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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Blue And Pink Diamonds Topped Auction Sales For 2016

As in the past few years statement blue and pink diamonds garnered the most attention and highest bids at Chrisite’s and Sotheby’s in 2016. White diamond earrings and a rare green diamond also made the cut.

Without further delay here are the top 10 jewelry auction sales of 2016: 

The Oppenheimer Blue (top photo), a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue rectangular-cat diamond fetched a world record for any jewel sold at auction, more than $58 million, at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in May. 

The De Beers Millennium Blue, a 10.10-carat fancy vivid blue diamond sold for more than $32 million at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in April. 

The Unique Pink, a 15.38-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond sold for a world auction record price for any fancy vivid pink diamond, fetching more than $31.5 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in May. 

The Cullinan Dream, a 24.18-carat mixed-cut fancy intense blue diamond, sold for more than $25.3 million. It is the largest fancy intense blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. It was sold at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels & the Cullinan Dream sale in May.

A 17.07-carat fancy intense pink diamond with a step-cut sold for more than $20.7 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in November.

A 9.14-carat fancy vivid pink pear-shaped diamond sold for more than $18.2 million at Christie's Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in November

Miroir de l'Amour (Mirror of Love), a pair of 52.55- and 50.47-carat pear-shaped D color, flawless type IIa diamond earrings, by Boehmer et Bassenge sold for nearly $17.7 million at Christie's Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in November. They are the world’s largest perfect pear-shaped diamond drops ever to be offered at auction.

A 7.32-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond sold for more than $17.1 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale in May.

The Sky Blue Diamond, an 8.01-carat fancy vivid blue diamond mounted on a diamond ring designed by Cartier, sold for more than $17 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in November.

A 5.03-carat rectangular-cut fancy vivid green diamond, within a circular-cut pink diamond surround, sold for more than $16.8 million at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale in May. 

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chinese Conglomerate Acquires 85% Stake in Buccellati

The Buccellati New York flagship store on Madison Avenue

Clessidra, an Italian private equity firm, and the Buccellati family said Friday that it sold an 85 percent share in Buccellati to Chinese conglomerate, Gangtai Group. 

Clessidra and the Buccellati family will retain a 15 percent stake in Italian high jewelry house. The company is reportedly valued at approximately $282 million. A source close to the deal would not confirm or deny the figure. However, the person did say that revenue in 2015 was approximately $42.8 million, making its valuation 6.6 times its annual revenue.

The new majority owners plan to expand into China and other Asian markets, according to multiple sources. As part of the deal the Buccellati family will retain creative control of the company.

Buccellati, founded in Milan in 1919, is one of the most prestigious jewelers in Italy, known for creating pieces using time-honored hand-crafted techniques. The company has an international presence, particularly in Europe and the United States with branded stores and distribution agreements.

Buccellati was 100 percent family owned until 2013 when Clessidra acquired a 67 percent stake, with the remaining 33 percent retained by the founding family. A year later the company announced a rebranding effort aimed at attracting younger customers. The company named Lucrezia Buccellati, 25-years-old at the time, as its first woman designer and the youngest person to hold that title. Her father, Andrea Buccellati, became president and creative director, later adding the title of chairman. In 2015, the company opened a five-story flagship store in Madison Avenue in New York as well as stores in Paris and Palm Beach.

The Buccellati creative team, Andrea Buccellati and his daughter, Lucrezia

Clessidra, in a statement, noted that since 2013, the family made significant investments to expand its distribution network, support the product offering and strengthen the management structure. Now it says Buccellati is ready to expand into China.

“We are particularly satisfied with the agreement reached with Gangtai Group,” Marco Carotenuto, managing director of Clessidra, said in a statement. “We have strongly supported Buccellati in the last three years achieving a 60 percent growth in revenues since acquisition. We believe that the company is now ready for a new growth cycle that Gangtai Group will support, considering also its experience in the jewelry market and its strong presence in China.”

Gangtai Group—which specializes in the consumer, culture, finance and health industries—has experience in the China jewelry market. Its subsidiary, Gangsu Gangtai Holding (Group) Co. Ltd, is one of largest gold jewelry distributers and a leading internet jewelry retailer in China, and is focused on growing its presence in international luxury, according to the statement. 

Andrea Buccellati will retain his role as creative director and honorary chairman of Buccellati. Gianluca Brozzetti will retain his role as CEO of Buccellati. Other members of the Buccellati family will also retain their involvement in the business, according to the statement.

“Our family founded this company almost 100 years ago and will continue to be fully involved to support its development, the creative mastery and production craftsmanship that enabled the establishment of a unique and recognizable style in jewelry and silverware,” Andrea Buccellati said. "We welcome the commitment of Gangtai Group to invest significant resources to further develop the Buccellati brand and platform.”

Buccellati one-of-kind gold earrings inspired by Odilon Redon's La Chute de Phaéton

Closing of the transaction is expected by the second quarter of 2017 and is subject to Chinese government approval. 

The deal team at Clessidra included Manuel Catalano, managing director, Marco Carotenuto, managing director, and Giulio Torregrossa, investment director. The sellers were advised by Mediobanca, Unicredit and Partners CPA as financial advisors and by law firms Gattai Minoli Agostinelli & Partners and Pedersoli e Associati for the legal aspects. The purchaser was advised by law firm Simmons & Simmons for the legal aspects. 

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Monday, December 19, 2016

C.F. Martin Works With Watchmaker For Its 2 Millionth Guitar

C.F. Martin & Co is widely known as the premier maker of acoustic guitars. For the milestone of the making of its two millionth guitar, it turned to the world of hand-crafted watches to create a one-of-a-kind instrument. 

“There is a connection between people who like fine guitars and fine watches and we've decided to bring those two together with something that’s pretty special. When we started this project we didn’t know where we would end up,” said Chris Martin IV, chairman and CEO of C.F. Martin & Co. “The budget became what it needed to be to get it done right.”

To do this the 184-year-old Nazareth, Pa.-based company partnered with custom watchmaker, Roland G. Murphy, owner of RGM Watch Co. in nearby Mount Joy, Pa. What they created is a fully playable guitar with the artistic interpretation of the mechanics of a watch on the front, back and fretboard; and with a RGM watch embedded into the headstock of the piece. 

In addition, custom Waverly steel tuners were fashioned by Murphy with rose gold guilloché-engraved inserts that resemble a watch crown. The center of the caps features the “keystone” shape that signifies the nickname of Pennsylvania as the “Keystone State.” The watch movement, clearly visible from the back of the headstock, has its own crown in the same style as the tuners. The shape of the watch was modified to fit into the wedge shape of the headstock.

It’s based on the Martin D-45 style body, with the back and sides constructed from Brazilian rosewood. The top is crafted from bearclaw Engelmann spruce. 

Robert Goetzl artist and illustrator who worked on the design, said it took 18 sketches to get it right. He consulted with Murphy to ensure the overall artwork was both aesthetically pleasing and technically accurate.

Martin did not disclose the value of the guitar and it will not be sold. However, it will be on view at the Winter NAMM 2017 music trade show in Anaheim, Calif., January 19 - 22, 2017. 

In addition to the one-of-a-kind guitar, Martin and RGM also collaborated on a D-200 Deluxe guitar with many of the same features. It’s based on Martin’s classic 14-fret Style 45 Dreadnought with the top crafted from bearclaw Engelmann spruce that features an aluminum rosette with guilloché engraving.

The guitar's back of pre-CITES Brazilian rosewood is inlaid with watch gears cut from reconstituted stone, mother-of-pearl, bloodwood, Hawaiian koa and ebony. The soundboard inlays feature a minute track in mother-of-pearl, birdseye maple, flamed Hawaiian koa and ebony, and a pickguard with pearl inlaid watch gears. Another decorative detail is the triple-strand abalone pearl striping that bisects the length of each side, referencing the early Spanish-inspired instruments of C. F. Martin Sr. The maple bound ebony fingerboard shows watch gear mechanisms. Each guitar comes with a newly designed watch from RGM that references details from the D-200 guitar design and bears a matching serial number with each edition of the instrument. 

Limited to 50, the guitar retails for $149,999 and also will be unveiled at Winter NAMM 2017. 

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

LA Museum Hosts Rare Colored Diamonds Exhibit By L.J. West

The Juliet Pink Diamond, set in a necklace with marquise, pear and round-cut white diamonds totaling 98.70 carats. Image courtesy of Brian Lazar.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is set to unveil “Diamonds: Rare Brilliance” that brings together rare colored gems never before seen in the United States. 

The exhibition inside the museum’s Gem and Mineral Hall will open Friday and run through March 19, 2017. The colored diamonds and jewels in the exhibition are owned by L.J. West Diamonds, which specializes in the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of colored diamonds.

At the exhibition’s centerpiece is the “Juliet Pink Diamond,” an extremely rare pink diamond of more than 30 carats, and a Fancy Deep Grayish Bluish Violet named the “Argyle Violet Diamond” after the Argyle mine in Western Australia, where it was discovered in 2015. Through examples, such as the fluorescent lighting of a “rainbow” diamond necklace and a very rare Victorian Orchid Diamond, the exhibition will attempt to bring to light the rare properties of colored gemstones, the science behind natural colored diamonds, and how the interplay of light and chemistry gives diamonds color. 

The diamonds on display include the following:

Image courtesy of Brian Lazar.

The Juliet Pink Diamond – This 30.03-carat Fancy Intense Pink oval diamond, with a VVS2 clarity grade, is cut from a 90-carat rough from South Africa. It is set in a necklace with marquise, pear and round-cut shape white diamonds, VVS E-F, totaling 98.70 carats. 

Image courtesy of Brian Lazar

The Argyle Violet – The 2.83-carat oval shaped gem is the largest violet diamond unearthed from the Argyle diamond mine, polished from a 9.17-carat rough diamond. It possesses the unique color grading of Fancy Deep Grayish Bluish Violet, and served as the headline stone of the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Signature Tender, an annual sale of rare pink, red and blue diamonds, unearthed from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia.

Image courtesy of Brian Lazar

The Rainbow Necklace – A jewel made of approximately 100 rare natural colored diamonds from the color spectrum. It features radiant-cut shape multi-color diamonds at a noteworthy 35.93-carat weight and is set in a custom 18k white gold arch necklace. It took more than five years to source and assemble the jewel. 

Image courtesy of Aaron Celestian, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The Victorian Orchid Vivid Purple Diamond – It is one of the rarest stones currently worldwide because of its unusual color, according to LJ West. It is a 1.64-carat Fancy Vivid Purple diamond with an SI2 clarity grade is fashioned in a cushion-cut shaped and is set in a platinum flower designed ring with a matching pair of kite- shape diamonds.

The exhibition coincides with the reopening of NHMLA’s Gem and Mineral Store. 

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tie The Knot With Colored Gem Engagement Rings

Small Twig ring with a 19.99 carat aquamarine available in 18k yellow, white, or rose gold and platinum by K. Brunini Jewels

Thanks to the De Beers “A Diamond is Forever” campaign, white diamonds matched with white metals have been the standard for engagement rings for more than 60 years in the United States. However, it wasn’t always that way, particularly among the rich, royal and famous when tying the knot.

Likoma ring in 18k white gold with a 4.18-carat pear-shaped pink tourmaline enhanced with grey, white and golden natural pearls and diamonds by Mellerio dits Meller

In 1796, a 26-year-old up-and-coming soldier named Napoleon Bonaparte presented his wife to be, Joséphine, with a sapphire and diamond engagement ring. The stones, each weighing 1 carat and mounted in gold, rest side by side facing opposite directions. Osenat auction house in Paris sold the ring in March 2013 for more than $1 million.

Majestic emerald-cut intense honey citrine and diamond ring by Alexandra Mor

When John F. Kennedy proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, he did it with a gold Van Cleef & Arpels ring with a 2.88-carat diamond and 2.84-carat emerald enhanced with baguette diamonds, which were later replaced with round and marquis cut diamonds. 

6.39-carat pear-shaped yellow sapphire ring by Robert Procop

Perhaps the most famous colored gem engagement ring is the 18k white gold ring centered with a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds that Prince William presented to Kate Middleton in 2010 when he proposed marriage. The ring is a family heirloom, belonging to his late mother Princess Diana who received it as her engagement ring.

Eloise ring featuring three-stone paraiba by Erica Courtney

There are a number of modern day celebrity couples choosing colored gems for engagement rings. Among them:

* Singer and actress Jessica Simpson, who received a gold engagement ring from guitarist Eric Johnson in 2010 centered with an oversized ruby flanked by two diamonds on either side. The ring was designed by Neil Lane, who is known for his work with celebrities.

Platinum Stack Rings composed of the five individual rings shown, designed by Barbara Heinrich to collect, mix and match with your favorite colored gem and wear as an engagement ring, a wedding band, as a group right-hand ring, or individually

* Academy Award winner Halle Berry received a hand-forged gold ring flashing a 4-carat emerald in a one-of-a-kind setting. Designed by French jeweler, Robert Mazio, the square cut emerald is flanked by two smaller diamonds on each side of the ring. The ring reportedly has symbols and codes that only the wearer could see and tells the story of the love between Berry and her one-time husband Olivier Martinez. Unfortunately, the story didn’t end well for the couple. 

18k white gold ring with an aquamarine center stone surrounded by diamonds by Pasquale Bruni

* Australian cricket player Shane Warne proposed to actress Elizabeth Hurley with a 9-carat square-cut sapphire flanked by two trillion-cut white diamonds.

The Valentina 18k yellow gold ring by Anabel Higgins with an 18.74-carat rubellite surrounded by diamonds

There have been attempts by gem dealers, designers and jewelry retailers to bring the appeal of colored gems to bridal jewelry in the U.S., but consumers never took to it. When Kate Middleton, (now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) was married with the Ceylon sapphire, Sri Lankan gem dealers were anticipating a rush to buy similar gems for proposals, but even royal star power couldn’t sway the masses. 

18k rose gold Tourmaline Ring by Lucifer vir Honestus

However, in the luxury segment of the jewelry market, jewelers are willing to cater to those who want something different and unique. For example, earlier this year jewelry artist, Katey Brunini, unveiled a complete line of bridal jewels (engagement rings and wedding bands) featuring a variety of colored gems, including ruby, sapphire, emeralds and Beryl in hues that run from pastel to bold. The pieces include classic looks and organic, rough-textured shapes, described as “twigs” and “vertebrae.” 

Rose gold ring with a 6.23-carat emerald and diamonds by Vhernier

Venerable Parisian high jeweler, Mellerio dits Meller, recently released a collection of high jewelry cocktails ring, the “Private Collection,” that also could be used as engagement rings. They are designed by Laure-Isabelle Mellerio, the wife of M. Laurent Mellerio, the 14th Mellerio to head the family owned jeweler since 1613. 

Platinum ring with 2.11-carat blue oval sapphire solitaire set in a diamond filigree mounting by Alishan

Using colored gems is a way to create a ring that more fully describes the story of your marriage. 

Blue Topaz and diamond “Sea Leaf” ring by Miseno

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“Dearest” enamel stack ring by Alison Lou