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Immerse Yourself in Hollywood Glamour at the MFA in Boston

Multi-use Necklace of Actress June Knight, late 1930s. Neil Lane Collection. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Multi-use Necklace of Actress June Knight, late 1930s. Neil Lane Collection. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Opening at the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston (MFA) September 9, 2014, Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen promises to dazzle with exquisite gowns and jewels worn by some of Hollywood’s most prominent Golden Age actresses.

The iconic retro styles of Mae West, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and Marlene Dietrich continue to influence fashion today. The MFA aims, with this exhibition, to demonstrate the uniquely American take on style which was, as co-curator Michelle Finamore states,  ”an ideal expression of Hollywood’s distinctive brand of escapist fantasy.”

When you walk through the gallery doors, you’ll be taking a step back in time. You will see sumptuous gowns made of metallic lamé  woven with real gold and silver, silk satin, and chiffon, made by leading designers Travis Banton, Gilbert Adrian, and Edith Head. You’ll see a beautiful pair of silver leather platform shoes worn by Mae West, and several stunning photos of the stars taken by Edward Steichen.

And where would The Golden Age of Hollywood be without the stunning retro jewelry designs of Paul Flato, Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin, and Suzanne Belperron? Hollywood Glamour features several works by these and other top designers of that era.

The necklace featured here is a gorgeous platinum, engraved sapphire, and diamond multi-use necklaced designed by Trabert & Hoeffer, Inc.-Mauboussin in the late 1930s. This style of necklace was extremely popular onscreen in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly because of its versatility. In its full form, it was worn as a necklace as seen here, but it could also be separated to form a suite of bracelets, brooches, dress clips, and rings.

This particular necklace, on loan from Neil Lane’s collection, was worn by actress June Knight, who worked in film between 1930-1940. According to IMDB, though her roles in film were underwhelming, her presence on Broadway kept her front and center throughout the 1940s.

Viewers will also see up close an astonishing suite of jewels worn by Joan Crawford. With its highly polished yellow gold flourishes, aquamarine links, and diamond accents, this gorgeous piece was crafted by Verger Freres in around 1935. The necklace, brooch, and bracelet represent the moderne look with their repeating shapes and mechanical appearance.

This beautiful exhibition is on view at the MFA from September 9, 2014 until March 8, 2015, in the Loring Gallery. The exhibition is sponsored by generous donation from Neil Lane Jewelry, with additional support from the David and Roberta Logie Fund for Textile and Fashion Arts and the Loring Textile Gallery Exhibition Fund.

To learn more, we invite you to visit the MFA’s website.

Grace Kelly’s ‘Sweet Diamond’ Engagement Ring

MGM Head Shot Prior to Her Wedding in 1956. Photo is in the Public Domain.

MGM Head Shot Prior to Her Wedding in 1956. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Rumors have circulated since 1956 about Grace Kelly’s engagement ring(s) from Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Some speak of her diamond and ruby eternity band, while others speak of what has been hailed the second most-famous engagement ring in history, a stunning 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond ring with a baguette diamond set horizontally onto each of its platinum shoulders.

Most sources claim that the Prince initially proposed with the eternity ring, only to realize his error in American etiquette after visiting Hollywood for the first time. Others give the Prince a little more credit and claim he gave Ms. Kelly the eternity band as a ring of promise while the more elaborate diamond ring was fashioned in the workshops at Cartier.

As reported in Life Magazine on January 16, 1956, Ms. Kelly wore the diamond and ruby ring on her first visit home after her engagement. In that issue, a photograph shows Ms. Kelly seated next to Prince Rainier between her parents on their couch. She holds her left hand extended toward her mother. We cannot see the ring, but the caption reads, “In the Kellys’ living room Grace’s mother examines daughter’s diamond and ruby engagement ring as Prince and father Kelly proudly look on.”

When she returned to the set at MGM for filming of High Society, Ms. Kelly asked the director if she could wear her real engagement ring in lieu of costume jewelry for the appropriate scenes in the movie.

While Cartier on their website claim that on set Ms. Kelly wore the magnificent diamond and platinum engagement ring, James Spada, who wrote a biography on Grace Kelly called Grace: The Secret Lives of a Princess, claims that the ring she dazzled her coworkers with was “an enormous, spectacularly beautiful ring: intertwined diamonds and rubies (to represent Monaco’s official colors) set with Grimaldi family heirloom jewels” {p. 170-71}.

Unfortunately, Mr. Spada fails to credit his source for that piece of information. I suppose it’s possible she wore both while she was off screen, but on screen she clearly wears only one ring, and it is definitely not an eternity band. The rest of the story he tells about that moment in history is so charming, one hopes the only detail he got wrong is the description of the ring.

He writes that after she asked, her director quipped that he must of course examine the ring in order to ensure “it was good enough” {p. 170}. She dutifully obliged him the next day, and as her co-workers gasped and gaped, she demurely responded, “It is sweet, isn’t it?” {p. 171}. This understated response, Mr. Spada relates, elicited no small amount of teasing from her awestruck co-workers.

Certainly, gorgeous diamonds are sweet and then some!

The Origins of One of the Rarest Gemstones on Earth, Alexandrite

Capture the Essence! of Exclusivity with this AGTA-Certified Alexandrite Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Exclusivity with this AGTA-Certified Alexandrite Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Alexandrite is among the rarest of gemstones found in the earth. Its hardness, beauty, and rarity make it a particularly becoming choice for engagement rings. Its history is short, but gloriously rich. There are only a few known sources for gem-quality specimens, which makes its presence in contemporary jewelry fairly uncommon.

Alexandrite was initially discovered in the 1830s, in the emerald mines of the Ural Mountains of Russia. The bright green stone was at first mistaken for emerald, until the sun went down. In the light of candles, its greenish hue vanished and a bright purplish-red took its place.

This was no emerald. Not only did it exhibit this extraordinary dichroism, but this new stone also proved to be far harder than emerald, registering an 8.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.

A Brand New Gemstone

Its discovery is most commonly attributed to the Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskjold (1792-1866). Others attribute its discovery to the man who ended up naming the stone, Count Lev Alekseevich Perovskii (1792-1856). Count Perovskii was an important nobleman and politician in Russia. He was also an avid mineralogist.

In truth, it is unlikely that either of these men drew the first sample out of the ground. However, they were among the first to put it under the microscope and are therefore credited with its ‘discovery’ as a brand new gemstone.

In one version of events, the Count, perhaps perplexed by some of its non-emerald characteristics, is said to have sent a sample to Herra Nordenskjold for further study. The Finnish mineralogist at first mistook it for emerald, but its hardness caused him to investigate further. Looking long into the evening, the stone’s surprising change from green to red confirmed his suspicions: He was holding an exciting new gemstone in the chrysoberyl family. Having experienced this exciting revelation, he decided to give it a name.

Herra Nordenskjold went with diaphanite, based on its color-changing characteristic. This scientific name may have accompanied some documentation of the stone, but in the end it wouldn’t stick. In a move motivated by politics, the Count stepped in and made a grand gesture. On April 17, 1834, he declared publicly that the new stone would be named after Russia’s future Tsar, Alexander Nikolaevich, who on that very day entered his majority (16th birthday).

The name stuck, and to this day alexandrites are linked inextricably with Tsarist Russia’s infamous history.

Exclusive Access

For the next 150 years, Russia enjoyed exclusive access to this new gemstone. Its rarity prevented it from saturating the market. However, those in noble and royal positions in Europe and America were privileged to purchase alexandrite jewels made by some of the world’s most prestigious jewelers, most prominently Russia’s court jeweler Carl Faberge and Tiffany & Co., whose access came through famed gem expert George Frederick Kunz.

Russia’s alexandrite remains the most desirable on the market, though most of it is housed in museums or prestigious collections. These Russian stones are characterized by strong saturation in shades of green to bluish-green in daylight and red to purplish-red in artificial or candle light. The color change in these stones is dramatic, and stones of this origin are valued around $100,000 per carat, more if the piece has historical value.

Although the Russian mines were depleted by the late 1890s, no new sources of alexandrite were discovered until 1987. Though this new Brazilian discovery could not compete with the history of Tsarist Russia, the grade of stones coming out of South America’s mines were in fact superior in color saturation. In a side by side comparison, historicity not withstanding, the value of Brazilian alexandrite would exceed that of Russian samples.

These beautiful Brazilian stones were characterized by a deep red purple in artificial light and rich verdant greens by day. Production from the Brazilian mines was high in the 1980s, but stores have dwindled significantly. More recent deposits are now sourced in Africa, the United States, Burma, and Sri Lanka.

However, for gem-quality specimens, it is to Sri Lanka that dealers primarily turn. Sri Lankan specimens run a bit larger than those found in Russia and Brazil, whose stones rarely exceed one carat. Sri Lankan color saturation is different, as well, with the greens tending toward the yellow end of the spectrum and the reds appearing brownish. While they can’t be compared to those originating in Russia or Brazil, these richly colored alexandrites from Sri Lanka make absolutely gorgeous jewels.

It cannot be overemphasized that faceted alexandrites of greater than two carats are extremely rare. The Russian and Brazilian mines have been depleted, and gemstone-quality alexandrites of a decent size are hard to find even in the Sri Lankan mines.

If you’re looking for a way to express your love in a unique way, we invite you to experience the wonder of the rare and beautiful alexandrite. Make an appointment today to see this beautiful ring for yourself.

Charlize Theron Treats Herself to Delectable Designer 18k Gold and Pave Diamonds

Capture the Essence! of Cool Feminine Luxury with this Effy Rose Cut Diamond and Gold Designer Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Cool Feminine Luxury with this Effy Rose Cut Diamond and Gold Designer Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

There’s a bit of buzz out there today about Charlize Theron’s choice to wear her newest Anita Ko jewel on her left ring finger. It’s a beautiful and very feminine 18k gold ring featuring a pair of twin leaves paved in diamonds. The leaves arc together, nearly kissing. The ring retails in rose gold, through Net-A-Porter, London Jewelers, and Broken English, for $4,700, so you know if she’s chosen the yellow gold it will have cost at least a bit more.

Her choice to wear the ring on that finger has led to rumors that she and Sean Penn are about to tie the knot. However, this ring is not an engagement ring from her boyfriend. Though the couple appears to have discussed the possibility of marriage and adopting a sibling for Ms. Theron’s son, Jackson, their time has not yet come.

In fact, Ms. Theron reportedly purchased the ring for herself, adding it to her growing collection of Anita Ko designs. For the past several years we’ve seen Ms. Theron wear her favorite KoKo earrings, the pyramid studs in 18k gold, to both gala and casual events. She has also been seen wearing the designer’s fan-style diamond and gold earrings, with a diamond stud resting in the center of her ear lobe while an arc of diamonds rests just below the rim of her ear.

It’s no surprise that Ms. Theron adores her Anita Ko pieces, since the LA-based designer prides herself on offering fine jewelry designed with today’s woman in mind. Ms. Ko brings an edginess to feminine chic, and her aim to make pieces that are “cool and luxurious” {cited} has caught the attention, not only of Charlize Theron, but of several other cutting-edge celebrities, including Demi Moore, Kate Hudson, and Victoria Beckham.

Ms. Ko does not feel she has to compete with the big names in jewelry, rather she feels she must distinguish herself from them and the traditions surrounding them. “The established houses created in a time when many pieces were worn on special occasions and purchased by men. This is the opposite of how I design. I want women to connect to their luxurious side and treat themselves with a beautiful piece that makes them feel special,” Ms. Ko told Divia Harilela of Post Magazine.

That is precisely what Ms. Theron has done–she has treated herself to an artfully designed, luxuriously feminine designer ring, and she has chosen to wear it boldly on the finger of her choice, despite the obvious clamor it would cause in the press.

We’re glad she’s done it, for it reminds us again of the sheer pleasure of wearing beautiful jewelry and the fact that today a woman is allowed to treat herself.

If you’re looking for a way to treat yourself to cool luxury, we have a number of beautiful designer rings in stock today.

We invite you to call and make an appointment. We’d love to see you walk out of our showroom ready to start some rumors of your own!

Tiffany’s Chooses White Gold, Diamonds, Green Tsavorite, and Blue Sapphires to Commemorate the Seahawks’ Super Bowl Victory

Seahawks Championship Super Bowl Ring 2014. Photo Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic.

Seahawks Championship Super Bowl Ring 2014. Photo Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

On June 19, 2014, a special presentation ceremony took place in downtown Seattle to commemorate the landmark victory attained by the Seahawks at Super Bowl XLVIII. As mentioned in a previous article, these rings are given not only to the playing team members, but also to all the folks behind the scenes that make the season possible, including managers, scouts, financial supporters, and more.

The rings are subsidized to the tune of $5,000 per ring by the NFL, with a limit of 150 distributed at the NFL’s expense. Teams can spend more than the allotted NFL budget and have more rings made, but the terms the NFL sets are firm. These rings are specially designed, typically by a high-end designer chosen by the winning team, with the input of the team’s owners, coaches, and other key leaders within the team’s organizational structure.

These rings are meant to capture the essence, not only of the game but of the team’s entire season–no small feat on the canvas of a jewel the size of a small rock. Speaking of rocks, the Seahawks wisely chose to commission Tiffany & Co., the decided leader in the artful display of all manner of rocks, to design their Championship Ring.

True to their collaborative nature, the Seahawks have painted a story on each ring that “represents a distinctive tribute to this team, our fans, the Pacific Northwest and the Seahawks victory in Super Bowl XLVIII,” said Peter McLoughlin, the team’s president {3}.

On the face of the ring, 64 round diamonds fill in the white gold outline of the team’s bird-head logo. A second outline of blue enamel further distinguishes the logo. A single fancy-cut, prong-set, green tsavorite serves as the bird’s eye.

Above the bird, a marquise-cut diamond is bezel-set in the form of stylized version of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and these two iconic symbols are surrounded by an ocean of 107 round diamonds. The ring’s border reads “WORLD CHAMPIONS,” and is further framed by two sets of six round brilliant diamonds on either side.

In profile, the ring’s head is rimmed by a single row of 40 blue sapphires, and from it hang two “12″ flags etched in blue enamel. The shanks of the ring tell the story of the season. Etched on the side boasting the player’s name is a long view of the south-facing aspect of Century Field. A “12″ flag flies in relief against Mt. Rainier in the distance, a solid tribute to the 12th “player” for the Seahawks, the team’s loyal fans.

The player’s number stands in relief upon the playing field, and just below, their final record of 16-3 is etched just above the 12 feathers engraved into the bottom portion of the band. These feathers are stylized to mimic the feathers featured on the team’s uniforms.

The opposite shank features a view of Seattle’s skyline in the background, with the Space Needle taking prominence. In relief one sees the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the words “Super Bowl XLVIII”, and the NFL Logo, etched against the background. The year 2013 is engraved into the band just above the stylized feathers.

The inside of each ring is etched with the following phrases: “LEAVE NO DOUBT”, “24/7″, “SEA 43-DEN 8″, and “WHAT’S NEXT?”

Tiffany & Co. expressed their pleasure in working with the team to design their special rings. “Having crafted the Vince Lombardi Trophy since its inception in 1969, we are proud to have now also crafted the first Seattle Seahawks Championship ring–both being the purest symbols of hard work and perseverance,” said Tiffany’s representative, Victoria Reynolds {3}.

In the many images and videos floating about on the Web, the indelible mark of Tiffany’s impeccable quality is unparalleled in the structure and design of these rings. They truly are beautiful jewels, and the story they tell is a story well loved by everyone in the Pacific Northwest.

We applaud the hard work and dedication set forth by the best football team in the world and the best of the best in diamonds.

Notes

  1. Crabtree, Curtis. “Seahawks Get thier Super Bowl Rings,” NBC Sports, June 20, 2014. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/06/20/seahawks-get-their-super-bowl-rings/.
  2. Eaton, Nick. “See the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVII Champs Ring,” Seattle PI, June 19, 2014. http://blog.seattlepi.com/football/2014/06/19/see-the-seattle-seahawks-super-bowl-xlviii-championship-ring/#24457101=3.
  3. Seahawks News. “Seahawks Receive Super Bowl Rings,” posted June 19, 2014. http://www.seahawks.com/news/articles/article-1/Seahawks-Receive-Super-Bowl-Rings/b40ff317-235c-4f40-aac5-45f255b62c5e.

This Jeweled Waltham Ladies Wristwatch is a Relic of American History

Capture the Essence! of American Watchmaking with this 1920s Art Deco Waltham Watch. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of American Watchmaking with this 1920s Art Deco Waltham Watch. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This gorgeous Art Deco Waltham ladies wristwatch has a gorgeous 18k white gold case which is bead set with 38 single-cut diamonds along the edges. Its interior, both above and below the face, is channel set with 12 Old European Cut diamonds, while 6 calibre-cut natural blue sapphires add a distinctive sophistication to the overall design.

The band is fashioned out of 18k white gold mesh, and the face is decorated in black Arabic numerals with blue steel hands. On the back an inscription reads “Mrs F.S. Dean Atlanta, GA”.

The Movement

The outside of this watch, with its clear declaration of original ownership, tells a distinctive story, one worth looking into at some point. However, it is the story that the inner movement has to tell that this writer is most interested in today.

The movement is the heart of a mechanical clock or watch. It houses all the moving parts that keep accurate time. The movement in this watch has 17 jewel bearings adjusted to 5 positions (or pairs), and those jewels are likely set in yellow gold.

According to Waltham’s records, this movement probably has a gold center wheel and an entirely gold train. Its balance wheel is likely made with gold balance screws and two pairs of gold mean-time screws. Its balance staff features the finest of pivots made in the early 1900s, and likely has two oil grooves {cited}.

Waltham Watch Movements

The movement in this wristwatch is stamped with the name of its maker, Waltham, and a serial number, 23158481. It is this serial number that grants us access to details about this watch that demonstrate its clear distinction among antique wristwatches. Here’s what we know about Waltham watch movements in general:

  1. All genuine Waltham movements are stamped with a serial number and the company’s name (which varies according to the year the watch was made).
  2. Waltham went through a number of mergers and transitions in its 100+ years as a company, so the name engraved on the movement provides evidence as to the year in which it was made.
  3. These serial numbers correspond to a detailed record which has been transferred from written ledgers kept by the company into a digital database.
  4. When the serial number is known, it is possible to determine a two-year period in which the watch was made.
  5. Waltham watches made between 1850 and 1957 represent the top of the line in American watches.

This Waltham Watch Movement

Since we have the serial number for this Waltham watch movement, we can be sure of the following:

  1. It was made between 1919 and 1920.
  2. Between 1907 and 1923, the official name for the maker of this watch was Waltham Watch Co., based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  3. Waltham Watch Co. never made cases, though they did manufacture the faces and hands for their watches.
  4. Waltham Watch Co. sold their watch movements and parts to dealers and repairmen wholesale, so this watch movement was sold, likely to Mr. F.S. Dean of Atlanta, GA, by a third-party dealer, who likely sold the case and movement together.
  5. This watch represents a significant historical milestone in American watchmaking.

American Watchmaking

Watches were a hot commodity in America during the early 1900s, and wristwatches were just coming into high fashion for ladies, replacing the dainty pendant watches of the late 1800s. Waltham Watch Co., as it was called in 1920, had established itself as the leader in pocket watches, and for nearly 70 years the railroad industry in America and England used Waltham watches exclusively. Wristwatches were a new field, one that in the end would prove to be too different from pocket watches for Waltham to sustain their manufacture.

A Relic of American History

However, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Waltham Watch Co. stood above the rest as a pioneer in this industry. They were the first in the world to use machines to manufacture the complete mechanism for clocks and watches, and they were the first in the industry to use what is called the interchangeable system.

Prior to this time, this system of mass-producing every aspect of a complex mechanism using machines was used primarily in the arms industries of the American government. The purpose of this system was to allow for easy repair and replacement of damaged parts without having to retool the entire mechanism. It was a risky endeavor, since if only one part is off in a mechanical watch, the whole thing is a bust.

Prior to 1850, no one had attempted to use machines to mass-produce such intricate mechanisms, and the pioneers at Waltham would revolutionize not only the watch industry, but also the automotive and other technical industries of that time.

Given Waltham Watch Co.’s supreme popularity and distinguished reputation, it is highly unlikely that this watch movement sat on the shelf for more than 6 months after the time of its manufacture. That it was likely purchased brand new for a high-society lady in Georgia at the dawn of the 1920s demonstrates that this watch is not only a beautiful accessory, but a relic of American history.

Vintage Celebrity Engagements: Jacqueline Bouvier and Jack Kennedy

Capture the Essence! of Mid-Century Emerald Jewelry with this Emerald Ballerina Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Mid-Century Emerald Jewelry with this Emerald Ballerina Cocktail Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

May is the month for emeralds, and what better way to enter into the spirit of romance than to discuss one of America’s most beloved couples, Jacqueline Bouvier and Jack Kennedy. On June 24, 1953, Jack Kennedy offered a delectable diamond and emerald ring to a woman who captivated him with her grace, her elegance, and her intelligent conversation.

Jackie was a woman of the world with a mission to enjoy all that life’s upper crust had to offer. In the burgeoning world of women in the workforce, she took a job with the Washington-Times Herald, after making a promise to the editor that she wouldn’t up and leave the minute a man proposed. With her camera and pen in hand, she set out to make a name for herself as a columnist.

For a number of years she roved the streets of Washington, DC (and beyond) asking (mostly) random individuals questions pertinent to the issues of the day. Several times a month, she spent her weekends traveling by train to attend football games and parties at surrounding northeastern colleges. On one such trip, she penned a letter to a friend and happened to casually mention a young man who caught her attention.

He was “a charming, confident, and handsome but insistent flirt to whom she responded with indifferent amusement, yet absolute attraction” {1}. This young man was here today, gone tomorrow as far as Jackie was concerned…that is, until they met several more times at inner circle events.

In 1948, Jackie was preparing to depart for her first assignment abroad. Before leaving, she atteneded a wedding on Long Island, where she met a fellow journalist who would become a lifelong friend, one Charles Bartlett. This young man was fairly certain that Ms. Bouvier was the perfect match for his up-and-coming friend, Jack Kennedy. Determined to introduce the two of them, he attempted all evening to draw her away from prizefighter Gene Tunney, but his efforts ended in defeat.

It would be more than two years before he would have a second chance to introduce the two, and by that time Ms. Bouvier was engaged to be married to Wall Street stockbroker John Husted. At an intimate dinner party hosted by the Bartlett’s, Jackie and Jack enjoyed a pleasant evening of conversation. Just as Mr. Bartlett suspected, his friend was fully invested in getting to know the fascinating young woman. However, an invitation for drinks after the party was stymied by a surprise visit from Ms. Bouvier’s fiance.

She moved on seamlessly, it would seem. It was clear to her that the young politician had no interest in the prospect of marriage, and she was already engaged. However, their brief meeting and her time abroad the following year began to shift her perspective on the prospects of marrying John Husted. According to author Donald Spoto, Jackie began to yearn for the company of more charismatic, cultured men. John Husted fit the bill for her parents, but he was losing her affections swiftly.

She soon called off her engagement, and once her friend Charles Bartlett learned of her new status, he once again set to his matchmaking schemes. On May 8, 1952, he and his wife deftly repeated the intimate gathering which had at first brought the two young powerhouses into conversation. This time, Jack did not let her get away. He began inviting her on dates and introducing her to family members.

Within the year, he was ready to propose. His father not only gave his approval, but went off to Fifth Avenue to purchase just the right ring for their engagement. At his chosen venue, Van Cleef & Arpels, he leaned heavily upon the advice of his jeweler Louis Arpels, who in turned leaned heavily upon his wife, who knew Jackie well enough to recommend the perfect engagement ring: A mid-century masterpiece complete with a 2.88-carat diamond situated beside a 2.84-carat emerald, accented by marquise and tapered baguette diamonds in a beautiful retro swirl motif.

On June 24, 1953, Jack proposed to Jackie, and the next day the press was ringing with the news. A Denver columnist wrote, “The single girls in Washington will do well to weep” {cited}, and weep they did. As the women of Washington grieved the loss of one of America’s most eligible bachelor’s, the rest of the western world began eagerly anticipating what remains one of America’s most celebrated weddings.

Their wedding took place the following September at St. Mary’s Church in Jackie’s hometown, Newport, Rhode Island. In her hair she wore her grandmother’s rose point lace veil with orange blossoms and a lace tiara. In her hands she carried a bouquet of white and pink spray orchids and gardenias. Around her neck she wore what would become her iconic piece, a single strand of family pearls.

Her dress was a wonder in ivory silk, fashioned out of 50 yards of the luscious material. The bouffant skirt was decorated with elaborate tucking and tiny wax flowers, and the off-the-shoulder bodice was styled with a similar tucking technique. She is said to have worn a diamond leaf pin, a gift from Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, but the wedding photos show only the exquisite diamond bracelet her groom gave her on the day of their wedding.

After greeting 3,000 well-wishers on their journey from the church to their reception, they celebrated with champagne and dancing with 1,200 invited guests. They spent their first night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the remainder of their honeymoon in Acapulco. And the rest, as they say, is history.

1. Anthony, Carl Sferrazza. The Kennedy White House: Family Life and Pictures, 1961-1963. pg. 147.

Celebrate Spring with Tiffany & Co.’s Natural Motifs

Capture the Essence! of Spring with this Tiffany & Co. Oak Leaf Brooch in 18k Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Spring with this Tiffany & Co. Oak Leaf Brooch in 18k Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Spring is in the air, and just as we welcome the tender kisses of the sun, so we long for jewels inspired by nature. Tiffany & Co. has a long history of drawing inspiration from nature for their exquisite designs. Beginning in the 1890s with their Art Nouveau glass works, the company quickly adopted these rich images from nature, dragonflies, butterflies, and alluring flowers, and made them into beautiful pieces of jeweled art.

Tiffany’s success lies not only in their inspired designs, but also in their beautiful workmanship. Since 1837, Tiffany has maintained the highest quality in manufacture and ethics. Their stunning jewels have defined the styles of today and yesterday, and their commitment to excellence will ensure that Tiffany pieces maintain their value long beyond tomorrow.

Today we celebrate spring by presenting to you a few of Tiffany’s beautiful nature-inspired pieces.

The first is an intricate oak brooch crafted of solid 18k yellow gold. Exquisitely embedded with tiny veins, this brooch is surprisingly life-like, a truly inspired piece of nature that can be worn in celebration of spring, offering the reminder that every spring acorn has the potential to grow into a mature tree able to withstand every season of life.

The second is a key pendant crafted of solid 18k white gold. The key’s head is intricately carved in openwork style in the shape of a flower blossom. Paved in diamonds, the flower sparkles brilliantly against its matte background. Lovely for a necklace or a charm bracelet, this jewel represents the power of spring to unlock hidden dreams.

Finally, we present a unique link-style bracelet fashioned from sterling silver. Each link is intricately cast to evoke individual canes of bamboo. Wrought in almost Gothic fashion, this beautiful piece evokes the delight of coming summer when the cool shade cast by swift-growing bamboo has the power to remind us of the tender caress of spring.

Tiffany & Co. Diamond Blossom Key Pendant Tiffany & Co Natural Motif Link Chain Bracelet

Spotlight on Design: Richard Paille

Capture the Essence! of Richard Paille's one-of-a-kind jewels with this Tourmaline Pendant Necklace crafted from 18k gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Richard Paille’s one-of-a-kind jewels with this Tourmaline Pendant Necklace crafted from 14k and 18k gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

This stunning natural green tourmaline, weighing over 7 carats, has been beautifully cut in the emerald fashion. Mounted bezel style in an 18k gold frame with bezel-set diamond and gold granulated embellishments, this beautiful designer pendant has been attached to a 14k gold fancy link chain. This gorgeous necklace was lovingly crafted by Seattle designer Richard Paille.

Richard Paille has spent more than 40 years investing in the world of jewelry. He began as a student, studying for his gemological credentials with the GIA during the day and studying economics at night in the early 1970s. After graduating, he opened his first retail store in Seattle’s University District. There he developed skills in fabrication and lost wax techniques.

As his reputation grew, so did the administrative tasks of running a full-time business, visiting annual trade shows, and writing monthly newsletters. A man of many interests, Mr. Paille enjoyed all aspects of his venture, but his desire to return to the bench led him to sell his store and return to the sheer delight of designing and making jewelry. He continued designing jewelry for many years, while at the same time developing a burgeoning passion for ham radio operation, film making, and adventurous travel.

In the 1990s, Richard had the opportunity to merge several passions into one pursuit. He set out to visit Australia’s opal mines in order to experience the thrill of discovering opals for himself while making a documentary. By walking through the open door to Alice Springs, Mr. Paille found another open door to the Cook Islands.

With his crew, he filmed another documentary about Black Pearl farming. This experience in the pristine waters of the South Pacific led to a whole different direction for the artist. He was instantly hooked on the rush of discovery that comes with opening oysters to find pearls. Inspired anew, he undertook a bit of pearl farming himself and used what he found to fashion beautiful jewels from these ‘gifts of Neptune’.

Today, Mr. Paille focuses his efforts on passing on his own gifts, the ‘jewels’ he’s picked up along the many roads of his adventure. He spends his hours teaching, lecturing, and writing about his experiences, taking every opportunity to impart his Joy of Discovery philosophy to any and all who will listen.

“Discovery is part of all art, it’s part of learning and it’s part of growing. Getting involved in something, pursuing an interest, staying curious & asking questions…that’s a Big part of living too! What I tell students: ‘Invest in Yourself…Make Something New, Learn Something New, Discover Something New” {cited}.

We invite you to discover something new in the old with this estate designer piece from a local celebrity in his own right. If you would like to view this beautiful designer piece in person, we would love to hear from you. Contact us here, or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

May’s Birthstone (Emerald) Has Long Been Favored Among Powerful Women

Colombian Emerald Engagement Ring with Diamond Accents

If you were born in the month of May, you have the good fortune to call emerald your birthstone. With a history dating as far back as gemstone history extends, emeralds have long been favored among powerful women. In Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was known to wear the stones in abundance, and though her famed mines now yield only low-grade stones, at one time Cleopatra’s mines were an abundant source for valuable emeralds.

Moving forward through the centuries, emeralds were chief among the Mughal Empresses. The powerful Mughal Empress Nur Jahan, considered to be one of the world’s most influential women during the 17th century, wore exquisitely carved Mughal emeralds intermingled with rubies. These carved verdant beauties circulated throughout Europe, and by the early 19th century many had found their way into the hands of some of the world’s most elite jewelry houses, predominantly Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Tiffany & Co.

Reworked into masterful designs by these prestigious firms, emeralds became the jewel of choice for many of the most influential women of the mid-century and beyond. Paris’ Duchess-in-exile, Wallis Simpson, wore several pieces by Cartier which were enhanced by carved emeralds, and one of the mid-century’s wealthiest heiresses, Marjorie Merriweather Post, owned one of the most exquisite diamond and carved emerald shoulder brooch’s ever made by Cartier. Another woman of marked influence, HRH Princess Faiza of Egypt, once owned a gorgeous emerald and diamond necklace made by Van Cleef & Arpels. In 2013, this jewel realized a sales price of $4.2 million at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale.

In addition to necklaces and brooches, several emerald engagement rings have been worn by influential women throughout the past several centuries. In 1837, Queen Victoria wore an emerald in her engagement ring. The ring, fashioned as a golden serpent biting its tail, featured a demure emerald atop its head. The ring was designed by her doting husband, Prince Albert, who endeavored to lace it thoroughly with Victorian sentiment. The serpent with its tail between its teeth was a popular Victorian symbol of eternal love, and the emerald, which happened to be the Queen’s birthstone, represented hope and was believed to ensure that a woman would mature into a truly adoring wife.

Fast forward a century, and we find John F. Kennedy gifting his fiance Jackie Bouvier an exquisite retro-style engagement ring fashioned by Van Cleef & Arpels. Her ring, purchased in 1952, featured a 2.84-carat square-cut emerald juxtaposed to a 2.88-carat square-cut diamond accented by a swirl of marquise-cut and baguette diamonds. The ring was chosen by Louis Van Cleef, whose wife advised him in the perfect style for the American debutante.

More recently, in 2012, Halle Berry also chose a square-cut emerald center stone for her engagement ring, a beautiful jewel fashioned of chunky hammered gold with a bezel-set emerald flanked on either side by a bezel-set round brilliant white diamond. Halle Berry holds the honorable position as the only African-American woman to win an Oscar for a leading role and uses her platform as one of America’s highest paid actors to lobby for the environment and for women’s issues in the realm of health, education, and justice.

As you can see, it seems that although the verdant green stone is not a frequent choice for today, it is a choice made by unique and influential women.