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Thursday, March 31, 2016

14-Carat Oppenheimer Blue Diamond Could Fetch $45 Million

The 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” will be the lead item in Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale, May 18 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. The auction house says it is “the largest and finest Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ever offered at auction.”

The rectangular-shaped gem has an estimate of $38 - $45 million, which falls within striking distance of the “Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03-carat cushion-shaped Fancy Internally Flawless Vivid blue diamond that set a world auction record of $48.4 million in November, 2015.

The Oppenheimer Blue was previously owned by Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a member of the family that once controlled the De Beers Mining Company. He is credited with serving for 45 years as chairman of the Central Selling Organization, the sales cartel set up by De Beers to keep strict control over the diamond supply worldwide. Today he is remembered as the architect of creating stability in the international diamond chain and for his incomparable gem collection, which includes the Oppenheimer Blue. He died in 1995 at the age of 83.

“Sir Phillip could have had any diamond he wanted, but he chose this one, with its perfect hue, impeccable proportions and fabulous rectangular shape,” said François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific and China.

The color of the Oppenheimer Blue was given the rare Fancy Vivid grade by the Gemological Institute of America, which issued the report on the stone. In blue diamonds, Fancy Vivid specifically describes those that are medium to dark in tone and strong to very strong in saturation. In a past GIA study of 462 blue diamonds, only 1 percent were Fancy Vivid.

“It is well known that extraordinary skill is required to extract the ‘best’ color from fancy colored diamonds,” Tom Moses, GIA executive VP. “Achieving the strongest colors in traditional shapes such as the 15 carat Oppenheimer Vivid Blue can only be achieved with a highly saturated intrinsic color of the rough diamond. This blue diamond’s color and clarity combined with its traditional cutting style and provenance is truly exceptional.” 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

$35 Million Estimate For 10-Carat De Beers Millennium Blue Diamond

A second statement blue diamond has appeared on the auction market a few months after a similar gem set an all-time auction record.

The “De Beers Millennium Jewel 4,” the largest oval-shaped Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond ever to appear at auction, will be the lead item at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite sale on April 5 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

The rare 10.10-carat oval-shaped Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Blue diamond has an estimate of $30 - $35 million.

The blue diamond, with the utilitarian name of “De Beers Millennium Jewel 4,” is offered for sale from an Asian private collection, Sotheby’s said.

While the estimate for this blue diamond is quite hefty, if achieved it will fall well short of the most expensive gem ever sold at auction. That honor goes to the “Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03-carat cushion-shaped Fancy Internally Flawless Vivid blue diamond that set a world auction record of $48.4 million and a world record price-per-carat for any diamond or gemstone at just over $4 million. It was purchased November, 2015 at Sotheby’s Geneva sale by billionaire Hong Kong real estate investor Joseph Lau, the same person who paid a record $28.5 million for a 16.08-carat cushion shaped fancy vivid pink diamond at Christie’s Geneva sale a day earlier.

The De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 is the only oval-shaped stone among the 12 rare diamonds—eleven blue and one colorless—that form the De Beers Millennium Jewels collection, unveiled by the diamond mining giant in 2000 in celebration of the millennium. All of the gems were unearthed at the historic Cullinan Mine in South Africa, once owned by De Beers. Since their initial appearance at the Millennium Exhibition in 2000, only one of these diamonds has appeared on the open market.

Blue diamonds make up less than 0.1 percent of all diamonds recovered at the Cullinan mine (now owned by Petra Diamonds and renamed the Premiere Mine). These diamonds owe their color to impurities of boron during the stone’s formation, and many are naturally modified with a grey secondary tone, or an uneven saturation with areas of colorless windowing. 

“Blue diamonds of any intensity of color are amongst the rarest of all gems. Highly saturated blue diamonds over ten carats combined with an Internally Flawless clarity grade are extremely rare,” said Tom Moses, executive VP and chief research and laboratory officer of the Gemological Institute of America, which issued the grading report on the gem. “There have been fewer and fewer new rough diamonds discovered over the last decade that produce this color. Most of the recent diamonds offered for sale in this category are coming from private collections—not diamond mines.” 

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Baselworld 2016: Swiss Watch Sales Down 3.3%

The Swiss watch industry reported that the value of its exports fell 3.3 percent to 21.5 billion Swiss francs ($21.75 billion) in 2015. However, compared to the more than 20 percent increase in exports for the five prior years, it isn’t all that bad. However, François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee, and Sylvie Ritter, managing director of Baselworld, described the current environment for the industry as “gloomy,” during the annual press conference Wednesday at Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair. The eight-day international show officially begins Thursday. One thing that wasn’t mentioned was smart watches. It was the major topic at last year’s press conference. There are a number of geopolitical and economic issues around the world affecting Swiss watch sales. They include: the turbulence in the Chinese economy, conflicts in the Middle East and the slowing of the Russian economy because of Western economic sanctions. The Chinese economic problems resulted in a drastic decline in the sale of watches in Hong Kong, the world’s largest market for the Swiss watch industry. Perhaps the biggest issue was the depegging of the Swiss franc to the Euro in January 2015, which led to an approximate 20 percent appreciation of the franc compared to other currencies, Thiébaud said during his presentation Swiss watch industry figures for 2015. By country, Hong Kong had by far the largest decline in the value of Swiss exports, down 22.9 percent. The US market (the world’s second largest) experienced an 0.8 percent decline. In terms of the other top markets, China saw a 4.7 percent decline, Italy was the lone bright spot in major markets with a 6.4 percent increase, with Japan down 1.9 percent. The rest of the world, which accounts for nearly 56 percent of total Swiss watch exports saw a 2 percent increase. In terms of materials, steel timepieces experienced a steeper than average year-over-year decline in value at 4.9 percent. These watches accounted for half the overall fall in export sales. Gold watch exports declined by 4.8 percent. Bimetal timepieces fell by 2.6 percent. In terms of the number of pieces, steel products fell by 5.7 percent, while still accounting for one out of two exported watches. The press conference was also the opportunity to introduce Eric Bertrand as president of the Baselworld Exhibitors. He replaced Jacques J. Duchêne who died suddenly and unexpectedly a day before Baselworld’s 2015 press conference. Bertrand took extra time to note his experience in the watch, jewelry and gemstone and said will represent all exhibitors equally. In the past few years, Baselworld has become more dedicated to luxury, renovating the Baselworld fairgrounds and charging more for exhibitors to enter. This has led to the angry jewelry exhibitors. This also led to a decrease in the number of exhibitors from 2,000 in 2010 to 1,500 this year, which Bertrand said was planned. “I am equipped to represent Baselworld across the board,” he said. 

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Monday, March 14, 2016

High Jewelers Bring Their Art To TEFAF

High Jeweler Wallace Chan in front of his "Dawn of the Universe" art installation during TEFAF 2016. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

The world’s most important classic art fair, 
TEFAF, The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands, has always included a selection of jewelers to mix with the impressive art collections. This year is no different as seven jewelers and several more dealers in antique jewels and watches are among the exhibitors at the fair, which runs till March 20.

A selection of original Verdura jewels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

In keeping true the artistic theme, many jewelers presented works of original expression, but perhaps the biggest impact was made by a nearly 10-foot tall horizontal art installation made of titanium, aluminum, stainless steel and a mirror by Hong Kong jewelry artist, Wallace Chan. It’s called the “Dawn of Universe” and it’s a name quite apt as it reminds me of the monolith in the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001 Space Odyssey. But this one is a light brown color with shades of green, red and cream with uneven swirls that move with light. It’s adorned with a 1,400-carat faceted blue topaz, amethyst and finally with several putti clinging to the structure in playful poses.

A selection of original Belperron jewels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

This is Chan’s first time exhibiting at the fair and he says, in the way that only he can say it, that he feels the presence of thousands of years of art represented at the show. “He is openly absorbing a lot when he is looking at the antiques and people from the past,” as translated by Cherry Rao, Chan’s editor. “He can feel them hammering the pieces, painting the pictures, making the works.”

TEFAF board member Michel Witmer in front of "Smell," the recently discovered work by Rembrandt. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Rao added that neither of them realized the importance of TEFAF in the art world. Then Chan attended the show a few years ago and the opportunity presented itself to exhibit. Even early in the morning before the big crowds came his exhibition space was overflowing with people. They came not only to view his artistic jewels but to meet the man, whose celebrity status is growing.  He really does seem at home here.

New jewels made of aluminum by Hemmerle. Photo by Anthony DeMarco 

“The people here are really cultivated and kind,” he said.

The high caliber of the exhibitors and visitors was a constant theme among the jewelry exhibitors.

“The quality is unbelievable. In every field,” said Ward Landrigan, who owns the Italian jewelry brand, Verdura, with his son, Nico.

1940s Hawaii bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

It took four years for the Landrigans to be accepted as an exhibitor, which is a rather short amount of time for TEFAF. It was also perfect timing as the two have recently relaunched the French brand, Belperron.

“When Belperron came along we wanted to present it to the world. This is the world,” Landrigan said. The exhibition space was evenly divided with Verdura and Belperron jewels, with both new creation based on the original drawings and original creations by the brands namesakes, (Fulco Di Verdura and Suzanne Belperron) who each popularized their jewelry creations in mid-20th Century.

A display of antique and period jewels by Wartski. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Olivier Reza, the head of the French jewelry brand, Alexandre Reza, is exhibiting at TEFAF for the second consecutive year. He notes that it requires effort to come to the hospitable and picturesque  city of Maastricht in the southern part of the Netherlands so those who attend the annual art fair are motivated.

Riveria necklace made with old European cut diamonds by Hancocks. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

“It’s the most exquisite and classy event I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Those who show up are real passionate people who are looking to satisfy their appetite for beauty…. They have an eye. They have a passion. They can be converted. There is no better place to show these objects.”

A 63.80-carat natural yellow sapphire on a ring from Hancocks, a London-based jeweler. Photo by Anthony DeMarco
In addition to the contemporary jewelry designers, there are several well-known dealers who specialize in rare and collectible jewels and watches who are veteran exhibitors at the fair. British jeweler, Hancocks, brought a collection of jewels by Verdura, Pierre Sterlé and Lalique, among others.

A selection of jewels by antique jewelry specialist, Véronique Bamps. Photo by Anthony DeMarco
Another British jeweler, Wartski,  which has an appointment to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and is a specialist in Faberge, has been exhibiting at the fair, now in its 41st year, almost from its beginnings.

The works of German goldsmith, Otto Jakob. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Geoffrey Munn, the firm’s managing director, laments that it is one of the few places where people have the knowledge and courage to make purchases based on their personal passions.

“People are buying with their ears rather than their eyes,” he said.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

High Jewelry Preview At TEFAF Art Fair

Just looking at a map of the Netherlands, it’s most southern part is just a dot of land mass almost appearing separate from the rest of the country squeezed between Belgium and Germany. Without knowing the history It's difficult to understand why this area isn’t controlled by one or both of their neighbors.

It is here that the university city of Maastricht is located. Everyone who’s been there tells me it’s really nice. I will find out soon enough as I will be attending The European Fine Art Fair—more commonly referred to as TEFAF, being held March 11-20.

While the city may be nice this fair is considered almost universally to be the world’s most important classic art fair and also the most difficult to enter as an exhibitor. The vetting process involves no fewer than 175 international experts in 29 different categories, who examine every work of art entering the fair for quality, authenticity and condition.

But why was I invited to a classic art fair? I write about jewelry and watches. It’s because out of the 275 galleries from 20 countries exhibiting, seven of them are high jewelry brands. In addition, a few other exhibitors will offer more traditional antique and period jewels. It's a well curated group of exhibitors. In fact, there are few places in the world (perhaps no place) that could curate such an interesting group of contemporary and historic jewelry specialists. 

Verdura Theodora Cuffs

The father and son team of Ward and Nico Landrigan, who successfully revived the Verdura brand and is now doing the same for Belperron, is a first-time exhibitor at TEFAF, bringing new jewels recreated from original drawings and original vintage jewelry highlighting each house’s signature design.

Belperron Leaf Coronet Cuff

The pieces include the 75th Anniversary limited edition Verdura Theodora Cuff, famously worn by Coco Chanel; and the diamond-studded platinum Leaf Coronet Cuff by Belperron.

Wallace Chan Gleams of Waves Brooch

Wallace Chan, the master craftsman and artist, also a first-time exhibitor, will be bringing his sculptural, colorful jewels in his exhibition, “Dream Light Water,” first unveiled in Hong Kong for a five-day public viewing. It’s also the name of his just released book.

Hemmerle “Clematis” Brooch

Hemmerle is previewing The [AL] Project; a new series of 15 jewels (earrings and a brooch) exploring the unique properties of aluminum through innovative design and fine craftsmanship.

Hemmerle planned exhibition space at TEFAF

The Munich, Germany-based jeweler is also unveiling a special exhibition-stand featuring a sculptural structure designed by the Dutch architect Tom Postma in collaboration with the jeweler. Postma is the fair architect for TEFAF Maastricht. The interlocking architectural structure is composed of 16 individual screens made up of over 3,000 American walnut-wood rods connected to over 16,500 engineered aluminum rods.

Alexandre Reza Dune Bangle

Parisian jewelry house, Alexandre Reza, is highlighting two new pieces. Dune, a Cuff bracelet featuring two pear- shaped diamonds and 152 brilliant cut diamonds weighing 31.48 carats, set on sand blasted and polished pink gold; and an ebony faceted ring featuring an oval cabochon Colombian emerald of 17.83 carats set on yellow gold.

Otto Jakob Coral

The self-taught German goldsmith, Otto Jakob will be bringing a number of his unique Renaissance-inspired pieces made of rare and natural materials.

Van Cleef & Arpels Lolanta ballerina brooch

Two international luxury brands are also among the exhibitors. The French jeweler, Van Cleef & Arpels, and the Swiss luxury watch and jewelry firm, Chopard, will be bringing their high jewelry to the event.

Chopard Flora and Fauna Bracelet

At least two firms will be presenting antique and period jewels. Both are well-established in estate jewelry.

Pierre Sterlé diamond Ribbon necklace presented by Hancocks

The British firm Hancocks will bring 88 pieces to the fair, including the “highly collectible” diamond ribbon necklace, circa 1960, by French jeweller Pierre Sterlé. The 62.9-carat necklace is centered with a stylised bow motif with tapered ends, set throughout with long elegant baguette diamonds, each side crossing the other.

Necklace by Parisian jeweler René Boivin in 1945 for Princess Irene of Greece. Presented by Véronique Bamps

The French antique jewelry specialist, Véronique Bamps, will have a display of her own group of highly collectible jewels for the event. 

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Montblanc Unveils Seafaring Timepieces To Celebrate 110 Years

Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch & Navigator 110 Years Edition – Unique Piece

This year marks Montblanc’s 110-year anniversary as a company and the celebration began during January’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva as it released explorer-themed nautical timepieces inspired by commercial innovation and ocean faring exploration at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The German luxury brand also brought in its international ambassadors for special events during the exclusive luxury watch show, including Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco and Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun Mei.

Charlotte Casiraghi

Montblanc’s new models define 1906 as a time of commercial innovation and the opening of the world through steamships that transported goods and people (along with innovative ideas and cultures) around the world.

According to the brand, it was in 1906 that three Germans traveled to America—engineer August Eberstein, merchant Alfred Nehemias and stationery trader Claus Voß. Inspired by what they experienced, they developed a writing instrument with non-leaking technology and a piston convertor. The pen marked the beginnings of Montblanc, which became the official name of the company in 1910.

The company was named after Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe at 4,810 meters. That’s where the 4810 collection gets its name. The watch line was introduced in 2006 for the brand’s 100th anniversary.

Montblanc 4810 Collection 110 Years Editions
This year, Montblanc introduced a number of timepieces in its 4810 Collection, including three limited-edition timepieces designed specifically for this anniversary: the ExoTourbillon Slim 110 Years Editions, the TwinFly Chronograph 110 Years Edition and the Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition.

All of the timepieces were inspired by the golden age of travel across the Atlantic Ocean when Germany was leading the way with its powerful and lavish cruise ships that were a symbol of the explosion of industrial and artistic innovation occurring at the time.

Montblanc 4810 ExoTourbillon Slim 110 Years Editions
The theme of travel across the Atlantic is highlighted in three watches with a miniature hand painted map of either North America, Asia or Europe on the dial. The model is limited to 110 pieces (36 US, 36 Europe, and 38 Asia), however, Montblanc says each watch is unique because no individually hand-painted map is exactly the same.

All the design elements were created to give maximum exposure to the hand-painted map. The lower section of the dial is decorated with the Côtes de Genève motif to highlight the ExoTourbillon construction at 6 o’clock, and a single rhodium-plated XII and rhodium-plated skeletonized hands maximize the view of the map. A discreet minute track has been added to the exterior of the dial with a red “60” at 12 o’clock.
The 42 mm 18k white gold case includes a thin bezel with satin finishing on the border and horns.

The watch contains the Calibre MB 29.24 automatic movement with a micro-rotor decorated with a Côtes de Genève en Eventail pattern. It’s exposed by a large sapphire crystal on the caseback. The quick stop-seconds are indicated on the tourbillon cage with a red arrow and is activated by pulling the crown at 3 o’clock.

Montblanc 4810 TwinFly Chronograph 110 Years Edition
The flyback chronograph allows the wearer to time one event, and then stop, reset and restart the chronograph with just one press on the pusher at 4 o’clock.

The TwinFly function restarts the central chronograph seconds hand (in blue) and the central minutes chronograph hand (in red gold), sending both hands back to zero and instantly restarting them for a new time measurement. Another pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops the chronograph, while the pusher at 4 o’clock also returns the chronograph to 0 when it has previously been stopped.

When setting the local time the seconds don’t stop when the crown is pulled out. Small seconds on the subdial at 6 o’clock are displayed by a red gold-plated hand with a red tip. This subdial also doubles as a date indicator with a large red arrow pointing to the date. The 12 o’clock subdial illustrates a map of the world that reveals whether it’s day or night in the home time when travelling and links back to the pioneering spirit of travel crossing the Atlantic.

Powering the watch is the in-house Calibre MB LL100.1 automatic movement with a chronograph and a dual time indication via an additional central hand. The chronograph mechanism uses a traditional column wheel and a vertical clutch system to start and stop the chronograph with precision. Two barrels ensure a 72-hour power reserve.

The 43 mm steel case reveals a silvery-white guilloché dial, whose pattern depicts an exploded view of the iconic Montblanc Star. The hours are marked by alternating red gold-plated Roman numerals and baton indexes, while the hands are a mix of baton and regate designs and point to scales that run around the dial, indicating the seconds and the minutes.

It is limited to 1,110 pieces.

Montblanc 4810 Orbis Terrarum Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition
This is the first time Montblanc created a pocket watch. This model also includes a world timer function.
Setting the home time zone is done by pressing the pusher between 5 and 6 o’clock until the home city is positioned in front of the arrow at 6 o’clock. The hours and minutes are then set via the crown at 12 o’clock, paying attention to turn the hands until the central map features the correct day/night indication.

While traveling, the new local time is featured in front of the red arrow at six o’clock by using a pusher between 5 and 6 o’clock. The day/night indicator and the hour hand also advance with each push, requiring no further setting as the home time remains the same.

The 53 mm “Lépine” style steel case houses the in-house Calibre MB 29.20 automatic movement. The dial is crafted out of layers of sapphire crystal showing the continents as viewed from the North Pole. Around the map are the names of the 24 cities representing the different time zones. Under the map a disk indicates the passage of day and night. This disk rotates with the movement mechanism, causing the continents to change color as the day evolves into night.

Montblanc Collection Villeret
The nautical theme that Montblanc is promoting for its 110th anniversary is much more intense with three extremely limited edition marine chronometers released by the luxury brand’s Villeret manufacturing operation—the former Minerva watch manufacturer founded in 1858, known for its high-quality, hand-made movements.

Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch 110 Years Edition – 8 pieces

This highly complicated pocket watch has a tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring, a triple time zone indication and a worldtimer with the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

The upper-half of the dial has an 18k gold hand-engraved wave pattern. The worldtime indication is displayed on two discs that display 24-hour time zones with day and night indication revolving around two fixed three-dimensional globes (displaying the north and south hemispheres) with miniature hand-painting for the oceans and engraving for the continents.

Home time is displayed at 12 o’clock. The lower half of the dial consists of a slice of blue aventurine around the cage of the one-minute tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring. 18k red gold hour- and minute-hands in the center with a blue “Fleur-de-Lys” home time hand is part of an 18k red gold three-dimensional hand-crafted compass rose subdial at 12 o’clock. The 24 cities of both hemispheres are seen on the domed flange.

This complex watch is powered by the Calibre MB M68.40 mechanical movement.

Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch & Navigator 110 Years Edition – Unique Piece
This one-of-a-kind product combines a nautical clock with a pocket watch. The navigator is a three-foot high structure with a two-foot granite base for stable installation on the deck of a ship. The case is made of nickel-plated brass with a two-foot diameter weighing 264 pounds. It’s designed to stand firm whether placed on the motionless floor or on the pitching and rolling planks of the ship.

The nautical precision clock keeps its balance with a cardanic suspension system that sits inside a nickel-plated brass cage that keeps the clock horizontal and its time precise.

The Navigator was developed in collaboration with the Erwin Sattler clock manufacture who made the base. Its movement, complications and finishings were reworked by Montblanc. The nautical clock indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, time in 24 different time zones, and has a 15-day power reserve.

Two subdials (3 o’clock for the Northern Hemisphere and 9 o’clock for the Southern Hemisphere) provide a worldtimer indication with 24 cities encircling the dial, as well as a day/night display. The 24 time zones and two dozen cities are also displayed below the cardanic suspension—only visible from the side of the case.

The navigation clock is powered by the Montblanc Calibre MB 13.98 hand-wound movement with 15-day power reserve. An in-house patented emergency power reserve and remaining days’ indicator are displayed via red and blue hands in a graduated counter at the bottom of the dial. This display is indispensible since reliable navigation is only assured if the nautical clock is regularly wound and never stops running throughout a voyage. If the power reserve drops below four days, the red hand moves into a red zone, indicating that the mainspring needs more energy and the navigator should be manually wound with its key at 7 o’clock. A blue hand indicates the remaining number of days at sea.

The local time hours are indicated on a subdial at 12 o’clock decorated with a slice of black aventurine, the minutes are shown by a central red gold-plated hand pointing to a minute track that runs around the outside of the dial. A small seconds subdial is located at 1 o’clock. Other details include a 18k red gold-plated compass rose with quarter indications.

The Montblanc Collection Villeret Tourbillon Cylindrique Pocket Watch 110 Years
Edition – Unique Piece
In addition to the nautical clock in its pivoting support, another cardanic suspension case has been fitted into the structure to house a one-of-a-kind pocket watch, which can be protected from the rolling waves when its owner isn’t carrying it. The watch is adorned with blue Grand Feu enamel, on both the front and back of the case, reminiscent of the Atlantic Ocean. Together they form a unique work of precision and art — strictly limited to one piece — that can be illuminated with blue LED lights on demand.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

How Do I Choose The Best Precious Metal Alloy For My Jewelry?

This is the first in a monthly series of educational articles for jewelry professionals and consumers by Teresa Frye, founder of TechForm Advanced Casting  

The precious metal alloy you choose for your jewelry can make a world of difference for both the manufacture of your designs and consumers. Therefore, understanding the risks and benefits associated with alloy choices can go far towards assuring that you get the look you want and the quality you need. Every jeweler benefits from a deeper understanding of an alloy’s characteristics. Listed below are the most important of these characteristics.

While this one may seem obvious, there is a lot of nuance in the world of color that can make a big difference in the end product. For example, matching a 950 platinum cobalt wedding band with a 950 platinum ruthenium engagement ring will yield a noticeably different color between the two. And while this might not be obvious when the ring is new and highly polished, with time and wear it will become more apparent. White gold runs the same risk. When gold alloys are whitened with palladium versus nickel, the latter will be much whiter than the former. Therefore, it is a good idea to do your homework and find suitable color matches, whether you are trying to match a customer’s existing piece of jewelry or launch a new line.

Tarnish Resistance
Although most jewelers are fairly well-versed in tarnish resistance, most consumers are not. A full understanding and disclosure of tarnish resistance for the products you sell will go far to protect your reputation. White gold tarnishing is probably the least understood by the consumer, so extra care should be taken at the point of sale to assure they understand that the metal will change color over time or that rhodium plating has been used and will eventually start to wear off. Your metal supplier should know how their alloys perform and can help you with the information you need to inform your customers.

Molten Fluidity
When you design it is important to understand the molten fluidity of your chosen alloys. While silver and yellow gold alloys have high fluidity that enable good flow into fine cross-sections, platinum and some of the white gold alloys do not. Fluidity is determined by a number of factors including an alloy’s solidification range. Alloys with inherently low fluidity, such as platinum ruthenium, need larger sprues and generally larger cross-sections to adequately fill all features of the design. If you are unsure of an alloy’s fluidity, your caster or the technical contact at your alloy supplier should be able to help.

Mechanical Properties
The mechanical properties for an alloy, including strength, ductility and hardness measurements, are crucial to understanding how your jewelry will wear for the consumer. In addition, they also indicate how an alloy will behave on the bench in terms of finishing and setting. The most common mechanical property cited in the jewelry industry is hardness, although this is only one measure and not necessarily the most important one for jewelry manufacturing. It is equally important to know how strong an alloy is to assure it will not distort with normal wear, or how ductile it is, which will indicate the degree of ease in setting. For example, while 950 platinum iridium is a dream to cast, polish and set, it has very low strength and hardness. If you understand the mechanical properties of this alloy, you will immediately conclude that the consumer cannot be well-served because your design will easily distort and potentially lose stones. Simply switching to a stronger alloy will shift these properties higher and protect your design from unnecessary failures. Your alloy supplier should be able to give you mechanical properties for your alloys if you do not already have them. 

8mm platinum Lattice ring with pave-set white diamonds by Etienne Perret

Hypo-allergenic Properties
Lastly, it is important to know whether your alloy contains nickel. A small but significant portion of the population has nickel sensitivity. Typically, these individuals already had some reaction to a jewelry metal in the past, and they will be looking to you to assure they get the right metal to avoid reactions in the future. Ask your metal supplier for a breakdown of the elements in their gold alloys, and avoid any that contain nickel. Another option is to use a platinum alloy composed of only platinum group metals, such as 950 platinum ruthenium or 900 platinum iridium. These alloys have no known instances of allergic reactions and are safest for those who are highly sensitive to base metals.

Teresa Frye is founder of TechForm, which specializes in the casting of platinum group metals for the jewelry, medical, and aerospace industries. She is also founder of the Portland Jewelry Symposium, an annual gathering of custom jewelers, designers, and retailers described as a “great think tank” for jewelers who are passionate about their craft. Frye is a renowned specialist on the casting of platinum group metals who speaks at jewelry events throughout the world. 

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JNA Awards 2016 now accepting entries

(From left) Nishit Parikh, director of Diarough Group; Rita Maltez, director of Rio Tinto Diamonds for Greater China; Wolfram Diener, senior VP of UBM Asia; Peter Suen, executive director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd; Noa Pardo, managing director of Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies Asia Pacific; Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and Director of Business Development – Jewellery Group at UBM Asia; and Liu Zheng, deputy general manager of Guangdong Land Holdings Ltd.

The fifth edition of the JNA Awards is inviting qualified companies and individuals from the jewelry and gemstone industry to enter the prestigious international award.

The annual JNA Awards, organized by the jewelry trade publication JNA magazine, recognizes innovators and leaders who have made significant contributions to the advancement of the trade in Asia, and have demonstrated excellence and outstanding entrepreneurial achievements.

There is no cost to enter the JNA Awards and entrants can be self-nominated or nominated by others. 

This year, the awards will cover 11 categories:

* Lifetime Achievement Award (nominated by the organizer)
* Brand of the Year - Retail    
* Industry Innovation/Sustainability Initiative of the Year 
* Manufacturer of the Year - Cutting & Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Jewelry  
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - ASEAN/Korea 
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - India   
* Outstanding Enterprise of the Year - Greater China     
* Retailer of the Year (450 outlets and below) 
* E-tailer of the Year   
* Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Age 40 and below)

Interested parties can access the entry forms now on the JNA Award's official website. Deadline for submissions is midnight (Hong Kong time) of April 30.

The judging process will be undertaken by a highly respected international panel starting from May to mid-June. The Honorees or shortlisted entrants will be announced on June 25 at the June Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, and will be feted together with the recipients or winners on September 14 at the JNA Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair.

The JNA Awards 2016 is supported by Headline Partners, Rio Tinto Diamonds and Chow Tai Fook, together with Diarough Group, the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies, Shanghai Diamond Exchange, and Guangdong Land Holdings Limited serving as Honored Partners. 

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Asia Fashion Jewelry Fair Opens With 360 Exhibitors

Asia’s Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Fair – March (3FJ) opened Wednesday in Halls 3, 6 & 8 of AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong. The four-day event gathers more than 380 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions with the latest designs and collections in fashion jewelry and accessories for Autumn/Winter.

More than 80 percent of exhibitors are from outside Hong Kong, reaffirming the show’s international status. Among the exhibitors are companies from mainland China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong and Taiwan regions.

The tradeshow features four theme pavilions and six group pavilions. The theme pavilions are Sense Zone, the Stainless Steel Jewellery Pavilion, Fashion Accessories Zone and Fashion Jewellery Atelier. Six group pavilions, representing mainland China, India, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan region, further add to the product offerings.

The fair celebrates the 10th anniversary of its official publication, AFJA Review, with a display of fashion jewelry and accessories, dubbed “Editor’s Choice.” The showcase features products selected by the editors of AFJA Review based on four color trends. 

“It is a new, exciting highlight of 3FJ, as well as an opportunity to promote exhibitors’ products at the fair. We hope this showcase will make the sourcing trips of our visitors more interesting and inspiring,” said Celine Lau, director of Jewellery Fairs at UBM Asia Ltd.

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One Fair Two Venues – 34th September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair

The September Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair, otherwise known as the September Fair, has established itself as the largest fine jewelry tradeshow since its launch in 1983.

Organized by UBM Asia Ltd, it has received support from the industry and jewelry traders around the world for years. Increased demand for exhibition space led UBM Asia to expand the September Fair, thus in 2006, the fair has been held simultaneously in two venues: the AsiaWorld-Expo and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The dates for the upcoming tradeshow are September 13 – 17 at the AsiaWorld-Expo and September 15 – 19 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Among the new elements unveiled recently is the Bridal Jewellery Pavilion, which debuted in 2015, will be expanded for the 2016 edition. The Fair also includes the Fine Gem Pavilion, Fine Design Pavilion, Hong Kong Premier Pavilion, International Premier Pavilion, Hong Kong Pavilion, Designer Arena and Jadeite Gallery.

In 2015, organizers initiated a new security measure that entails the verification of the identity of badge holders at the venue’s entrance. Participants can expect such measure to be implemented again this year.

The September Fair is a platform for lobbying and agenda-setting for the industry, and for discovering the products and ideas that excite the jewelry market. Moreover, it brings global players together for a thoughtful dialogue. This year, the diamond auction of ALROSA, the Paspaley Pearl Auction, several conferences and other special events will be held during the Fair at both AWE and HKCEC.

Moreover, this mega fair will again feature the world’s biggest Diamond Pavilion and Pearl Pavilion, and Asia’s biggest Gemstone Pavilion.

The trade show’s Advisory Board is as follows:

* Hong Kong Jewellers’ and Goldsmiths’ Association
* The Hong Kong Jewellery and Jade Manufacturers Association
* Hong Kong Jewelry Manufacturers’ Association
* Diamond Federation of Hong Kong, China


* The Gemmological Association of Hong Kong
* Hong Kong Gold & Silver Ornament Workers & Merchants General Union

* The Kowloon Pearls, Precious Stones, Jade, Gold and Silver Ornament Merchants Association

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Eddie Redmayne Is The Face Of The Omega Globemaster

Omega Globmaster brand ambassador Eddie Redmayne

British actor Eddie Redmayne is known for taking on challenging roles. His latest challenge will be the role as the newest ambassador of the Omega watch brand. He was officially introduced as the face of the Omega Globemaster at Mack Sennett Studios in Los Angeles Tuesday with a Hollywood style gala.

The watch collection, which houses the brand’s most advanced mechanical movement and features a design inspired by early Constellation models, was unveiled more than a year ago and Redmayne’s selection of being its international spokesperson not long after. But it wasn’t till now that both the Globemaster and its new representative were ready for full global exposure. The brand also debuted an online adverting campaign with Redmayne.

President and CEO of Omega Stephen Urquhart with Redmayne attend the launch of the Globemaster, the worlds first master chronometer, at Mack Sennett Studios on March 1 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Omega)”

Redmayne received a 2015 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film, “The Theory of Everything,” and was nominated for a second Oscar in 2016 for “The Danish Girl.”

He said on stage that the Globemaster’s design has both a classic and modern appeal. “I can kind of wear it with anything,” he said. “I don't like watches to be overstated or ostentatious or crying out too much, but you want to feel a weight to them and a history to them. For me, in a subtle way, it makes you feel stronger having a decent watch on.”

The launch of the Globemaster at Mack Sennett Studios on March 1 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Omega)”

He added that he finds red carpets the most challenging environment when trying to decide what to wear. 

“It's just a very odd thing to have to stand in front of banks of people screaming at you and telling you to look in their direction and quite often shouting abuse,” he said. “So for me, a good tailored suit and a strong watch give you a sense that you have armor or a uniform.”

Omega brand ambassador Eddie Redmayne, with his wife, Hannah Bagshawe

Earlier in the day, Stephen Urquhart, Omega president, said the 34-year-old actor fits the positioning of the Globemaster well because of his youth, his reputation for taking on challenging roles and his unique sense of style. The timepiece is being sold as a traditional watch for a younger audience and Redmayne, who is the first Oscar winner born in the 1980s, fits this demographic. 

“This watch is so important for the future of the brand that we wanted to find someone who could really try to combine the incredible legacy with a modern style,” he said. “I think at Omega we’re trying to definitely attract a younger generation.”

Jean-Claude Monachon, Omega vice president of Product Development and Customer Service demonstrates the Omega Globemaster watch for Omega brand ambassador Eddie Redmayne at Mack Sennett Studios on March 1, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Urquhart describes Redmayne, known for embracing fine tailoring and well made shoes, as a “bit cutting edge” in his style. “He’s not the classic so called good looking guy.”

He describes the Globemaster as a contemporary watch that speaks to the history of Omega. It is part of Omega’s iconic Constellation series of watches and was styled after two Constellation watches in the 1950s, which at the time were called “Globemaster,” because the Constellation name was under trademark in the U.S., which expired in the early 1960s. 

Omega used the occasion to introduce its first update of the Globemaster , a 41mm version with an annual calendar. Each month is positioned between the blued indexes. The months are indicated by a varnished blue hand.

Jean-Claude Monachon, Omega vice president of Product Development and Customer Service, says the Globemaster takes its style cues from two Globemaster/Constellation watches at that time, in particular, its “pie-pan” dial style, fluted bezel, “double-C” case construction.

The Globemaster’s sapphire 39mm caseback is stamped with a medallion that has an image of an observatory, representing the precision awards that the watchmaker received during the famous chronometer observatory trials. Eight stars in the sky above the observatory symbolizes the watch brand’s most important precision records throughout its history. It also signifies the eight METAS-certified criteria that a timepiece and its movement must undergo in order to receive its Master Chronometer status. It’s the only watch in the world that has met these criteria, which measures the following:

Omega Globemaster in the watch Sedna gold, the watch brand's own patented rose gold alloy

* Average daily precision of the watch when tested in six positions, two alternating temperatures and then exposed to magnetism of 15,000 gauss.

* Function of COSC-approved movement during exposure of 15,000 gauss magnetic field, the equivalent of what an MRI machine produces. “Doctors can now wear their watch at work,” Monachon said.

* Function of the entire watch during exposure of 15,000 gauss. 

* Deviation of daily time precision after exposure to 15,000 gauss

* Water resistance testing 

* Power reserve deviation testing

* Power reserve deviation testing between 100% and 33% with the watch in six positions

* Deviation of running time when tested in six positions

The Globemaster’s sapphire 39mm caseback showing the medallion stamped with an image of an observatory and eight stars in the sky above.

Urquhart says the METAS-certified criteria extend the life of the watch. 

“Everything has a short lifespan,” he said. “The dream is to have a mechanical watch on your wrist that is not eternal but has the longest lifespan as possible. I think the Globemaster does this with all we put into it style-wise and also with the mechanics and technology.”

He continues to examine ways of extending a watch’s life even further—including creating mechanicals movements that don’t need oil. The lubricant damages a watch over time.

“You have this on your wrist and it would age, but in such a fantastic way that it won’t deteriorate. That’s a good way to dream.” 

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