June 2012 Archives

As acts of veneration, Hindu temples frequently adorn their idols with gold jewelry. For obvious reasons, it is extremely rare for these sorts of pieces to make it to the market, but Bonhams is currently selling a 28-piece private collection of 17th-19th Century pieces.

Gold PendentsGold Kevacham. The word kevacham (kavacham) means armor, and refers to decorative armor worn by the god or goddess.
Wrought silver necklaceGold braid in the form of a snake. " On festive occasions, women in South India sometimes wear long linked ornaments (jadai nagam) over the lengths of their braids depicting cobras symbolizing fertility and sexuality"*

A closeup of the snake-braid

The finest piece of the collection, at least from photos in the press-release, is a large gold necklace



From Retronaut, it comes with the following caption:

Will Robertson of the Washington Bicycle Club riding an American Star Bicycle down the steps of the United States Capitol in 1885




Chopard Happy X

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Where apparently X can be any noun.  Chopard (mentioned before) has added Happy Fish and Happy Beach pieces to their "Happy" collection, the sprawling set of pieces, begun with the Happy Diamond, with little mobile gems over the dial. 

For summer they have added 3 more pieces to the Happy Sport collection, a Happy Fish and a pair of Happy Beach watches. For both of the Happy Fish watches there are small gem-set fish bouncing across the dial, which is printed with fish. For the Happy Beach, there are gem-set flip-flops (really!)

Happy Fish, a 38mm steel case with a sapphire set in the crown. The movement is QuartzHappy Fish Gold, 38mm case and small white diamonds on the bezel and lugs

Finally the Happy Beach chronograph, with a 42mm rose-gold case and uni-directional rotating bezel.



I've always hated the old chestnut and I'm glad someone else does as well, but with better illustrative technique



One more piece from the Annoushka Fantasie Jubilee collectio, the Prince Charming Ring.  14,000£ gets you an 18kt gold frog set with diamonds, sapphires and garnets clutching a pearl-studded crown, all as a ring.  




Graff Postpones IPO

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The Graff Diamond Company(previously mentioned), which sells some of the most impressive stones you're ever likely to see in a store you can go into, has postponed it's weird IPO indefinitely.  The idea of the IPO was to raise enough cash to open a few stores in Asia, and buy up the private collection of Lawrence Graff, the CEO/President, but that isn't what seems to have spiked the deal.  The weak market and the fact that 40% of their revenue comes from 20 customers, that seems to be the problem.  So with sales of $700 million last year, their top customers are spending $35,000,000...each.

And here's one of their divers watches for no reason, which seems to be the same reason they got into that market.  I don't actually dislike the watch, the subtle gradations of the dial, trying to simulate light falloff in the ocean, are quite nice, but it seems to be entirely disconnected from their market and strength.


(image source)

Since it's the diamond-jubilee year of Queen Elizabeth, some of the jewelry brands, particularly those with some, no matter how tangental, connection are putting out themed collections. To be fair, we've seen much sillier reasons for a themed collections!

The first pieces were all designed by Wendy Yue for Annoushka, all are 18kt white gold and set with diamonds, rubies, garnets and sapphires. The collection ranges in price from 11,000£ to 16500£.

Serpent RingLizard Ring
Lion Ring. The coral-colored part of the crown is, in fact, cut and polished coral.

From Stephen Webster (previously mentioned) and Garrard comes a more obviously-connected collection. Garrard, apart from being the oldest jewelry house in the world, has a long-standing connection with the House of Windsor, including being the maker of most of the currently used crowns. There are 12 items in the Diamond Jubilee collection, each including the eponymous birthstone. June has an additional pearl in the orb set atop the crown.

January pendent, set with Garnet September pendent set with blue sapphire
Stephen-Webster-Garrards-January-Jubilee-Pendant---Garnet.jpg Stephen-Webster-Garrards-September-Jubilee-Pendant---Sapphire.jpg

From Theo Fennell comes a collection of rather bland, if nice, pieces. I think the rings, particularly the white-gold one, are nicer then either the earrings or the necklace.
Yellow gold and amethyst } White gold and blue sapphire
Chandelier Earrings, set with rubies and pearlsNecklace set with a large, heart-shaped briolette-cut amethyst.

Finally a collection from Solange Azagury-Partridge(previously mentioned), the Regalia. It's an interesing melding of a couple of traditional elements, the ribbon from the "Order of the Garter" (the highest current order of chivalry) done in guilloche enamel and surrounded with rose-cut diamonds(an antique, low-facet-count cut rarely seen since the early 20th century). In the context of enameling, guilloche refers to the engine-work done under the surface of translucent enamel. It was perfected by, and most commonly seen, Fabergé's workshops.

Regalia Ring in white gold and blue enamel, set with brilliant-cut diamondsCushion ring, white-gold and blue enamel set with a large cushion-cut diamond, with brilliant-cut diamonds as accent
Regalia earrings, in the usual white gold, blue enamel and diamond

A second part of this collection has a series of "titled" rings, all in enamel, gold and diamonds. The Duchess is my favorite, with the deep purple-blue and the central rose-cut stone.


There are a few other brands with Jubilee-themed pieces, Backes & Strauss (the oldest diamond house still in business), Georg Jensen and even the rejuvinated East India Company(previously mentioned), but they'll have to wait



In the middle of May, Sotheby's auctioned off 60 lots, part of a collection of jewelry by Suzanne Belperron (1900-1983). This is one of the largest collections of her designs in private hands. She worked continuously from 1930 until about 1970, a rare female designer in a predominantly male business, selling to all the usual celebrities of the day, from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Colette, Jean Cocteau and Gary Cooper.

Rock-crystal ring set with a diamond in a thin gold chatonRock-crystal broach set with small brilliant-cut diamonds
Yellow-gold ring set with an emerald-cut diamond. This was her personal engagement ring, made in 1923Platinum broach in the form of a branch, set with diamonds and both cut and cabuchoned sapphires.



In the recent Christie's auction there were several Breguet(previously mentioned), as in made by A.L. Breguet the man not the brand, watches for sale, including 2 grand complications.  Both had been bought originally by various European nobility and passed down in private hands for more than 150 years. 

The first is Breguet No. 2667, originally sold in 1814, has 2 independent timekeeping movements, the one on the right driving the main sweep-second hand.   In a yellow-gold case it sold for $4,680,120, the current record price for a Breguet watch at auction.

The second piece, number 4111, is a half-quarter* repeating watch with an equation of time indication, power-reserve and complete annual calendar, originally sold in 1827.  It hammered at $2,750,760.

Both watches were bought by Breguet, the modern brand, probably to be part of their museum collection in Paris.

* Repeating watches are described by the accuracy of their chimes.  An hour repeater only chimes the nearest hour, a quarter repeater chimes the hour and the number of quarter-hours past (so 11:35 would chime 11:2, 11:45 being 11:3).  A half-quarter was a "cheaper than a minute repeater" design of the 19th century that chimed the number of 7.5 minute increments past the hour, so 11:35 would be 11:4 and 11:38 would 11:5.

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