• 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.

  • Ellie Goulding Engagement Ring Details

    Ellie Goulding look-alike engagement ring Match celebrity Ellie Goulding in her engagement ring style with this GORGEOUS 2.4- carat Old Mine Cut Antique Diamond Engagement Ring. Click here for more details. Photo [c] 2018 EraGem Jewelry.
     

    Ellie Goulding said yes to Caspar Jopling this past August. As a token of their promise, he slipped a beautiful diamond ring on her finger. The ring appears to be made of platinum, with a central round or cushion cut diamond. The band features smaller diamond accent stones.

     

    Match with Ellie Goulding

    While not a perfect match, we believe this pictured Old Mine Cut antique diamond ring captures the essence of Ellie Goulding's engagement ring. The GIA-certified central stone weighs 2.4 carats. The band is made from platinum. The crown, shoulders, and band sparkle with 62 round single cut diamonds.

    Altogether, nearly 6 carats in diamonds create a flashing sparkle of beautiful brilliance. Fashioned in the 1930s, this stunning antique sparkler embodies the style of Ellie Goulding.

     

    Who is Ellie Goulding?

    Ellie Goulding topped the UK album charts with the debut of Lights in 2010. Her subsequent releases, Halcyon in 2012 and Delirium in 2015, continued to inspire her UK fans. In addition, she is an avid runner, having participated in several marathons for charity.

    Her charitable acts go beyond running, though. She participates annually in the BBC telethon, Children in Need. In 2012, she raised funds for the Free the Children charity. She has used her music to promote the cause of the homeless, impoverished children, and even the victims of Ebola in West Africa. In October 2017, the United Nations awarded Ellie with the Global Leadership Award in recognition of her environmental and social activism.

    She also loves art.

     

    Enter Caspar Jopling

    It's not certain how Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling first met. Some speculate Princess Eugenie introduced them. {source} No doubt, Princess Eugenie calls them both friends.

    We suspect that no matter how they met, art plays a huge role in keeping them together. Caspar Jopling works in the contemporary art department at Sotheby's London. His Instagram feed plays host to far more photos of contemporary art than it does to Ellie (or Elena, as he calls her).

    W Magazine reports that their vacations together generally revolve around art, including visits to Art Basel Miami Beach and the Storm King Art Center. {source) Furthermore, they teamed up to curate an auction at Sotheby's of some of their favorite contemporary artists - Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Agnes Martin, and more. {source}

    There is more to their love than art, though.

     

    The Rest of Our Lives

    The formal announcement of their engagement appeared in the marriages section of the London Times on August 7, 2018:

    The engagement is announced between Caspar, son of The Hon Nicholas Jopling of Yorkshire and Mrs Jayne Warde-Aldam of Yorkshire, and Elena, daughter of Mr Arthur Goulding of Herefordshire and Mrs Tracey Sumner of West Midlands.

    Following the formal announcement, Ellie and Caspar both made more informal announcements on their Instagram page. Ellie's words are just about everywhere on the web, as she pours out her heart in a rare public display of affection: "...we've had so many beautiful messages of support and love the past few days, as have our families, that we wanted to say thank you so much!" {source}

    She goes on to address her love: "You're the most wonderful person I've ever known, and I can't wait to be your very giggly, in awe and loved up wife x". {source}

    Caspar's message is the one that truly moves my heart, demonstrating how deeply in love these two really are: "I get to spend the rest of my life with this truly extraordinary and beautiful, beautiful person. No one has ever made me feel more full of life, knowledge, happiness, or love. Hope, passion, confidence, and more love. There is no one I have ever been more complete with and there is no one I will ever feel more complete with. I look forward to a lifetime of exploring the world together, crying with laughter at stupid jokes, chatting into the early hours of the morning about art, music, the world, and the future. I love you Elena."

     

    Enough said. Congratulations to Ellie Goulding and Caspar Jopling. May your love bring you all the riches the Universe has to offer.

     

  • Franck Muller Watch at Sotheby's Auction

    This Franck Muller Watch Belonged to Robin Williams. Lot 125, Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha & Robin Williams. Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

     

    Next week this Franck Muller tourbillon minute repeater wristwatch goes on sale at Sotheby's, on October 4th. One of 44 watches from the collection of Robin Williams, this watch may represent the pinnacle of Robin Williams's horologic virtuosity.

     

    Stewarding Time

    The person who owns a Franck Muller tourbillon minute repeater wristwatch stewards time well. Some people admire watches. Other people wear watches. Still others collect them. However, very few people curate them. Clearly, Robin Williams belonged to this final group of elite watch collectors.

    For one thing, minute repeaters represent the rarest of the rare in complications. A minute repeater translates the mechanics of time into a symphony of sound. Like a grandfather clock, it dongs, ding dongs, and chimes the time in hours and minutes.

     

    Minute Repeaters

    Today minute repeaters are a curiosity, a pleasure for pleasure's sake. However, in England, during the 17th and 18th centuries, they were a necessity. Scant streetlights and dim candlelight prompted watchmakers to design a watch that sounded the time at the touch of a button.

    This complex mechanism requires a level of skill and craftsmanship which grows rarer and rarer with each passing year. The device requires as many as 100 Lilliputian components, with names like fingers, snails, jumpers, star wheels, and surprise pieces. {source} Once assembled, the master craftsman must tune the repeater so that it resounds just right to the human ear.

    Today, experts believe only 50 Swiss watchmakers possess the requisite skills to craft one. {source} For the most exquisitely crafted minute repeater, it might take as long as two years to complete one. {source}

    In addition to being a minute repeater, this Franck Muller specimen also includes a visible tourbillon.

     

    What is a Tourbillon?

    Mechanical watches notoriously lose or gain time, depending on which positions they find themselves in throughout the day. In order to combat gravity, watchmakers developed the tourbillon. A tourbillon encompasses the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage.

    As the entire assembly slowly rotates throughout the day, the tourbillon serves to average out positional errors in timekeeping. Watches first featured tourbillons about 200 years ago. Until early in the last century, watchmakers mounted these rotating cages on the backside of their wares.

    Franck Muller, a true contemporary artist, transformed what had become an obsolete mechanism into an art form. He was the first designer to incorporate a tourbillon into a watch face design. Over the years, Franck Muller continues to refine and revise his front-facing tourbillon designs.

    Some of them revolve elegantly in a cage, like a steampunk wonder. Others, like the imperial tourbillon on Robin Williams's watch, resemble barometric pressure gauges held in place by a portion of an airplane propeller.

     

    Franck Muller's Genius

    Franck Muller's visible tourbillon, along with his commitment to ingenuity and horologic mastery, secured recognition for him as a Master of Complications. Every year, during their World Premiere, Franck Muller and his team release at least one brand new complication to the world of watchmaking.

    Established in the 1980s, Franck Muller operates out of Genthod, in the countryside of Geneva, Switzerland. His grand estate houses nearly every aspect of the watchmaking process. Located in what he calls an "enchanting and poetic environment," Watchland provides all the inspiration and peace the artist and his team need to create and innovate with abandon. {source}

    Today, Franck Muller continues to push the boundaries of his craft, taking the artistry of watchmaking into the stratospheres. His tourbillon minute repeater watches are among the most exclusive and exquisite collectors items sought by horologic connoisseurs.

    On October 4th, you have the opportunity to add a Franck Muller creation to your collection. Not only that, but this watch is even rarer for having been cherished by one of America's most beloved actors, Robin Williams.

    For more information, we invite you to visit Sotheby's website.

  • Cherokee Courtship Traditions

    Cherokee Courtship Rituals. Photo by Matilda Flippo, Flikr. Cherokee Courtship.

     

    Cherokee courtship and engagement includes several beautiful customs. It all begins with their version of a Debutante Ball.

     

    The Crane Dance

    For up to three days, the unmarried women of the Cherokee tribes decorated their colorful traditional clothing with feathers. Dressed in the manner of cranes, they proceeded to perform a slow and elegant dance for the single men from surrounding clans.

    The Crane Dance gave the unmarried Cherokee men an opportunity to select a bride from among the young women. When a young man chose a young woman to court, he sent a female representative to speak with the girl's mother.

     

    Cherokee Courtship

    After his maternal aunt (or another female relative) acquired consent from the girl's mother, the young man began preparing his gifts for her family.

    Traditionally, a Cherokee suitor brought an offering of venison to the girl. He was expected to track, kill, and prepare the meat of the deer and leave it outside her door. If she left the meat outside, he knew she showed no interest. On the other hand, if she

    cooked the meat and offered it to him as a meal, she accepted his courtship.

    During their courtship, Cherokee youths met in the evenings near the center of the lodge. Nearby, the adults kept watch over their encounters. Courtship presented a way for the young people to get to know each other better. Once the young man decided to move forward with marriage, he tracked and killed another deer.

    This time, he offered the meat to his beloved's parents as a sign of his ability to provide and care for their daughter. If her parents invited him to stay and partake of the meal with the family, their marriage was approved.

     

    The Medicine Man's Blessing

    Cherokee courtship culminated with a blessing from a medicine man. He held the power to pronounce them suitable or unsuitable. In their presence, the shaman performed a tobacco ceremony.  The Cherokee are a deeply spiritual community. They believe in the power of both good and evil spirits.

    The tobacco ceremony served to seek the blessing of the good spirits and to identify and counteract any evil spirits or witchery. The medicine man then performed tests for other afflictions. Finally, he chanted and offered prayers for guidance.

    If he pronounced the two suitable for marriage to each other, the young man's friends took him immediately to enjoy a ceremonial meal. They punctuated their feasting with jokes and hilarious instructions about married life. Of course, innuendos and warnings ensued.

    The young woman also enjoyed a feast with her friends and family. Her family served her favorite foods, and the unmarried ladies served her hand and foot throughout the evening. Decidedly more reverently, the older women offered a different sort of instruction regarding her wifely duties.

    Sometimes, the Cherokee omitted an actual wedding ceremony. In these cases, the man would leave his clan and move into his wife's household. As simply as that, they were married.

    Other times, an elaborate and beautiful ceremony ensued. I'll write about these more elaborate ceremonies in another post next week.

  • Oscar Heyman Brothers Designer Spotlight

    Vintage Oscar Heyman Brothers Diamond Dome Cocktail Ring Platinum Vintage Oscar Heyman Brothers Diamond Dome Cocktail Ring Platinum. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Oscar Heyman once again delivers modernity steeped in rich history. This gorgeous vintage diamond dome cocktail ring features over 4 carats of oval cut diamonds in varying sizes. The platinum band rises to meet the diamonds as though they were flower stems. This gorgeous vintage piece embodies the eternal style of Oscar Heyman.

     

    Oscar Heyman History

    In the early 1900s, three brothers emigrated from Russia to New York. Before leaving their mother country, Oscar, Nathan, and Harry worked at the jewelers bench with their uncle. Their uncle made pieces for Peter Carl Faberge, the most prestigious jeweler in Russia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    With the vigorous training of Russia's most exacting jeweler under their belts, the three brothers quickly found work in the States. Eventually, Oscar began working for Pierre Cartier. Meanwhile, Nathan worked at Western Electric in order to refine his tool-making craft.

    Soon enough, the three brothers were joined in New York by their sister, Francis, and three more brothers, Louis, William, and George. Together, the siblings established their own jewelry manufacturing firm in 1912.

    Oscar Heyman Brothers started out manufacturing exquisite pieces for the big-name houses, including Cartier, Crump & Low, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Black, Starr & Frost. With their innovative approach and their adherence to the exacting standards required by the prestigious brands, Oscar Heyman earned the moniker, the Jeweler of Jewelers.

     

    Jeweler of Jewelers

    For decades, Oscar Heyman gladly stayed behind the scenes in the jewelry industry. Within just a few years, Oscar Heyman became synonymous with master craftsmanship, exquisite diamonds and gemstones, and technological ingenuity.

    They were the first to master the invisible setting, so popular in Cartier and VC&A pieces of the 1920s and 1930s. They also filed several patents related to the linked bracelet components and die-striking processes.

    Oscar Heyman has long prided itself for its independence. From the beginning, with the combined skills of all the Heyman siblings, the firm managed to oversee the creation of jewel from design conception to completion.

    They maintain their own tool and die shop. By sourcing their own gemstones and diamonds, they acquire the most exquisite and ethically mined stones available. They alloy their own metals, cut and polish their own gemstones, handcraft the settings, and set the gems in all their jewels.

     

    Moving Into the Modern Age

    For over 100 years, Oscar Heyman has delighted women and men with their exquisite jewels. Today, Adam, Tom, and Lewis Heyman, representing second and third generations in the Heyman family, run the business.

    At some point, they decided to take the brand to the next level. Stepping out of the shadows, Oscar Heyman now offers their exquisite hand-made jewels directly to the customer.

    They continue to adhere to the exacting standards and old world traditions brought by the original Heyman brothers from Russia. Each Oscar Heyman piece is an heirloom, crafted to withstand the test of time and designed with glamour and timeless elegance.

    Make an appointment today to put a piece of jewelry making history on your fingers. Then, we invite you to take the next step and take a piece of jewelry-making history home with you.

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