Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ring Around The Choker Collar

Lanvin choker in silver brushed metal, $1,335 at
The "Style" section of this weekend's New York Times features a new necklace trend for the spring 2012 season: the choker collar. Featuring a selection of expensive looks in materials ranging from brass to gunmetal to druse (a calcium crystal...I had to look it up too), they look nice when you're feeling a little Kunta Kinte.

Silver neck cuff in white brass, $1,500 at Michael Kors.

But one must be careful...this look is not for everyone.  A girl must be tall and slender with an Olive Oyl neck in order to wear them, or you can wind up channeling the Ben-Hur rowing team.

Eddie Borgo silver-plated spider choker with a hand-dyed feather, $815 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Harry Winston, China and Diamonds...Discuss

1960 photo of Harry and his jewelry box.
Harry Winston, the venerable jewelry house to celebrities and the wealthy, sees solid opportunities in China. Realizing that's where new and young (emphasis on young...they will be around longer to buy) wealth is located, Winston has concentrated its efforts and plans to open at least 10 new stores in the next 5 years. The firm is looking at Russia and Dubai as well, but China is really its target market.

Chief Executive, Frederic de Narp said, "nothing is too big, nothing is too beautiful, and nothing is too expensive for the Chinese today. They are on a quest for true luxury." Meanwhile, according to de Narp, luxury is "rebounding sharply" in the lowly United States.

Harry Winston, Inc. expects sales growth of 15% in new markets in the next five years.

In 1958 Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian as a "gift to the American people." The famous blue diamond was set by Cartier in 1910.  In November of 2010, the Hope Diamond was temporarily remounted in a somewhat contemporary setting (see below) meant to commemorate 50 years on display at the Natural History Museum.  The new setting is called "Embracing Hope" and was chosen from three potential designs. Shortly, the Hope Diamond will return to its original Cartier setting (see above), a circle of 16 white diamonds attached to a diamond necklace.
This new setting for the Hope Diamond, called "Embracing Hope," was chosen from three potential designs and is on display for a little while longer at the Smithsonian Institution. Harry Winston, Inc. will then send it on a world tour, replacing the Hope with another blue stone at its center.  The plan is to then offer it for sale and donate the proceeds back to the Smithsonian.  

Founded in 1932, Harry Winston became immortalized in 1953 when Marilyn Monroe called out his  name in the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" song she sang in the movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Winston's legacy was further celebrated in 1958 when he donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. Actually, at the time, Winston had no prospective buyers for the ill-fated stone, believed to put some serious maloik on the owner.

In this photo, Harry Winston holds some of his famous gems in the palm of his hand. The 125.35 carat emerald cut "Jonker" diamond is center. Just under the Jonker is the 94.80 carat pear shaped Star of the East diamond. The 45.52 carat blue Hope diamond rests between his index and middle finger. The 337.10 carat Sapphire of Catherine the Great is next to his thumb, and the 70.21 carat Idol's Eye diamond is just above the Jonker. A matched pair of pear shaped diamonds and a larger ruby are also shown.
"The Lesotho" – The original rough diamond – over 601-carats uncut – was unearthed in 1967 by a woman in the South African kingdom of Lesotho. Fearing for her life, the woman fled on foot for four days and nights to sell the incredible stone under government protection. Purchased by Harry Winston, the cleaving of the Lesotho was broadcast live on television in 1968, resulting in 18 separate gems. The largest, "Lesotho One," is an exquisite 71.73-carat flawless emerald cut diamond. Aristotle Onassis purchased the 40.42-carat "Lesotho Three" for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ engagement ring.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Will You Still Love Me, When I'm.........Married AGAIN???

Paul Mc Cartney married trucking heiress, Nancy Shevell today in London.  What would possess him to do that?  Didn't he learn the last time?  The notoriously cheap Beatle, who divorced the nasty Heather Mills in 2008 for $50 million, has been called "stingy" even by his own daughter, famed clothing designer, Stella Mc Cartney.  With a one page pre-nup that basically says she can't have any of the money promised to Beatrice, his daughter with Mills, he's banking on that fact that Shevell won't want any of his money because she has plenty of her own.  

Looking exactly like the aged version my 1964 issue of "Mad Magazine" promised he would on the back page tri-fold puzzle, he married Shevell in the same place where thousands of fans thronged and mourned his marriage to Linda Eastman in March 1969.  A very small ceremony which included Ringo Starr and Shevell's second cousin, Barbara Walters, was held on what should have been John Lennon's 71st birthday (for the love of God has it been that long?).  Wealthy in her own right, Shevell actually told Mc Cartney she had her own diamonds and didn't need any from him.
Nonetheless, Mc Cartney fested Shevell with a $650,000 vintage Cartier diamond, purchased from jeweler Neil Lane.  It is a flawless, round, five carat plus stone from the art deco period.  The side shank of the ring accented with black onyx.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rolex Signs Tiger Woods-A Partnership For A New Challenge

I'm Baaaack............sort of.
In a move that indicates Tiger Woods might not have to live in the basement much longer, luxury watchmaker, Rolex, has just signed him to a "long standing" (some say five years) endorsement deal. In a statement on their website, Rolex states they are "paying tribute to the exceptional stature of Tiger Woods and the leading role he plays in forging the sport's global appeal. It also constitutes a joint commitment to the future." Welcome to the Rolex Rehab Center.

Rolex is convinced Tiger has many years ahead of him to scratch and climb back to number one (he's currently 51st in World Golf Rankings), and "the brand is committed to accompanying him in his new challenges," which means they will be hanging on him like a fly on poop to make sure he keeps his pants on. I'm not sure if this move makes Tiger look better, or makes Rolex look worse?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Back To School With My Sister in Washington, DC

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
My sister (Queen Doll) and I recently attended a lecture in Washington, DC sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: "Shaping Raw Stones Into Radiant Gems." Inside this museum, the Harry Winston Gallery houses the Hope Diamond and many other incredible pieces of jewelry so that we peons can see what real jewelry used to look like.

Our speaker, Martin D. Fuller, GG (GIA), CSM, ASA, told us about talented stone artists who are creating art using ancient carving methods, as well as those who are developing new and innovative techniques shaping and cutting gems like aquamarines, pearls, and tourmalines.

My sister and I sat patiently waiting for the Hope Diamond-Marie Antoinette-Marjorie Merriweather Post-Janet Annenberg Hooker "jewelry hall of fame" part of the presentation to begin, but we soon realized this wasn't a jewelry lecture at all as we looked around and saw the number of fanny packs and Birkenstock's in the room. We were at a modern day prospectors convention: very passionate people, like trekkies, only they wear rocks on their fingers and ears.

Actually, we learned a lot. In particular: two amazing stone carving artists who use gemstones as their medium. Check out Michael Dyber, who carves aquamarines, ametrines, citrines and more, on the front as well as the back of the stones, and creates extra terrestrial design elements that are unusual and unique. He turns these stones into jewelry, or sometimes, with large stones, he creates "Palm  Sculptures" like the two seen here:
287.68 carat Bolivian ametrine
"Free Form", 208.45 carat Brazilian golden beryl.

And don't miss Helen Serras-Herman, who is helping to revive the ancient art of glyptography, the art or process of carving stones, including cameos and intaglios. Her faces, like "Venus" and "Leonardo Da Vinci," can take months of preparation and work to complete. The results are unbelievable.

"Venus", a 256 carat rutillated quartz.

"Portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci", a 328 carat smoky quartz.

"Portrait of Queen Sikirit of Thailand", a 574.7 carat aquamarine.