• Serena Williams Rocks it with a Gargantuan Wedding Ring

     

    Serena Williams Style - Go Big! Go Big or Go Home. Nothing compares to Serena Williams' massive wedding ring. But you can go big like the tennis goddess with this spectacular Edwardian Era Natural Pearl and Old Euro Cut diamond ring. Click here for more details. Photo © 2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Serena Williams announced her engagement to Alexis Ohanian with photos of them together in Rome. Instead of seeing her ring, though, fans got to see tacos. Yep, you heard me right. In yet another display of her awesome sense of humor, Serena kept her fans guessing with different incarnations of tacos superimposed over her ring.

    That was almost a year ago. Since then, Serena Williams gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, named Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr. She also got married to her baby's daddy, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Sr. And now she's sporting what I believe will come to be known as the wedding ring of the century.

    Serena Williams Rocks Out

    One massive emerald-cut diamond nearly bumps her knuckle. It seems to hover above the rest of the ring. The ring begins as an eternity band made of yellow gold and paved entirely in white diamonds. A concave opening allows her massive engagement ring, also fashioned of brilliant yellow gold, to nest within the wedding band. Three exquisite pear-cut diamonds drip off the edges of the eternity band.

    It is difficult to describe in words the dimensionality and originality this ring possesses. Oh, to see it in person. And in the post that highlighted it, a photo of Serena and Alexis hanging out together, demonstrates how used to the rock Serena has become. "Daddy knows how much I love leopard print," says Olympia!

    Come on! Daddy knows how much Mommy loves STYLE. Stylish is the only descriptive for this bling. It is a style completely unique, indescribable, and absolutely perfect for the Goddess of Tennis.

     

    The Serve

    It started one morning at a Roman hotel. For real!

    Serena Williams sits with her friends poolside, lamenting the fact that they missed the breakfast buffet. Awaiting their order, a techy nerd comes up and plops himself at their table.

    Why on earth didn't he sit at his own table? Who is this guy, anyway?

    "Aye, mate. There's a rat," says Aussie Zane Haupt. He's hoping to scurry the guy along.

    "I'm from Brooklyn. I see rats all the time," says the interloper.

    Serena Williams, realizing they're at an impasse, invites the stranger to remain and join them for breakfast. She bounces her ball and makes her serve, asking her new table mate about the conference he's attending.

     

    The Volley

    Only he's not just an attendee. He's a speaker for the Festival of Media Global. He tells her about Reddit, the social media site he and his buddy founded together. She acts as though she knows about it, but it's clear she doesn't.

    She tells him about tennis. He's figured out that she's Serena Williams. But that's about all he knows about tennis. He doesn't fake it, but he also chooses to keep secret that he finds tennis a cure for insomnia.

    She offers him her number, but only because she might want to ask him some more techie questions. He takes her number and slides it somewhere safe.

     

    Love - Love

    One of Serena's friends invites him to the tennis match that night. He gets to ride in their van. Serena won, of course, but an injury handicapped her performance. She invited Alexis to join them for dinner, but he had other plans. So she texted him, lamenting the fact that he didn't see her play at her best.

    Come to Paris, she wrote. See me play better. Alexis figured she didn't really mean it, that she was just being nice. But he showed up anyway. Serena showed up, too, and they took an Uber into the City of Love. For six hours, they stepped outside of time, outside of the spotlight, and enjoyed the city as tourists. Together. {source}

    For the next year they learn to respect and love each other more and more deeply. She inspires him. He inspires her. They romance each other. And in December, they find themselves once again at that table in the restaurant of that Roman hotel.

     

    Score

    It took some doing for Alexis to convince Serena to join him in Rome that December (2016). With a match in India on the books for Serena, the plan seemed simple. A quick stopover in Rome, done and done.

    However, the exhibition in India was canceled. Serena saw it as an opportunity to throw herself into training for the Australian Open. Suddenly, Alexis had to call in the big guns. Dakota Baynham packed Serena's bags in secret. Tommy Hilfiger invited her for an impromptu fashion meeting at his Palm Beach home. A trip to the airport was required.

    At some point, Serena's friend Jill informed her that Alexis wanted to surprise her with a spontaneous trip to Rome. Serena responded in anger. She grew angrier on the plane, as she realized what was coming. But this is what she wanted.

    And so, when she arrived and found herself sitting there at the table, with a plastic rat staring at her, watching her lover get down on one knee, she said, "Yes."

     

    Match Point

    With an announcement on Reddit, Serena Williams proclaimed to the world that she would soon become Mrs. Reddit. Alexis Ohanian posted on Reddit a Snoo made to look like his bride-to-be, with the title, "The Future Mrs. Kn0thing." "You're also a really cute Snoo," he wrote. Later, he added, "She said yes." {source}

    Months after their engagement, they welcomed baby girl Olympia. And in November 2017, the couple wed at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.

  • Qilin Brooch by JAR - Juan de Beistegui Sale at Christie's

     

    Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Citrine Qilin Brooch by JAR. Photo courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2018.

     

    This citrine brooch shaped like the legendary Qilin, made by famed jeweler JAR, sold last month at Christie's auction for 150,000 Euros ($173,818 US). JAR made it for his friend, Juan de Beistegui, heir to the multi-million dollar fortune of Carlos de Beistegui.

    Qilin Brooch by JAR

    JAR designed the brooch to resemble the Chinese rendition of the Qilin. It's gaping mouth, paved in rubies, yawns from within a bearded shaggy mane. This mane sweeps upward toward the sky, as its flowing beard trails down the front of its chest.

    Its piercing eye flashes as a yellow diamond. Its body shimmers with flaming citrine, representing fire in the belly. In one cloven hoof and leg it carries a ball of fiery citrine. Scaly metallic circles cover its skin like fish scales.

     

    The Chinese Qilin Legends

    In China, Qilin (also called Chinese unicorns) are gentle, mythical creatures with the sensibilities of a tender maiden. Yet, they also possess the power of a mighty lion or dragon. Though hesitate to tread on grass, fearful they might injure even a single blade, they vanquish the wicked without apology.

    Considered one of the four sacred animals, the chimeric creature enjoys the praise given the dragon, phoenix, and tortoise. According to legend, a dragon gave birth to nine sons. It was one of them. Along with its brothers, the qilin possesses the gift of discernment, recognizing good and evil.

    Similar to the stork, the Chinese unicorn brings extraordinary children from the heavens. Though a solitary creature by nature, the mythical creature appears and lingers just before the birth of a great sage or distinguished ruler and returns upon their death.

    A qilin eats magical grass, floats or flies, and escorts the dead to heaven. Even its image, carved on tombstones, wards off evil spirits. It represents peace and harmony, though it also possesses the power to vanquish evil.

    A qilin talisman is believed to bring protection, prosperity, longevity, and success to its owner. It also serves to promote fertility. In Feng Shui, qilin attract wealth and repel negativity. They represent celebration, longevity, greatness, joy, and wisdom. They are also a harbinger of wise and noble children.

     

    Qilin in Japan

    In Japan, qilin are called kirin. The legends surrounding them overlap nearly identically with those of China, promising prosperity and peace. However, in Japan, kirin are notoriously shy, avoiding conflict at every turn.

    The Japanese believe kirin possess the power to punish the wicked. Legends abound in which the kirin preside over court hearings and divine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

    Kirin live in solitude, born in the center of the earth. They are considered the first and purest among the land animals. Their ability to navigate flawlessly, always reaching their destination, render them a favorite choice for spiritual life guides.

     

    It doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine that JAR had all of this symbolism and legend in mind when he fashioned this qilin brooch for his dear friend. Now, its new owner can draw from the power of JAR's intentions, as well as from the talismanic power this jewel holds.

     

  • Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Customs

     

    Traditional Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Vase Traditional Cherokee Wedding Ceremony Vase

     

    The traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony has been nearly lost in time. No records of a Cherokee wedding ceremony appear in any history books. Cherokee couples have attempted to recreate the sacred ceremony as best as possible. Here I have compiled some of the elements of the ceremony.

     

    Sacred Fire

    As is true for many Native American tribes, fire is sacred to the Cherokees. A Sacred Fire ceremony begins with three separate fires made from the wood of seven different types of trees.

    One large wood pile is prepared in the center, the fire of which will represent both the Creator and the wedded union. One to the south and one to the north, the holy elder lays the wood for two smaller fires which represent the individual lives of the bride and groom before their union.

    The holy man and the assembly sing sacred songs and recite ancient prayers, as he and the bride and groom sprinkle sage, tobacco, corn, and sweet grass over their respective wood piles.

    As they say a prayer, the bride and groom light their respective fires. As their fires begin to burn brightly, the two gently push their smaller fires into the larger wood pile, which soon lights.

    The assembly bursts into song in praise to the Creator as the two fires burn as one with the Creator's fire.

     

    The Basket Ceremony

    Next, the mother of the bride brings her daughter a basket with an ear of corn or a loaf of bread. The mother of the groom brings him a leg of cooked venison, also in a basket. The mothers also bring a blue blanket which they drape over their child's shoulders.

    The blue blankets represent the sorrow of their lives before their union. They also represented the old ways of the individual, personal failures, weaknesses, and sorrows.

    Now draped with the blankets of their individuality and carrying their baskets, they begin to walk to the center of the room, toward each other. Upon meeting in the center, for the first time they look into each other's eyes directly. This act of intimacy remains forbidden during courtship.

    Next, the Cherokee bride grasps the corner of her groom's blanket and gently folds it within her own blanket, as she hands him her basket of corn or bread. This act symbolizes her commitment to keep their home and nurture and support her husband.

    The groom then hands his bride the basket of cooked venison. His act symbolizes his promise to provide for all her needs and protect her from all harm.

     

    Cherokee Wedding Blanket

    After the Basket Ceremony, close relatives step forward carrying a large white blanket. They drape it over the shoulders of the couple, covering over their weaknesses, failures, shame, and sorrows. Now their lives are joined in happiness, fulfillment, and peace.

    The tribe's chief steps forward at this time, declaring, "The blankets are joined." This concludes the official Cherokee wedding ceremony. Some couples choose to add a Wedding Vase Ceremony at this point.

     

    The Wedding Vase

    Take a quick look at the vase in the photo above. You'll see that it has two pouring spouts. At the close of their wedding ceremony, a Cherokee bride and groom attempt to drink simultaneously out of the vase. If they manage to do so without spilling even a drop, they can expect mutual understanding throughout their marriage.

    Most Cherokee couples enjoy a recitation of the Cherokee Wedding Prayer, which honors the three forces of nature - fire, wind, and water - as well as the blessings each brings to the marriage. Finally, members of the tribe perform a Stomp Dance to celebrate the union.

  • The Lab-Created Ruby on The Jeweler's Bench

     

    Lab-Created Ruby Cocktail Ring by Tenthio This gorgeous Tenthio cocktail ring features a striking oval-cut lab-created ruby. It also features natural and synthetic diamond accent stones. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This designer cocktail ring, featuring a gorgeous lab-created ruby, resembles a budding flower. Golden petals trimmed in natural and lab-created diamonds nestle against each other to form a tight bud. Embedded in their midst is a 1.3 carat created ruby.

     

    Synthetic vs. Lab-Created Ruby

    Synthetic rubies are chemically discrete from natural rubies. They are most often made out of glass, but can also be made from resin, plastic, ceramic, or other materials. Rarely will you see an imitation ruby at a fine jewelry store, unless it is incorporated as an original part of an antique. A reputable jeweler labels all imitation rubies as such, using terms like imitation, synthetic, or glass.

    A lab-created ruby, on the other hand, is chemically identical to a natural ruby mined from the earth. It has the same chemical, optical, and physical properties of a natural ruby. As long as they are properly labeled, lab-crated rubies are definitely a purchase worth considering.

    As their name implies, created rubies grow in a laboratory setting. Today, gemstone chemists continue to use the historical flame fusion process discovered in the late 1800s by Auguste-Victor-Louis Verneuil.

     

    History of the Lab-Created Ruby

    Scientists first attempted to create rubies in the early 1800s. Rubies proved rare, and when found they rarely exceeded 3 carats in size. Industry demanded a greater supply, particularly as microabrasives and for jeweled watch bearings.

    The French chemist, Edmond Fremy, reached success first with his huge fireclay crucibles. A mixture of alum, red lead, silica, and potassium dichromate reached temperatures referred to as "red heat" in these crucibles. When held at this high temperature for 20 days, the result yielded small, brittle, but perfectly formed rubies identical to naturally mined rubies.

    Verneuil, who began as Fremy's lab assistant, carried on with the crucible experiments, eventually forming created rubies the size of a nail head. While one jeweler successfully mounted a few of these created rubies into a brooch, and others used them in watches, their small size rendered their use limited in the jewelry industry.

    Eventually, Verneuil discovered Geneva rubies. In 1885, an influx of large jewel-grade rubies hit the market. These rubies appeared to be high-quality stones of rare large carat size. They sold for thousands of dollars per carat.

    However, under microscopic scrutiny, these rubies contained minute opaque spheres, gas bubbles which formed during some sort of melting or fusion process. The French Syndicate for Diamonds and Precious Stones declared them "artificial." They forbid jewelers from selling them as natural and forced those who had already sold them to refund their customers' money. The source of these Geneva rubies remains a mystery to this day.

     

    Flame Fusion

    While the Geneva rubies caused a fuss for many jewelers, Verneuil studied these manufactured gemstones, looking for a new approach to creating rubies. Using a hydrogen-oxygen or gas-oxygen mixture, Verneuil began using blowtorches to apply flame heat directly to a ruby "feed" made from aluminum oxide.

    Over the next 15 years, Verneuil continued to perfect his technique, creating several means for controlling flow of the feed and gas mixtures, as well as timing for removing the heat. Finally, in 1902, he published his perfected flame fusion method for creating rubies. This method remains the favored method for creating rubies, as I mentioned before.

    In two hours, a lab assistant created a 15-carat boule which could be cut into several faceted rubies. A flame fusion-created ruby possessed identical chemical and optical properties as a natural ruby. The only differences were physical, visible only at the microscopic level. Indeed, they were almost too perfect, lacking the usual inclusions of their natural cousins.

     

    Benefits of Lab-Created Rubies

    Lab-created rubies offer the jewelry connoisseur several benefits. For one, they come at a lower price point than natural rubies. Yet, they radiate with gorgeous color and beautiful shine in the same way as natural rubies.

    As such, lab-created rubies are the perfect choice for traveling. Travelers often leave their authentic jewels at home, locked away in their safe, while out of the country. But perhaps you wish to travel in style. In that case, we urge you to travel with your lab-created ruby jewelry. That way, you can shimmer and shine as usual without as much fear of loss.

    Finally, creating rubies in a lab leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Manufacturing rubies in a lab uses far less natural and manmade resources than mining rubies does.

    Here at EraGem, we have a handful of lab-created ruby (and other sapphire) jewels we would love to show you. We welcome your call and look forward to hosting you in our showroom very soon.

  • Faberge Twelve Monogram Egg at Hillwood Museum

    Twelve Monogram Egg by Faberge, 1896

    Twelve Monogram Egg by Faberge, 1896. Photo courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

     

    Faberge Twelve Monogram Egg, 1896. Photo by Alex Braun. Used with permission from Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

    This Faberge masterpiece, the Twelve Monogram Egg, is part of a special exhibition at the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Faberge Rediscovered aims to reestablish Peter Carl Faberge as the premiere Russian decorative artist of his time.

     

    The Twelve Monogram Egg

    Perhaps the most exciting contribution this exhibition makes in jewelry history is the re-dating of three Faberge eggs. This one, once believed to have been fashioned in 1892, now holds court as the 1896 Easter egg. Presented to Maria Feodorovna that Easter, the egg serves as a memorial to the marriage and reign of Maria and Alexander III.

    Framed and set in red gold, the Twelve Monogram Egg consists of 6 panels made from translucent blue enamel. The central opening divides each panel into two halves. On the top half, each panel bears the Imperial Crown made of diamonds and the monogram of Maria Feodorovna made from rose-cut diamonds. On the bottom half, each panel bears the Imperial Crown and the monogram of Alexander III, also in rose-cut diamonds.

    Each panel features a band of rose-cut diamonds. At the two crowning points of the egg, top and bottom, rest a portrait diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds.

     

    Surprise Rediscovered

    Inside, satin lines the egg to provide cushion for the surprise which was lost until just a few years ago.  When Maria Feodorovna opened the egg in Easter 1896, only several months following her husband's death, she found a grand surprise. A folding screen with six framed portraits of her husband and ten sapphires. Each portrait showed Alexander III wearing a different uniform. {source}

    Upon discovering what they felt was the Twelve Monogram surprise, historians put the jewel to the test. It passed without doubt. First, the red gold framing the surprise matches the red gold decorating the egg. Also, the deep blue of the sapphires matches perfectly the deep blue enamel of the egg itself. Next, the curators at Hillwood inserted the surprise into the Twelve Monogram Egg. It fit perfectly, as a hand to a glove.

    In addition, its dimensions and maker's marks match the notations written about it on the original Faberge invoice. Finally, descriptions in various auction catalogs demonstrated the appropriate provenance for the surprise.

    Passed Down Through Time

    In 1961, Prince Dimitri offered the surprise for sale through Christie's London. Prince Dimitri was the son of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the eldest daughter of Maria Feodorovna and Alexander III.

    Before passing down through time, the egg belonged to the Empress Maria Feodorovna. She received it from her son, Tsar Nicholas II, of the Romanov Empire in Russia, on Easter of 1896. Until her exile, the empress kept the egg in Anichkov Palace, the Imperial Palace in St. Petersburg.

    That year marked the first year the Romanovs commissioned Faberge to make two annual Easter eggs. One for the Empress and one for Nicholas II's wife, Alexandra Feodorovna. Alexandra Feodorovna was better known by her family as Princess Alicky. Born Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, she was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the British Empire.

     

    A Treacherous End

    The Romanovs met a treacherous end, having been executed in their own home during the overthrow of Russia by the Provincial Government. Kept under house arrest, many previous attempts made by revolutionaries to storm the castle and murder the Tsar and his family were thwarted by the soldiers guarding the Royal family.

    Alas, eventually the guards chose sides with the Duma, the legislative body of the new Provincial Government. These soldiers, under the guise of ushering the family to safety in the basement, ambushed them at their most vulnerable moment. Every member of the family died of bullet wounds, beginning with Tsar Nicholas II, who held his infant son as he fell dying to the ground.

    Those treasures not secreted away by Maria Feodorovna and her allies wound up in the Kremlin Armory in Moscow, where they remained until the early 1930s.

    Thereafter, officials in Stalin's regime began selling items from the treasury to raise funds for the government. Hillwood officials estimate that a Paris-based jeweler purchased the Twelve Monogram Egg from Russian officials. Next, a Mrs. G. V. Berchielli purchased the egg and kept it with her in Italy.

     

    The Egg at Hillwood

    Finally, Marjorie Merriweather Post, going by her married name of Mrs. Joseph E. Davies (1935-1955), purchased the Faberge egg from Mrs. Berchielli.

    Marjorie Post kept the egg at her home until her death. Today, it remains part of the permanent collection at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

    As I mentioned before, visitors have a special opportunity to view this gorgeous Faberge egg enveloped in the history of the artistry of Faberge at Hillwood's Faberge Rediscovered exhibition.

    The exhibition remains on view until January 2019. For more information, please visit Hillwood's website.

  • Gina Rodriguez Engagement Ring Details

     

    Gina Rodriguez style Art Deco Engagement Ring It's her style! Gina Rodriguez received an Art Deco-style engagement ring from Joe LoCicero. Why not match her style with this genuine Art Deco diamond ring? Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Actress Gina Rodriguez received a stunning Art Deco engagement ring from her fiancé, Joe LoCicero. It features a solitaire diamond of moderate carat weight surrounded by a platinum plate to increase shine and light refraction. We think he made an awesome choice!

     

    Art Deco Engagement Rings

    Art Deco engagement rings feature diamonds. Lots and lots of diamonds. Also, glistening, sparkling, dazzling platinum. Not only that, but Art Deco engagement rings are antiques. Worn by lovers of old, these jewels carry the essence of love and impart it to all who wear them.

    When you choose an Art Deco ring for your beloved, You're taking the "something old" tradition a whole step further, declaring that your love will also make history.

    Meeting on Set

    Speaking of making history, it might be hard to top the first meeting of Joe LoCicero and Gina Rodriguez. It began on the set of Gina's show Jane the Virgin. Joe showed up in character, as Don Quixote, with a twist. This Don made his living as a stripper. Since their first meeting, Joe has appeared on Jane the Virgin two more times, once as Prince Charming and another time as a masked figure.

    It wasn't love at first sight for Gina. However, Joe put in the effort to show up at her favorite boxing ring six months later. As Ryan (of the Kelly & Ryan Show) said, "That doesn't happen unless he does a little research and tracks you down." {source}

    It was off set where their romance blossomed. They debuted their relationship on the red carpet during Marie Claire's first annual Young Women's Honors gala. Later, Gina debuted her engagement ring on the red carpet during the premiere of her movie Smallfoot.

    In between red carpet events, the two have developed a relationship characterized by love, respect, and support. "I'm marrying a feminist," Gina told Us Weekly. "[He] is incredible and loving and understanding and kind and patient. I am marrying a really incredible human being." {source}

     

    Gina Rodriguez, An Incredible Woman

    Of course, he has to be an amazing man to partner in life with an incredible woman like Gina Rodriguez. Early in her American life, Gina wondered where all the Puerto Ricans came from. The shows she watched never featured people of her ethnicity. In fact, she believed her parents must have started the Puerto Rican race. {source}

    This burning question turned into a passion for setting an example for other Latina girls to follow. She dreamed of being an actor from a very early age. Through her platform, she has succeeded in doing her part to change the way Latinos, Latinas in particular, have been portrayed in pop culture.

    Her success as Jane has launched a whole generation of young ladies who finally have a host of Latina models to look up to. While the show appears at first glance to be just another dramatic telenovela. In truth, the creators of the show have wrapped authentic relationships in a puffy pastry of comedic energy and fun.

    Also, behind the scenes, Gina Rodriguez sets the stage for an atmosphere of comradery, respect, and kindness. If the star of the show treats others well, then the rest will follow. It has proven true so far.

    We congratulate the happy couple and wish them well as they plan for their future nuptials.

     

     

  • Zolotas Gold Necklace at Sotheby's 'The Midas Touch'

    Zolotas articulated gold bay leaves necklace Articulate Gold Bay Leaves Necklace by Zolotas. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

     

    A wreath of articulated bay laurel leaves made entirely of gold by Zolotas. This masterpiece in metal goes on sale on October 9 through October 19, during Sotheby's The Midas Touch auction.

     

    Lustrous Gold

    The Midas Touch sale centers around the world's most esteemed metal. This lustrous medium has captivated humans for millennia. The foundation of fortunes rest upon golden ingots. Kings have battled over it. Empires and dynasties rise and fall at the mercy of it.

    Gold mesmerizes, captivates, enchants, and dazzles. Used for things holy and things base, for luxury and for everlasting promise, gold stands the test of time. This month, Sotheby's offers a handful of items made from glistening gold.

    One important item is Lot 102, the Zolotas necklace featured in the picture above.

     

    Zolotas

    Zolotas steeps itself in the ancient tradition of Greek goldsmiths, as well as in the extraordinary Greek aesthetic and cultural spirit. Established in 1895, at the foot of the Acropolis, by Efthimios Zolotas, the House of Zolotas quickly emerged as the jewelry firm for the Athenian elite.

    Efthimios prided himself on his approach to customer service, hosting his clients with care and dignity. He also ensured that all of his goldsmiths and artisans received extensive training in the Greek jewelry and goldsmithing traditions.

    In fact, beyond its reputation as a jewelry atelier, Zolotas grew into an apprenticeship school for those learning the trade. Together with his wife, Konstantin, Efthimios groomed his son to eventually take over the business.

     

    Xenofon Zolotas

    Xenofon Zolotas carried the legacy of his family solidly upon his shoulders. His dedication to his family's traditions and the craftmanship of their jewelry allowed him to build partnerships with contemporary designers. These partnerships transcended the unique Zolotas style into something even greater, carrying the brand into the 20th century with ease.

    Under his influence, Zolotas developed some of their most iconic styles, including the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, the Lions of Mycenae, and the Star of Vergina. In effect, his leadership carried the brand across the seas, drawing the likes of the Kennedys, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maria Callas.

    Xenofon's depth of knowledge and understanding, as well as his commitment to the economic growth of Greece, established him as a true ambassador for his people. Moreover, he developed a singular passion for beautiful jewelry made in the time-honored traditions of his people and his family.

    In addition to leading the atelier into the modern age during the 1950s and 1960s, Xenofon established himself in the worlds of economics and politics. He served as professor of Financial Law at the University of Thessaloniki in his early 20s. In addition, he held a management position at the Bank of Greece for over 25 years. Finally, he served as Prime Minister of Greece in 1990.

     

    Zolotas Today

    Today, George Papalexis sits at the helm of Zolotas Jewelry. He took the wheel in 2009, as artistic director. Under his guidance, the brand continues to hold fast to the traditions of the past.

    Zolotas remains a luxury jewelry brand which delivers high-style jewels in the Greek goldsmithing and jewelry traditions. These jewels remain singular in their bold designs, inspired by the iconic symbolism of ancient Hellenism, the architectural mastery of the Doric, Ionian, and Corinthian orders, as well as the extensive mythological stories seated in the psyche of the Greek people.

    We invite you to take a closer look at this gorgeous necklace on Sotheby's website.

  • Cherokee Wedding Attire & Rings

    Traditional Cherokee Wedding Dress Traditional Cherokee Wedding Dress

     

    For a Cherokee wedding, the bride wears a special style of dress called a "tear dress." The groom wears a ribbon shirt and black slacks. They both wear moccasins. In lieu of rings, the bride and groom exchange gift baskets.

     

    Cherokee Wedding Attire

    The bride fashions her "tear dress" out of cotton or organza. Traditional Cherokee families typically did not have scissors. Thus, they made their dresses out of torn pieces of material. For a wedding dress, the Cherokees favored shades of white and ivory. Of course, upon her feet she wore moccasins, possibly made from white doeskin.

    Her groom wore a red ribbon shirt. A ribbon shirt consists of a formal tunic decorated with ribbons in blue, red, white, and/or green. These ribbons formed a chevron pattern across the chest with loose ribbons hanging down on either side. He finished his wedding outfit with black slacks and moccasins.

    Just before the Cherokee wedding ceremony, a family member draped blue blankets over the bride's and groom's shoulders. These blankets represented the shadow of sadness, weakness, and failures they lived under up to this point.

     

    A Cherokee Gift Exchange

    During a Cherokee wedding, the bride and groom do not traditionally exchange rings. Of course, modern influence has amended this custom. Therefore, many contemporary Cherokee couples do exchange wedding rings during their ceremony. They often choose turquoise for the men and opal for the women.

    During a traditional ceremony, the bride and groom exchange baskets. The groom offered his bride a basket filled with meat and prepared skins. This served as his promise to clothe and feed her all the days of her life. By the same token, the bride offered her groom a basket filled with bread a corn, her promise to nurture and feed him.

     

    Contemporary Cherokee Wedding Attire

    Today's Cherokee bride often chooses white cotton or organza decorated with lace or taffeta. These dresses are made in what we might call an old-fashioned prairie style. She wears doeskin moccasins in white or light brown.

    Her wedding dress must be more elaborate than her daily-wear dresses. In light of this, she might decorate her dress with leather fringe along the sleeves, the waist, and the hemline. This fringe can be mid-length, or it can hang all the way to the ground. She might also wear a native-style beaded necklace.

    For the groom, ribbon shirts remain in fashion, as do black, white, or tan slacks and moccasins. He might also wear a suit with a leather vest or black jacket, but not a tuxedo. It remains customary for the couple to walk together toward the officiant wearing blue blankets on their shoulders.

  • Raymond Yard Designer Spotlight

    Raymond Yard Jeweled Church & Tree Brooch Jeweled Church & Tree Brooch by Raymond Yard.

    I first learned about Raymond Yard when I wrote about the Christie's auction, The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. That sale featured the gorgeous engagement ring that David gave to his beautiful bride Peggy in 1940, which was made by Yard.

    By that time, it came as no surprise that David Rockefeller went to the designer for this most important jewel. Indeed, David's father, John D. Rockefeller, was the person who encouraged Raymond Yard to begin his own jewelry firm. Upon following his advice, Yard quickly became the Rockefeller's most important consultant for all things jewelry.

     

    Raymond Yard in the Early Years

    Raymond Yard began his career at the age of 13. He started out as the doorboy for New York's Marcus & Co. He opened the doors for clients of the elite luxury jewelry store on 17th and Broadway in Manhattan for a number of years. Over the next decade, he progressively learned the various aspects of the jewelry business.

    In his final years at Marcus & Co., Yard became the company's most sought-after salesman. It was here that John D. Rockefeller found him and groomed him to become an entrepreneur. In 1922, upon the urging of his benefactor, Raymond Yard established his own jewelry firm in New York.

    The Rockefellers recommended him to their friends, and before long Yard counted as clients the Woolworths, the Du Ponts, the Vanderbilts, and more.

     

    Raymond Yard's Distinctive Style

    In the beginning, Yard catered to his conservative American clientele, favoring large diamonds and gemstones mounted in platinum with gemstone accents. Given its 1920s and 1930s beginnings, the firm specialized in Art Deco style, taking the style to a whole new level with their exquisite geometric renderings and gorgeous diamonds, rubies, and blue sapphires.

    Eventually, Raymond Yard developed some more whimsical designs. His most iconic are his humanlike rabbits and his jeweled houses. The jeweled house above features what looks like a jade base (or sculpted emerald) for grass and platinum for the structure of the house and tree branches. The leaves and flowers on the tree are fashioned mainly of cabochon emeralds, rubies, and blue sapphires.

    The tree also features faceted diamonds. A carved ruby bush and carved emerald bush stand beside the platinum porch and blue sapphire door of what looks like a church. The church also features ruby windows and an emerald belfry, as well as diamond siding and a diamond-studded spire.

    Raymond Yard made many of these fun "house" brooches. Perhaps the most famous of his houses was his reproduction of Cee Zee Guest's Palm Beach home, Villa Artemis.

    His more whimsical personified rabbits feature clothing made out of calibre-cut gemstones, baroque pearls, sculpted rubies, and lots and lots of diamonds.

    His most famous rabbits are his butler rabbits, dressed in elaborate finery, carrying cocktail trays and towels, ready to serve the most prestigious of guests. He also fashioned bridal rabbits, fisher-bunnies, yachts-hares, and even British Royal Guards Bunnies.

     

    Raymond Yard Today

    Raymond Yard retired from his company in 1958, with the Herald Tribune declaring his career "fabulous." {source} He ceded his position to his protege, Robert Gibson. Gibson retired in 1989, leaving the company in the capable hands of his son, Bob Gibson.

    Today, Raymond Yard continues to make jewelry based on the company's original designs. They continue to source the highest-quality gemstones and use time-honored jewelry-making techniques. These original designs are sold exclusively through Betteridge. Of course, collectors can always scour the web in search of auctions of Raymond Yard vintage pieces.

  • Faberge Leaf-Shaped Box on Display at Hillwood Museum

    Faberge Leaf Box Hillwood Museum Faberge Leaf-Shaped Box, 1899-1908. On display at Hillwood Museum as part of their 'Faberge Rediscovered' Exhibit. Photo by Alex Braun. Courtesy of Hillwood Museum, Estate, & Gardens.

     

    Peter Carl Faberge crafted this exquisite leaf-shaped box between 1899 and 1908 in St. Petersburg, Russia. It's possible he crafted it for a member of the Romanov court. Today it belongs to the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

     

    Faberge Rediscovered

    An avid collector of Russian decorative arts, particularly those of the house of Faberge, Ms. Post purchased this box and kept it in her bedroom. Upon her death, she bequeathed the box to her estate with the expectation that it would remain in on public display in her bedroom at Hillwood Estate.

    Usually, this is exactly where it rests, in a display case with other favored Russian boxes collected by the Postum Cereal heiress. However, at this time and through January of 2019, this gorgeous serpentine box has been relocated in the mansion, as part of a special exhibition called Faberge Rediscovered.

    This exquisite exhibition showcases the work of Peter Carl Faberge, as well as the works of his contemporaries, in order to draw attention to Faberge's unique and important place in the history of Russian decorative arts.

    Visitors to Hillwood Museum, Estate & Gardens walk through three display halls to experience the exhibition. Located in Washington, D.C., the museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays.

     

    A Bloody Stone

    When you visit, make sure you set your eyes upon this gorgeous leaf-shaped box. Fashioned out of bloodstone, it features delicate golden leaves and bezel-set diamond berries. The weight and feel of this bloodstone creation must be so delectable to hold.

    Bloodstone, often mistakenly called heliotrope jasper, is a form of green jasper. The base color can range from the dark teal-green you see in the Faberge box, to light green. It typically includes zones of varying tone and color saturation. The most distinctive characteristic of bloodstone, though, is the bright red flecks that pepper the base color throughout.

    At one time, people believed that these flecks of red appeared for the first time at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Apparently, drops of the Christian savior's blood dropped upon the jasper stone at the base of the cross he died upon. They soaked into the stone and transformed it into bloodstone.

    As a result of this widespread legend, Christian artisans during the Middle Ages often carved scenes of Jesus' crucifixion, as well as the martyrdom of the saints, into bloodstone, ensuring that the red flecks genuinely looked like blood.

     

    Bloodstone Jasper

    Modern geologists, of course, dispelled the myths of Medieval Christians. Bloodstone is chalcedony (green jasper) with blood-red inclusions of iron oxide. These inclusions can range in color from bright blood red to a dull brownish red.

    During the 1700s, sculptors fashioned bloodstone into snuffboxes, cups, vases, and other decorative objects. {source} During the 1800s, bloodstone continued to find favor among artisans for boxes and small decorative objects, as well as for signet rings and seals. {source} In like manner, Faberge favored the stone for many of his decorative creations, primarily ornate boxes like this one and his famous jeweled eggs.

    Ancient sources of bloodstone included Egypt, Africa, and the East Indies. By the time Faberge came on the scene, most of these mines were either exhausted or closed to Europe. European jewelers sourced their bloodstone from India, China, Bulgaria, and Brazil. Faberge may have found sources for bloodstone in Russia. However, that is not certain.

    Today, bloodstone comes primarily from Australia, as well as the United States (California), Germany, Brazil, and China. The most recent supply was found on the Isle of Rum in Scotland.

    Bloodstone is gorgeous, and we hope you'll be able to find the time to see this gorgeous Faberge leaf-shaped box in person to see for yourself. For more information about the exhibition, please visit Hillwood's website.

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