• The Miracle of Ruby Formation

    Raw Ruby. Photo Credit: Wikipedia. Raw Ruby. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    Formed deep beneath the earth’s surface, where molten metals, minerals, and gases are pushed to the surface by cataclysmic events, rubies defy all natural odds by emerging in bands of marble in some of the highest mountain peaks.

    Though scientists agree that it takes eons for most gems to form, it is usually pretty cut-and-dried as far as how the
    chemical properties required for their growth came together. This is not so in the case of the ruby.

    It seems ruby formation is a miracle of sorts. Geologists, gemologists, and chemists know what they’re made of, and their primary geological locations lend themselves to some educated speculation as to how they form, but their unique properties present a mystery that is, as yet, unsolved.

    The miraculous nature of ruby formation stems from the requirements for no silica and low amounts of iron. This is an astounding feat, considering that silica and iron are two of the most copious minerals on our beloved planet. In addition to the absence of these elements, chromium (one of the rarest elements on earth) must find its way into the aluminum crystal grid to lend rubies their brilliant red hues.

    So, just how does a gemstone, which requires no silica, low amounts of iron, and the presence of a rare element, chromium, form? One theory is the Tethys Sea Theory.

    *Originally written May 22, 2013.

    1. Sasso, Anne. "The Geology of...Rubies." Discover Magazine, November 2004. Accessed May 21, 2012. http://discovermagazine.com/2004/nov/geology-of-rubies.
    2. "How are Rubies Formed." Want To Know It. Accessed May 21, 2012. http://wanttoknowit.com/how-are-rubies-formed/.
    3. "Ruby." Wikipedia. Accessed May 21, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby.

  • Jeweled Peacock Brooch Sold at Sotheby's for Over $132,000 May Have Been Designed by Gustave Baugrand

    Ruby & Diamond Peacock Brooch Sold at Auction at Sotheby's. Photo Copyright 2013 Sotheby's. Ruby & Diamond Peacock Brooch Sold at Auction at Sotheby's. Photo Copyright 2013 Sotheby's.

    White diamonds of varying cuts (circular-cut, cushion-shaped, and rose-cut) line the ostentatious feathers of this jeweled peacock brooch. The body of the bird, paved in more white diamonds, stands in a whimsical pose, as though basking in the sun. It's eyes are set with circular-cut rubies, and its crest is made of solid gold. The bird's tiny clawed feet grasp a golden branch jeweled with more white diamonds. A striking display, indeed.

    This magnificent piece was sold on April 11, 2013, for 86,500 GBP ($132,172) at Sotheby's in London. It is compared in their catalog to similar jeweled peacocks made in France in the mid-to-late 1800s. Reference is made in the lot notes to the fact that Gustave Baugrand, court jeweler to Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, made several similar peacock brooches at around this same time.

    One would expect that if the piece was signed by Baugrand, Sotheby's would have mentioned it. However, perhaps they do not always mention everything they know about a piece on their internet descriptions. Most certainly, it bears resemblance to another peacock brooch sold at Bonhams 1793 on September 21, 2011. The brooch sold at Bonham's was signed Baugrand and featured a body paved in circular-cut blue sapphires and plumes set with circular-cut diamonds accented by square-cut emeralds and round-cut rubies. Though the bird does not appear quite as whimsically posed, the arrogant tilt of its head could indicate a similar sense of humor.

    From this cursory comparison, it is the cuts of the stones, as opposed to the actual lines of the bird that indicate that these two brooches may have been made by the same designer. It definitely lends credence to the assertion that the birds may have been made around the same time and perhaps in the same region, but closer inspection is required to ascertain whether they were actually both made by Baugrand.

    Moving down to the feet of both birds, each one grasps a natural object, one a jeweled branch and one a sizable round pearl. The similarity appears to end there. The feet of the peacock pictured above are detailed and anatomically correct, whereas the feet on the Baugrand brooch are two-dimensional and stylized. The wings are also drastically different. In the brooch sold at Sotheby's, the wings are prominent and paved with diamonds. In contrast, the wings on the Baugrand brooch, made of unadorned gold, are placed vaguely along the body of the bird. Again, the one is more anatomically accurate, while the other is more impressionistic in its representation.

    Upon examination of the tail feathers, the sharp peaks and valleys defining the individual tail feathers on the brooch sold by Sotheby's don't quite match up with the rounded, almost flower-like tips on the Baugrand bird. However, the lower tier of feathers in the diamond peacock do have a similar rounded, flower-like shape to them. Indeed, I believe further examination of more peacock brooches* by Baugrand would is required to decisively determine whether he crafted this bird, or whether it is a beautiful imitation of his work.

    *Here are a few more photos of verified Baugrand peacock brooches: Wartski (Exhibited 2001); Christie's (2001 Sale)

  • Did Gustav Manz Design the 18k Gold Cartier Elephant Ring Which Sold for $13,200 at Recent Skinner Auction?

    18k Yellow Gold Mother and Child Elephant Brooch Pin by Cartier. Photo Source: 1stDibs. 18k Yellow Gold Mother and Child Elephant Brooch Pin by Cartier. Photo Source: 1stDibs.

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    A breathtaking 18k gold elephant ring by Cartier sold for $13,200 in an auction held at Skinner on March 12th. Its intricate design evokes images of Persian war elephants, bedecked in traditional jeweled howdah (carriages), bearing princes through the streets or packing war materials into the Sahara Desert.

    Its exquisite sculptured body and etched wrinkles, coupled with the perfectly placed platinum tusks, form an anatomically perfect elephant in miniature. A diamond-set ruby rests above a diamond-set blue sapphire, flanked on either side by vertical rows of three round diamonds. The pattern is repeated on the opposite side in imitation of a Persian-style saddle blanket. The crowning jewel, a carved emerald cabochon, serves as the actual howdah.

    The delicately floral carving upon the emerald cabochon indicates that this ring was likely made in the 1920s, when Cartier first began collecting and sometimes engraving emeralds from India. The masterful gold work and anatomical perfection indicate that it was likely designed by Gustav Manz, a man A.M. Veghte called (in 1952) "the finest carver of animal jewelry" in the early 20th century {2}.

    Gustav Manz is hardly a household name, though he was well known in New York's decorative arts scene at the turn of the 20th century. Born in 1865 in Germany, Herr Manz followed the usual course of instruction for metalsmiths and jewelers as a teenager, and then traveled to Paris in 1889 to view in person the greatest works of artisan jewelers at the Exposition Universelle.

    In the spectacular halls of the international exhibition, he would have seen with his own eyes the brilliant works of Art Nouveau masters, Rene Lalique and Paulding Farnham, who took wearable art to a whole new level following their principles of beautiful functionality. After seeing these works in person, he stayed on in Paris to soak up all he could in the ateliers of jewelers and goldsmiths. He later did the same in England and then departed for South Africa, Italy, and Egypt, where he studied wild animals, worked in diamond mines, surveyed the works of Cellini and Michael Angelo, and sketched alongside archaeologists in the tombs of the Nile River Valley.

    After immigrating to New York in 1893, Gustav Manz continued to devote himself to the real-life study of animals and artifacts. He befriended zookeepers, likely at several of the New York Zoological Society's (currently World Conservation Society), who allowed him to spend countless hours observing and sketching the animals. He also enjoyed rare privilege at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he acquired exact measurements for several jeweled Egyptian artifacts {1}.

    Researcher Courtney Bowers discovered Herr Manz's sketches, sales records, and designs tucked away in a dusty corner of the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Along with two of Herr Manz's great-granddaughters, Laura and Cuyler Mathews, the dedicated investigator has worked tirelessly to pair the goldsmith's extensive design drawings with his sales logs in order to determine which of his designs were sold to which design firms.

    Experts widely agree that in addition to crafting pieces for jewelry firms such as  Black, Starr, and Frost, A.A. Valentine, and Gorham, Herr Manz also designed pieces for Cartier. However, as of September, Ms. Bowers and her research partners have been denied access to Cartier records to confirm the notations found in Herr Manz's ledgers regarding the numerous sales he made to the firm. Therefore, more research is required to confirm whether this Cartier ring was in fact designed and manufactured by the late Gustav Manz.

    Given that Ms. Bowers and the Herr's family continue their campaign to honor the master craftsman's personal contribution to jewelry history, this writer believes it is just a matter of time before Gustav Manz pieces will command even higher premiums than this ring brought. In fact, perhaps their efforts have already paid off. Just three years ago, what is appears to be this precise ring was sold at Bonham's for $8,125. That is a greater than 60% increase.  Something assures me that the proud new owner of this impeccable golden elephant ring will find that the weighty investment made at auction this year will yield an even greater return in just a few short years.

    1. "A Master Sculptor in Precious Metals: Gustav Manz, Disciple of Cellini, Whose Methods Are Those of the Florentine Craftsmen of Mediaeval Days." Arts & Decoration, 1926, p. 68.
    2. Bowers, Courtney. "The Life and Jewelry of Gustav Manz." The Magazine Antiques. Accessed April 9, 2013. http://www.themagazineantiques.com/articles/the-life-and-jewelry-of-gustav-manz/.
    3. Gustav Manz. "3650 Campaign." Accessed April 9, 2013. http://www.gustavmanz.com.
    4. "Elephants in the Room: Gustav Manz at the Forbes Jewelry Gallery." GustavManz Blog, October 16, 2011. http://gustavmanz.blogspot.com/2011/10/elephants-in-room-gustav-manz-and-other.html.
    5. Jeweler's Circular, The, 1923, Volume 87, Issue 2, p. 55.
    6. Kahn, Eve M. "Determined to Give a Craftsman His Due." The New York Times, September 27, 2012. Accessed April 9, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/arts/design/giving-a-craftsman-his-due.html?_r=1&.
    7. McKinstry, E. Richard, compiler. Guide to the Winterthur Library: the Joseph Downs Collection and the Winterthur Archives. Wilmington: Winterthur Museum, 2003.

  • Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring Features L. Heller & Son Synthetic Sapphires

    Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring with Synthetic Sapphires

    by Angela Magnotti Andrews

    Set in an etched 18k white gold band, these four rectangular-cut synthetic sapphires are among those made in Paris by L. Heller & Son, the leading manufacturer and importers of synthetic stones between the years 1910 and 1935.

    Heller & Son cornered the market in synthetic gemstones with their laboratory-created pearls and rubies by the late 1890s. In 1909, Lazarus Heller decided it was time to add blue sapphire to his popular synthetic line. On the cutting edge of scientific research himself, Mr. Heller was familiar with the work of the Paris scientist, Auguste V. L. Verneuil (1856-1913).

    A Professor at the National Conservancy of Arts and Sciences in Paris, Mssr. Verneuil spent most of his time teaching his courses in Industrial Chemistry. However, with every free moment he attempted to crack the code on blue sapphire. By 1909, the persistent scientist was certain that the prevailing theories about which elements transformed colorless corundum (sapphire) into the shimmering blue of the coveted gemstone were off base. At this critical juncture in his research, Mssr. Verneuil was employed by Mr. Heller.

    In his book, 50 Years Progress in Crystal Growth, Robert Feigelson writes that Mssr. Verneuil was given laboratory space and resources to solve “the problem of the nature of the blue sapphire.” In 1910, he discovered the mystery elements (titanium and manganese) and developed a pristine formula for manufacturing perfect blue sapphires in the lab.

    By 1911, L. Heller & Son had their patents in place, and Mssr. Verneuil returned to his professorship a very satisfied, and hopefully wealthy man. With the secret formula secured by the patents, L. Heller & Son added their Hope Sapphire to the most successful ad campaign for synthetic gemstones in jewelry history.

    Fortunate are they whose birth month is September for to them is given the Sapphire—oft considered more beautiful, more precious than the diamond. As gifts, choose either the Natural Stone, found deep in the earth, or the Heller Hope Sapphire, made in the Heller Laboratories at Paris. Both are true Sapphires, precious stones, equally beautiful, equally everlasting. Great scientists have verified by every known test the facts that they are absolutely identical in all respects.

    This brilliantly written advertisement was featured in Cosmopolitan and Hearst’s International in September of 1921 by L. Heller & Son, Inc. This is just one example of their extensive endeavor to maintain their edge in synthetic sapphires, rubies, and pearls.

    Despite the fact that many of these synthetic sapphires have more recently found their way into antique pieces as substitutions for missing gemstones, experts agree that the small synthetic stones, like the ones set in this Art Deco ring, do not decrease the value of pieces from the 1920s and 1930s. This is largely due to the wild success of L. Heller & Son in preserving their corner of the market in synthetic stones well into the 1930s.

    It is an absolute certainty, as is the case for all true synthetic blue sapphires made during the Art Deco Movement, that the accent stones in this antique engagement ring are the real deal, made by L. Heller & Son, Inc. with Mssr. Verneuil’s famous formula.

    1. Bell, C. Jeanenne. Answers to Questions About Old Jewelry: 1840-1950, 7th Edition. Iola: Krause Publications, 2008.
    2. “Briefs Submitted.” The Jeweler’s Circular, Vol. 84, No. 22, June 28, 1922.
    3. Colby, Frank Moore and Allen Leon Churchill. The New International Yearbook: A Compendium of the World’s Progress for the Year 1910. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1911.
    4. Feigelson, Robert S., ed.. 50 Years Progress in Crystal Growth: A Reprint Collection. San Diego: Elsevier Inc., 2004.
    5. “New York Notes.” The Jewelers’ Circular Weekly, Vol. 75, No. 18, November 28, 1917.
    6. “Patent on Synthetic Gems.” The Jeweler’s Circular, Vol. 84, No. 17, May 24, 1922.
    7. Prisant, Carol and Chris Jussel. Antiques Roadshow Primer: The Introductory Guide to Antiques and Collectibles. New York: Workman Publishing, 1999.
    8. “Sapphires for September (advertisement).” Cosmopolitan, September, 1921, p. 124.
    9. “Win Patent Suit.” The Jewelers’ Circular, Vol. 84, No. 24, July 12, 1922.

  • This Art Deco Engagement Ring Features Green Glass Accents, a Stand-In For the Coveted Synthetic Emeralds

    Art Deco Antique Engagement Ring

    Crafted of solid platinum, this antique engagement ring features a stunning 1.16-carat genuine Old European Cut diamond center stone. Flanked in openwork design by glittering emerald-green glass accent stones and symmetrical lines of twelve round Single Cut diamonds, this magnificent Art Deco ring is a showstopper.

    Known as Art Moderne when it first emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, Art Deco was an arts movement that influenced design in the disciplines of architecture, decorative arts, graphic arts, and the art of jewelry design. Drawing inspiration from the "streamlined, elongated, and symmetrical" designs of modern industry, proponents of the new movement aimed to "upgrade industrial design as 'fine art'." {1}

    Synthetic rubies and sapphires were all the rage during the 1920s and 1930s, and many Art Deco engagement rings featured such synthetic stones. In the case of the above ring, the green glass accent stones stand in for the coveted synthetic emerald. The French chemist who cracked the code on created rubies and sapphires, Mssr. Auguste Verneuil, was unable to produce emeralds by his flame fusion methods, as the necessary elements to grow emeralds do not have the same melting points.

    It was American chemist Carroll Chatham who unlocked the secrets of growing beryl crystals in 1930. Five years later, in 1935, he grew his first emerald from the beryl seeds. By his methods, it could take up to one year to grow an emerald. His first created emerald, 1 carat in size, is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

    Unlike imitations, such as the green glass featured in this ring, synthetic emeralds are chemically identical to natural emeralds, they are just grown in a laboratory instead of in the recesses of space or in the bowels of the earth. This in no way devalues the above ring. Brightly colored accent stones were a popular feature of Art Deco rings, and since the advent of synthetic emeralds would come well after the Art Deco style faded into the Modernist Style of the 1930s-1960s, green glass was a popular and acceptable stand-in for the time.

    1. Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner's Art Through Ages: A Global History, 13th ed., 2011.

  • Designer Spotlight: Stephen Webster

    Stephen Webster Skull & Bones Ring

    Black diamonds set in a platinum bone co-joining two brushed silver skull heads with hollow ruby eyes. This Double Skull & Bones ring was designed by cutting-edge jewelry designer, Stephen Webster. {1} This Goth-style ring was likely made in 2011, as part of Mr. Webster's Boyfriend Collection. The Boyfriend Collection features jewelry designed for men, but sized for women.

    The trend in sharing jewelry between the sexes emerged in 2011, on the heels of Gap ads featuring baggy shirts for girls and gender-neutral clothing. Stephen Webster said of the collection, "It's beyond his and hers. It's about jewelry with no gender--a jewelry box that's now for sharing." {2} While marketed to both sexes in the Boyfriend Collection, a nearly identical ring with diamond eyes also found its way into Webster's Thorn Collection, a selection clearly made for men (though women still purchase from it*), with its masculine metallic thorns, black sapphires, and bold designs.

    Bold designs with rocker-like themes are the defining elements of Stephen Webster's designer jewelry. However, Mr .Webster is far from stuck in the bygone days of Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss. Although he has been called "the rock god" and "the cool-jewels Kaiser", {3} Mr. Webster's philosophy of work, his commitment to excellence in craftsmanship, and his "flamboyant and striking...ultraluxrious" {cited} designs have set his work in a class of its own.

    Stephen Webster's designs tread the line between fine and designer jewelry. The brand offers a line of high fashion jewelry right alongside designer collections for Nieman Marcus and Saks. Most recently, Mr. Webster was invited to design the jewelry for actress Berenice Marlohe, who played Severine in the latest Bond thriller, Skyfall. Mr. Webster and his team infused the Skyfall jewels with allure, mystery, danger, and glamour. In speaking of the opportunity, Mr. Webster relates, "Wow--a Bond girl! Our perfect client: seductive, glamorous  beautiful, dangerous...The perfect match!" {cited}

    And Mr. Webster has worked with more than his fair share of perfect matches. His magnificent jewels have been worn by the seductive and glamorous Sharon Stone, the beautiful and sometimes dangerous Madonna, as well as Hollywood's ultra-glam movie stars, Charlize Theron, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Beckinsale. The designer has also collaborated on pieces with edgy and glamorous men, including Rock-and-Roll legends Ozzy Osbourne and Axl Rose, as well as the intriguing Johnny Depp.

    In all accounts it is clear that Mr. Webster thoroughly enjoys his work and the fame that goes with it. In fact, it seems as if he was made for it. His launch parties are astonishing in their genius, replete with legendary theatrics (including 'life-like' dead bodies), outrageous luxuries (including a stretch Hummer equipped with two roaring log fires) {4}, and stunning, edgy jewels inspired by anything from mystery novel covers from the '30s and '40s, real-life femme fatales, or cliff-top vistas near his home in the UK.

    When he's not busy making jewelry, having fun with his kids, and planning blow-your-mind launch parties, Stephen Webster can be found traipsing about in the mines of Tanzania and Peru, connecting with those who make it all possible--the miners who bring the gold and jewels to the surface.

    While his edgy designs and his bold presence define him in the upper echelons of high fashion, it's his commitment to fair trade in gold mining coupled with his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with up-and-coming jewelry artisans that gain him distinction among his peers in the trade.

    "Renowned for his fearless creativity...[his] enthusiasm, [and his] commitment [to]...exquisite craftsmanship," {cited} Stephen Webster has continually "rebranded the jeweler as an artist rather than an artisan. [He is] a chap of flair and wild imagination," as opposed to "a chap in brown overalls with a lens screwed into his eye...[who can] attach diamonds and sapphires on a circlet of gold." {6}

    *Singer Cheryl Cole was captured on film wearing Webster's Thorn Noir 3D Diamond Earrings
    1. "Rocks and Roll." Belfast Telegraph, December 31, 2011.
    2. Theobald, Stephanie. "Unisex: A jewellery box you might like to share with the boyfriend." Financial Times, March 25, 2011.
    3. "Rocks and Roll." Belfast Telegraph, December 31, 2011.
    3. Fedorova, Nath. "Swarovski Skyfall James Bond Jewellery by Stephen Webster." Local Spotter, posted in London, Fall 2012.
    4. "Rocks and Roll." Belfast Telegraph, December 31, 2011.
    5. Ibid.

  • Vintage Celebrity Jewelry: Marie Dressler Favors Pearls and a Black Velvet Adrian Dress for The Red Carpet in 1932

    Marie Dressler Wins Best Supporting Actress in 1930 for her performance alongside Greta Garbo in "Anna Christie." Photo Credit: Mythical Monkey Blog. Marie Dressler Wins Best Supporting Actress in 1930 for her performance alongside Greta Garbo in "Anna Christie." Photo Credit: Mythical Monkey Blog.

    Actress Marie Dressler (1868-1934), wearing what became her staid public affairs outfit--a black velvet Adrian dress paired with a string of pearls and a fur wrap--poses with an Oscar. The comedienne won the golden statue in the category of Best Actress in 1930 for her role as Min in Min and Bill. Adapted by Frances Marion and Marion Jackson from Lorna Moon's novel, Dark Star, the movie portrays Min joins Bill and Nancy to form their "cobbled-together family" which kept audiences in stitches as Min attempted to protect her daughter's innocence from the leches who frequented their dockside inn.

    Ms. Dressler went on to achieve tremendous fame during her four short years in Hollywood. Nominated for Best Actress for her starring role as housekeeper Emma in Clarence Brown's Emma, Ms. Dressler walked the red carpet one more time in 1932, likely wearing a similar Adrian dress and a string a pearls. Though the Oscar went that year to Helen Hayes for her performance in The Sin of Madelon Claudet, but true to style, I imagine Ms. Dressler shone with her usual ebullience during the proceedings.

    Not your typical glamorous movie star, Ms. Dressler does not appear to be credited with starting any fashion trends. However, she was known in her early years to have a boisterous sense of style, which she appears to have toned down, at least for public appearances, in 1919 {1}. In her early days, spent on Broadway and Vaudeville, she favored bold colors, shimmering sequins, and fanciful feather boas.

    This fits the larger-than-life image her onscreen personalities predicate. However, at a party in 1919, it seems she exchanged this flamboyant attire for classic elegance. When harangued by friend Hedda Hopper, Ms. Dressler responded, "Stinker. I'm bustin' a gut to behave like a lady and nobody appreciates the effort it takes."{1}

    During this time, the aging actress was struggling to make a comeback in the biz. After a brief success with Tillie's Nightmare (1910), the actress fell on hard times and wound up selling Liberty Bonds during the war. Devoid of acting offers, she lost everything. Everything, that is, except her good will among friends. One such friend gave her a discounted room at the Ritz, where she eventually went to work as a hostess.

    However, her dream to entertain persisted. The good will of her friends paired with her faithful persistence in pursuit of an acting career, despite her age of 50 years, slowly led to her first "talkie," Anna Christie. Her performance as washed-up tramp Marthy re-launched Ms. Dressler into a stardom that was unheard of for a woman of her age (60, by then).

    Her onscreen characters typically wore frumpy dresses and scant jewelry, which no one would say flattered the actress. These costumes, however, were perfectly tailored to her Depression-era characters, and they aided the comedienne in her portrayal of down-on-their-luck Depression-era women.

    Off screen, when not attending black tie events, Ms. Dressler favored the color green. She owned abundant hats, and perhaps she still maintained a vibrant love of furs and sequins, though the record is unclear. It sounds as though she wore minimal jewelry, pinkie rings and a string of beads typically. {2}

    Although she wrote in 1924, as her tide began to turn, that she "could never see the sense in owning large quantities of jewelry and keeping it in a safe deposit box or leaving it around in hotels and in taxicabs" {3}, it seems she did not allow her own opinion stop her from investing in certain personal effects, including jewelry, which were valued at $11,505 at the disbursement of her will in 1934. (Her personal effects would now be worth nearly $200,000.)

    Among these jewels were a large diamond bracelet the actress left to Hallie Phillips, her closest East Coast friend, and a pin of pearls and diamonds she bequeathed to long-time friend Frances Marion, who landed Ms. Dressler her award-winning roles in Anna Christie and Min and Bill.

    Ms. Dressler was a star like no other. She had an open-door policy on the set, and friends frequently found her sewing or knitting in between takes. Her daily lunches at the commissary were grand events, with everyone in sight of her stopping to say hello.

    According to Elaine St. Johns, daughter to Hollywood author, Adela Rogers St. Johns, "Everyone should have a Marie in their lives. The younger stars hung onto her like crazy. She was a very open person and a friend to everyone. She didn't have any feuds. Nobody was out to get her." {4}

    Clearly, though no fashion maven as we're used to seeing on the red carpet these days, Marie Dressler was a matchless actress and a beautiful woman in every way that counts.

    1. Kennedy, Matthew. Marie Dressler: A Biography. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999, p. 107.
    2. Ibid., p. 184.
    3. Dressler, Marie. The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling. University of California, 1924, p. 196.
    4. Kennedy, p. 184.

  • Christie's Upcoming Auction "New York Magnificent Jewels and the Princie Diamond" is Sure to Dazzle

    The Princie Diamond for Sale at Christie's "New York Magnificent Jewels" sale on April 16, 2013. Copyright 2013 Christie's. The Princie Diamond for Sale at Christie's "New York Magnificent Jewels" sale on April 16, 2013. Copyright 2013 Christie's.

    Browsing the e-catalog for Christie's April 16, 2013, "New York Magnificent Jewels" sale is like viewing a pamphlet for a museum exhibition dedicated to famous jewelers and their jewels. Tantalizing creations by the whimsical and masterful Jean Schlumberger {Lots 19, 87, 93*} share the page with pieces of classical elegance crafted by Van Cleef & Arpels {21} and Cartier {Lot 90}, as well as with an unsigned yellow diamond ring which may prove itself to be completely flawless {Lot 89}.

    Not only that, but the catalog also provides subtle insights into the collectors who have decided to sell. Some have passed on, leaving a legacy usually far richer than the jewels sold from their estates. Case in point: Katharine Dupont Weymouth {Lot 74}, widow to two very powerful and important men, Reynolds du Pont and George Weymouth. Mrs. Weymouth's lasting impact continues to benefit her communities in Wilmington, Boca Grande, and Fishers Island, NY.  Her notice of passing in the New York Times made note of her "generosity and grace, engaging smile and love," which "won her the love and respect of people of many generations" {cited}.

    Far more of these important jewels belonged to anonymous collectors, whose names are likely withheld to protect their privacy. As I read such descriptions as "Property From an Important American Collection" {Lot 57}, "Property of a Lady" {Lot 39}, and "Property from an Important Private Collector" {Lot 139}, my curiosity is piqued with very little hope of satisfaction. Did this important American collector fall on hard times? Is this lady a famous actress whose name we read every day in the tabloids? Is this important private collector heir to an American millionaire who made his millions at the turn of the century, spending them on beautiful jewels which maintained their value through the Great Depression?

    A dazzling diamond and platinum ring featuring circular-cut diamond shoulders and old European-cut diamonds weighing 4.67 carats is estimated to realize $20,000-30,000 {Lot 47}, which will benefit The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a international congregation of Catholic women "who are dedicated to the full dveleopment of the human person through education, social justice, contemplation, and the arts" {cited}. And what of the hundreds of other jeweled wonders who appear to be unattached to anyone important enough to mention, even anonymously?

    Each jewel has a story to tell, and this catalog is full of individual stories of greatness, some which may never make it to public attention, others that rest nestled between the pages of old books that very few people ever read. All of these jeweled works of art symbolize excellence in the jewelry industry. Some have been worn to celebrity galas, to important luncheons, and on official government business. They represent luxury, wealth, status, fame, and beauty. These are truly magnificent gems.

    The morning session will be dominated by the works of Jean Schlumberger, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, and Tiffany, while it is Harry Wintson and "An Elegant Lady" who take center stage in the afternoon session. Stunning pieces made by the "King of Diamonds," feature diamonds and emeralds in all their brilliance from the collections of at least one distinguished American collector. The Elegant Lady provides exquisite pieces ranging from a delectable jeweled orchid brooch; to a stunning Art Deco brooch set with carved cabochon sapphires, rubies, and emeralds; to an astonishing diamond necklace by William Goldberg which features over 120 pear- and oval-cut diamonds set in a graduated cluster. Twenty of these diamonds have been certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as internally flawless.

    It is the "Princie" diamond, however, that is expected to steal the show. As noted in Christie's catalog, "the Princie diamond is recorded as one of the four most celebrated and historical pink diamonds in the world." Listed on the last page of the catalog as "an historic cushion-cut fancy intense pink diamond, weighing approximately 34.65 carats," the Princie diamond's expected gross is unlisted at this time.

    *Links will take you to actual sales results with images for these particular lots

  • Empress Josephine's Tiara on Display in the Houston Museum of Natural Science's "Faberge: A Brilliant Vision" Exhibition

    "Empress Josephine Tiara" (also known as "The Leuchtenberg Diamond Tiara" Photo Copyright Faberge "Empress Josephine Tiara" (also known as "The Leuchtenberg Diamond Tiara"
    Photo Copyright Faberge

    Though demure in size (5.2" wide), this commanding diamond, silver, and gold tiara makes up for its size in remarkable craftsmanship, exquisite gemstones, and a luxuriant history. Its story goes beyond the creation of the tiara by the Russian artisan, Carl Peter Faberge. The frame, crafted in silver and gold, was made for the House of Faberge in the 1890s by August Holmstrom. Mr. Holmstrom served Gustav and Carl Faberge as chief jeweler for over 45 years and is credited with crafting some of Faberge's most outstanding jewels.

    The fascinating briollete-cut (drop-shaped) diamonds once belonged to Tsar Alexander I, who presented them to Empress Josephine of France, perhaps in payment for some historical paintings {cited: Faberge.com}. This magnificent tiara, with its rich history, its graceful Russian lines, and its remarkable design, is now on public display in the Houston Museum of Natural Science's "Faberge: A Brilliant Vision" exhibition.

    A cursory glance at the literature does little to settle the matter of who hired Carl Faberge to create the tiara. One record reports that its provenance begins with Queen Elisabeth of Belgium {cited}. Another states that Queen Elisabeth's husband, King Albert I, purchased the tiara in Switzerland at the end of World War I from the 1st Duke of Leuchtenberg, Eugene de Beauharnais {cited: Faberge.com}.

    It is absolutely certain that Duke de Beauharnais had the stunning diamonds in his possession at that time, if not the tiara, for Empress Josephine would have passed them down to her eldest son upon her death in 1814. Since this later transaction would have taken place in 1918, it stands to reason that the tiara was created by Faberge for the Duke, who then sold it intact to King Albert I, who gave it to his wife. Prince Charles Theodore of Belgium inherited the tiara at his mother's death in 1934, and from there the tiara traveled to Italy upon his death in 1983. There, his sister, Maria Jose, Queen of Italy, enjoyed the marvelous jewel until her death in 2001.

    In 2007, Queen Maria Jose's daughter, Princess Maria Gabriella of Italy, released the tiara to Christie's, where it was sold to Arthur and Dorothy McFerrin for $2,071, 389. Mr. and Mrs. McFerrin are avid collectors of Faberge. Their private collection is hailed as one of the most extensive and important Faberge collections in the world. For the second time, Mr. and Mrs. McFerrin have generously released a portion of their collection (over 350 pieces, including several Faberge Eggs and other objects d'lux) to the Houston Museum of Natural Science until December 31, 2013.

    The exhibition is open to the public daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm (last entry 4:00pm) for a price of $15 for adults. For directions, special price brackets, and more, please visit the HMNS website.

  • This Striking Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring is Ideal for a Woman of Distinction

    Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum Pre-owned modern diamond engagement rings are as good as the day they were originally sold but a better price and value.

    An elegant solid platinum band featuring two triangle-cut diamonds suspended in four-prong mountings serves as a throne for this breathtaking GIA-certified D/VVS2, 1.37-carat Princess Cut diamond. The minimalist platinum and diamond setting, combined with a near-perfect diamond, ensures that this matchless engagement ring is ideal for a woman of distinction.

    Shop Pre-owned Diamond Rings

    Rivaling the fashionable Round Brilliant Cut in popularity, the distinctive Princess Cut features either 57 or 76 facets carefully positioned to elicit an inverted pyramid profile. From the top, a Princess Cut diamond appears as a beveled square or rectangle.

    Compared with typical square diamond cuts, the Princess Cut allows maximum light dispersion, eliciting dazzling brilliance, masking inclusions, and preserving more of the original rough stone. This makes it a favorite among diamond cutters, and a prize among women.

    Several cuts serve as predecessors for the modern Princess Cut. In 1961, the cut now known as the Profile Cut was introduced by London diamond cutter, Arpad Nagy. In 1971, South African lapidary Basil Watermeyer perfected a square cut with rounded corners called the Barion, while Perlman, Ambar and Itzokowitz were busy developing the Quadrillion, a similar style featuring 49 facets.

    In 1979, following intensive optical research, Perlman, Ambar and Itzokowitz perfected the Princess Cut as we know it today (patented as the Square Modified Brilliant). With its sleek modern lines, it is no wonder that this compelling alternative to Round Brilliant solitaire stones has made its mark in contemporary high fashion.

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