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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Montblanc Silver Jewelry Line Combines Elegance and Attitude

Caractère Essential-Chic silver ring ($600), the Essence Prodigieuse silver and wood ring ($650) and the white lacquer and silver Caractère Chic-issim Bracelet ($1,170). Photo credit: Dan King of Dan King Photography

An affordable, versatile jewelry collection from luxury brand, Montblanc, has been available for almost a year. Created by Susie Otero, Montblanc’s managing director of Jewelry, it consists of large, oval, sculptural shapes in contrasting dark and light tones. The shapes take on a classical appearance in its execution.

Style expert Jen Abrams wearing the black sparkling lacquer Caractère Chic-issim pendant ($920) with the Essential-Chic silver ring ($600) and the stainless steel with black PVD finish Star Spell bangle ($600). Photo credit: Dan King of Dan King Photography

This is an affordable collection that can be worn to work and then out for the evening without skipping a beat. This versatility is enhanced through the addition of black and white color by applying lacquer or PVC coating on some of the silver pieces. Montblanc, known for its luxury writing instruments, is traditionally a masculine brand but it is working to attract women. This line is created with both the woman self-purchaser in mind and for men to buy as a gift while shopping for writing instruments, watches or leather goods. The luxury brand loaned me 12 pieces from the collection and I tested their ability to complement a variety of circumstances. The prices of the items photographed ranged from $525 to $1,300.
 
A view from the back for the Montblanc Prodigieuse silver and maple pendant necklace ($880). Photo credit: Dan King of Dan King Photography

Style expert Jen Abrams modeled the jewelry first at Fork restaurant with snapshots taken by me. Then we turned the photography over to a pro, Dan King of Dan King Photography. Abrams and King put the jewelry through some extreme close-ups and creative scenarios.
 
Style expert Jen Abrams and I began our day at Fork restaurant in Philadelphia where I took some pictures of her wearing Montblanc jewelry. Here, the Star Spell bangle ($600) took on the colors of the lights in the restaurant. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Finally, my wife, Maria, wore the jewelry to her casual work environment at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for three days. I took some snapshots of her next to a Cherry Blossom tree near full bloom.
 
The Caractère Essential-Chic silver bracelet ($1,395), the Romance Beauté silver and wood ring with a thin band of gold ($840) and the Caractère Essential-chic silver ring with black sparkling lacquer ($525). Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Abrams was attracted to the silver rings with dark wood and PVC highlights as well as the pendant necklaces. There were sterling pendants and bracelets that finished in a black or white lacquer on one side. This allowed the option of wearing them on the colored side or the silver side. Maria preferred the silver finishes. Maria also was fond of an oval pendant with the top half made of thin sterling that gradually finished in a thick maple. An interlocking silver bracelet was a favorite of Abrams and; unfortunately it arrived without the karabiner clasp. We did some improvisation to photograph it. 

The Romance Beauté silver ring with a thin band of gold ($840).  Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The silver jewelry line is largely defined by three central themes: Romance, which uses soft, rounded forms to convey the femininity of the contemporary woman; Essence, which focuses on pure, essential shapes with an architectural dimension; and Caractère (character), which uses bold independent symbols to convey independence.

My wife Maria wearing the black sparkling lacquer Caractère Chic-issim pendant ($920) with the Essential-Chic silver ring ($600) and the stainless steel with black PVD finish Star Spell bangle ($600). Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Did the jewelry keep pace with the constant changes in environment? You decide.

The Volupté silver and white lacquer pendant necklace finds a home on a Cherry Blossom tree ($960). Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco
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The Romance Beauté silver ring with a thin band of gold ($840). Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

The interior of Fork restaurant. Ellen Yin, co-owner of the stylish American bistro, was gracious enough to allow us to take photographs prior to the dinner service. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fabergé Flies with VistaJet

Contemporary interpretation of the Fabergé by artist Ian Davenport on the tail of a Bombardier Global 6000.

Luxury jewelry brand, Fabergé, has teamed up with luxury aviation company, VistaJet, in a promotion that puts a contemporary spin on the company’s legendary heritage.

The two companies commissioned artist Ian Davenport to create a design for the tail of one of VistaJet’s flagship aircraft—the Bombardier Global 6000—that depicts a contemporary interpretation of the Fabergé egg. To launch this project, VistaJet customers will be able to purchase a limited edition collection of Fabergé Fine Jewellery egg pendants in the cabin this spring. 


Exclusive collection of Fabergé Fine Jewellery egg pendants for VistaJet.

Davenport's egg is colored in waves of different shades of red, blue and green that reflects on the guilloché enamel pattern that Fabergé applied to its Imperial Easter Eggs. “This design blends heritage and modernity which perfectly reflects our contemporary vision of Fabergé today,” said Katharina Flohr, Fabergé’s creative and managing director.

Exclusive to VistaJet, the collection of fine egg pendants comes in a variety of designs in gold, colored gemstones and enamel, reflecting Fabergé’s legendary artistry and craftsmanship. The designs are available on-board starting at $7,900.


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A Look at Gina Lollobrigida’s Bulgari Jewels

Natural pearl and diamond pendants, Bulgari, 1964, worn by Lollobrigida when she met Princess Margaret at The Taming of the Shrew premiere in London in 1967. Estimate: $600,000 - $1 million

Throughout her long and varied career as an actress, artist and humanitarian, one thing remained a constant in Gina Lollobrigida’s life: Her relationship with Italian luxury jewelry house, Bulgari.

19.03-ct. diamond ring, Bulgari, 1962; Estimate: $400,000 - $800,000

As previously reported, Lollobrigida is selling 23 pieces of jewelry from her Bulgari collection at Sotheby’s Geneva on May 14. Those who have followed the 85-year-old actress’ career, particularly during her height of international popularity in the 1950s and ‘60s, will recognize the items as they were all worn by her during special moments in her life.

Diamond necklace/bracelet combination, Bulgari, 1954, worn by the actress as a tiara during her 1961 Golden Globe for World Film Favorite – Female. Estimate: $300,000 - $500,000

The pictures that accompany this article are some of the highlights of the upcoming sale. Proceeds from the sale will benefit stem cell research, which she describes as a “very close cause to my heart.”

27.57-ct. emerald and diamond brooch, Bulgari, 1964; Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000.

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Emerald and diamond pendent ear clips, Bulgari, 1964. Surmounts are detachable and may be worn with the natural pearl and diamond pendants. Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000

Emerald and diamond ring, Bulgari, 1964. Set with a step-cut emerald weighing 16.62 carats and framed by two rows of brilliant-cut diamonds. Estimate: $120,000 - $180,000

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Strong Year for Signet Jewelers


Signet Jewelers, the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and U.K., continues to benefit from strong retail sales in U.S., which more than offset weaker figures in the U.K.

The Bermuda-based company said Thursday that fourth quarter sales increased 11.8 percent, year-over-year, to $1.51 billion. Same store sales for the period ended Feb. 2, increased 3.5 percent compared to an increase of 6.9 percent in the prior fiscal year. E-commerce sales increased 46.9 percent to $63.9 million.

In its U.S. division sales for the fourth quarter increased 14.2 percent to $1.24 billion. Same store sales increased 4.9 percent compared to an increase of 8.3% in the fourth quarter Fiscal 2012. Sales increases were driven by broad based strength across most merchandise categories in both Kay and Jared retail chains and its acquisition of the Ultra Diamonds retail chain, the fifth largest in the U.S.

In its U.K. division total sales were up 1.8 percent to $268.4 million (fourth quarter Fiscal 2012: $263.7 million). Same store sales fell 1.9 percent compared to an increase of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter Fiscal 2012. Sales performance was primarily attributed to lower store traffic and increased customer purchases of promotional merchandise, which impacted sales and gross margin.

In Fiscal 2013, Signet's total sales increased 6.2 percent to $3.98 billion. Same store sales were up 3.3 percent compared to an increase of 9 percent in Fiscal 2012. E-commerce sales increased 40.6 percent to $129.8 million.

In the US division total sales for the 2013 fiscal year increased 7.9 percent to $3.27 billion. Same store sales increased 4 percent for the year compared to an increase of 11.1 percent in Fiscal 2012. Sales increases were driven by broad based strength across most merchandise categories in both Kay and Jared, as well as the Ultra acquisition.

The number of merchandise transactions increased in Kay and Jared, the company said. Average merchandise transaction values were up in Kay stores due to changes in sales mix and down in Jared stores due primarily to the discontinuation of Rolex watches. E-commerce sales were $101.4 million compared to $68.5 million in Fiscal 2012, up $32.9 million or 48 percent.

In the U.K. division total sales fell 0.8 percent to $709.5 million. Same store sales increased 0.3 percent compared to an increase of 0.9 percent in Fiscal 2012. Sales performance was primarily attributed to lower traffic particularly in the fourth quarter.

In its guidance the company, which trade on the NYSE, said expectations are for same store sales in the first quarter to be up 5 to 7 percent.

“Signet had an excellent Fiscal 2013 with a 3.3% increase in same store sales and a 16.6 percent increase in earnings per share,” said Mike Barnes, Signet CEO. “The acquisition of Ultra, our share repurchase program and the increase in our quarterly dividend demonstrate our ability to capitalize on our excellent balance sheet to provide for our long-term growth and increase value for our shareholders.”

He added, “We are pleased with our progress quarter-to-date and expect to achieve our goals for the first quarter…. We will continue to advance our expansion goals as we integrate our recently acquired Ultra stores, execute on our multi-channel growth initiatives and expand our store base.”


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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Swatch Group Finalizes $1 Billion Acquisition of Harry Winston

The Harry Winston Salon in Harrods London department store.

The world-renowned Harry Winston luxury brand is now under new ownership. The Swatch Group Ltd. said late Tuesday that it has successfully completed the acquisition of the jewelry and timepiece retailer.

Swatch and Harry Winston Diamond Corp.,  now the prior owner of the brand, announced in January that the Harry Winston luxury retail division was being sold for $750 million plus the assumption of up to $250 million of pro forma net debt.

In addition to being a luxury jeweler and timepiece company, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. operates as a diamond mining business with a 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine. It is finalizing the purchase of the Ekati Diamond Mine, including its diamond sorting and sales facilities. Both mines are in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Following the transaction, the company now is solely a diamond company and operates under the new name, Dominion Diamond Corp., while Swatch Group retains the Harry Winston brand name.

The U.S.-based luxury retail business was bought by the Canadian diamond mining group, Aber Corp., in 2006 to create the Harry Winston Diamond Corp., with divisions in luxury retail and diamond mining. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007.

The brand’s namesake (Harry Winston, March 1, 1896 – December 28, 1978) founded the luxury retail company in 1932. He was among the most famous jewelers in the world and the first jeweler to lend jewels to an actress for the Oscars red carpet in 1944. He was also famous for donating the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The luxury diamond jeweler and timepiece retailer has salons in key locations—including New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Beverly Hills.

The Swatch Group, based in Biel, Switzerland, is the world’s leading supplier of finished watches and watch movements and one of the world’s largest buyers of polished diamonds. The two companies previously said that they will explore the opportunities for a joint diamond polishing venture bringing together the manufacturing and diamond expertise of the two companies.


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Film Star Gina Lollobrigida To Auction Her Bulgari Jewels For Charity

Gina Lollobrigida wearing the Bulgari diamond necklace and bracelet combination as a tiara & the pair of emerald and diamond earclips. The items are included in the auction at Sotheby's Geneva.

Actress and sex symbol, Gina Lollobrigida, will sell 23 jewels from her Bulgari collection at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale on May 14. The auction will feature important Bulgari jewels from the 1950s and 1960s, worn by Lollobrigida at landmark moments in her career. Proceeds from the sale will benefit stem cell research.

Key pieces from the collection will travel to Hong Kong, London, New York and Rome before returning for exhibition in Geneva in advance of the sale.

“I have been lucky enough to be given many roles in life – as an actor, a mother, a photojournalist, an ambassador for FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), and as an artist,” Lollobrigida said. “I began collecting jewels from Bulgari in the 1950s and 1960s, drawn by the wonderful craftsmanship and distinctive style of these pieces. They accompanied me on many journeys—both professional and personal—and are redolent of those times and the extraordinary people I met along the way.”

She continued, “I have decided the time is right to share them with other collectors. In so doing, I can also help a cause very close to my heart, that of stem cell research – treatment, which I believe should be freely available to every child. It is my wish that part of the proceeds from the sale will contribute to help fund an international hospital for stem cell research.”

David Bennett, Sotheby’s Switzerland and jewelry, Europe and Middle East chairman, added: “These exceptional jewels are evocative of both a woman, and an era. Not only do they reflect Gina Lollobrigida’s brilliance, but they are among the finest designs created by Bulgari in the “dolce vita” years of the 1950s and 1960s.”

Highlights from the sale include:

* Diamond necklace and bracelet combination, Bulgari, 1954, (also worn by Miss Lollobrigida as a tiara) a favorite of Lollobrigida on landmark occasions, including receiving her 1961 Golden Globe for World Film Favorite – Female (estimate, $300,000 - $500,000).

* Pair of natural pearl and diamond pendants, Bulgari, 1964, worn by Lollobrigida on numerous public occasions, including to meet Princess Margaret at The Taming of the Shrew premiere in London in 1967 (estimate, $600,000 - $1 million).

* Diamond ring set with a cushion-shaped diamond weighing 19.03 carats, Bulgari, 1962 (estimate, $400,000-800,000).

* Emerald and diamond earclips, Bulgari, 1964. Each earclip suspends a detachable pendant set to the center with a pear-shaped emerald (estimate $150,000 - $250,000).

* Emerald and diamond brooch set to the center with a step-cut emerald weighing 27.57 carats (estimate, $150,000 - $250,000).

* Emerald and diamond ring, Bulgari, 1964, set with a step-cut emerald weighing 16.62 carats, framed by two rows of brilliant-cut diamonds (estimate $120,000 - $180,000).

For her commitment to various humanitarian organizations, she was nominated first Ambassadress for the FAO in 1999 and has worked closely with UNICEF, UNESCO, Médecins Sans Frontières, Mother Theresa of Calcutta and children in Romania.

In 2007, she received the honor from the Republic of San Marino of becoming the only woman to be featured in a special edition of four postal stamps bearing her portrait – each depicting a different facet of her career – as actor, photographer, sculptor and humanitarian. In 2008, in Washington, the Italian-American Foundation NIAF awarded her the “Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of her artistic life.


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Sotheby’s to Offer 75-Carat Diamond with $12 Million Price Tag


The centerpiece of Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on April 17 will be a 75-carat pear-shaped, D-color diamond that the auction house says it is “the most important white diamond ever to appear at auction in the Americas.” It is estimated to sell for $9 million to $12 million.

The spring auction will offer 400 lots of jewelry, gemstones and pearls with an estimated sale value of more than $35 million. Among the other offerings are the following:

* Fancy pink diamond and diamond pendant ear clips. The pear-shaped pendants weigh 5.79 and 5.68 carats. Its estimate is $3.5 million to $4.5 million

* From the Estate of Lynn Wolfson, a square emerald-cut diamond ring with a 21.46-carat, D color, Internally Flawless, type IIa diamond. Its estimate is $2.5 to $3.5 million.

Six jewels from the family of financier and railroad magnate Jay Gould acquired in the first half of the 20th Century. Among the items:
.
* From the Estate of Sarah Cantine Shrady Gould and Thence by Descent, an emerald and diamond brooch featuring a 22.48-carat, Classic Colombian emerald. Estimate $400,000 - $600,000.

* From the Estate of Florence Bacon Gould Sturgeon and Thence by Descent, an emerald and diamond ring with a 15.23-carat Classic Colombian emerald, circa 1930. Estimate $750,000 - $1 million.

Other highlights of the sale include:

* From a distinguished European collection, a carved colored stone, diamond and pearl “Tutti Frutti” Bracelet by Cartier. Estimate $300,000 - $500,000.

* Formerly from the collection of Katharine Dexter McCormick, a ruby and diamond ring featuring a 4.36-carat, classic Burmese ruby, circa 1900. Estimate $400,000 - $600,000

* From the Estate of Micheline Muselli Lerner, a diamond Rivière Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimate $125000 - 175,000

* A diamond, onyx and emerald panther brooch by Cartier. Estimate $150,000 - $250,000

Highlights from the sale will be on view in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center April 3 – 7 before returning to New York for exhibition on April 13, alongside a selection of pieces from the upcoming Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels.


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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Napoleon’s Engagement Ring to Joséphine Sells for $948,000


The engagement ring that Napoleon Bonaparte gave to his future wife Joséphine in 1796 sold for more than $948,000 (not including commission and other fees) at auction in France on Sunday—shattering its high estimate of $20,000.

The gold ring, with an origin listed as 18th Century, is adorned with two pear-shaped stones (also described as “tear shaped” in media reports), a blue sapphire and diamond that rest side by side facing opposite directions. Each gem weighed one carat each, according to the auction house.

Bidding at the at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau opened at 10,000 euros but the first bid was for 50,000 euros and quickly went up to $130,000 euros, then pacing itself to $450,000. Several bouts of laughter were heard during the bidding as seen through the auction house’s live website. Right before the hammer fell at 630,000 euros someone pushed it to 640,000, which produced more laughter. After approximately 50 bids, the ring sold for 730,000 euros.

The sale was held Sunday to honor the 250th anniversary of Joséphine's birth, according to reports. The ring was described as modest by the auction house, purchased from someone who had not yet acquired great wealth and power. However, it gain a lot of international interest based on its historical significance.

Empress Joséphine was 32 years old, six years older than Napoleon, and a widow with a son and daughter at the time of their marriage on March 9, 1796, just before Napoleon departed for his Italian command, according to the auction house.

The ring is from the collection of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, according to the auction house. Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, was the nephew and heir of Napoleon. It was sold at Sunday’s auction of the “Collection of Prince Victor Napoleon and Princess Clementine of Belgium.”
 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Tiffany’s Q4 and Full-Year Sales Up 4%

Tiffany & Co. said Friday net sales in the fourth quarter increased 4 percent to $1.2 billion year-over-year and net earnings rose 1 percent to $180 million. On a constant-exchange-rate basis that excludes the effect of translating foreign-currency-denominated sales into U.S. dollars, worldwide net sales rose 5 percent, for the period ended Jan. 31, due to growth in all regions and comparable store sales equaled the prior year.

For the year, also ended January 31, worldwide net sales increased 4 percent to $3.8 billion, year-over-year, while net earnings declined 5 percent to $416 million. Earnings fell 11 percent when excluding nonrecurring items in the prior year.

“These quarterly sales results were consistent with the holiday trends we had issued in early January,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO. “While financial results in fiscal 2012 were disappointing due to lower-than-expected sales growth and pressures on gross margin, we continued to maintain a longer-term focus on strengthening global awareness of the Tiffany & Co. brand and on further developing compelling product offerings.”

Kowalski took an optimistic tone for Tiffany’s 2013 outlook. “We will be pursuing important growth opportunities in 2013, with plans including exciting new jewelry collections, enhanced customer communications through print and digital media, and expansion of our global base with additional stores,” he said. “Tiffany is well positioned to achieve net earnings growth of 6 percent – 9 percent and healthy free cash flow.”

Net sales highlights are as follows:

* Total sales in the Americas region increased 2 percent to $620 million in the fourth quarter and 2 percent to $1.8 billion in the full year (representing 48 percent of 2012 worldwide sales). On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales increased 2 percent in both the quarter and full year; on that basis, comparable store sales declined 2 percent in both the quarter and full year. Sales in the New York flagship store fell 3 percent in both the quarter and full year, while comparable branch store sales were 2 percent below both prior-year periods with no meaningful geographical differences in the U.S.). Internet and catalog sales rose 6 percent and 4 percent in the fourth quarter and full year.

* In the Asia-Pacific region, total sales rose 13 percent to $254 million in the fourth quarter and 8% to $810 million, or 21% of worldwide sales, in the full year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 10% in the fourth quarter due to sales growth in Greater China and in other markets and rose 8% in the full year; on that basis, comparable store sales rose 6% in the quarter and 2% in the full year.

* Total sales in Japan declined 6 percent to $192 million in the fourth quarter, reflecting a weaker Japanese yen versus the U.S. dollar. Sales for the full year increased 4 percent to $639 million, or 17 percent. However, on a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales rose 2 percent in the quarter and 6 percent. Comparable store sales rose 2 percent and 7 percent in the quarter and full year.

* In Europe, total sales increased 3 percent to $146 million in the fourth quarter due to mixed performances by country and also rose 3% to $432 million, or 11% of worldwide sales, in the full year. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, total sales increased 3% and 7% in the quarter and full year and comparable store sales were unchanged in the quarter and rose 2% in the full year.

* Sales categorized “Other,” nearly doubled to $24 million in the fourth quarter and rose 41 percent to $73 million in the full year. The strong growth in both periods reflected the conversion in July of five Tiffany & Co. stores in the United Arab Emirates from independently-operated distribution to company-operated retail stores.

* Tiffany added 28 company-operated stores in the full year: 13 in the Americas with four in the U.S., six in Canada (including four department-store boutiques in Canada that were converted to company-operated locations), two in Mexico and one in Brazil; eight in Asia-Pacific including six in China, one in Australia and one in Singapore; two in Europe including one in France and one in the Czech Republic; and the five stores in the U.A.E. The company currently operates 275 stores (115 in the Americas, 66 in Asia-Pacific, 55 in Japan, 34 in Europe and five in the U.A.E.), compared with 247 stores a year ago.

Tiffany’s other financial highlights:

* Gross margins (gross profit as a percentage of net sales) of 59.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 57 percent for the full year were below margins of 60.4 percent and 59 percent in the respective prior-year periods. The declines largely reflected pressures from precious metal and diamond costs; a shift in sales mix toward higher-priced, lower margin products; and reduced sales leverage on fixed costs.

* SG&A (selling, general and administrative) expenses increased 2 percent in the fourth quarter. In the full year, SG&A expenses increased 2 percent; however, if nonrecurring costs related to the 2011 relocation of Tiffany's New York headquarters staff were excluded, SG&A expense would have increased 5 percent (see "Non-GAAP Measures" schedule) in the full year due to store occupancy costs related to new and existing stores, increased marketing spending and higher labor costs.

* Other expenses, net were $14 million and $54 million in the fourth quarter and full year, compared with $13 million and $43 million in the respective prior-year periods. Increased average borrowing levels have resulted in higher interest expense in both periods.

* Net inventories of $2.2 billion at January 31 were 8 percent higher than the prior year-end, reflecting 13 percent growth in finished goods inventory and 2 percent growth in combined raw materials and work-in-process, all to support new store openings and expanded product assortments.

* Capital expenditures of $220 million in 2012 were modestly lower than $239 million in the prior year; 2011 had included expenditures for the relocation of Tiffany's headquarters staff.

* In the full year, the company spent $54 million to repurchase approximately 813,000 shares of its Common Stock at an average cost of $66.54 per share, but did not repurchase shares in the fourth quarter. Approximately $164 million remains available for repurchases under the currently authorized program which expires in January 2014.

In its outlook, the company expects worldwide net sales to grow 6 percent to 8 percent in U.S dollars. On a constant-exchange-rate basis, an expected high-single-digit percentage increase in worldwide net sales includes sales growth in all regions, ranging from a mid-teens percentage increase in Asia-Pacific to a low-single-digit increase in Japan.

The company said it plans to open 15 new company-operated stores including five in the Americas, seven in Asia-Pacific, three in Europe; while closing one in Japan. It also plans  and to refurbish a number of existing locations around the world.

It expects net earnings from operations increasing 6 percent to 9 percent to a range of $3.43-$3.53 per diluted share. Net earnings from operations are expected to decline approximately 15 percent- 20 percent in the first quarter due to gross margin pressure and higher marketing-related costs, to be followed by earnings growth in all subsequent quarters. In addition, this forecast excludes $0.05 per diluted share of expected first quarter charges for staffing and occupancy adjustments.



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PPR To Become Kering

François-Henri Pinault, PPR chairman and CEO, poses with the company's new name and logo, which is expected to become official on June 18.

French holding group, PPR, said Friday that it will change its name and brand messaging to reflect its new identity as an international luxury, sports and lifestyle organization.

On June 18, subject to board approval, the new name for the company will be Kering (pronounced Caring). The Paris-based company said the new name reflects its culture of “taking care of our brands, people, stakeholders and the environment.” The suffix “ing” expresses the idea of movement, reflecting the diverse history of the 50-year-old company, which began as a trader of timber and construction materials. The stem “ker,” meaning home in Breton, refers to its origins in the Brittany region of France.

Since 2005, PPR has been undergoing a transformation from a conglomerate focused on primarily European distribution activities, to an international group focused on the apparel and accessories business across two fast growing segments that it defines as “Luxury” and “Sport & Lifestyle.” In a few months, the new group expects to leave the distribution sector completely, after disposing of Fnac and the remainder of online fashion retailer Redcats.

The company’s collection of brands include Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Christopher Kane, Stella McCartney, Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, Qeelin, Puma, Volcom, Cobra, Electric and Tretorn.

Laurent Claquin, head of PPR Americas, said the change in the company’s identity is a natural step in the group’s transformation.

“We are marking a transition from a conglomerate to an integrated group,” he said. “We are in the business of fashion. We are also part of the same group (as) a way to signify how we do our business with our brands and customers.”

Claquin refused to comment on published reports that the company is in the final stages of acquiring luxury Italian jewelry brand, Pomellato. “It is not the subject of the day,” he said.

Accompanying the new name are new symbols for the company and an international branding strategy over multiple platforms that it emphasis the creativity of its brands. A new video, website and advertising campaign and supporting items are among the ways the company intends to promote its new image. Digital media will be a centerpiece of the campaign. Follow this link to view the company's new video.

As part of the strategy, the company adopted a new symbol, the “untamed” owl, and even a company signature that reads: “empowering imagination.”

The owl is drawn from a single line, like a quick sketch, a doodle even, with outstretched wings and its face framed in a heart. This simple drawing expresses far reaching values, according to the company, from foresight, wisdom and intelligence to caring and respect.

Claquin emphasized that the new campaign is geared toward the B-2-B community and not the general public. “We don’t communicate through a general public,” he said. “We don’t want to be stronger than our brands but we do communicate to our target populations.”


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Harry Winston Diamond Corp. Receives Approval to Sell Luxury Brand to Swatch Group


Harry Winston Diamond Corp. said Thursday that it expects the sale of its luxury diamond jewelry and timepiece division, Harry Winston, Inc., to the Swatch Group to close on or around March 26. The Toronto-based company said it has received regulatory approval to complete the sale.

The two companies announced in January that the Harry Winston luxury division was being sold to the Swatch Group for $750 million plus the assumption of up to $250 million of pro forma net debt.

In addition to being a luxury jeweler and timepiece company, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. operates as a diamond company with a 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine. It is finalizing the purchase of the Ekati Diamond Mine, including its diamond sorting and sales facilities. Both mines are in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Upon completing the sale of its luxury retail business, the company will be solely in the diamond mining and distribution business operating under the new name, Dominion Diamond Corp. The Swatch Group will retain the Harry Winston brand name.

The U.S.-based luxury retail business was bought by the Canadian diamond mining group, Aber Corp., in 2006 to create the Harry Winston Diamond Corp., with divisions in luxury retail and diamond mining. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007.

The brand’s namesake (Harry Winston, March 1, 1896 – December 28, 1978) founded the luxury retail company in 1932. He was among the most famous jewelers in the world and the first jeweler to lend jewels to an actress for the Oscars red carpet in 1944. He was also famous for donating the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The luxury diamond jeweler and timepiece retailer has salons in key locations—including New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Beverly Hills.


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Hublot Names Kobe Bryant Its Newest Ambassador

Ricardo Guadalupe, Hublot CEO, with Kobe Bryant.

Swiss luxury watch brand, Hublot, has named Los Angeles Lakers’ star shooting guard, Kobe Bryant, is its newest ambassador. To commemorate the partnership, Hublot released Kobe’s signature timepiece, the limited edition King Power Black Mamba.

“Bryant was the perfect choice for Hublot—a brand known for its precision and excellence, traits that have characterized the basketball icon’s celebrated career,” said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot.

Hublot is enhancing its alliance with Bryant through its support of the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need by providing financial resources for like-minded organizations.


Kobe Bryant King Power Black Mamba

The announcement was made Wednesday on the rooftop of The London Hotel West Hollywood. Guadalupe presented Bryant with the Limited Edition King Power Black Mamba. This was followed by a shoot-off with two children from After-School All Stars Los Angeles, a charitable beneficiary of the Bryant Family Foundation. Taking shots from a makeshift basketball court constructed over the hotel’s rooftop pool, the contest raised $30,000 for the program.

A dinner afterward was attended by several celebrities, including Zac Efron, Jimmy Kimmel, and Mark Salling.


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Mouawad’s L’Incomparable Sets Guiness Record for Most Valuable Necklace

L’Incomparable World's Most Valuable Necklace.

Guinness World Records has named Mouawad’s L’Incomparable diamond necklace as the world’s most valuable necklace, according to media reports. The 637-ct. necklace is valued at $55 million.

The statement gem on the 18k gold necklace is the 407.48-ct. “Incomparable” diamond. The natural fancy deep-yellow shield step‐cut diamond is the largest internally flawless diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America.

The remainder of the necklace consists of 35 round diamonds, 27 pear-shaped diamonds, nine heart-shaped diamonds, five emerald-cut diamonds, five cushion diamonds, four oval diamonds, three Asscher-cut diamonds and two radiant diamonds.

As previously reported, the luxury jewelry and timepiece company unveiled the diamond necklace at the Doha Jewellery and Watch Exhibition, which was held February 25 – March 3. It is the fourth Guinness World Record the company has earned.

In its rough state, the diamond weighed 890 carats. It was first made public in its polished state in 1984. It was then put on display in several museums, with the first being the Smithsonian Institute.  

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tag Heuer Carrera Watch Celebrates 50 Years with its Creator, Jack Heuer

Jack Heuer

The Carrera chronograph is one of the most successful watch lines ever released by Tag Heuer, which has produced more than its share of successful timepieces. The creator of the Carrera, Jack Heuer, was in New York Thursday to help the Swiss watch brand celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the iconic watch.

Jack Heuer, honorary chairman of Tag Heuer and the great grandson of founder Edouard Heuer, spoke for about 10 minutes discussing how the watch came about, the inspiration behind the name, the celebrity endorsements and what the Carrera has meant to his career and to Tag Heuer. His talk combined business and design strategy and personal reminiscing.

“I’ve been a product man all of my life. That’s the thing I love most. I made many, many products both in my watchmaking career and in my later career,” he said. “But here I stand a few weeks or months before I retire and I’m really a bit proud to have contributed to a product that has lasted 50 years.”

Below is Jack Heuer’s presentation at the Highline Stages.



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G &G Creations Wins ‘Future of Design’ Competition

G &G Creations Love Collection

Jewelry design firm, G &G Creations, was named the winner of a jewelry industry’s career-building competition: Future of Design.

The winners were announced March 12, after finalists made a live “Shark Tank”-like presentation to a panel of judges and an audience of industry VIPs, press and fellow designers.

“We are overwhelmed and so proud,” said winning designer Vahe Ghazarhian on behalf of his team. “We have been working on our application for a very long time and we used all the feedback and advice we’ve gotten since last year’s contest when we were a semi-finalist. We have improved every aspect of our business since last year to better align our efforts with our potential.”

The Future of Design contest is a business incubator competition that nurtures emerging design talent in the fine jewelry industry. It is unique in both the extent of the prize package it provides and that it puts the designers’ business acumen on an equal footing with his or her design talent. It was created in 2012 by Cindy Edelstein of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau and Andrea Hill of StrategyWerx.

The contest was judged live at MJSA Expo New York by Edelstein, Hill, Hedda Schupak, editor of the Centurion Newsletter, and Ann Arnold, president/CEO of Lieberfarb. An additional judge who had been actively involved in the judging process up to this point, Bruce Pucciarello, owner of Novell Design Studio, couldn’t be present at the live event but his opinions were factored into the decision.


The winners of the Future of Design Competition with the judges.

"The judging was one of the most challenging tasks I've ever faced," said Edelstein. "The margin of difference between the three finalists was paper thin but in the end the judges felt that G&G Creations had the most powerful mix of amazing product design, agile business practices and marketability. They will become an important contribution to the fine jewelry community."

As the winner, G&G Creations will receive business services and support from a variety of industry organizations that have come together in their support of the next generation of jewelry designers. 

The live finale included 10-minute presentations by all three finalists, including runners-up Lisa Adkinson of Lisa Robin Jewelry, and Suneera Swarup of Suneera Fine Jewelry Design. Each designer was tasked with making a final pitch to the judging panel that explained their work, inspiration and plans for the future. Panelists and audience members, including competition “dream team” members Robert Lee Morris, Penny Preville and Lisa Jenks probed further into each designer’s vision with tough questions about manufacturing, retailers, marketing and price points.

While G&G Creations was named the winner, co-creator Andrea Hill noted that all three finalists will receive help in the coming months. “We have a deep commitment to the three finalists. We feel strongly that everyone who entered this contest should benefit somehow,” Hill said. “All designers receive a 5-7 page analysis and recommendations report regarding their application. We are trying to help a wide swatch of designers grow stronger businesses.”


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JNA Awards Adds Five Categories


Jewellery News Asia has expanded the list of categories for the second edition of its JNA Awards.

At a recently held press conference, JNA announced that the 2013 Awards will be bestowed across 16 categories, compared to 11 in its inaugural edition last year.

The JNA Awards recognizes and honors excellence and innovation in the jewelry industry, with a focus on companies and individuals that have made significant contributions to the trade in Asia.

The current list of awards categories for 2013 is as follows:

* Brand of the Year - Retail
* Employer of the Year
* Industry Innovation of the Year - Manufacturing - Business
* Industry Innovation of the Year - Manufacturing - Technology
* Manufacturer of the Year - Diamond Cutting and Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Colored Gemstone Cutting & Polishing
* Manufacturer of the Year - Gem-set Jewellery
* Manufacturer of the Year - Precious Metal Only Jewellery
* Retailer of the Year
* E-tailer of the Year
* Outstanding Enterprise of the year - Mainland China
* Outstanding Enterprise of the year - India
* Outstanding Contribution of the year
* Store design of the Year
* Sustainability Initiative of the Year
* Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Companies and individuals may submit entries on behalf of themselves or others from mid-March to mid-May. The first stage of the judging process will begin in mid-May and end in mid-June. On 20 June the honorees or shortlisted candidates will be announced. The honorees and recipients will be feted at a gala dinner and presentation ceremony at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong on  September 12 during the September Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair 2013.

The launch event was hosted by Wolfram Diener, senior VP of UBM Asia Ltd; Letitia Chow, founder of JNA and director of Business Development - Jewellery Group at UBM Asia; and representatives of the awards' headline partners, including Rita Maltez, manager Greater China Representative Office, Diamonds Sales and Marketing at Rio Tinto Diamonds; and Kent Wong, managing director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited.

The JNA Awards 2013 is led by Rio Tinto Diamonds and Chow Tai Fook as Headline Partners, with Gubelin, Israel Diamond Institute, KARP Group, Robert Wan Tahiti and the Shanghai Diamond Exchange as Honored Partners. An international group of prominent industry experts will form the judging panel.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mila Kunis and Jewelry Designers Launch Gemfields Bespoke Colored Gemstone Jewelry Collection

Mila Kunis takes center stage among jewelry designers at Gemfields event.

Actress Mila Kunis joined a group of fine jewelry designers to help launch a bespoke jewelry collection created with emeralds, rubies and amethysts provided by Gemfields, a colored gemstone miner and marketer.

The jewelry collection was unveiled at the Phillips Auction House in London. It was created by 36 jewelry designers that partner with the London-based company and primarily consist of Zambian emeralds, Mozambican rubies and Zambian amethysts. The jewelry ranges in price from $1,130 to $750,000.

Many of the designers who created the jewelry were at the launch, including Theo Fennell, Stephen Webster, Shaun Leane, Dickson Yewn and Alexandra Mor. They shared the spotlight with Kunis and celebrities from the U.K. and India, including Jacquetta Wheeler, Kamika Kapoor and Nina Naustdal.

To coincide with the launch of this project, Gemfields presented its new global advertising campaign featuring Kunis wearing ethically sourced Zambian emeralds and Mozambican rubies shot by Mario Sorrenti in Los Angeles.

This jewelry showcase will travel to India next and then to Las Vegas where it will be displayed at the Couture show in May. 

Gemfields first announced its relationship with Kunis and the new advertising campaign about a month ago. The company first disclosed its partnership with the jewelry designers in the fall of last year.

The campaign focuses on emerald jewelry, which coincides with Gemfields main business: the mining and marketing of emeralds from the Kagem mine in Zambia, which it has a 75 percent stake in. The same mine also produces amethysts. It is working to produce a mine-to-market strategy for their emeralds that it says will be ethical, transparent and sustainable.

The company also owns a 75 percent stake in the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique and the Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia.

If that’s not enough, in January Gemfields finalized its ownership of iconic Russian luxury jewelry brand, Fabergé, which receives a supply of the company’s best colored gemstones.

Earlier this month, the company released a bit of bad news in its half-year financial report, saying that core earnings fell 39 percent as it held just one auction during the period compared with two in the prior year. But production climbed by two-thirds.

Production rose about 65 percent to 14.5 million carats in the first half, mainly on higher grades recovered at its Kagem mine in Zambia. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell to $19.5 million for the six months to December 31, from $32.2mn a year earlier.

Revenue from rough and finished emerald sales decreased 39 percent to $27.7 million.


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Updated: Napoleon’s Engagement Ring to Joséphine is up for Auction


Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the world’s fiercest warriors but he also had a flair for romance. 

In 1796, as a symbol of his love for his wife-to-be Joséphine, he presented her with a diamond and sapphire engagement ring. This same ring will be up for bid March 24 at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau, France. It is estimated to fetch $13,000 to $20,000.

The gold ring, with an origin listed as 18th Century, is adorned with two pear-shaped stones (also described as “tear shaped” in media reports), a blue sapphire and diamond that rest side by side facing opposite directions. The carat-weight of the two gems was not provided by the auction house.


Updated information:  The carat-weight of each gem is approximately one carat each, said Jean Christophe Chatignier, a partner with the auction house, who responded to my e-mail Monday morning.


Empress Joséphine was 32 years old, six years older than Napoleon, was a widow with one son at the time of their marriage on March 9, 1796, just before Napoleon departed for his Italian command, according to the auction house.

The ring is from the collection of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, according to the auction house. Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, was the nephew and heir of Napoleon.

Empress Joséphine did not produce an heir, although Napoleon formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie. Napoleon chose to divorce Joséphine so he could remarry for an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was given the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis in 1832 at the age of 21, with no children.


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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Graff to Unveil 120-Carat, $100 Million Colored Diamond Peacock Brooch

Graff Peacock made with 120.81 carats of colored and colorless diamonds.

Graff Diamonds will unveil a $100 million diamond peacock brooch Friday at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, Netherlands. A total of 120.81 carats of colored diamonds adorn the brooch, which measures a little over 10cm in height (about 4 inches).

At the center of the brooch is a 20.02-carat fancy deep blue pear shape diamond, one of the rarest blue diamonds in the world, according to the luxury diamond jewelry company. It is surrounded by white and colored Graff diamonds—set by master craftsmen at Graff’s London workshop. The peacock’s tail feathers are set with various-sized fancy white, yellow, blue and orange diamonds. The tip of each feather is adorned with white diamonds in a flowery bloom.

The piece has a clasp in the rear that allows for the blue diamond centerpiece to be removed and worn separately.

In myth and legend the peacock has long carried portents of nobility, guidance and good luck. This colorful diamond peacock also provides beautiful adornment.

The TEFAF Maastricht art fair opens Friday and runs till March 24.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is Hublot’s New Red Gold Watch Actually Red Gold?

Hublot's Big Bang Caviar Red Gold Diamonds ladies watch

For Hublot’s Baselworld preview, the Swiss luxury watch brand released images of its “5N red gold” Big Bang Caviar ladies watch, featuring a bezel set with 36 diamonds. As you can see in the picture it is quite a beauty. However, I have a bit of a dilemma that I will get to the bottom of eventually.

From my understanding of the different colors of gold, 5N refers to rose-colored gold, while 6N refers to red gold. Pink gold is usually 3N and 4N gold. The colors are based on the types of metals that are mixed with pure gold. Usually 18k gold, which I am assuming this watch contains although the materials don’t clearly state this, is mixed with cooper to make it red. Red gold can be made with 75 percent yellow gold and 25 percent cooper. However, I believe this is usually labeled as 5N gold, which refers to rose gold.

Anyone who has an answer is welcome to respond. I will ask Hublot when I get the chance. I’m sure there’s a simple explanation.

Now for the rest of story behind this watch. It’s based on the design of Hublot’s famous One Million $ Black Caviar, and directly inspired by the black ceramic Big Bang Black Caviar, which has been one of the brand's bestsellers since 2011. The 41mm watch has a sleek, graphic look with sharp angles and reliefs designed, cut, beveled and polished to look like the black baguette diamonds on the Caviar watch.

It's fitted with the HUB1112 self-winding mechanical movement. The 5N gold dial has a date window at 3 o'clock. It has a power reserve of 42 hours. The strap is made of either shiny silver or 5N gold colored calfskin sewn onto black rubber.

The timepiece also is available in a steel version, with 36 diamonds on the bezel and the same size, movement, look and workmanship as the “red” model. 

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Christie's Geneva to Sell 101-Carat Flawless Diamond


Christie’s Geneva is offering what it says is the world’s largest flawless diamond to ever be offered at auction. The auction house calls the 101.73-carat, pear-shaped D color, type IIA flawless gem “absolute perfection.” It will be the highlight of the May 15 Magnificent Jewels auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. The estimate is available upon request.

“A perfect diamond is the result of the skill and vision of a master cutter who is able to uncover beauty from a rough gem,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of Jewellery, Christie’s Switzerland and Americas. “This diamond is in its scale, quality and rarity one of the most beautiful ‘white’ diamonds Christie’s has ever had the honor of offering for sale.”

The diamond meets every criteria of perfection, according to the auction house. The Gemological Institute of America graded it with the best color, D, and the best clarity. In addition, fewer than 2 percent of the world’s diamond meets the type IIA criteria for transparency and brilliance.

The diamond was carved from a 236-carat rough diamond that was found at the Jwaneng Mine in Botswana, according to the auction house. It took 21 months to polish.

Out of a total annual worldwide diamond production in excess of 100 million carats, the Gemological Institute of America estimates there are no more than 600 diamond crystals that finish as polished stones between one and two carats and that are D color, flawless clarity, the auction house says. Above ten carats this figure decreases dramatically. For a diamond of more than 100 carats …

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