Jude Clarke at Facèré Jewelry

This bracelet was fashioned by Jude Clarke for Facèré's Tilling Time/Telling Time exhibition last fall. It is called Bridges and is made of sterling silver and pearls. Photo used with permission.
This bracelet was fashioned by Jude Clarke for Facèré’s Tilling Time/Telling Time exhibition last fall. It is called Bridges and is made of sterling silver and pearls. Photo used with permission.

 

Jude Clarke has been pushing metal around for more than thirty years. In her time at the bench, she has drawn inspiration from old tools, machinery, antique jewelry, and historic architecture.

For this piece, a bracelet she calls Bridges, Jude drew upon the black-and-white images of the medieval villages depicted in Akira Kurosawa’s 1960s-era samurai films. The sterling silver has been exposed to a rigorous process of oxidation and then burnished with steel wool in order to convey the essence of having lived through a good many seasons.

The natural pearls impart to the piece the essence of a poem which also sparked the artist’s imagination. The poem, written by Izumi Shikibu, a mid Heian Japanese poet, follows here:

although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks of this ruined house.

Pearls have long been associated with both the power and the likeness of the moon. In this remarkable bracelet, which Jude Clarke has painstakingly coaxed into beautiful fan-shaped Japanese foliage, we can imagine that the pearls are indeed beams of moonlight leaking through the planks of an artfully constructed form.

We invite you to view more of Jude Clarke’s beautiful creations at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in the City Centre building on Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews

Linda Kindler-Priest at Facèré Jewelry

"Baby Pelican" by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission.
“Baby Pelican” by Linda Kindler-Priest. Two-part brooch in 14k yellow gold, green sapphires, pearl, and aquamarine rough. Photo used with permission.

 

Linda Kindler-Priest tells a story with every jewel. Sometimes her stories are complex and profound, at other times simple and straightforward. The story she tells with Baby Pelican is a simple story of life.

As the baby pelican toddles along, learning the ropes of life in search of food, he takes in the view of the misty ocean, sparkling in its crystalline beauty. Somehow, he knows that this is where he belongs. Its aquamarine depths will provide safety and sustenance. He will swim, dive, and catch fish. In short, he will live.

Ms. Kindler-Priest tells the bird’s story in two parts. The first act manifests as a masterpiece in repoussé . With only a hammer and a handmade stamp held between her hands and a chunk of 14k gold, she sculpts the pliable metal on her workbench. Pushing, shaping, and coaxing, she calls forth the pelican from both sides of the precious material. By the time Baby has emerged “every millimeter of the metal is worked,” infusing it with “subtle textures” and a “rich softness to the overall feeling.”

Ms. Kindler-Priest then begins the more evocative layer of the baby pelican’s story. First, she adds just a touch of sapphire flourish, giving the impression that the pelican treads upon the pristine shores of a distant shore. Far below, the misty nuance of the sea is represented by a lovely slice of aquamarine rough. The same flourish of sapphires is echoed in the frame surrounding the cut stone, linking them together in perfect harmony. A single ovoid pearl bridges the gap between the two parts, calling to mind the first stage of life for this sweet baby pelican.

This gorgeous brooch is one of several on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their “So Fine” exhibition. The exhibit explores fresh interpretations of fine jewelry and fine art in precious metals and gemstones. Ms. Kindler-Priest uses fine materials, but in an informal, asymmetrical fashion.

In Baby Pelican, the essences of fine and precious blend together in seamless harmony. A precious baby pelican discovers the bounty of the seashore for the first time. A shimmering pearl and the glittering yellow gold remind us that nature’s greatest gifts are both precious and fine. Faceted blue sapphires lend to the piece an element of fine jewelry, and the whimsical pelican and raw aquamarine evoke art at its finest.

Ms. Kindler-Priest finds her inspiration in nature, often drawing from the wildlife sanctuary near her home in Massachusetts. She studies her subjects carefully, ensuring that her work will capture both their essence and their form. Her passion for gemstones led her to learn the art of stone cutting.

She chooses gemstones like a painter chooses a color from her palette, cutting and shaping them to highlight the patterns and textures required to tell her vignettes. She designs her sculptural pieces with an eye to detail, combining all the shapes, textures, and forms found in nature in a symphony of harmony.

We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery this week. The show closes on May 12, 2015. You will find more information on Facèré’s website.

Nanz Aalund at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery

'Swivel Locket' by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their "So Fine" exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.
‘Swivel Locket’ by Nanz Aalund. This locket will be on display at Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery as part of their “So Fine” exhibition until May 12, 2015. Photo used with permission.

 

Nanz Aalund has created several gorgeous jewels in sterling silver and yellow gold which are featured in Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery’s “So Fine” exhibition. This exhibit, on display until May 12, 2015, in downtown Seattle, seeks to explore the concept of traditional jewelry in relation to the concepts of fashion and finery.

Jewelry artists were asked to present works made from precious metals and gemstones which express their unique visions of finery and fashion.

When asked what the title of Facèré’s show means to her, Nanz Aalund said that after the lyrics of a bee-bop song  faded from her mind, what remained was the juxtaposition between jewelry as Fine Art and Fine Jewelry.

“With this show, as she has done with many others, I feel, Karen is playing with the premise regarding ‘fine’ materials within our craft, celebrating the fine art of finely made adornments from fine materials. Thus, ‘So Fine’,” Ms. Aalund remarked.

Nanz Aalund’s pieces are a beautiful marriage of the terms fine and art. She works primarily in sterling silver, with its almost-white delicacy, and in high-carat yellow gold, with its unparalleled luster and shine. Her techniques are those of a true master, defined by this writer as one who insatiably learns new techniques while continually practicing, teaching,  and incorporating old ones.

Ms. Aalund has several pieces on display in Facèré’s exhibition, including several bracelets in sterling silver; earrings made with 24k keum boo gold foil over sterling silver; a number of bold and sculptural two-finger rings in silver, 18k gold, and 22k gold; as well as a necklace called Always Crashing in the Same Car.

In a post written on her blog, Nanz credits the seven car crashes she survived as a child as her inspiration for Always Crashing in the Same Car. The necklace is comprised of a series of triangle pendants made from mashed up auto glass cast in resin and set in sterling silver frames. These beautiful aqua blue elements are linked together by intricate chains of sterling silver. This piece is beautiful and represents to Ms. Nanz both fragility and strength.

It is, however, her Swivel Locket, featured in the above photograph, which has so captivated me. Ms. Aalund graciously shared with me the basics of how she fashioned Swivel Locket. Incidentally, she crafted this piece as an inspirational model piece for a lesson she taught to a classroom of high school students.

Here’s what she writes about the process: “[T]he silver is roll-printed, which is an embossing process where paper with a pattern cut out of it is run through a rolling mill with a sheet of silver. The pressure from the mill cause the paper stencil to emboss the metal. Then the locket cases are Hydraulically pressed, which is an adaptation of an industrial production process. Finally the cabochon cut, pink tourmaline is set “volcano” style with rivets holding it in place.”

This piece beautifully captures the essence of Facèré’s “So Fine” exhibition. Not only is it fashioned from fine precious metals, but Ms. Nanz relates that the jacquard pattern imprinted on the silver and the 24k gold trefoil embellishment are a direct reference to the textiles of 15th century France, and the faceted tourmaline serves as a reminder of the history of gemstone cutting.

As she wrote to me, “by referencing the art historical elements of design,” Swivel Locket serves as an “allegory to the personal history the locket will hold when the owner places pictures of their loved ones within it.” In this way the piece makes a “very subtle artistic statement,” which she is certain will enhance the experience of the one who purchases the piece.

We invite you to visit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery over the weekend to view in person the beautiful finery crafted by Nanz Aalund. Click here for more information.

Cartier’s Trinity Motif

Marlene Dietrich in May 1933, seven years before Eric Remarque gave her the Cartier Trinity Lapis Bracelet. Her matchless personality and genderless glamour made her the perfect model for the emerging Cartier's Trinity motif.
Marlene Dietrich in May 1933, seven years before Eric Remarque gave her the Cartier Trinity Lapis Bracelet. Her matchless personality and genderless glamour made her the perfect model for the emerging Cartier’s Trinity motif.

 

Cartier’s Trinity motif dates back to 1924, with its triple-colored rings of white, yellow, and rose gold. White for friendship, yellow for loyalty, and rose for true love {3}.

Designed to represent the evolution of a relationship, Cartier’s Trinity motif began with a series of interlocking finger rings in the 1920s {6}. This spectacular interpretation of the symbology of love endures today and remains one of Cartier’s most popular collection. Not only the colors, but the interlocking nature of the motif send a powerful message about the cycles and stages of romantic love.

A very unique rendering of Cartier’s Trinity motif was realized in 1940 {1}. Erich Maria Remarque, a German writer known most notably for his classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front, commissioned Cartier to make an exquisite, one-of-a-kind bracelet for his friend and lover, actress Marlene Dietrich {1}.

Featuring a single lapis lazuli bead, fashioned in what Sotheby’s calls a “barrel-form,” hangs in suspension on a band of interwoven 14k gold circular links in white, yellow, and rose color {5}. These links are intertwined in a beautiful design most assuredly in reference to Cartier’s Trinity motif.

Lisa Hubbard, co-chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, told InStyle that she believes this particular piece of lapis lazuli was one of the ancient stones purchased by Louis Cartier in the early 1920s, possibly from Egypt {3}.

It is well known, according to Cartier biographer Hans Nadelhoffer, that Louis Cartier demonstrated a passion for Egyptian art, infusing many of his Art Deco designs with the stones of the ancient. Some of his favorite Egyptian stones were cornelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli {4}.

This bracelet, more than any other in Marlene Dietrich’s extensive jewelry collection, seems to epitomize Marlene’s strength, dignity, and genderless glamour.

In December 2014, Sotheby’s enjoyed the supreme privilege of offering Marlene Dietrich’s stunning Cartier Trinity gold and lapis bracelet for sale. In their catalog, they called it a 14 Karat Tri-Colored Gold and Lapis Bracelet, Cartier {5}. The esteemed auction house reported that Eric Remarque chose the stone because Marlene was especially fond of lapis.

Though Mr. Remarque had only known Marlene for a year at the time of the jewel’s commission, it is evident that he knew firsthand the matchless style of his lady love. Not too dainty, not too bold, this Cartier Trinity bracelet proves the perfect statement piece for a woman of Marlene’s distinction.

The gorgeous jewel was estimated to sell for between $20,000 and $30,000 this past December. Of course, as is always the case, these estimates did not reflect that thermonuclear effect called star power. The bidding for this stunning Cartier bracelet soared well above the estimated temperatures of the low $20,000s, reaching a high of $179,000.

To date, the jewel’s new owner has chosen to remain anonymous. Time will tell whether another level of star power will have been added when this piece returns once again to the limelight at some future date.

Do you have a fondness for Cartier’s Trinity collection? Which is your favorite?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer20

References

  1. Becker, Vivienne. “The Jewels They Wore,” Sotheby’s, December 3, 2014.
  2. Doulton, Maria. “Trinity de Cartier: an enduring symbol of love,” The Jewellery EditorAccessed April 17, 2015.
  3. Fasel, Marion. “#RocksMyWorld: The Cartier Jewel of Screen Legend Goes on the Auction Block at Sotheby’s,” InStyle, December 4, 2014.
  4. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. Chronicle Books, 2007.
  5. Sotheby’s. “14 Karat Tri-Color Gold and Lapis Lazuli Bracelet, Cartier.” Accessed April 17, 2015.
  6. Trinity Collection,” Harper’s Bazaar. Accessed April 17, 2015.

Designer Spotlight: Michael Barin

Designer Spotlight: Michael Barin's Elegant Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Designer Spotlight: Michael Barin’s Elegant Diamond and Platinum Engagement Ring. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Michael Barin is an artist. He began studying his craft at the age of 13, before the bench of a seasoned jeweler who taught him Old World handcrafting techniques. By the age of 19, Michael was ready to ply his trade, and he did so for a number of years, crafting rings and other jewels for American manufacturers.

In 1994, he and his brother Arman partnered together and opened Michael Barin Jewelry in Studio City, California. Together, they bring over 35 years of jewelry experience to their brand. With Michael Barin jewelry, the brothers endeavor to create lasting beauty in the medium of platinum, white diamonds, and colored stones.

Michael Barin strives to infuse every piece with sensual practicality. At the bench, it is just him, his tools, and the cool metals with which he works. He works without the use of molds or wax, ensuring that every piece is essentially free of air bubbles. This ensures that the final product is more resistant to deformities and scratching.

Michael takes modern fashion into consideration, but his primary influence comes from the Royal Courts of the Renaissance and the ancient traditions of Egyptian Pharoahs. In particular, he draws inspiration from royal neckpieces, arm bracelets, and earrings, as well as the jewelry fashioned for royalty during the Renaissance.

In this Michael Barin engagement ring, we see the influence of both the modern and ancient royals. His nod to modernity manifests in the round brilliant diamond which has been cast in the central role of this stunning solitaire diamond engagement ring.

There is nothing more modern than the round brilliant diamond. It is an innovation of modern diamond-cutting genius, with its 58 precisely cut facets and its maximum light return, the round brilliant cut is the modern cut, chosen more than any other by today’s modern brides.

It is the three-dimensional platinum band on this ring that draws us into Micheal’s appreciation of antiquity. First, in technique; second, in motif; and third, in essence.

In technique, the band is hand engraved along all three of its faces. Hand engraving dates back to about the 5th century BC, and today is achieved by using nearly the same techniques as in ancient times, albeit with more precise tools. These tools include hand-held chisels and hammers.

In motif, this band is etched entirely in a beautiful floral motif reminiscent of the open papyrus flowers so characteristic of Egyptian glyphs. Finally, in essence, the lines of this Michael Barin engagement ring evoke the elegance of royalty, with their simple lines and intricate engravings.

Although it is not a showstopping ice skating rink of a ring, this Michael Barin diamond solitaire carries itself with a dignified sophistication, an air of aristocracy. It is both lovely and elegant, with the subtlest touch of romance.

As with all Michael Barin jewelry, this ring appeals to a woman of sophisticated taste, one who appreciates the sensuality of fine hand crafted jewels and the elegance of the royals of old.

If you are such a woman, we invite you to take a closer look at this beautiful ring.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

References

  1. Barin, Michael. “Fabricating vs. Casting,” Michael Barin Blog, January 29, 2015.
  2. Designer Jewelry Brands. “Michael Barin.” Accessed March 15, 2015.
  3. Michael Barin Fine Jewelry. “About.” Accessed March 15, 2015.
  4. Williams Jewelers. “Michael Barin.” Accessed March 15, 2015.
  5. Yelp. “Barin’s Fine Jewelry.” Accessed March 15, 2015.

Kirk Kara Bridal Jewelry

Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Kirk Kara engagement and bridal rings epitomize passion and romance. The prestigious design firm draws on over 120 years of multicultural experience. Kirk Karaguezian was born into a jewelers’ family. His grandfather, who died in the Armenian Genocide in 1915, crafted hand engraved jewelry in Armenia before his death.

Kirk’s father, Artin, was the sole Karaguezian survivor. He escaped to Beirut, Lebanon, where he established himself as a premiere jewelry maker. His clientele grew to include a number of wealthy European tourists, and his work gave him opportunity to travel to abroad.

Artin began incorporating European elements into his designs, resulting in a unique flavor that continues to inform Kirk Kara’s modern designs. In the midst of this grand success, Artin met Angel. Artin sealed his commitment to Angel with a “magnificent hand engraved wedding band…” {cited}, which provides the benchmark for all of Kirk Kara’s betrothal designs to date.

During the 1970s, Kirk worked alongside his father in Lebanon, acquiring his father’s love of Old World tradition, his passion for artistry, and his keen eye for beautiful design. Unfortunately, their business was destroyed in 1975 during a violent civil war.

When the war subsided, Kirk worked tirelessly to reopen his own jewelry firm. During this season, he fell in love with Lucy, expressing his passion for her with a blue sapphire pendant. They married and had two daughters, carrying on with the family business until civil war broke out once again in 1983.

That year, Kirk brought his wife and daughters to America. Together, the Karaguezians worked tirelessly to establish the Kirk Kara brand. Their daughters, Grace and Angela, are now full partners in the family business. Today, the Kirk Kara brand prides itself on the incorporation of Old World methods to craft timeless jewels by hand.

Kirk Kara strives to create blended engagement and wedding ring sets that mesmerize. Kirk Kara rings will dazzle you every time you gaze upon them. Intricate details, exquisite craftsmanship, and unique flourishes adorn every one of their jewels.

The engagement and wedding ring set featured here is a premiere example of Kirk Kara’s dedication to crafting mesmerizing designs. It effortlessly evokes the timeless lines and styles of the past. Centering the engagement ring is a gorgeous 1.21-carat round brilliant diamond set in a classic six-prong, cathedral mounting. From every angle, this glorious diamond, rated F-G in color and VS1-2 in clarity, flashes in brilliant light and color. Its classic diamond pavé band demonstrates slightly tapered shoulders featuring  meticulous hand-hewn milgrain and filigree details.

Kirk Kara wedding bands are designed as a mirror image of their matching engagement rings. Each one is specifically designed with flat edges so it fits seamlessly next to its mate. This ensures a snug fit fashioned for beauty and comfort.

The Kirk Kara wedding band in this set is a perfect complement to the engagement ring. It features matching beaded milgrain and hand etching. Like its mate, this ring is paved entirely in mini round brilliant diamonds partway down its shoulders on three sides.

The set is crafted in 18k white gold, using Kirk Kara’s special alloy of gold and palladium. They use the highest quality casting process in order to ensure maximum durability and longevity.  Perfection is their aim, and they work with skill and passion to bring their inspired designs to brilliant completion.

As Kirk Kara expressed to JCK, “[Jewelry] is my life, and I love it. If you don’t do something with love, you can’t do it in the right way.”

At EraGem, we believe your betrothal rings are the most important symbol of your love.

What better way to demonstrate this symbolism of your union than with the perfect passion infused in this Kirk Kara bridal set?

Spark Creations Fashion Jewelry

Get your Spark on with this gorgeous designer sapphire engagement ring. A stunning 1-carat blue sapphire is surrounded by a halo of white diamonds. A gorgeous combination for a modern sophisticated bride. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Get your Spark on with this gorgeous designer sapphire engagement ring. A stunning 1-carat blue sapphire is surrounded by a halo of white diamonds. A gorgeous combination for a modern sophisticated bride. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

 

Spark Creations leads the pack in fashion jewelry. Each Spark jewel is designed to fully express the company’s express vision to present innovative jewels in live-action color with custom-fit colored gemstones from around the world. Their claim is that nobody does color better than Spark.

There are two  ways to approach the design of ready-to-wear fashion jewelry. One is to fashion the setting around the stone, and the other is to fashion the stone precisely to fit into the setting. Spark Creations prides itself on taking this second approach, applying customized cuts to create collections of spectacular colored gemstone rings, bracelets, necklaces that dazzle with color and brilliance.

This sapphire and diamond halo engagement ring represents Sparks Creations at their finest. It features a 1-carat, bright blue sapphire at the center of an oval halo fashioned from 18 round brilliant diamonds set with milgrain details.

Each of the shoulders of this gorgeous engagement ring features a unique design using five tapered baguette-cut diamonds set in a decorated channel of 18k white gold.

Each face is set with 27 round brilliant diamonds with further milgrain detailing. The central stone is prong-set into a cathedral setting decorated with an elaborate openwork design featuring six hearts that surround the diamond’s pavilion.

This gorgeous ring  is believed to hail from Spark Creations’ classic Color Collection. This collection centers on Greek-inspired designs featuring sapphires, tsavarites, rubies, emeralds accented by white diamonds. Color is central, with the white of the diamonds offering that “Spark” of contrast that makes the color appear so vibrant.

It is this vibrant spark, coupled with a commitment to quality, that infuses every Spark Creations jewel with timeless elegance and singular sophistication.

Is yours a love that sparks with fiery romance?

If so, then perhaps you’d like to add a bit more Spark to your fire with this one-of-a-kind Spark Creations Sapphire and Diamond Halo Engagement Ring.

Judith Conway Designs

Judith Conway expresses her passion for purity by designing exquisite diamond engagement rings in pure platinum. This Judith Conway diamond solitaire engagement ring is a beautiful example of this commitment. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.
Judith Conway expresses her passion for purity by designing exquisite diamond engagement rings in pure platinum. This Judith Conway  engagement ring is a beautiful example of this commitment. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

Judith Conway infuses every one of her engagement rings with a subtle elegance. She is committed to marking a couple’s most memorable moments with designs that reflect purity and a sense of the eternal.

To this end, she works primarily in platinum, a metal she describes as a pure “expression of integrity” and “a reflection of inner truth.” All of her platinum rings are made with a high-grade alloy that is 90% to 95% pure. Her artisans polish the platinum to its highest shine possible. This ensures that Judith Conway rings do not fade or tarnish.

Located in Beverly Hills, California, her design firm, called Judith Conway Designs, is staffed with highly trained jewelers who have dedicated themselves to the art of hand carving. Judith Conway jewels are crafted in such a way as to highlight the central stone from absolutely every visual angle.

Every Judith Conway ring exudes subtle refinement and exceptional quality. Her signature pairing of platinum with conflict-free white diamonds is a perfect testament to the rare beauty that comes when a master artisan fuses nature’s raw materials together to create a timeless work of art. To wear a Judith Conway diamond engagement ring is to claim the essences of purity, elegance, and distinction as your own.

If your sweetheart values a commitment to these essential qualities, then allow us to recommend a Judith Conway engagement ring to punctuate your eternal commitment to her.

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.

Vera Krupp and Her Diamond

Vera Krupp. Image credit: Alamy Images.
Vera Krupp.

We’ve been following the legacy of Elizabeth Taylor’s famous Krupp Diamond, now called the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. This gorgeous stone is a 33.19-carat Asscher cut diamond mounted in a Harry Winston platinum band. On its shoulders rest two baguette diamonds set horizontally.

Vera Krupp

The Krupp Diamond began its public journey on the finger of Vera Krupp sometime between 1952 and 1956. By 1956, we find Frau Krupp growing weary of life with her husband in Essen, Germany, where the average temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees (F) and the rain falls fairly steadily year-round.

There are many who write of Alfried Krupp’s love for his wife. Several authors, including Jeff Burbank, quote historian William Manchester, who wrote the book The Arms of Krupp in 1968. According to Burbank, Manchester described Herr Krupp as “defenseless against such a woman” {2, p. 117}.

Apparently, Vera was an assertive woman with few inhibitions who was one of the only people who could make Alfried, generally a straight-faced man, smile {Burbank}. Her beauty, ambition, and intriguing ways served Alfried well during high-powered business dinners {1} .

However, Alfried was a driven man on a mission to restore his family’s company to its former glory. As true as his love for Vera may have been, it is well documented that Alfried Krupp owed his prime allegiance to the business.

Krupp Steel Works

The notorious Krupp steel works, which supplied Germany, and many other countries, with weapons and armor for nearly all the European wars of the 21st century, were in dire straits after the Nuremberg trials. Alfried alone could set things right and bring Krupp back to life.

This took nearly all of his time, and after a few years of neglect, the cultured and sophisticated Vera hungered for warmth and excitement. Burbank writes that she eventually abandoned the “hideous, provincial, joyless city” of Essen in 1955, and purchased a ranch in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Though the couple’s parting appears as a mere blip in the history of Krupp, as described by the majority of its various biographers, it doesn’t take a lot of guess work to realize that Vera was done, not only with Essen, but with Alfried Krupp.

Divorce & Alimony

In October 1956, Vera filed for divorce. According to Peter Batty, who wrote The House of Krupp, Vera claimed that Alfried refused to have marital relations with her, pressured her to rescind her American citizenship, and “refused her a home life” {1, p. 305}.

Whether he wanted to contest the divorce or not, Alfried was unable to attend the hearing scheduled on American soil due to his convictions in 1948. The divorce was made final in January 1957, and a sum of ₤1,800,00 was requested immediately, followed by a request for annual alimony payments of ₤90,000 per year {1}.

According to Mr. Batty, the actual amounts settled upon by the two parties are undisclosed to public record due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding Mr. Krupp’s inability to be present for the divorce proceedings. To be sure the settlement was sizable. Given her regular visits into town sporting diamonds and platinum, most prominently the Krupp Diamond, Vera appears to have lived more than comfortably after her marriage ended.

References

  1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
  2. Burbank, Jeff. Las vegas Babylon: Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.