Category Archives: Celebrity Engagements

Lady Gaga’s Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Lady Gaga's Engagement Ring with this 1-Carat Heart-Shaped Diamond and Platinum Engagement Band. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Lady Gaga’s Engagement Ring with this 1-Carat Heart-Shaped Diamond and Platinum Engagement Band. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Lady Gaga’s engagement ring is a stunning vision in platinum and diamonds. Designed by esteemed jewelry designer, Lorraine Schwartz, it has all the bespoke elements one would expect from the celebrity designer.

From the top, it dazzles in over 6 carats of white diamond brilliance in a perfect heart shape. The only metal visible takes shape as three dainty platinum prongs which are attached to a rim of metal hidden out of sight beneath the girdle of the impeccable diamond.

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True to form, Ms. Schwartz placed the most intimate personal touches on the backside of the ring. First, a delicate framework of diamonds and platinum effortlessly cradles the large diamond.

A view from beneath shows the four spokes of platinum encrusted with tiny white diamonds radiating out from a diamond-lined, heart-shaped center. These spokes rise like ribbons to meet a larger heart-shaped rim of diamonds which gently, but firmly cups the large central diamond.

Not only does this delicate cradle add support, but like a beautiful silk chemise or a pair of lacy panties, it imparts a touch of personal glamour worn intimately against the skin of Lady Gaga’s finger.

Also emerging from this central heart-shaped gallery are the shoulders of the platinum band. From the very top to the very bottom, this delicate band is completely iced in diamonds so that none of the metal is seen. This is a Lorraine Schwartz signature feature.

One final detail, and Lady Gaga’s favorite, by her own admission, is ‘T♥S ‘ shaped into platinum at the very base of the band. The symbols stand for ‘Taylor loves Stefani’, and as must be expected, the whole thing is sugarcoated in teensy white diamonds.

Heart-shaped diamonds are both iconic and romantic. Lady Gaga’s engagement ring is a tribute to both the icon and the romance of love!

Are you in search of a diamond and platinum wonder that holds in its very nature the essence of adoration, devotion, and affection?

If you answered yes to this question, then may we recommend the above diamond and platinum engagement ring?

It features a beautiful 1-carat, heart-cut diamond mounted on a twisting platinum band with its own sugarcoating of diamonds. Click here to read more about how to make it yours!

Holly Madison’s Wedding Rings

Capture the Essence! of Holly Madison's eternity wedding bands with this Marquise Diamond Eternity Ring. This gorgeous ring features over 5 carats of brilliant white diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Holly Madison’s eternity wedding bands with this Marquise Diamond Eternity Ring. This gorgeous ring features over 5 carats of brilliant white diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Holly Madison’s wedding rings are absolutely stunning. Because more is always better, the reality TV star and reigning queen of Insomniac Events’ Electric Daisy Carnival, received two stunners from husband Pasquale Rotella. Working closely with Layna and Alan Friedman to design the absolutely gorgeous eternity bands.

One is crafted from either white gold or platinum and features 15 carats of emerald-cut white diamonds nestled side by side. The second is crafted of 18k yellow gold and features 14 fancy intense yellow diamonds, totaling 12 carats, cut in the cushion style.

For Pasquale, Holly asked the Friedmans to design a magnificent matte rhodium wedding band. At a casual glance, its a simple affair. However, snugly nestled between the band and his finger are 300 black pavé diamonds. A plaque featuring a carved “Night Owl” is the only interruption in a sea of black.

In addition to Rotella and Madison’s wedding rings, the Friedmans created the extravagant diamond tiara that Holly Madison wore during her Disneyland wedding on September 10, 2013. The exquisite floral crown features three large iris-type flowers paved entirely in white diamonds. Each flower features a single prong-set diamond in its center.

A smattering of round brilliants add a touch of decorative elegance, and two smaller flowers serve as anchor points on either end. Crafted in white gold, this exquisite tiara features over 2,400 white diamonds. With nearly 47 carats of sparkling diamonds, it must have glittered like the electric sky that is so celebrated at the Pasquale’s most celebrated Electric Daisy Carnival.

Holly Madison’s Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Holly Madison's EDC engagement ring with this Vintage Diamond Owl Cocktail Ring. The Night Owl is the mascot of Electric Daisy Carnival, over which Holly Madison reigns as Queen Supreme. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Holly Madison’s EDC engagement ring with this Vintage Diamond Owl Cocktail Ring. The Night Owl is the mascot of Electric Daisy Carnival, over which Holly Madison reigns as Queen Supreme. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Holly Madison’s engagement ring features a showstopping 18-carat, cushion-cut yellow diamond. This huge diamond is mounted in what looks like rose gold in a bezel-style setting decorated with milgrain details. Further security is added by four claw-like platinum prongs.

The body of the ring is fashioned out of what looks like platinum, though it could be white gold. The shank and shoulders are deeply carved, giving them a tree-branch appearance. A collection of pink, yellow, and blue daisies made of gold and colored gemstones provide the cathedral support for the diamond center stone.

These gorgeous daisies, fashioned out of pink, yellow, and blue diamonds and mounted in what looks like rose gold, are clustered together on the sides, top, and bottom of the diamond. The bezel setting extends far down the pavilion, allowing a stylized owl to peek out from behind these side daisies. The daisies and owls are completely symbolic of the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Indeed, the entire ring is a tribute to the EDC, as its known by fans and participants. Holly Madison and her now-husband Pasquale Rotella are the queen and king of the EDC, a festival that calls itself a movement.

Mr. Rotella, whom Forbes calls a “live events entrepreneur,” created the festival as a way to celebrate electronic dance music culture in an atmosphere that stands for Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. The electric daisy represents the umbrella of love and unity under which a collection of misfits can come together to experience a true sense of family.

The festival’s mascot, a giant “Night Owl”, signifies the nocturnal nature of the ravers as it calls its followers to spread their wings and fly as they enjoy the nocturnal wonderland of the EDC. It is with this huge, theatrical family that Pasquale and Madison went to for one of their most memorable nights.

It was at EDC Las Vegas, on June 22, 2014, that Pasquelle Rotella proposed to his sweetheart, Holly Madison. He slipped this exquisite ring on her finger, a ring he designed himself, with the help of jewelers Layna and Alan Friedman of Premier Beverly Hills Jewelry Designers. Under the magic of an electric daisy sky, the couple “rode around the festival on the art car until the sun came up” {cited}. All the while Ms. Madison wore this wondrous ring on her finger!

The Krupp Jewel Heist

The Krupp Diamond was recovered by the FBI in 1959, in a Las Vegas heist carried out by four gunmen. This is a photo of a replica of the famous diamond from the FBI's website.
The Krupp Diamond was recovered by the FBI in 1959, in a Las Vegas heist carried out by four gunmen. This is a photo of a replica of the famous diamond from the FBI’s website.

The Krupp Jewel Heist was big news in Nevada in the 1950s. In early April 1959, Vera Krupp heard a knock at her door.

“Who is it?” she called.

“Ma’am, I’m here with my  crew. We’d like to offer a good price for paving your driveway,” he answered.

Paving her long drive made some sense. It would certainly be less upkeep, and money certainly wasn’t a huge issue. Perhaps she turned to her foreman, with whom she had been enjoying an afternoon drink {4}. Might he have nodded his approval?

Whatever transpired in those minutes between the knock and what happened next, Vera could not have been prepared for the four gunmen that forced their way in after she opened the door {4}. All her self-assurance must have leaked out as she watched them handcuff her foreman while they tied her up.

She must have cried out in pain and anguish as they forcibly ripped the Krupp jewel off her finger, causing her to bleed. It was this prize that had alerted one James George Reves, to the potential score he might be able to make off the Baroness Krupp.

A Gambler Makes His Move

He is reported to have taken notice of the ring during one of Ms. Krupp’s visits to town. Being a gambler, Reves decided to take a chance and get some boys together to make a move. Their efforts paid off. After blindfolding their victims and tying them back to back with the cord of a nearby lamp, the crooks walked away with $700,00 in cash and $340,000 in jewels {2; 4}.

After a huge struggle, Vera and her foreman broke free and attempted to call for help. Unfortunately, a dead battery in the phone stopped them in their tracks. Their only option was to drive 24 miles to the airport for help. The FBI was brought in on the case immediately {2}.

Meanwhile, the crooks reconvened in Las Vegas, where it was decided that Mr. Reves would attempt to sale the jewel intact. He and his wife set out on a trip across the States, looking for a dealer willing to take such a huge risk .

The Krupp Jewel Winds Up in New Jersey

A tip in Miami set Mr. Reves on a course toward Newark, New Jersey. Apparently to fund this leg of his journey, Mr. Reves had fenced the baguette diamond accent stones in Chicago {4}. To keep a low profile, Mr. Reves and his wife checked into a motel in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where they made arrangements to meet a man named Julius Berger.

The FBI had already nabbed one of Reves’ partners, a fugitive named John William Hagenson {2}. It took another six weeks for word to reach the agents in Newark about a local grocer trying to pawn a large diamond in Elizabeth. A raid of the Cadillac Motel, where Reves and his wife were staying, was arranged, six weeks after the initial theft, by Special Agent in Charge William Simon of the Newark FBI {4}.

The Krupp Jewel is Recovered

According to Special Agent Bert Stickler, a thorough search was made of the hotel room without any luck. He writes that he decided to search a closet filled with clothes one last time. Since the pockets had already been searched, Agent Stickler decided to run his hands over every inch of material he could get his hands on. He found the diamond sewn into the lining of a sports jacket and turned it over to the agent in charge {4}.

A trial was held in November 1959, during which Mr. Hagenson, Mr. Reves, and several other suspects were tried before a jury {2}. By December, all the suspects were convicted, though Hagenson was released after winning an appeal {2}. The diamond was returned to Vera Krupp, who appears to have changed her habits after her harrowing experience.

First, she had a secret bedroom and bathroom added at the end of a long corridor.  The access to this safety zone was hidden behind a few of the wood panels on her bedroom wall. According to one report, though she continued to wear the Krupp Diamond almost daily, when she went to town she pinned it to her bra strap to keep it out of the public eye {1}. She also paid for the right to become a starred deputy of the Red Rock Canyon area {3}.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

References

  1. Clarke, Norm. “DJ finds out popularity doesn’t translate to job security,” Las Vegas Review, January 4, 2002.
  2. FBI, The. “A Byte Out of History: The Case of the Disappearing Diamond.” Last updated November 17, 2006.
  3. Papa, Paul W. Discovering Vintage Las Vegas: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops, Restaurants, Casinos and More. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2014.
  4. Stickler, Bert P. “The Krupp Diamond Case.” Published in Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, INC. Turner Publishing Company Staff, 1996.

Cartier Turban Ornament for the Maharajah of Kapurthala

The Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala wears the Cartier Turban Ornament fashioned in 1926. The largest hexagonal emerald weighs 117.40 carats.
The Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala wears the Cartier Turban Ornament fashioned in 1926. The largest hexagonal emerald weighs 117.40 carats.

The Cartier Turban Ornament, made in 1926 for the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, has been called by Newsweek “one of the most famous pieces Cartier has made” {2}.

Designed by Royalty?

 

According to the Maharajah’s great-grandson, Tikkaraja Shatrujit Singh, the ornament was drawn by Jagatjit Singh himself {2}. It features nineteen emeralds in varying sizes and shapes and numerous pearls and white diamonds for accent. The emeralds belonged to the vast treasury of the Maharajah, who commissioned Cartier to reset them in this exquisite modernized turban ornament.

According to Hans Nadelhoffer, former president of Christie’s in Geneva, who wrote Cartier, the definitive work on the jewelry maison’s legendary history, notes that the design was pure Orientalism, a sure departure from the Art Deco style Cartier was known for during the 1920s. This may serve as further proof that Jagatjit Singh did indeed design the ornament himself.

The Cartier Turban Ornament

Nadelhoffer calls it a “pagoda-style tiara,” an apt description indeed {p. 166-67}. The large central emerald, a hexagonal cabochon, weighs 117.40 carats. It is surrounded by round and rose-cut diamonds with six white pearls at each point.

Just below it rests a smaller emerald cabochon with two wing-type clusters of diamonds set on either side. Beneath this stone hangs a cluster of pearls. Above the central stone rises a top knot of three more emeralds, one smaller hexagonal cabochon, one crescent-shaped, and one pear-shaped. Diamonds serve as accents between and atop these stones.

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Symmetrical swags of diamonds, emeralds, and pearls round out the piece on either side of this central display of opulence. Three oval-shaped cabochon emeralds form the foundation of these swags. Each one is surrounded by pave-set diamonds, and each has a round-cut diamond perched atop it.

Placed in between are two faceted, oval-shaped emeralds with a small emerald bead and a pearl mounted atop each one. A curving arch of diamonds holds everything in place, and a final diamond flourish in the shape of a crescent, with a single pearl resting in its shadow, finishes off the piece.

Upon the Brow of a Great Prince

In his book Cartier, Hans Nadelhoffer included a photograph of an ad taken out in Star Magazine in 1931. The ad included a full-spread photograph of the exquisite turban ornament along with the following caption: “For the Brow of a Great Prince” {1}.

Indeed, the Maharajah of Kapurthala was a great prince, and he loved the opulence his position and wealth afforded him. He commissioned the piece for his Golden Jubilee in 1926, and sat for the above portrait before the painter Marcel Baschet {1}. He wore the ornament throughout his jubilee celebrations and perhaps on other state occasions over the next ten years.

These occasions, if they happened, do not appear to have been recorded. There are only two other occasions Jagatjit Singh was known to have worn his Cartier Turban Ornament. One was during the Silver Jubilee of King George V of England in 1935 and two years later at the coronation of King George VI {3}.

References

  1. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. Chronicle Books, 2007, p. 162.
  2. Reddy, Sameer. “There’s Nothing Else Like it in the World,” Newsweek, May 26, 2008.
  3. Traveler’s India. “Lives of Indian Royalty in Europe: The heyday of European jewelers.” Zeno Marketing Communications, Inc., 2004.

What’s So Special About Orange Diamonds?

Capture the Essence! of Orange Diamonds with this Colored Diamond Cocktail Cluster Ring with Orange Diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Orange Diamonds with this Colored Diamond Cocktail Cluster Ring with Orange Diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

A fancy orange diamond mingles with fancy yellow, fancy green, blue, champagne, and white diamonds to form this gorgeous cluster cocktail ring set in 18k yellow gold.  Colored diamonds enjoy a special status in the world of jewels.

Not only are they rare, but they take the exquisite fire of a diamond to a whole new level. As demonstrated by this magnificent ring, colored diamonds come in nearly every color, but it is the orange diamond with which we are concerned today.

Orange Diamonds

Orange diamonds come in a variety of shades, ranging from faint orange to deep, vivid orange. It has long been believed that the color is a result of a nitrogen impurity in the carbon crystal structure. However, experts disagree about what causes the orange in diamonds.

Gemologists at William Goldberg cite nitrogen as the element responsible {2}. However, Harry Winston believes hydrogen is the culprit. Perhaps it is a combination of the two that really comes into play. For now, the true source of orange in diamonds remains a mystery {2}.

These orange beauties are found primarily in the mines of South Africa and Western Australia. Orange diamonds are counted among those other hard-to-find colors, such as blue, pink, red, and green.

The most desirable would be a Fancy Vivid Orange, which is an orange diamond without a hint of brown.  As you might expect, most of these rare beauties have become historically famous and now reside in the collections of some of the world’s most celebrated jewelry collectors.

Famous Orange Diamonds

Two of the most famous orange diamonds are the Pumpkin Diamond, owned as recently as 2003 by Harry Winston {7}, and the Koi Diamond, owned as recently as 2013 by the Rawstone Business Holding {1}.

The Pumpkin Diamond is a Fancy Vivid Orange which weighs 5.54 carats. It was mounted in a pinky ring designed by Harry Winston in 1997/98. It was worn by Halle Berry on her left hand during the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony. If you haven’t seen her acceptance speech, I highly recommend giving it a viewing. It remains one of Hollywood’s most moving moments.

The Koi Diamond is a multi-hued orange and white diamond weighing 32 carats, which has been cut in the shape of Japan’s celebrated Koi fish {1}. The pattern of colors adds to the resemblance and makes the Koi Diamond one of the most unique fancy-colored diamonds in the world.

Rare and Wonderful

Orange diamonds are the second rarest colored diamonds, with red being the rarest. According to William Goldberg, less than 1% of all diamonds are orange, with pure orange coming in at an even lower rate {8}. The grading of an orange diamond is based on tint and undertones. The Pumpkin Diamond has been classified with the rare distinction of pure vivid orange without a hint of brown, making it among the rarest of the rare.

What do you think of orange diamonds? Would you wear a fancy vivid orange diamond?

Perhaps your style would lead you away from the rarest of the rare and more toward a yellow-orange stone, or a browner orange, like the one pictured in the cocktail ring.

What about it? Which shade of orange do you prefer?

References

  1. Butler, Phil. “Sparkling Koi Diamond, the ultimate embodiment of Japanese legend and tradition,” Japan Today, May 19, 2013.
  2. Genis, Robert. “Collecting Orange Diamonds,” Gem Forecaster, November 2003.
  3. Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDA). “Orange Diamonds.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  4. Naturally Colored. “Orange Diamonds.” Accessed January 30, 2015. http://www.naturallycolored.com/diamond-education/orange-diamonds-wiki.
  5. Rachminov Diamonds, 1891. “Fancy Color.” PDF accessed January 30, 2015.
  6. Rare Colored Diamonds. “FAQs.” Accessed January 30, 2015. http://www.rarecoloreddiamonds.com/faqs.html.
  7. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “The Splendor of Diamonds.” Accessed January 30, 2015.
  8. William Goldberg. “Orange Diamonds: Colors of the Fall,” October 24, 2012.

Nina Dyer’s Black Pearl Necklace

Black pearls comprise one of the world's most celebrated jewels, Nina Dyer's Black Pearl Necklace. Celebrate the allure and mystery of Black Pearls with this Tahitian Black Pearl and Diamond Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Black pearls comprise one of the world’s most celebrated jewels, Nina Dyer’s Black Pearl Necklace. Celebrate the allure and mystery of Black Pearls with this Tahitian Black Pearl and Diamond Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

Nina Dyer’s Black Pearl Necklace is among the world’s most important black pearl jewels {Christie’s 1997}. It was commissioned by Baron Heinrich von Thyssen for his then-wife, a former model named Nina Dyer.

Fashioned by Cartier circa 1955, the necklace features an astounding 151 natural black pearls mounted in three strands with a diamond clasp. The largest strand features 53 pearls weighing a total of 979.52 grains {3}. The smaller strands feature 49 pearls each, weighing in at 644.72 grains and 787.44 grains {4}.

On May 1, 1969, four years after Ms. Dyer tragically killed herself at the age of 35, Christie’s brought the necklace to the attention of some of jewelry world’s most elite collectors and dealers. It was sold to an undisclosed buyer for 580,000 Swiss Francs ($607,648 in today’s dollars) {1}.

For nearly thirty years, Nina Dyer’s Black Pearl Necklace remained free from public scrutiny. That is until, in 1997, again under the hammer at Christie’s in Geneva, the magnificent necklace again made headlines with a realized price of $913,320.

After making this small splash in the news, one of the world’s most celebrated jewels has once again receded below the radar. Perhaps its on display in the library of a wealthy businessman. Or perhaps the European elite have seen it ’round the neck of a princess or countess at a charity ball.

Wherever it may be, I’m certain it’s enchanting those around it. If you wish to be enchanted by the mystery of the black pearl, please allow us the opportunity to introduce you to our collection of Tahitian black pear jewels.

References

  1. Christie’s. “Lot 88/Sale 1237: A Superb Three-Strand Black Pearl Necklace.” November 17, 1997.
  2. Jennifer. “The Black Panther Queen,” Jennifer Fabulous Blog, August 14, 2012.
  3. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier: Jewelers Extraordinary. New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., 1984.
  4. Veysey, Arthur. “Love, Tragedy, and a Fabulous Collection of Jewels,” Chicago Tribune, No. 117, April 27, 1969, Features p. 1.

Nina Dyer’s Jewels Fetch $2.9 Million in 1969

This pink and blue sapphire panther cocktail ring evokes the mystique of Nina Dyer's Cartier Panther jewels. Nina's panthers were embodied in white diamonds with blue sapphire spots and green garnet eyes. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
This pink and blue sapphire panther cocktail ring evokes the mystique of Nina Dyer’s Cartier Panther jewels. Nina’s panthers were embodied in white diamonds with blue sapphire spots and green garnet eyes. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Nina Dyer’s Jewels went under the block on Thursday, May 1, 1969, during Christie’s first jewelry auction in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Hans Nadelhoffer, as quoted in The New York Times (1985), Geneva was the 1960s hot spot for jewelry. The Swiss banks were booming, and Geneva’s tax laws favored a seller’s market, with few tariffs applied to jewelry sales {4}.

Christie’s Auctions Nina Dyer’s Jewels

Christie’s opened their offices in Geneva in the summer of 1968, and six months later, auctioned the jewelry collection of Nina Dyer. This collection carried an estimated value of $1.25 million {4; 6}. On the day of the auction, according Alan McGregor, who wrote in 1969 for the Chicago Times, eight hundred of “the world’s richest people on earth” packed themselves into the ballroom of the Geneva Hotel Richmond {3}.

McGregor reported that the sale featured “some 40 lots,” most of which belonged to Ms. Nina Dyer. Her collection had been amassed over the course of approximately five years and two divorce settlements. Her first marriage took place in 1954. Her husband, the Baron Hans Heinrich ‘Heini’ von Thyssen-Bornemiza made his millions in the German steel industry.

Baron von Thyssen

According to Arthur Vevsey, reporter for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, in Germany, the Thyssen family’s wealth came second only to the illustrious Krupp dynasty {7}. Nina became the Baron’s mistress when she was 17 years old {2}. It seems that one of von Thyssen’s favorite gestures was to give lavish gifts to those who captured his heart.

As his mistress, she received two sports cars with gold-plated keys, a Caribbean island, and at least one baby black panther {2}. After several months together, the Baron left his wife and married the young and ambitious model. Ten months later, he divorced her after catching her with another man. As a settlement, Nina received nearly $3 million in cash, almost $400,000 in jewelry, and a chateau {2}.

Nina Dyer’s Cats

By this time, she had acquired a second black panther. Her cats were everything to her. She took them on trips, during which they would destroy her hotel rooms {2}. She was said to have developed a taste for panther-skin clothing and became well known for her signature panther jewels {5}.

Most of these pieces were made by Cartier, by commission from Nina Dyer’s second husband, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. The prince married Nina on August 27, 1957. The first piece he commissioned was made that same year–a Panther Cliquet Pin.

This stick pin features a geometrical diamond clasp on one end and a white diamond panther on the other end. The white diamond-bodied panther lifts itself languidly on its front legs. Blue sapphire “spots” cover its entire body, and its green garnet eyes shine brightly from its alert face {1}.

In 1958, the prince asked Cartier to fashion two more pieces, a two-headed panther bangle and a crouching panther clip brooch. Both were fashioned from the same white diamonds and blue sapphires, with green garnets for eyes and onyx for the noses {1}.

During the Christie’s auction in 1969, these panther pieces were purchased by Cartier and are now kept in Cartier’s vast historical jewelry collection.

Top Dealers Purchase Ms. Dyer’s Jewels

 

According to Mr. McGregor, dealers from New York, London, and Paris attended the auction on behalf of their clients. The majority of Ms. Dyer’s pearls, emeralds, and diamonds were purchased by these esteemed dealers. One of these was a diamond solitaire ring crafted for Nina by Harry Winston in New York. Mr. Winston purchased the ring during the auction for $276,000 {3}.

At the end of the sale, Nina Dyer’s jewels fetched a staggering $2.96 million, more than twice the initial estimates. In her will, Ms. Dyer stipulated that she wished the proceeds from the sale of her jewels to benefit animals in Africa, Asia, and Europe {7}.

Unfortunately, Swiss law precluded the fulfillment of her last wishes. As a resident of Switzerland, her lawyers were forced to place an advertisement for living relatives. According to Arthur Veysey, fifty potential claimants answered the ad.

Only one appeared to have a viable claim, a man named William Aldrich. His elaborate story of a double-crossing wife (Nina’s mother), failed to convince the courts in November 1967. However, by 1969, it appears as though his appeals granted him access to the fortune of his alleged late daughter. In the Montreal Gazette a report dated February 26, 1969, states that Mr. Aldrich, after 3-1/2 years was legally declared Nina Dyer’s father {6}.

In the same report, the writer states that in honor of Ms. Dyer’s final bequest, Christie’s staged a champagne reception two nights before the auction. Tickets cost $7.50, and visitors were able to view Ms. Dyer’s collection of jewels while sipping champagne and mingling with Geneva’s elite patrons. Proceeds went directly to the World Wildlife fund {6}.

References

  1. Cartier. “The Cartier Collection: Panther.” Accessed February 23, 2015.
  2. Jennifer. “The Black Panther Queen,” Jennifer Fabulous Blog, August 14, 2012.
  3. McGregor, Alan. “Single Diamond Ring Brings $276,000 at Auction in Geneva,” Chicago Tribune, No. 22, May 2, 1969, p. 1.
  4. Reif, Rita. “Auctions.” The New York Times, July 5, 1985.
  5. Ross-Simons. “Celebrity Jewelry: Famous Jewels.” Accessed February 23, 2015.
  6. “Suzy Knickerbocker,” The Montreal Gazette, February 26, 1969, p. 10.
  7. Veysey, Arthur. “Love, Tragedy, and a Fabulous Collection of Jewels,” Chicago Tribune, No. 117, April 27, 1969, Features p. 1.

Tiffany’s Picasso Kunzite Necklace

In 1989 Tiffany & Co. donated the gorgeous Picasso Kunzite Necklace made by Paloma Picasso. This gorgeous 22.96-carat cushion-cut pink kunzite cocktail demonstrates the luminous quality of kunzite. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
In 1989 Tiffany & Co. donated the gorgeous Picasso Kunzite Necklace made by Paloma Picasso. This gorgeous 22.96-carat cushion-cut pink kunzite cocktail ring demonstrates the luminous quality of kunzite. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

The Picasso Kunzite Necklace is on permanent display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It was donated by Tiffany & Co. to the prestigious museum in 1989. Nearly ten years into her career as a jewelry designer, Paloma Picasso (1949-present), who designed this exquisite necklace, had become an internationally respected jewelry designer.

Gemstone Bikinis & YSL

Ms. Picasso first entered the world of jewels and gemstones in the late 1970s, after a stroke of imagination inspired her to craft necklaces out of the gemstone bikinis worn by the cabaret performers in the Folies Bergeres. At this time, she worked as a stylist for the shows {2}.

However, having discovered her passion in styling those flashy necklaces, she soon enrolled in jewelry design school {1}. Around that time, Ms. Picasso had become a chic fashionista. Currently, her name can be found in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame {1}.

In the 1970s, Paloma’s penchant for vintage flea market clothes caught the eye of her friend and legendary designer, Yves Saint Laurent {4}. His “Scandal Collection” debunked the traditions of haute couture with its nod to the French Occupation, drag queens, and theatrical mixture of new and old {4}.

By the time Paloma graduated from design school, Mr. Laurent had been captivated by her sense of style for a number of years. Naturally, he was one of the first people to whom Paloma showed her first collection of jewels {1}. YSL immediately commissioned her to design a collection for his clothing lines.

Tiffany & Co.

Sometime later, Paloma went on to work for the House of Zolotas, where she refined her skills in gold and gemstones {1}. In 1979, after staging a window display for Tiffany’s, Ms. Picasso was invited by Tiffany’s design director, John Loring, to join the Tiffany design team {1}. Today, Paloma Picasso is one of a small handful of designers given their own signature collections at Tiffany’s.

In 1986, Paloma Picasso was well known for her signature use of large semiprecious stones in bold colors. John Loring is reported to have described the hallmark of her designs as “X’s, scribbles and zigzags, all sculpted in gold” {1}.

Four years later, the editors at Gems & Gemology credited her with “helping to broaden consumers’ acceptance of colored stones other than the ubiquitous ruby, emerald, and sapphire in high-fashion jewelry” {p. 87}. One of her favorite colored stones was kunzite, a pink-to-lilac colored form of spodumene.

The Picasso Kunzite Necklace

True to form, Paloma fashioned what has become one of the world’s most famous kunzite jewels. A marvelous cushion-cut, deep pink kunzite stone, which weighs an astonishing 393-60 carats, appears to float within the embrace of an 18k yellow gold and diamond ribbon. A Picasso X crosses beneath the gem’s base.

This exquisite pendant hangs from a string of 30 South Sea baroque pearls. The clasp is hidden within another ribbon X made of yellow gold and white diamonds. Ms. Picasso designed the necklace to commemorate Tiffany & Co.’s 100th anniversary.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

References

  1. About Tiffany & Co. “Paloma Picasso.” Accessed February 24, 2015.
  2. From the stage to the garden: Paloma Picasso talks inspiration with Vogue,” Vogue Australia, September 5, 2013.
  3. “Jewelry in the 1980s: A Retrospective,” Gems & Gemology, Spring 1990, p. 76-93.
  4. “Paloma Picasso, the seventies IT girl inspired YSL ‘Scandal Collection’.” A. G. Nauta Couture blog, June 29, 2014.
  5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “Picasso Kunzite Necklace,” Mineral Gallery. Accessed February 24, 2015.

Vera’s Spring Mountain Ranch

Spring Mountain Ranch, Nevada. Photo ©2013 Billy Kerr.
Spring Mountain Ranch, Nevada. Photo ©2013 Billy Kerr.

Vera Krupp moved to Las Vegas, where her large 33.19-carat Asscher cut diamond was seen whenever she visited town. Much like the diamond’s later owner, Elizabeth Taylor, Vera Krupp was a glamorous and ostentatious woman who thought nothing of wearing such a large glittering diamond wherever she went. Finally free of the doldrums of Germany and her listless marriage, she set to work reinventing herself as a rancher.

Spring Mountain Ranch

With her settlement from Alfried Krupp, Vera purchased a spread of 500 acres situated 26 miles outside Las Vegas proper. She set up for cattle ranching and took to country living like a fish to water. The land she purchased has a fascinating history dating back to 1829, when Antonio Armijo forged a trade route from Santa Fe to Los Angeles {7}.

Known as the Old Spanish Trail (now the Mormon Trail), this route ran east from Santa Fe, New Mexico, until it reached the Mojave Desert. Not daring to cut through Death Valley, Armijo jogged south to the San Gabriel Mission. This turning point was located right where Vera’s property now sits {7}. For decades, the site in Nevada served as a hideout to bandits who preyed upon those traveling the Old Spanish Trail {5}.

However, by 1860, according to Paul Papa, author of Discovering Vintage Las Vegas, the land had become a stopping off point for weary travelers. A one-room cabin and blacksmith shop were built on the land. The first real claim was made on the acreage in 1864, by Bill Williams, an outlaw who used the land to service his horses {5}.

In 1876, ranchers James Wilson and George Anderson filed a legal claim for property and established Sand Stone Ranch {6}. At some point, Anderson took his leave, entrusting the care of the land, and his two sons (reputed to have been born to a Paiute Indian woman {3}), to James Wilson.

In 1906, Wilson passed away and deeded the land to his stepsons. In 1929, Wilson’s stepsons sold the ranch to Willard George, who allowed them to remain on the ranch until their deaths. The tombstones of all three settlers, James Wilson, Jim Wilson, Jr., and Tweed, can be seen in the small cemetery that remains on the land today.

From Chinchillas to Diamonds

From 1929 to 1944, Willard George, a notable furrier, raised chinchillas on the property. He also raised cattle on the ranch. In 1944, Chester Lauck (‘Lum’ from the Lum and Abner radio show), leased the ranch from Mr. George. In 1948, Lauck bought it outright and added a ranch house constructed from sandstone and redwood.

Lauck renamed it the Bar Nothing Ranch and continued to raise cattle. In 1955, Vera Krupp came along and bought the 500-acre estate. She moved in and increased cattle operations to support the Herefords and Brahma bulls she raised. Adopting the Diamond V brand, she renamed her estate Spring Mountain Ranch {7}.

Among her regular habits was to ride her horse Sweetheart around the ranch and to wear her favorite Harry Winston diamond ring at all times, including when she went to town. This habit ended April 10, 1959, after which time, an “in-the-know source” told journalist Norm Clarke that she “kept the massive diamond safety-pinned to her bra at all times” {2}.

A Harrowing Encounter

The reason for this change? A harrowing encounter with armed robbers. Vera was never quite the same after this experience. Before this, the ranch offered luxurious privacy. After, a frightening sense of isolation. To ward off the fear, she ordered an addition for her home and a star-shaped badge with her name on it {7}.

The addition was a secret passageway and bedroom camouflaged “behind pine panels in Krupp’s boudoir” {4}.  The badge represented her newly purchased status as a deputy sheriff. She was not one to mess around {7}. For the next 8 years, Vera continued to tend to the duties of ranch life.

For reasons unknown to this writer, Vera sold Spring Mountain Ranch in 1967. Not wanting to see her estate land in the hands of developers, Vera attempted to sell to the parks department. Unfortunately, the state was unable to afford the $1.1 million asking price {6}.

Instead, in July 1967, Vera sold Spring Mountain Ranch to the Hughes Tool Company, a subsidiary owned by Howard Hughes. She took her Russian art collection and her massive Harry Winston diamond and moved off the property. She passed away three months later, and the diamond ring went to auction the next year at Sotheby’s New York, where it was purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor.

A Park for All

Hughes Tool maintained Spring Mountain Ranch as a working cattle ranch, changing only the brand. Cows and bulls leaving the property were now stamped with a capital T over a capital H {7}. Howard Hughes never lived at the ranch. It’s possible that Mr. Hughes never set foot on the property after her purchased it {4}.

In 1972, for $1.5 million, Hughes sold the property to Nevada developers, Fletcher Jones and William Murphy, purchased the estate. Public protests against their plans to raze the land and build a large housing development led to their eventual decision to sell the land to the Nevada Division of State Parks.

Today, the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park plays host to visitors from all over the world. Regular tours of the ranch house and grounds afford tourists an up-close look at many of the original furnishings, photos of former owners, and a peek into the secret boudoir of Vera Krupp.

References

  1. Burbank, Jeff. Las vegas Babylon: Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  2. Clarke, Norm. “DJ finds out popularity doesn’t translate into job security,” Las Vegas Review, January 4, 2002.
  3. Collier, Lynn. “Rustic ranch house, park lure visitors,” Las Vegas Review, September 18, 1996.
  4. Jones, Jay. “Vestiges of Las Vegas’ glory days,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2011.
  5. Moreno, Richard. Nevada Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Guildford, CT: Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2009.
  6. Oberding, Janice. The Haunting of Las Vegas. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.
  7. Papa, Paul W. Discovering Vintage Las Vegas: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops Restaurants, Casinos, & More. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.