Sotheby’s to Auction Record Setting Pink Star Diamond

Sotheby’s is set to auction off this 59.60 Carat Fancy Vivid Pink wonder. The diamond world expects it to set a record for the most valuable diamond every sold at auction. With estimates at roughly $60 Million U.S. Dollars, it sounds like it will do the trick. Initially we were surprised, but after doing some research, we could not turn up a pricier stone sold on the open market. There are plenty of large diamonds in sovereign collections that are more highly valued, but they are not available to the highest bidder – regardless of what he or she is willing to pay. So if you’ve got an extra $60M lying around, why not take a chance on owning this beauty. It’s guaranteed to make somebody’s day. Our money is on a phone buyer from a developing economy.

 

 

Collecting Vintage & Antique Silver Jewelry – Life Lessons Learned

Collecting Vintage & Antique Silver Jewelry – Life Lessons Learned

by Marjorie

It would require several lifetimes to complete a truly representative collection of Vintage Silver Jewelry – I know because after 25 years of avid collecting, I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available in the marketplace. I hope that my early experience in this hobby (read obsession) will be of some benefit to those just starting out.

My Feeding Frenzy

Initially, I had no focus. If it was silver and it was vintage – I bought it. Within a year or two I had amassed a sizeable collection of brooches, rings, necklaces, chatelaines, bracelets of every type and enough earrings to decorate the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. But – the collection was severely lacking. Common brands like Beau and CarlArt were over represented. I had too many thoughtless, gaudy leaf brooches and an unjust supply of once vermeil, but now “spotty” rings.  The euphoria of “buying” had worn off  – It was a real crisis and the diagnosis was grim.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t buy everything!

My Deco Delusion

The only solution was to liquidate the bulk of the collection and get some focus. I re-engaged by visiting my favorite antique stores and limiting my purchases to one essential piece a month. There was an early inclination to target Deco pieces – but I know now that was just because it seemed like the “sophisticated” answer to my earlier mistakes. I bought a classic 800 silver and black French paste bracelet, a marcasite studded Raven (which turned out to be a reproduction) and a pair of matching geometric bangles. I wasn’t happy.

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t focus on eras, cultures or brands just because they sound cool. Don’t worry about whether other people will be impressed by your taste.

I get in touch with my inner Taxco

I kept the Deco pieces – as a reminder to never buy anything again that I wouldn’t wear if I was just spending the day at home and to instead focus on the pieces that made me happy. The only piece from my early collecting days that I wore regularly was a stark green quartz and 980 silver Taxco brooch. It incorporated a mix of modernistic lines and more naturalistic swirls in striking to contrast to each other. I loved this piece (I left in an airport bathroom along with my jacket). How stupid I was not to recognize that this was MY STYLE! – and should be the focus of the collection. It was easy to find like minded folks at the growing number of flea markets and swap meets in here in the North East. I got to know quality dealers and learned to identify periods, styles and even individual designers without having to remove a piece from a display case. My collection was smaller – and I was happier for it.

LESSON LEARNED: Figure out what you honestly like and stick with that to start. Find other people who share your passion and try to learn as much as you can from them.

The Dawn of the Information Age (at least for me!)

Then came the growth of online shopping ….. suddenly every imaginable piece was at my fingertips. I was in grave danger of again entering a remorseless feeding frenzy – but I though back on my CarlArt days and focused on disciplined buying. I learned that some of my prized possessions were not quite as rare as I’d thought and that others were far more valuable than I believed. Most importantly – I learned more than I ever could have even if I travelled to every flea market and antique store in the country. By prudently shopping on eBay and Etsy, I was able to put together a museum worthy collection. I am hoping to share some photos with all of you in the next time I contribute to the Hunter Ridge blog.

LESSON LEARNED: The internet is evil! (Just kidding). Stay focused on quality even when the market and / or your access to it changes.

Thanks – and best of luck in your collecting endeavors.

Suspects in Massive Jewel Heist Arrested

Much as we all know it’s wrong, there is something undeniably appealing about the idea of a jewel heist (as long as no one gets hurt).  Who could not love those suave, well educated, impeccably dressed continentals with access to the criminal underground and a bevy of infiltration devices that the NSA would envy?  Maybe I’ve seen too many movies….

Spanish Authorities announced the arrest of several skilled jewel thieves in a $31 Million Exotic Watch heist. Among the nearly 1,700 stolen watches there appear to have been several $300K-$400K custom platinum pieces with masterwork Swiss movements.

Check out this article for more info http://www.idexonline.com/portal_FullNews.asp?id=38713

The announcement of this arrest seems to be just the latest development in what can only be described as a tsunami of European jewel heists targeting super-high end baubles. While premium watches are often the bounty, tens of millions of dollars in fine designer jewelry has also been swiped. See here http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21582575-jewellery-thefts-are-much-more-spectacular-another-french-exception

Many of the heists have occurred along the picturesque French Riviera during high profile events when the rich and famous (and the jeweler’s who adorn them) have their best pieces on display. From Million Dollar Flawless diamonds to Chopard’s keystone pieces, many of them are still unaccounted for to this day.

It seems that these guys are not all “suave” cat burglars. While some of the the thefts had all the makings of a “Pink Panther’ movie, the bulk are more accurately described as “smash and grabs”.  This tried and true method for making someone else’s belongings your own might lack the cache of a masterfully executed houdini-worthy disappearing act, but the smash grab is deadly effective. Break Barrier – Take Stuff – Run Like Hell!

It’s easy to blame the downturn in the economy for the seeming rise in high profile jewel thefts, but there are no doubt other causes including unpreparedness, over-reliance on insurance and a lack of armed patrol officers in many of the theft ridden jurisdictions.  We’ll be following this unfortunate trend in the coming months.

 

New Jersey Amber Jewelry

Tiny oblong pebble of reddish Amber

Tiny Oblong Reddish New Jersey Amber Pebble Currently for Sale in our eBay Store

      As you might expect, we come across a lot of amber jewelry in our travels. Frequent trips to the Dominican Republic and the Mexican Yucatan over the last several years have allowed us to accumulate an impressive collection of raw amber specimens and amber jewelry.   Interestingly, last year we learned that some of the most paleontolgically valuable amber specimens in the world come from a New Jersey town called Sayreville. (It is still possible to collect specimens in this semi-coastal town with appropriate permission from local landowners.)

The New Jersey Amber is true Amber, not Copal, and dates from the late middle Cretaceous Period (roughly 90 million years old). [1] We were fortunate enough to visit last year with a local collector who goes by the name “Hopper”.  Hopper explained that the most of the amber he collects comes from the surface of a large clay pit in the center of the town. A combination of frequent excavations, prior mining activity, and natural forces have resulted in a scattering of mostly pea sized amber pebbles across a flat surface.

Hopper provided us with several samples of the Amber he’s collected along with a string of beads that he polished and drilled from the tiny amber pebbles. The amber comes in a variety of colors from clear a yellowish honey amber to a dark brown nearly opaque amber with heavy inclusions. Some of the prettiest pieces are a gentle reddish yellow. All of the amber pebbles have an oxidation crust on the outside that prevents their real beauty from coming through. It can be easily polished off or the pebble can be placed in water. The water temporarily hydrates the oxidized crust and creates the illusion of polish.

When we got back to our workshop, we began brainstorming as to how to incorporate the unique amber pebbles into wearable jewelry. The amber presents two limiting issues:

            1. The pieces are small in size;

            2. The amber is more brittle than other amber we’ve encountered.

Enlarged Image of the New Jersey Amber Pebbles – Note the color and opacity variance – they are under water to enhance their color and clarity
Enlarged Image of the New Jersey Amber Pebbles – Note the color and opacity variance – they are under water to enhance their color and clarity

So far, the leading ideas are: 1) to use them like branch pearls in a sculptural brooch or pendant (possible an Egyptian style bird); 2) to partially submerge them in acrylic over engine-turned sterling silver plank and then cut the plank into triangular earring faces; 3) to simply drill them as is and hang them from 14K gold wire as hook earrings. We would greatly appreciate any other ideas or design suggestions.

  

 


[1] Grimaldi & Agosti, A Formicine in New Jersey Cretaceous Amber, PNAS December 5, 2000

vol. 97 no. 25 (This is a peer reviewed paper that discusses a “worker ant” found by the author in a Sayreville Amber specimen. The intended audience is scientifically oriented people. It’s not impossible to get through for the lay person, but not an easy read either).