UBM Asia has launched Jewellery & Gemstone Directory 2016 -- Southeast Asia, saying it’s the first comprehensive sourcing guide for jewelry trade buyers seeking business opportunities in the region's manufacturing and distribution sectors.

Published for the first time in November, the new directory has more than 1,300 listings of manufacturers and retailers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The manufacturers section presents suppliers of jewelry, gemstones, diamonds, pearls and lab-grown gems. Also included are gemological laboratories, trade organizations and training establishments. Companies are sorted by product and service, by alphabetical order and by country. Details include telephone number, website, person-in-charge, product specialization and number of workers.

The retailers section lists jewelry shops, chain stores and wholesalers. The directory provides information on these companies, including the type of jewelry they sell and the source of their products.

"Recognizing that the eyes of the world are on Southeast Asia as it grows in importance as a manufacturing hub and a consumer market, we have come up with an annual, dedicated directory to help facilitate business transactions with and within the region's jewelry and gemstone industry,” says Dennis Li, group publisher, Jewelry Publishing Group of UBM Asia. 

The company's other annual publications include Jewellery & Gemstone Directory -- Hong Kong edition, the Equipment & Supplies Directory, and the Silver Jewellery Suppliers Directory.

The Jewellery & Gemstone Directory 2016 -- Southeast Asia edition is available at a special introductory rate of $60 per copy until March 11, 2016. Regular rate is $100. To order a copy, email, fax +852 3749 7433 or call +852 2516 1613.

The directory can also be purchased at major international jewelry trade fairs.

Sample pages can be viewed at

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The Patai Ring - From Concept Design To Best Seller

An unfurling fern frond of the native New Zealand silver fern was the inspiration behind the Patai ring. Photo credit: Shutterstock

By Chris Benham, co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd.

A few years ago we were at a jewelry show where we showcased a collection called Gold Kina. It is a quintessentially New Zealand inspired collection that was deliberately created to be extreme, to provoke and challenge. At that show we met a lady who was absolutely taken with a design in the Gold Kina Collection called Patai. However, she wanted it as an engagement ring not an occasional dress ring, which is what it was designed to be.

The Original Patai design: Sculptured platinum with the hard edged koru form that sweeps and suspends a 1.036-carat pear shaped diamond.

The name Patai is a Maori word translated to mean “to ask, question, enquire, cross-examine, provoke and challenge.” She had laid down a challenge for us. We needed to evolve this design into an everyday wearable diamond engagement ring without losing the essence of the original version.

The design of the Patai engagement and right hand rings evolved into a more delicate curve. In this case, the ring supports a 1-carat pear-shaped diamond

It is amazing how designs can evolve over time and often through customer feedback. Jewelers are fortunate in that we can rapidly adapt designs based on those ideas and feedback. Unlike say car manufacturers where, according to most sources, creating a new model is a billion-dollar-plus exercise and it’s only practical to take on that feedback and implement it every three years.

The Patai ring with a 1.58-carat natural pink sapphire highlighted with 25 round brilliant diamonds along the band

From that first request we evolved the Patai design and it has turned into a best seller. The ring Patai is inspired by the Koru—itself symbolic of new life and new beginnings. A beautiful inspiration when people are getting engaged and starting a new life together. Sculpted from platinum, Patai clasps a pear shaped diamond so gently in the unfurled frond of the koru that the diamond appears as if it is floating.

Since then the design has evolved a number of times to include sapphires, more diamonds and even a round brilliant diamond. Here is a video showing the making of the ring:

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.  

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Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe Planned For March 19

Buyers entering 2015 Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe

The third edition of Jewellery & Gem Fair – Europe will be held March 19 – 22, 2016, in Freiburg, Germany. The show is positioned as a mid- to high-end jewelry sourcing event for continental Europe, says UBM Asia, which owns and operates the show.

In 2016, JGF Europe will occupy all the exhibition halls and the central concourse of the 19,000sqm Messe Freiburg. About 400 international and local vendors are expected to exhibit. They will be organized by product category. German exhibitors include: Arnoldi Carl Friedrich GmbH, Hammer J. E. + Soehne GmbH - Hammer Group and Gerstner August GmbH & Co KG. 

“Buyers can expect to see jewelry products with fine craftsmanship from Germany. The return of the leading jewelry companies reconfirms the importance of JGF Europe in the industry,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs, UBM Asia.

Group pavilions from ACODES of Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy and Thailand are returning. These group pavilions display distinct market specialties, such as emeralds from the ACODES pavilion and coral products from the Italian pavilion. German and Hong Kong pavilions will showcase a range of fine finished jewelry and gemstones, while Thailand will exhibit silver jewelry. 

New additions to the fair include the “LOVE” pavilion, which will showcase branded bridal jewelry collections and the “DESIGN” pavilion, which serves as an international networking platform for young European designers. The Packaging, Tools & Equipment pavilion will be 25 percent larger than the previous year, UBM Asia said.

More than 6,500 industry professionals from 87 countries and regions attended the fair in 2015 during its four-day run. 

Preregistration for the fair is now available by visiting Pre-registration allows buyers to avoid long lines at registration counters and save the admission fee of €30.

UBM Asia is offering a free shuttle bus service to Messe Freiburg. For updates, go to In addition, Deutschen Bahn AG is offering a special concession on train tickets (from €99 and up) for visitors travelling from any German city to JGF Europe in Freiburg. Visit for booking details. 

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Focus On Jewels And Watches Online As The Holidays Begin

"Disorder," a silver-plated short necklace with ovals in different sizes from Spanish brand Uno de 50

As the holiday shopping season in the US gets into full gear the National Retail Federation expects total sales in the November and December shopping period to increase by a solid 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion.

Out of the that total, online retail spending for the period will increase 14 percent year-over-year to $70.1 billion, according to ComScore. Out of that figure sales on desktop computers is expected to increase 9 percent to $58.3 billion. Mobile commerce is predicted to account for $11.7 billion of retail spending, representing 17 percent of total digital commerce and growing at a rate of 47 percent vs. last season. In total, digital commerce is expected to account for about 15 percent of consumers' discretionary spending.

How much of that total that will include jewelry and watch sales is unknown at this point. However, the share of this retail market has grown consistently since 2009. Online and mobile merchants are growing at a rapid pace and those already in the game have an advantage.

One of those merchants is Spanish fashion retailer Uno de 50, a silver and gold jewelry brand with a presence in nearly 20 countries around the world, including branded boutiques and other retail and wholesale points of sale.

The company also has a robust online presence in the US that it plans to use to increase its share in the world’s largest jewelry market. The company focuses on affordable and fun pieces that can be worn casually and can easily be collected and matched in many combinations.

For example the company has a line of long and short key necklaces for women that are versatile, providing a number of options for women who buy their own jewels and have a strong sense of fashion. Some are adorned with pearls and semi-precious gems, adding a bit of color to the collections. They match well with the rest of the company’s offerings and can be worn with a variety of clothing styles.

Jewelry has been slow to adopt eCommerce with the school of thought being that people want to see and feel the pieces before buying. This argument has been proven wrong and the past few years jewelers have moved quickly to online sales. However, luxury watch brands that are very focused on controlling all aspects of their marketing and distribution have been even slower to adopt to eCommerce. A few brands like Montblanc and Chopard now sell a selection of the timepieces and other products from their website. 

As consumers continue to go online and eventually to mobile platforms for their purchases, brands, retailers and niche operators are jostling for position on this retail frontier.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Snail Collection by Alex Soldier

Alex Soldier Sea Snail

There’s a lot that goes into the jewels by Alex Soldier. The metalwork is quite elaborate as are his gem-setting techniques. This detailed artisanal workmanship defines his pieces. However, while Alex Soldier has a distinctive style and definition, each one-of-a-kind piece or collection represents a definitive and different jewelry-making technique. Imaginative creativity as well defines the style of Alex Soldier.

Diamond snail pendant

It’s this combination of creativity and craftsmanship that makes Alex Soldier’s jewelry distinct and interesting. One of his best-known works is the Snail Collection. Soldier says he first created bejeweled versions of these animals “as a reminder to slow down and enjoy life.” It also serves as an expansive palette for his creativity and craftsmanship. 

Snail ring

The snail jewels exhibit a balance of color, texture, and detail; with each embroidered with an assortment of precious gems that form unique color patterns. In other words, while this snail jewelry is available as earrings, rings and brooches (and cufflinks for men) no two designs are alike. Every composition is further enhanced with final touches of fine texturing, hand-applied in several layers by Soldier. 

Diamond snail

The snails like all of Soldier’s pieces are handmade in his New York studio. Several 18k gold and diamond versions of the snails are available on the Neiman Marcus website with a starting price of $2,900.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

27 Ways To Wear Wallace Chan's Masterpiece, 'A Heritage in Bloom'

1. Full Blossom

Hong Kong-based retail giant Chow Tai Fook gave Wallace Chan 24 D-colored internally flawless diamonds cut from a 507-carat rough then left him alone to create whatever he wanted. Their trust in the renowned jewelry artist resulted in a "A Heritage in Bloom," a remarkable necklace that combines the 24 diamonds (including a 104-carat brilliant round stone with a triple-x cut grade) with hundreds of other white and pink diamonds and hundreds of green and white jade, set in titanium.

The necklace goes on display as part of "Dream Light Water," a retrospective of Chan's work presented by Christie's Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (November 26 - 30). As I previously written there are 27 ways to wear the bejeweled necklace. All of them are pictured with their individual titles.

2. Butterfly Love

3. Tranquility

4. Reminiscence

5. Dreamlike Moment

6. All in Bloom

7. Spring Sonata

8. Rendezvous

9. New Moon

10. The Smile of Love

11. Flower Gaze

12. Bright Day

13. As in Dreams

14. Infinite Love

15. Moonlit Flowers

16. Bloom Ethereal

17. For Generations

18. Sweetness of Spring

19. Wind Dancer

20. A Happy Encounter

21. Bloom Enchanted

22. In Harmony

23. Jade Butterfly

24. Everlasting Joy

25. Bloom Resonance 

26. Silky Fragrance

27. One in a Million

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Valuable Jewels And Watches At New York Art, Antique & Jewelry Show

Wanna Play The Maze Ring by Suzanne Syz Art Jewels

The annual New York Art, Antique & Jewelry Show will return to the Park Avenue Armory, November 20 - 24. The event boasts more than 80 international exhibitors showcasing more than 30,000 items, including more than a dozen exhibitors with millions of dollars worth of jewels and watches on display.

Cartier Double Tiger bracelet

Among the featured jewels are an 18.5-carat untreated Kashmir sapphire ring valued at $6.5 million and Pope Paul VI’s diamond cross and diamond ring. Véronique Bamps, a Monaco-based specialist in antique jewelry, will be showing a rare Cartier double tiger bangle bracelet in yellow gold set with white and fancy intense yellow diamonds, onyx and emeralds; and an Art Deco dome ring in platinum, sapphires and diamonds by Suzanne Belperron, circa 1940.

Art Deco dome ring in platinum, sapphires and diamonds by Suzanne Belperron

There will some modern jewels as well led by Suzanne Syz Art Jewels, who will be presenting her one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces. Syz is renowned for her creative, contemporary designs and her combinations of precious materials, including titanium, rare gems and more recently, miniature pearls. It is one of the few events where her jewels can be viewed and purchased by the public as the Geneva-based jeweler sells most her pieces privately. 

Watches will also be part of the show. M.S. Rau Antiques of New Orleans will be bringing several timepieces, including a World Time Watch by Patek Philippe ($54,000) and Patek Philippe Pocket Watch ($19,500) and, for women, a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Wrist Watch ($98,500).

The annual show, owned and operated by the Palm Beach Show Group, will open with a preview party for VIP guests on Friday. The invitation-only event provides a first-look of the show’s offerings before they are available to the public. 

For more information follow this link

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Augmented Reality For Jewelers Enhances The Customer Experience

An augmented reality visual of a ring design from The Inspired Collection pops out of  a smartphone

By Chris Benham, co-founder and director of Inspired Jewellery Ltd.

Are we on the cusp of an explosion of augmented reality experiences for customers? A couple years ago we worked with 3D animator Chris Williamson to create an animation of one of our tension set diamond ring designs. 

We sent him a 3D CAD file of the ring we wanted him to animate and then he worked his magic. He came into the studio and what followed blew my mind. He had taken the 3D version of our ring and literally made it jump out from the screen. 

How? We picked up a smartphone, opened an app and then scanned it over the image of the same ring on our website. The ring image was like a reference point, almost like a barcode (or QR code) and then the phone proceeded to make the ring pop out from the screen in 3D and allowed you to admire it from all angles and even virtually try it on.  

Watch this video on augmented reality to see how its application is used in day-to-day life:

It only took minutes to create and anyone with a smartphone could use it, meaning this experience is accessible to just about everyone. 

It then turned into one of those scenarios where you suddenly see augmented reality being used in small applications everywhere. However, it is still far from mainstream. If you ask someone on the street about augmented reality most will not know much about it. 

It’s now two years on and I am yet to see many jewelry companies take advantage of this technology. Compared to other businesses, jewelry companies are perfectly suited to this technology. The barriers to entry are low, as most jewelry companies now develop their new jewelry designs in 3D. In our business we’ve embraced 3D technology as a tool, although we start all of our designs from the heart with a pencil and paper. We then translate those designs in 3D to make the manufacturing process more efficient and also to enable our customers to better visualize what the finished piece will look like.  

CAD Operator Zach Hornblow creating a 3D CAD ring design

Other industries are perfectly suited to take advantage of augmented reality including architects and car manufacturers. For example, you’re just about to lock in the contract to purchase that yet unbuilt penthouse apartment. More than slightly nervous about committing your life savings, you can now take an augmented walk through the apartment, helping you to visualize it better and provide a little peace of mind. 

Maybe the reason that jewelers haven’t more readily adopted this technology is because copying in the industry is rife. Why hand on a platter a 3D view of your design to a competitor? At the end of the day they can still look at it and buy it in order to copy it. So that’s not really an excuse. Or as the saying goes ‘be prepared to disrupt or be disrupted.’ 

Loupe Platinum Diamond ring design from The Inspired Collection

Another challenge for jewelers is converting their files from 3D CAD technology into a more lifelike form. There are already challenges for the jeweler and 3D CAD operator when it comes to rendering metallic and gem-like surfaces. Jewelry rendering requires techniques like “environment mapping” to allow reflections to change as the angle of view changes, making surfaces appear lifelike. Current augmented reality platforms like Layar and AugmentedDev will rapidly evolve and these challenges will be overcome and integrations will be developed with 3D jewelry software like Gemvision’s Matrix

The simple fact is most people struggle to visualize designs, especially when they see them in 2D on a screen. How many times have you sat in front of your computer doing some online shopping and wished you could grab the product out of the screen and have a good look at it? Even try it on. The cool thing is with augmented reality you can do that. 

Although jewelry is a hugely tactile product and many would argue that you have to see it in store to experience it, the simple fact is that a growing percentage of people are doing their research and window shopping online. Augmented reality provides another tool for a jeweler to enhance the luxury experience. In our business alone we’ve seen massive growth in customers willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a ring without ever stepping foot into a store. 

Chris Williamson who has created animations and augmented reality scenes for our company, The Inspired Collection, and some of the world’s biggest brands, believes augmented reality is set to explode. Chris believes that “we are on the edge of a real revolution, it's going to have a massive impact on the way we do a lot of things, perhaps as much as the computer monitor has had.” 

He continues, “The people behind Oculus Rift have started a film company, filming in 360 degree vision so you can sit there with a headset on and look anywhere in the movie scene. The Microsoft HoloLens in particular I think will be a total game changer for manufacturing. Imagine sitting there with a headset on, and your manufacturer sitting overseas with his headset on, and you both see a representation of the same design in front of you with you both being able to manipulate it while the other looks on. Or even being able to point to sections of a real world physical object in another country, while the person in that room can see the areas you are indicating floating over the object and kind of attached to it.

“It seems every day now some new company has bought out some kind of VR or AR headset.” 

A new generation of digitally connected customers is rapidly becoming the biggest purchasers of engagement rings. Augmented reality provides yet another great tool for jewelers to provide a new way for customers to experience their creations. It will be an exciting time for consumers when 3D CAD software companies make it easy for the CAD operators to translate their creations, until then it will largely remain the domain of the big retail chains and tech savvy early adopters. 

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.  

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Leibish Wins 26 Argyle Pink Diamonds As Overall Results Appear Lackluster

The five "hero" diamonds from the 2015 Argyle Pink Tender, including the Argyle Prim,” a 1.20 carat Fancy Red pear shaped diamond

Rio Tinto owner of Australia’s Argyle Mine is always tight-lipped when it comes to the results of its annual tender of rare pink and red diamonds. But their public statements are always upbeat. Not so much this year. 

It’s always difficult to gauge the results of the private sale as the mining company refuses to release figures but the annual press release provided even fewer details of this year’s sale than in prior years.

The 2015 Pink Diamonds Tender collection of 65 rare pink and red diamonds weighing a total of 44.14 carats from its Argyle diamond mine “delivered an exceptional result, reflecting global demand and sustained price growth,” according to a press release from the Rio Tinto mining company. However, statement falls short of defining why it was “exceptional.”

About 90 percent of the entire world supply of rare pink and red diamonds comes from the Argyle diamond mine in the remote east Kimberley region of Western Australia. The Argyle pink diamond is one of the few gemstones identified by its unique origins with a color range. In recent years, the annual sale of these gems included blue diamonds from the Argyle mine in a separate tender.

In addition to their beauty, rarity and provenance, the mine’s output of these diamonds is near its capacity and the mine is scheduled to close in 2020. So the diamonds being sold now will likely become even more valuable.

A “tender” in this instance is basically a blind bid. Invited buyers come in and view the diamonds in undisclosed locations in Sydney, Hong Kong and New York. Each diamond is unadorned in identical boxes with basic details listed, including carat weight, shape and color. Each person places a bid on the diamonds they are interested in buying without knowing their estimate or what others bid. It can be quite a stressful situation for buyers. 

Five of the 30 diamonds purchased by Leibish & Co. at the Argyle Pink Tender (26 pink and red, and four blue)

“You need to fully understand the market prices and the value these stones possess. You have only a short time to assess each of the stones and all the pressure of competing against all the top diamond buyers that exist,” said Leibish Polnauer, founder of Leibish & Co., which sells fancy colored diamonds and jewelry to consumers and the trade through its eCommerce website

The Israeli company takes part in the bidding annually and this year it appears they are the big winner as it managed to place a successful bid on 26 pink and red diamonds, ranging from approximately 0.15-carat to 0.75-carat, about 40 percent of the total available. It also successfully bid for four blue diamonds. 

When asked how he managed to win such a large percentage of the tender diamonds, Polnauer said it’s important to understand the gem, the market and the growth of its value so his customers can profit from the gem. 

“I have to bid very high prices. The tricky part is understanding the stone’s potential. The highest bid wins, so I need to adequately assess the market and not bid too high.”

Rio Tinto did disclose who won the most valuable diamond in the 2015 collection, although it did not disclose the price. The “Argyle Prim,” a 1.20 carat Fancy Red pear shaped diamond, was won by Sciens Coloured Diamond Fund II BV, for an undisclosed value. It was one of the five most valuable diamonds offered in the sale, which Rio Tinto referred to as “Hero” diamonds.

The others who placed winning bids remain unknown.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Initiatives in Arts and Culture New York Fashion Conference

This is short notice but if you’re in New York Friday and Saturday Initiatives in Arts and Culture is hosting its 17th annual New York Fashion Conference at CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. (between 34th and 35th streets)

The event features two full days of seminars in a variety of fashion disciplines and topics, all under the banner of “Trailblazers.”  

IAC’s mission is to educate diverse audiences in the fine, decorative, and visual arts through conferences, publications, and exhibitions. 

Two seminars of note are:

* “Trailblazers in Platinum: Spanning the Decades, on Friday at 11 am; moderated by Teresa Frye, president and CEO of TechForm Advance Casting Technology, and founder of the Portland Symposium. Panelists are Susan Chandler, Jose Hess and Matt Isaacson; 

* “Trailblazers: Pearl Design, Sustainability and Availability “on Friday at 1:40 pm; Kathy Grenier is moderator and panelists are Chi Huynh, Hisano Shepherd and Jeremy Shepherd.

There will be a reception and viewing at Featherstone Fine Jewelry Atelier Friday at 6:30 pm.

For more information or to order tickets follow this link.

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Montblanc Presents Peter Brant With the Culture Arts Patronage Award

Art collector and philanthropist Peter Brant with the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award and Luciano Pavarotti Limited Edition writing instrument Photo: credit:Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Montblanc 

An intimate gathering of actors, artists and tastemakers gathered at New York’s Kappo Masa restaurant Tuesday to support Peter Brant as he received the 24th Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award. Guests included actress Sienna Miller, artists Urs Fischer and Todd DiCurcio, and fashion director Cameron Silver.

The award is given each year to individuals in 11 countries who have a history of giving their time and talents to support the arts and art projects. The luxury brand based in Hamburg, Germany, has a long history of supporting arts and culture throughout the world. 

Montblanc North American CEO Mike Giannattasio, Sienna Miller and Peter Brant Photo:credit:Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Montblanc 

In addition to being an avid collector of modern art, Brant founded The Brant Foundation, Inc., which makes artwork available to institutions and individuals for scholarly study, examination and loan; and The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, a space in Greenwich, Conn., that serves as a gallery and learning center that showcases exhibitions and promotes the appreciation of contemporary art and design. These two organizations are the central elements that represent Brant’s three decades of support to the arts community.

A key element of the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award is a €15,000 ($16,164) cash gift, which Brant donated to the two organizations. He also received a Montblanc Patron of Art Luciano Pavarotti Limited Edition writing instrument specially handcrafted at Montblanc’s Artisan Atelier in honor of the opera icon. The writing instrument is specifically made for the 11 recipients of the arts patronage award around the world.

Sienna Miller Photo: credit:Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Montblanc 

On the podium Brant thanked those who helped him to appreciate and to pursue his passion for arts at a young age. His first purchases included works by Andy Warhol and Franz Kline. “The fondest moments of my life are the artists I collected and the dealers who taught me,” he said.

Brant told me afterward that he was surprised when he learned he received the award. 

“It’s a great honor to receive the award from a company that supports the arts,” he said. “I love doing what I do and I don’t need an award but it’s nice.”

Sculptor Urs Fischer Photo: credit:Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Montblanc 

Sienna Miller was one of the two presenters of the award to Brant. “Art is in the heart of everything Peter Brant does,” she said.

Urs Fischer, a Swiss-born sculptor who was the other presenter, added, “The biggest artwork in the Brant Foundation is Peter M. Brant.”

Mike Giannattasio, CEO of Montblanc North America, expressed the importance of artists in the world.

Mike Giannattasio Photo: credit:Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Montblanc 

“Arts and culture plays an important part of who we are as an organization,” he said. “Artists are the journalists and diaries of our time. If we lose our culture we lose our memory.”

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