Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Rockefeller Emerald, World's Most Expensive Emerald per Carat

In May Christie’s announced it would auction the famous Rockefeller Emerald at its New York location.  Mid June that promise came into fruition when Harry Winston bought the ring for $5.5 million, making it the most expensive emerald, per carat, ever sold.

The rare Colombian emerald stone is an untreated 18ct octagonal step cut that was purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1930 as a gift for his wife.  The emerald was originally set as a brooch, then converted to a platinum ring by their son, David Rockefeller, when he inherited the stone in 1948.  The stone was set by the Rockefeller family jeweler Raymond Yard.

Photo courtesy of Christie's

Other notable stones that were held by the Rockefeller family was a 101.73ct flawless diamond that was also bought by Harry Winston for $26.7 million in 2013. Another is the 62ct Rockefeller Sapphire from Burma that was acquired by the family in 1934. The stone was cut by Pierre Cartier into a rectangular step cut and mounted into a brooch. The sapphire sold for $3 million at Christie’s New York in 2001.

Photo courtesy of Christie's

Harry Winston is accumulating these infamous stones in hopes of opening a Harry Winston museum in New York to house these significant gems.  


Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Engagement Experience

I have spent a significant amount of my career finding the perfect ring for others, when finally last June came my turn.  Unconventionally I set out ring shopping with my mother.  Josh was open to me styling my own ring since jewelry is something I’m incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about.

To start, the best advice I can give is talk to your friends then try on everything before making any kind of decision. Try on styles that you would never imagine trying on, try the big stone and a small stone, try different metals, try everything. By doing this you’ll positively know when you found the perfect ring.  By talking with friends they will tell you where and who they went to, what they liked and didn’t like about the process. This really helps you to know what to expect when going to different shops.

My adventure started out just like that. I asked around and conceived a list of places to look, then tried on EVERYTHING, even if it wasn’t my style.

In the end I decided on a local jeweler Bario Neal. I knew I wanted a three stone style with a yellow center.  Why did I choose yellow? Well, I knew I was going with a simple design so I wanted a way to give the ring a personal twist. Having worked extensively with jewelry, I have seen so many engagement rings and really wanted something of my own that I have not seen repeatedly.  Also the journey of the yellow diamond intrigued me, so I liked the idea of having a little bit of history on my finger.

Photo by Bario Neal

Happy with my sketch, I waited for the jeweler to receive in a choice between two yellow cushion cut Kalahari diamonds from their contact in Namibia.  In cooperation with De Beers, this Namibian source mined and manufactured these diamonds. So not only am I aware of the origin of my stone, I also know I was ethically supporting the diamond economy locally in Africa.  Having this much information about my ring really got me curious and I further delved into how the yellow diamond came about as a engagement choice historically.

I found that India has been the birthplace for some of the world’s most incredibly colored stones.  These stones were very much part of past Indian culture. In fact, different colored diamonds were used within India’s caste system in the sixth-century.  

Brahmins, the priests and rulers, had white to colorless diamonds.
Landowners and warriors were defined by brown diamonds.
The merchant class, yellow. The lower classes then had heavily included grayish to black diamonds.

Beyond using colored stones as an identifying tool, fancy colored diamonds were seen as a nuanced novelty.  They did not garner popularity until the discovery of the Australian Argyle Mine in the 1980’s.

Now we have coined trade terms such as Canary and Champagne as well as other tantalizing titles to describe a diamond's color.

A diamond's journey to discovery is an arduous one where nature incubates the stone into existence in a very specific way.  The mineral carbon under intense heat and pressure within the earth’s mantle is nature’s recipe for a diamond.  Once created that diamond is then carried to the earth’s surface by a release in pressure, often some sort of volcanic activity.

Colored diamonds are produced because of the presence of trace elements. In my yellow diamond’s case, nitrogen is the reason for color the stone. The amount of nitrogen determines the color intensity. I loved the softness of the yellow in my stone in contrast to the hard yellow color of the 18 karat metal I chose.  The stone had a delicate feel, giving off a nurturing sensitivity about the beginning of this new part of Josh and I’s relationship.  It fit exactly how I felt.

So on top of color I was intrigued by story that this particular diamond had to tell, it became unique to me as well as being aesthetically pleasing to my taste.

You can check out Bario Neal's Spring 2017 collection here as well as other fun jewels:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Artemis and Apollo, the world's most expensive earrings

In Greek mythos Apollo and Artemis are the twin offspring of Zeus and Leto.
Artemis is revered as the Greek goddess of the Hunt, her brother Apollo is revered as the Greek god of medicine and healing, also known to bring illness and plague.

In the gem world the twins Apollo and Artemis are known as the world’s most expensive earrings, selling for $57.4 million at the Sotheby’s 2017 Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction held in Geneva on May 16th.

The pair was originally estimated to sell for around $70 million and were believed to be sold off separately.  However a private buyer preserved the romanticism of the twin earrings by purchasing them as set.

Artemis is 16ct VVS2 pink pear diamond that was purchased for $15.3million while her brother Apollo, a flawless 14.54ct pear, sold for much more at $42.1 million.  This is because Apollo has a rarer deep vivid blue coloring caused by its exposure to the element boron during formation.
Adding to Apollo’s legacy it is documented to have been sourced from the famed Cullinan Mine in South Africa.  Yes, the same mine responsible for the British Crown Jewels.

Since the pair went to a private buyer, they are unlikely to be seen for some time, so hopefully those able to attend the auction were able to revel in their cosmically named brilliance.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Charlize Theron wearing "Garden of Kalahari"

Charlize Theron elevated her pleated gold Dior dress with showstopping asymmetrical diamond drop earrings from Chopard’s “Garden of Kalahari” collection.

Crafted using fairmined 18 karat white gold and weighing in at 59.9 carats, the earrings are the definition of dripping in diamonds.

Twenty-three diamonds form the “Garden of Kalahari” collection, all cut from a single 342 carat rough diamond dubbed “The Queen of Kalahari”.
The designs are the brainchild of artisan Caroline Scheufele, who masterfully created an enchanted garden scene depicted by these breathtaking jewels.

The neckpiece is the focal point of the collection but was not worn by Theron.  It can be worn four different ways to drape the neckline in a whimsical garden theme.   

Two of the pendants of the necklace can detach and be worn as the earrings as shown on Theron.

The modified earrings mesmerize as the mismatched pear and heart stones are both graded a D in color and are flawless in clarity.  The heart is slightly heavier at 26 carats while the pear weighs in at 25 carats. The dazzling stones are accentuated by 4.35 carats worth of brilliant cut diamonds.

Charlize Theron’s choice in jewelry demonstrated that timeless craft can captivate when artfully showcased for the world to see, enrapturing with it’s unique brilliance.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Shirley Temple Jewels featured in Heritage Auction Holiday Sale

Art is a time stamp, you can know what an era was like by looking at a piece of work it left behind.  What the values were, what was interesting to the time, and of course the fashion.  Art is timeless in that it will always be beautiful no matter how much the world has changed, and in its beauty it holds little clues of how we developed to be where we are now.

Jewelry is unique in how personal and intimate it can be; It is worn, loved, and often a keepsake.  A memory of a relative, a gift from a significant other, a reward for a personal achievement.  It gets passed along the generations until the sentiment is lost and what is left is its clue to history.  Seeing people unearth new gemstones and creating new ways to cut and mount them.  We can see in a piece of jewelry how it was made, what the technology was for that time, what was being discovered.  The shift from rose cut stones to the faceting we have today was part of a scientific revolution. Going from hand cut and having to reflect candlelight, to being laser cut to reflect fluorescent lights.  We see progression but that doesn’t make the old any less beautiful or unwanted.

Early in December we got to see a piece of history with Heritage Auction’s Holiday Signature Sale, showcasing over 2,000 jewels to bid on, 80 of which belonged to Shirley Temple.

We can see an expansive timeline of incredible works. Some are common but extraordinarily set, while some stones are so exotic they don’t even need to be mounted to be valued.

I chose some of my favorites of the sale to share below.

Shirley Temple, Cartier Lapis and Turquoise Ring

Shirley Temple, Cartier Lapis, Pearl Tassel

Shirley Temple, Multi-Stone Brooch
Created by Lebon & B.

Shirley Temple, Lapis Dragon Cuff
Shirley Temple, Ruby and Dia Platinum Bracelet

Shirley Temple, Jade, Ruby, and Sapphire

Shirley Temple, Platinum Yellow Dia Ring

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Millennials and Diamonds, an Open Letter

Typically I just post about jewelry projects that interest me and try to keep my blog light and informative, but as a millennial working in the jewelry industry I am tired of being told what I want and what I should be looking for by the founding diamond companies. It’s getting too painful to ignore the broadening disconnect between iconic brands and the millennial customers they are trying to impress. It almost seems like “millennial” is a buzzword that no one really bothered to research.

I keep coming across campaigns catered to my age group, like parents talking over their children's heads, like they are not there, incapable of listening and understanding.  I see it, I hear you, and your are missing our thought process by miles.

The most recent campaign I have come across is Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond.  Released by Diamond Producers Association (DPA) trying to appeal to the millennial with a whimsical video of a carefree couple lost in the wanderlust of life.  The short video is comprised of flashes of incoherent images with a monologue detailing a topical description of their "real" relationship. DPA makes a desperate attempt to move away from the marketing archetype of diamonds = marriage, but it falls short. They are trying to loosen up and connect to millennials with a video that seems forced, insincere, and the diamonds weren't even the focal point. I lost interest in the strained story and actually ended up focusing more on the clothing in the video than the diamond necklaces that were being shown. In the end the same archaic message weakly came across, couples should solidify a relationship by gifting diamonds.

Another campaign I’ve seen recently is from De Beers. De Beers had the incredibly successful 1947 Ad campaign A Diamond is Forever by copy-writer Frances Gerety of N.W. Ayer & Son. At the time De Beers was top dog of the industry controlling the ebb and flow of diamond resources.  So of course they would be able to control the media for the diamond as well.  Now the diamond giant has been minimized due to bad press and in 2012 De Beers has shifted 85% of its ownership to another diamond company.

So now, with less clout than they had before, they tried to strike gold again with their 2015 campaign, Seize the Day.  The campaign failed to impress since it was more of the same boring concept, shoving engagement rings at the consumer so aggressively that they walk away. We live in a time where our worth is not determined by marriage, so why does the industry keep advertising that way?

Too be blunt, most of the diamonds I own I have bought myself with my hard earned money.  A treat I was proud to purchase for myself because I work with jewelry and like jewelry.  As for my longtime boyfriend, he does shower me with gifts whether it be jewelry or artwork, it does not matter, the gift was thoughtful and by no means defined our relationship.

A powerful Ad I think people would respond to would cater to the fact most millennial women buy themselves jewelry as a deserved treat.  The industry does realize that we are the bulk of the US diamond buying market, but they clearly still do not understand why.  They do not understand that we have satisfaction in working hard and earning something we desired.  It is completely gratifying to wear something you worked for. To go out with friends and say, “I worked overtime and absolutely owned my latest project, I treated myself to new earrings”.

Not at all to undermine the institution of marriage, I just went engagement ring shopping myself, but it needs to be realized engagement is not the cornerstone of the diamond market anymore, it’s a part of a whole view.  And if you keep only looking at one small facet of an idea, you are bound to miss a major amount of opportunity. I love diamonds, I love the industry, I love my job, but I am at a complete loss every time I see a new campaign catered to “the millennial”.