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Friday, June 30, 2017

Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Chaumet Will Return To La Biennale Paris In 2018

The entrance to the Grand Palais during the 2016 La Biennale Paris. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

The big news for jewelry lovers wasn’t even announced at the Tuesday press breakfast hosted by a few of the new board members of the La Biennale Paris (formerly known as Biennale des Antiquaires), the annual event held at the Grand Palais in Paris in September. 

In the world I cover the story is that the Place Vendôme jewelers—Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Chaumet—will return to La Biennale in 2018. These French brands and other jewelers (Wallace Chan and Bulgari among them) left the antiques fair last year when the new board reduced the size of the exhibition booths. The French brands were a centerpiece of the annual fair. Their popularity also led the antiques complain that they were getting too much of the spotlight. it is after all an antiques and art fair

Mathias Ary Jan, president of the National des Antiquaires (SNA), which owns and operates the fair, said was important that the thoroughly French fair welcome these jewelry brands back into the fold. It seemed that the jewelers were also eager to return. 

“They are a vital part of our French heritage,” he said following the event. “It was important to have them participate.” 

Also representing the fair at the press breakfast were Eric Coatalem, SNA treasurer, and Christopher “Kip” Forbes, president of the Biennale Commission, which oversees the event. 

The jewelry portion of La Biennale was reduced from 14 exhibitors in 2014 to four in 2016—Cindy Chao, de Grisogono, Boghossian and Nirav Modi. (There were 14 jewelers in 2014.) None were from France and only one, de Grisogono, showed previously at the fair a number of years ago. They will all return this year. 

In addition, for the first time the fair will host Swiss watchmakers. The two chosen were F. P. Journe and DeWitt are known for producing a small number of high-end hand-crafted timepieces. This followed last year’s special presentation at the fair of an historical non-selling timepiece exhibit by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, an organization tasked with preserving the historical heritage of high watchmaking. 

The 2017 La Biennale Paris will be open to the public September 11 – 17, with a private viewing September 10. To date, there are 92 confirmed exhibitors, a number they would like to see improve as there were 113 exhibitors last year. 

A total of 29 exhibitors are from outside France. There are no exhibitors from the U.S., something that the SNA would like to change. In this regard one of Forbes’ major tasks will be to attract U.S. exhibitors and collectors to what is considered one of the world’s most important antiques fairs. On Monday, Forbes, vice chairman of the Forbes Publishing and avid art collector, with the two SNA representatives, hosted a reception for about 50 collectors and gallery owners. 

“For the Biennale not to have any American exhibitors, is something this dynamic new president (Jan) will address,” Forbes said. Both Forbes and Jan spoke about the landmark Grand Palais as an attraction and as a symbol of the fair’s importance.

“One of the challenges of the Grand Palais is everybody has to almost have to compete with one of the most staggeringly breathtaking buildings in Paris,” Forbes said. “So you have to raise the bar pretty high.” 

The main news has been known for some time. This year marks the first time the fair will be held annually since its founding in 1962. The organization, for now at least, will not change the “Biennale” name. 

This new group of leaders are very aggressive in making changes to the event so there will be more news coming. 

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Jewelry Designers at Couture and JCK Luxury

A petrified wood bracelet by designer Susan Oster of Feral Jewelry. Photo by Gretchen Friedrich

By Gretchen Friedrich, JNN Social Media Manager

My purpose for JCK and Couture 2017 was to seek out new designers and procure their stories. Breaking into the jewelry industry is challenging, as most established businesses consist of multiple generations and family members. New artisans often don’t have the family support and vendor relationships to aid in their success. They also tend to have a great deal of passion for their craft. 

The two women featured in this post are both newcomers to the jewelry industry, but they also have a common thread, their design background. Marcia Budet and Susan Oster entered the world of jewelry through a creative transfer of sorts. Budet has a formal education in architecture and Oster was in interior design for 16 years prior to her shift to jewelry design. 

A pair of earrings by Marcia Budet. Photo by Gretchen Friedrich

Marcia Budet: Elegantly Bold

Marcia Budet is a former JCK Rising Star award winner, and this year she debuted at Couture. Her “Elegantly Bold” style is evolving, with more challenging stone shapes and designs that reflect her architectural training. 

In my interview with her, she explains the features of her new pieces, created specifically for Couture. 

Susan Oster: Feral Jewelry

Susan Oster revealed her Feral Jewelry collection in the design section of the JCK Luxury show. This was her first jewelry industry show. Oster said she was a successful interior designer but wanted to explore a different creative pursuit. 

Aptly named, Feral Jewelry uses primal elements and recycled raw materials in each piece, including a 10,000 year-old piece of petrified wood as the centerpiece of a custom bracelet. 

Oster discusses her transition into jewelry in my interview with her at the show.

What’s Next?

Both Budet and Oster answered the “what’s next?” question with a laugh. But, these designers are never lacking for inspiration, and a passion for the creation process. 

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The High Jewels To See At 2017 Masterpiece London

A scene from the 2016 edition of Masterpiece London

All of the top names from the past and present of the high jewelry world will be there, such as Fabergé, Van Cleef & Arpels, Verdura, Belperron, Wallace Chan and Hemmerle. Other familiar names for avid jewelry collectors will be present as well, including Gustave Baugrand, Andrew Grima and Raymond Yard. There will be jewels from all periods and names that will be new to some of us as well.

The eighth edition of Masterpiece London opens to the public Thursday and will run till July 5. It’s an art fair first but the amount of quality jewels (old and new) on display is impressive. For the first time I will be attending the event although I will miss the today’s (Wednesday) preview, arguably the best time to go.

What follows is a preview of some of the jewels that will on display:

It appears that Van Cleef & Arpels will be bringing its Automate Fée Ondine to Masterpiece London, the bejeweled automaton that was the showstopper at the January SIHH 2017 luxury watch fair. The table-sized “jewel” consists of engraved and enameled silver strips, white, pink and yellow gold, diamonds, blue and colored sapphires, aquamarine, plique-à-jour enamel, silver, spessartite garnets, white opal, onyx, Mystery Set rubies and ebony veneer.

A diamond and natural pearl bracelet by Boghossian.

The "Bliss and Peace" necklace by Wallace Chan, which uses an imperial snuff bottle from the Daoguang period (1821-1850) of Qing dynasty.

From London dealer, Hancocks, an Egyptian gold scarab and multi-gem bead necklace by Marcus & Co., circa 1905.

Earrings crafted out of emeralds, silver and white gold, 2016, by Hemmerle.

From Monaco jewelry dealer, Véronique Bamps, Van Cleef & Arpels “Ludo Hexagone” clip brooches and bracelet made of 18k gold and diamonds, circa 1935.

From London dealer, Sandra Cronan, an emerald-shaped aquamarine gem on a clip by Raymond Yard with four tapered slivers of opal on two diagonally opposing corners with two rows of diamond running up each side, circa 1933.

From the jointly owned jewelry brands, Verdura and Belperron, the Verdura Raja ring with a Ceylon sapphire center stone surrounded by turquoise and diamonds.

From London dealer, S.J. Phillips, a 19th century pink topaz, diamond and emerald insect brooch, circa 1890.

From London dealer, Wartski, an enamel and gem-set neo-Egyptian brooch by Gustave Baugrand.

The Underwater Ring by London jeweler, Theo Fennell.

From London jeweler, Chatila, an 8.18-carat pear shaped fancy purplish pink diamond on a ring flanked by two white diamonds.

From London dealer, Didier, an 18k gold ring in the form of a self-portrait of the artist, Marisol Escobar, her hair tied in coils around her ears, and set with ruby eyes. Number 32 from an edition of 100, circa 1970.

From London jewelry brand, Grima, yellow gold drop earrings set with golden diamonds and drop-shaped garnets by Jojo Grima, 2006.

From London dealer, Symbolic & Chase, a cultured pearl and platinum ring by Jean Despres.

From New York dealer, A La Vieille Russie, a miniature fish-form egg pendant by Fabergé, using wood and gem-set gold.

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet, the Forbes website and on Instagram @JewelryNewsNetwork

Monday, June 19, 2017

Asteria Is Bringing Colored Diamonds Online To U.S. Consumers

Natural fancy colored diamonds are among the most sought after gems in the world, with the very best and rarest regularly breaking worldwide auction records. Israeli-based Asteria Diamonds is one of a few companies that provide high-quality colored diamonds online to consumers. The brand is currently targeting the U.S. market with new offices in New York and Chicago.

Asteria was founded by Bashari Diamonds (Israel) Ltd., a wholesale diamond manufacturing business founded in 1973.

2.29-carat fancy light greenish blue radiant shaped diamond on a diamond ring

As technology in how diamonds are manufactured and distributed advanced in recent years, Bashari saw it was time to create a diamond brand for consumers using its wholesale inventory. Asteria Diamonds was born in 2008. The brand first specialized in white diamonds for the burgeoning luxury market in China, which it had already entered with its wholesale business.

As online retail, marketing and social media continued changing and becoming more global, in 2012 Asteria launched its global eCommerce website (

1.84-carat fancy yellow-green diamond surrounded by white and colored diamonds, $28,661

Today Asteria specializes in fancy colored diamonds, but also sells white diamonds, colored gemstones and diamond jewelry. The company says it offers its entire inventory directly to consumers at wholesale prices. Even though it is an online retailer, the company says it can provide personalized service throughout the world.

The website offers a full breadth of fancy colored diamonds, spanning all different sizes, cuts, qualities and colors. Prices reflect this diversity, ranging from as low as $400 to more than $150,000. The brand also offers statement diamonds not listed on the website.

3.3-carat fancy light yellow diamond engagement ring

Prices for a full collection of diamond jewels also vary widely based on the quality of the diamond and the design and can run more than $600,000. There were several pieces in which the price was only given upon request.

The brand is certainly keen on pushing fancy colored diamonds for engagement rings, something that has had limited success in the past with U.S. consumers. The trend in colored gems for engagement has a long history among the rich and famous and Asteria is working hard to increase the popularity of this trend.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Top Jewels and Designers At The 2017 Couture Show

If I could I would spend four days of my time in Las Vegas during jewelry week at The Couture Show. It’s become the best show in terms of the quality of pieces and the most enjoyable in terms of the overall comfortable, informal yet luxurious environment. This year I had two days and it just wasn’t enough time to see all of the quality designers. So this list of 26 jewels is among the best I saw at the show but there were certainly much more to see.

New York-based designer, Coomi, presented an exceptional offering of jewels ranging from traditional high jewelry pieces to a special collection based on an historic piece of architecture to items made with objects from antiquity. In many ways it was typical of what Coomi produces each year at Couture but this year the artistry and creativity was prolific. The items on display included a collection of beautiful, sea-blue paraiba tourmalines set in 20k white gold and paired with diamonds.

An extremely rare and very large natural saltwater pearl from the Melo Melo sea snail. The 23.8 x 23.3 x 23.1 mm, “non-nacreous pearl” is set in an 18k rose gold and diamond pavé bezel enclosure. It is valued at well over $700,000, says the pearl house, Assael, which presented this and other sea treasures at its booth.

The David Webb brand made its first appearance at Couture, featuring new and period pieces that combine materials, colors and themes.

The Atoli (atolls) pendant necklace Antonini. An 18k yellow gold oval with delicate curves surrounds a circle of diamond pavé over rough textured white gold that enhances the sparkle of the diamonds.

Spectacular blue opals and azurite (rarely used in jewelry) mounted on gold and surrounded by assorted gems is the latest collection from the dreamlike world of Lydia Courteille.

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2017, Picchiotti created “L’Anfiteatro,” an 8.05-carat ruby ring inspired by a classic amphitheater.

French designer, Elie Top, unveiled a new collection of elaborate two-sided pieces based on astrology and other celestial imagery called, “Cosmogonie secrete” (Secret Cosmogony).

The House of Garrard brought some of its high jewelry to Couture including this statement diamond and ruby necklace.

Mother of pearl earrings by Goshwara.

The unusual ametrine stone, a mix of amethyst and citrine, used for a pair of earrings by John Hardy.

Designer Lisa Nik introduced her own “kite”-shaped gemstones at Couture.

Paraiba tourmaline and opal cuff by Saboo Fine Jewels.

Sterling silver with the look and feel of swirling twigs enhanced with golden leaves and white diamond tips make up this organic and artistic cuff by Michael Aram

A 22k gold locket with oxidized silver and diamonds by Arman Sarkisyan.

A bracelet featuring an opal owl surrounded with multi-colored gems by Wendy Yue.

Round precious materials inside golden cages is the premise behind Yael Sonia’s geometric inspired perpetual motion collection.

The Plumage three-finger ring by Stephen Webster in 18k white gold, white rhodium plating, marquise shape emeralds 4.58ct and white diamond pavé.

Three fluid 18k yellow gold bands connect and topped with six brilliant round diamonds in the Whirl Ring by Carelle.

White gold star clusters set with white diamonds by Colette.

Fabergé Emotion ring made with multi-colored sapphires, white diamonds, rubies, tsavorites and emeralds, set in 18k yellow gold.

Sterling silver with the look and feel of swirling twigs enhanced with golden leaves and white diamond tips make up this organic and artistic cuff by Michael Arman.

Pearl-centric designer, Mizuki, presented creative ways to match her multi-colored and –shaped pearls with gems and diamonds.

The jewelry brand, Noudar, uses Arabian themes and influences in its jewels, including its popular lace-like gold chokers in several colors.

A three-layer cluster diamond necklace with matching ring by Qayten.

18k gold with white and black diamond pavé with three center diamonds are used for Sara Weinstock’s Veena Shield pendant.

A bracelet in topaz and white gold in a signature design by Selim Mouzannar.

Anita Ko necklace using two rows of diamonds, each row with a different shape.

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