Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are You A "Just Becauser?"....The New Jewelry Customer

Assorted Ippolita 18K bangles.  Starting at $695.
You've got a great job. You've worked hard, and over the years you've pushed other bitches out of the way...I mean you've snarled your way up the ladder of success. Along your star-studded path you've recognized important achievements with a nice piece of David Yurman jewelry, or maybe a Hermes handbag. When you scrutinize the Neiman Marcus website, picking out all the things you love, you see a beautiful pair of Christian Louboutins, and your feet start to itch, you have to have them so bad. Without a thought, you click, click, click those little red-soled gems into your authentic shopping cart, not the imaginary one that most people keep when they fake shop. You're used to treating yourself with nice things... because you can.

Heidi Mitchell, in her recent The Wall Street Journal article, "Jewelry Waits For No Man: Buy It For Yourself," notes how Mintel, a market research firm, identifies women who shop like this as a growing and important segment of high end buyers known as "Just Becausers." These are women, able to make exclusive purchases for themselves, just because. Because they want it, they think they need it, and most importantly, they can afford it. They are a professional women, age 45 and up, and last year, 59% of the purchases made by this group were for no particular reason.

It is exactly this logic that needs to be embraced by the jewelry industry. The industry has historically targeted a male market, and men generally only buy for some type of specific reason like an anniversary, birthday, or new baby, and, as men do, they apply way too much logic when making a purchase, especially a big one like jewelry. Most men buy jewelry like they buy a hammer at the Home Depot. Lots of dumb questions, like "what is the resale value of this ring?" or "where are diamonds made?" or "can my wife return it if she doesn't like it?" Do these analytical questions really have any bearing on the fact that  when you see a piece of jewelry that would look beautiful on your significant other and you can afford it, what's the big frigging deal?  Just buy it.

The jewelry industry is an old business and change took a long time. Back in the 90's, many of the smaller vendors we did business with were not even computerized. I remember visiting a vendor who pulled out samples that were wrapped in Kleenex tissues and stored in old shoe boxes.  Everything in his business was stored in his head. This would be tough for most of us if we were in our 80's (like this man) but he had a mind like a fox snare. Keeping with this attitude, much of the industry still designs for men who buy for women...not women who buy for themselves. If they were smart, they would start changing their direction toward this new trend.

H. Stern 18K YG Small Love Knot Earrings.  $2600

Some smart designers like IppolitaH. Stern and Ivanka Trump, have taken note.  They see that women think of jewelry as an extension of their wardrobe, not necessarily a reward for getting laid last night (well, maybe). These designers recognize that women want quality, but also want quantity...because they have the money.

Ivanka Trump - assorted rings.  Starting at $725.
But women are also being smart with their money in these tough times and many are turning to eBay, Gilt, and a growing number of designer consignment shops that resell gently used, authentic designer products for up to half, or less, than retail. Many women have purchased enough designer goods to spot a fake, and feel confident to shop on these sites, or if they feel insecure about this, many shops pride themselves on having the expertise to do this for you.  Align yourselves with a good one, like Bella Tutto, and you can save a ton of dough. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Kardashian Bubble

Do you think Kim Kardashian's wedding was more exclusive than Kate Middleton and Prince William's April nuptials?  Although there was similar mystery shrouding the dress and ring  beforehand, there isn't the same type of after buzz.  The Kardashian's cut a deal with E! News and People Magazine who control the rights to the wedding video's and photos, and when they will be released and we must suffer until October until we see the entire thing (sob).  As you scour the internet, you will find the same photos of Kris Jenner's ridiculous bow gown (was Vera playing a joke - I thought they were friends) and little Mason scampering erratically down the aisle (cue human element) but real information about her big day is being slowly squeeked out  like the air out of a balloon.

From the photos I've seen, I have to say she looked beautiful, including her unusual headpiece, which featured a 2.5 million dollar, 65 carat diamond strand, with large stones hanging throughout on her forehead.  I guess it's what you wear when you don't have a 300 year old tiara in the family that you can to dust off and sparkle in for the day.  But the real show stopper had to be those 28 carat diamond earrings.  Reports say all of her jewelry was exclusively provided by Lorraine Schwartz, the same designer who made that unbelievable 20.5 carat engagement ring, and totaled over 10 millions dollars.  The earrings, reminiscent of Oprah's fabulous Graff diamond earrings, have a huge pear shaped diamond swinging from a diamond element at the ear.

I think she'll get tired of this look as it's not easy to wear.
I was able to finally see an image of her wedding band and I called it in my previous post, "What Wedding Ring Will Kim Kardashian Choose?" Also by Lorraine Schwartz, it looks like Kim chose a 15 carat eternity band of emerald (or radiant or Ascher) cut diamonds, however, she's wearing it with her engagement ring which is not a very good idea.  Not only don't they fit very well, but diamonds rubbing against diamonds could cause damage to the stones (diamonds are the only stone that can damage another diamond).  Although it would be fun to wear thirty plus carats on your finger, alas, it's not very comfortable.

9.0tcw. Emerald Cut Diamond Eternity Band.
Blue Nile.  H-VS2, Platinum, $33,000. 

But I predict a Kardashain bubble is in the making.  Just like the internet bubble, the housing bubble and the banking bubble, the Kardashian's are approaching bubble bursting over-exposure.  They should cut back but show no signs of doing so.  There are even two new Kardashian sisters who are being cultivated in the lab as we speak because there can never be enough Kardashian's.  But even Oprah knew when it was time to go...I just hope we don't have 25 years of Kardashian's....I'm not interested in see Kim go through menopause.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Golden Eye Goes On The Auction Block

The Golden Eye, believed to be one of the largest internally flawless diamonds in existence, will go on the auction block in early September. Evaluated by the GIA as a 43.51 carat, rectangular, natural, brilliant cut, intense yellow diamond, it was seized in 2006 during a federal drug and money laundering investigation in northeast Ohio. The auction opens with a minimum starting bid of $900,000 after which bids must increase by increments of $110,000. You can't even see or bid on the stone without first placing a deposit of $180,000 (refundable, thank you), which will be on display in Cleveland from August 29 - September 2.

Paul Monea
The origin of the diamond is unclear, but it is believed to be from southern Africa, known for producing intense yellow diamonds similar to the Golden Eye. But as with all outstanding gems, the more interesting history is the back story. This one links the stone to businessman, Paul Monea, famous for making millions with Billy Blank's Tae-Bo infomercials in the 90's (come on, you know you had one), and who was convicted in 2007 for money laundering and conspiracy. Monea, who many believe to be a professional schemer, came from humble roots and hit success early on with the idea of restaurant coupons, then went on to squander almost every cent he ever made by buying, among other things, fancy cars, an estate once owned by boxer Mike Tyson, and the Golden Eye diamond.  Authorities said Monea was caught in a sting when he tried to sell the Golden Eye, along with Tyson's tiger filled house, to an undercover FBI agent posing as a broker for a drug cartel, for 19.5 million dollars and a boat. Sitting at a conference table with his laywer, an associate, and the undercover agent who was working the sale, Monea was this close to romping with the unicorns in fields of happiness as this deal was about to go down. Everyone was waiting for a gemologist to authenticate the diamond before the money was to be wired. "It's real," the gemologist says, and the OK is given to send the money. This is when FBI agents rushed into the room and Monea quickly realized he was about to be lowered into a landfill of shit. What a boob.

Monea was a complicated man who spent a lot of time thinking up schemes in order to get over other people. In the end, he was caught in his own complex web of intrigue. Whereas, if he was a woman, she would have just handed it over to Sotheby's...that's the difference between a man and a woman. Monea made and spent millions of dollars, and now at 64, sits in prision not to be released until sometime in 2018, and...he lost the diamond. 

Sale projections of the stone are anywhere from 3 million to 20 million dollars, but the true value will be determined when the gavel drops. Buyers are anticipated to be mostly international, given the growing realization that they are the only people with the kind of disposable income required to purchase this type of stone. Americans are just too poor now, even the rich ones. 20% of the sale price will be going to the US Marshals Service, with the remaining money going to some of Monea's swindled victims and to the federal and local agencies that helped with the Monea case.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Wedding Ring Will Kim Kardashian Choose?

With just a few days to go before what some people are calling the "Next Royal Wedding," many are wondering what Kim Kardashian's wedding ring will look like. One thing you can count on is it will be big. She will need a ring that will counterbalance the 20.5 carat diamond engagement ring Kris Humphries gave her, which, if you will remember, is counterbalancing her huge ass. If I was Kim, I would move that giant diamond to my right hand, and get a wide diamond band or a large eternity ring set with emerald cut diamonds for my left hand. I understand she occasionally wears a CZ version of her engagement ring for security reasons, so why not have real diamonds that you can wear all the time as a great looking wedding band? She may also want to consider a thin platinum band to wear while she cleans the house and does the dishes. This type of band is perfect for engraving inside, however, it shouldn't be engraved too deeply as there are big questions as to how long this marriage is going to last.

There are rumors that the ring is the same one she had when engaged to Reggie Bush back in 2009, or that Kim bought the ring herself, or even that celebrity station "E" purchased the ring in return for the rights to televise her wedding. Look at the photos below and decide for yourself whether or not this was her Reggie ring. Either she really, really likes this design and had it duplicated, or it's the same ring. 

I'm really not so interested in watching the Kardashian-Humphries wedding on TV. I couldn't wait to get up at four in the morning and watch along with my sister as the "Real Royal Wedding" of Kate Middleton and Prince William took place this past spring. Maybe it's the vacuous, reality nonsense that make up the Kardashian persona, versus the centuries of history, legacy, drama and intrigue the royals own, that make Kim's the less than compelling wedding to watch. 

I'm fascinated about why Kim Kardashian and her fembot family of fame vampires are one of the most often Google'd names, only to find most people bash them big time in the comments section. The three sisters together, along with their bossy cow mother and the creepiest version of Bruce Jenner to date, are the hilt of annoyance to most people, but we continue to be interested and they continue to make a fortune as a result.  

All I know is if you Google "famous for nothing," Kim Kardashian comes up. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

You’re Going On Your First Job Interview…What Should You Wear (or Not Wear)

This is a Don't......  
unless you work at the MAC counter.
The first thing you should do is make sure all visible tattoos are covered; hopefully, you don’t have any on your face. The second thing to do is remove your nose ring, your lip ring, your chin ring, your eyebrow ring, your tongue ring, your ear cartilage ring, your nipple ring, your hoo-ha ring; just remove all your head and body jewelry before you meet the HR representative. The key is to not make noise as you move. You know what--don’t even wear earrings, just to be safe.

If you are interviewing anywhere remotely connected to the corporate arena, please do the following to put together an easy universal look that will work for most job interviews: purchase the best black or navy suit you can afford (pants or skirt - it doesn't matter), along with a tailored blouse or top (white is best) as well as black shoes with a reasonable heel - nothing hoochy mamma. If you're wearing pants, don’t forget a nice belt with a silver buckle--nothing with chains, sheriff badges, antlers or sequins on it--just a plain silver buckle…kind of like the Pilgrims but smaller.  You can wear pantyhose, or not; however, if you're wearing a skirt be sure to shave and moisturize your legs. I'll never forget the woman I once interviewed for a sales job who didn't wear stockings and had not shaved her legs. I couldn't stop looking at her caveman leg stubble. She was unforgettable...and not in a good way.  

Splurge and get a manicure. Ask to have your nails cut shorter. Get Essie’s Limo-Scene on your nails.  It’s pale pink, natural looking, and looks like a French manicure but lasts longer. I hope you already know you shouldn’t have talons. Check your nose for boogers and your teeth for spinach. Sounds silly, but it's mortifying to make these discoveries after the interview is over.

Your make-up should be simple as well: no Joker-Mouth lipstick. Just a little foundation, a small amount of blush, and mascara. Chanel makes a nice lip gloss, #87, that's a pale pink. Put this on after you've used LancĂ´me's "Ideal" lip liner and it defines your face but looks natural.

If your hair is long make sure you've had a recent cut and be sure to get a touch up if your roots are showing. This is not the time for weasel nest hair – no Amy Winehouse (RIP) or Lily Munster do's. Get a bob if your hair is on the shorter side, or wear a ponytail if it’s longer…the simpler the better.

Lagos Caviar Fluted Bracelet $395

Lagos Caviar Luxe Bracelet $395

Lagos Caviar Bracelet $395

Lagos Caviar Bar Bracelet $395
Now…down to the jewelry. In this case, it’s much better to underdress than overdo. Maybe a silver bracelet, like one of the Lagos Caviar bracelets. There are four designs, and they are relatively inexpensive and extremely wearable at all times, even after your interview. You should wear a watch on your other wrist. I know the younger generation uses their cell phones to tell time, but guess what: you’re killing the watch business. Please buy a nice watch. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a watch on one’s wrist has been a style standard for eons. If I were living in the Stone Age, I would have strapped a sundial on my arm – that’s how important I feel a watch is. Plus, it’s considered rude to take out your cell phone anytime during the interview process; it’s much easier to look at a watch instead, and your interviewer won't think you're checking your messages. As a matter of fact, be sure to turn your cell phone off. Now, go look for that watch you got as a graduation gift and see if it still works.

If you promise to remove all hardware, you could wear pearl studs, diamond studs, or small silver or gold hoops in your ears if you have them. If you don’t have a discreet earring, don’t wear any. This is not the time for your Gypsy La Straga or Jersey Shore jewelry. Go small or not at all.  

This is a Do - almost everywhere.
All this being said, if you are interviewing outside of the corporate world, you could ramp it up a notch or two, but don’t go crazy. Once you have the job, check out the people who have the job you aspire to. Their appearance can give you an idea of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Remember that boring saying, “first impressions count”?  Guess what...they still do.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston…Jewels, Gems, and Treasures and...Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd, 1847.
I just had to write about poor Mary Todd Lincoln. Misunderstood, misrepresented, and overextended on her personal budgets, she was not unlike a few of the customers I’ve known over the years. By far, the majority of people I deal with are very responsible about the money they spend with me. Let’s face it, people don’t need what I sell. I sell luxury items that are usually the first thing to go when things get tough…or so you would think. For some, it's impossible to let go of the image of prosperity. They’re just not comfortable enough with themselves to stop the kind of spending that is putting them in jeopardy with either their spouse who sees things differently, or a budget that can’t sustain this kind of spending…for whatever reason.

Mary Todd Lincoln was a person who came from wealth and prominence and wound up marrying an older, more common man. Later, she came under a most painful type of scrutiny by the entire United States population while experiencing intense personal disaster. Was it really such a crime to buy drapes that were never hung or to purchase too much  china for the White House? Just read up on Nancy Reagan for a modern version of this kind of First Lady.

Mary Todd was born in 1818 to a privileged, influential and aristocratic family whose ancestors had a distinguished record in the American Revolution. She was more educated than most women of her time, and some felt this may have given her the confidence to speak her opinions openly, something that women did not do a great deal of at this time. She was smart, ambitious and very interested in politics, and she took an active role in promoting her husband’s political career. "Lincoln had great respect for her judgment and never took an important step without consulting her," recalled Emilie Todd Helm, Mary’s half-sister. Mary viewed her extravagant redecoration of the White House and money spent on her wardrobe as a necessary expense in order to earn respect for her husband and the Union, while others saw it as gross consumption during a time of restraint and strife.

Mrs. Lincoln was probably one of the first women to find solace in retail therapy. Just imagine if you were in her shoes: she lost half-brothers in the Civil War, three of her four children died, she suffered from a severe head injury in a carriage accident, and then her husband was shot in the head as she sat next to him. After all of this, her surviving son had her committed, and she later suffered a spinal cord injury in a fall. As if this wasn't enough for one person to handle, she eventually fell on hard financial times and stood by and watched as many of her personal belongings were sold off. All this while fighting Congress for the right to a measly widow’s pension. So maybe she went a little cagoots and bought 100 pairs of gloves and never wore them. Good taste is a curse.

She remains a mystery as far as First Ladies go. Was she a feminist fame-seeker, a woman who was used to having nice things, or was she just feeling a little Black Swan now and then?  Many considered her bi-polar. My god, bi-polar people are some of my best customers.

This earring brooch suite is Mary Todd Lincoln's mourning jewelry. Totaling approximately 4.70 carats, the 58 mine cut diamonds color range is J-K with VS-VS1 clarity.  It was part of a large group of Mrs. Lincoln's clothes, jewelry, and furnishings that were offered for sale through Brady & Company of New York City. Mrs. Lincoln fell into dire financial circumstances after the assassination of her husband, Abraham Lincoln. The sale price was listed as $350.00.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston purchased this suite in 2008 for their current exhibition for $24,150.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston…Jewels, Gems, and Treasures and...Hummingbirds?

Angry Birds
Jewelry lovers must thank the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation (of the Kaplan Learning Center fame) for opening a gallery specifically devoted to the display of jewelry, and for hiring Yvonne Markowitz, the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry.  We have these people to thank for bringing us examples of some of the more bizarre pieces of jewelry ever known to man.

Entomological and ornithological jewelry was very popular during the mid to late 19th century and was viewed as one of the ways for women to reconnect with nature as the onset of the industrial age crept up on them.  Women’s magazines encouraged women to skin and mount their own creations, while more intricate and upscale pieces were made by jewelers.  I’m sure you were laying low if you were the family dog during these times. 

So it’s no wonder women of the Victorian era were thought to swoon…they were probably driven insane by the endless sound of flapping hummingbird wings hovering on the sides of their heads.  Oh, they were stuffed you say?  There goes my vision of no earring hardware needed – just birds, endlessly fidgeting, suspended on your lobes.

When I think of gems and pearls, especially earrings, I think of the time it takes to find two perfectly matching stones – in size, color and quality.  Just think about finding perfectly matching hummingbirds.  I’ve seen less than ten in my lifetime, let alone enough birds to make a matching pair of earrings and brooch.  And think of the poor taxidermist who had to stuff these things.  I guess it’s pretty amazing what you can do with eyebrow tweezers and a cotton ball.  This suite of jewelry gives a whole new meaning to Angry Birds.

Brooch in gold with foliate design and mounted head of hummingbirds with ruby eyes and gold beak; matching earrings.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston…Jewels, Gems, and Treasures - Ancient to Modern

Ka-Ka-Ching for Ba-Ba Bling at the Museum
My sister--you know the one with that Queen doll--is in Boston this week with her husband.  He is a retired Army colonel who works in the Pentagon and is in Boston this week taking a senior management course at the JFK School of Government at Harvard. She is tagging along as extra baggage but took on a special assignment on behalf of gemsaboutjewels.  She stopped by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to check out “Jewels, Gems and Treasures – Ancient to Modern” which started July 19, 2011 and runs until November 25, 2012.  The 11,000  piece jewelry collection features pieces that span ancient Egyptian times to the 21st century in America.  It seems as though museums all over the country are starting to catch on to this new and interesting equation:

Jewelry + Gems + Story = Big $$$$ to museums featuring same old thing.

As I discussed in my earlier blog post, “Why Do People Wear Jewelry?” we learned that jewelry gets most people (especially women) really, really excited. It may boost our egos to think how great we’re going to look in it, or maybe it's the chance to wear something expensive and flaunt it in front of our friends. Or perhaps it's just the investment value. Over all these years, noted jewelry icons like Wilma Flintstone, Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor have steered the course, and they can’t be wrong.

The first piece we’ll look at is an important ancient Egyptian broadcollar that was uncovered during a museum expedition in 1913. This was during a time when long-dead, undisturbed little Egyptian people were being dug up all over the place from their cat pee smell tombs because Egyptomania was the rage.  Actually taken from the mummified body of Ptah-Shepses Impy, an official of King Pepy II, the collar was made from gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli and hundreds of small blue glazed steatite (soapstone) beads. The collar was important because some of the original beadwork survived, and it was studied by conservators who were able to reconstruct the collar in the same manner as the ancients. Because of this, it served as a model for the reconstruction of other broadcollars.

Wesekh Broadcollar - Egyptian
2246–2152 B.C.
6 7/8" x 6 7/8" x 1"