Sunday, 29 December 2013

FERNANDO JORGE: sensual Brazil meets cool London

Brazilian jeweller Fernando Jorge has unsurprisingly become the wonder boy of the contemporary jewellery scene in just three years since he graduated from St. Martins in London. Fernando landed in Europe with a baggage full of incredibly original drawings, ten years of jewellery experience in Brazil and a unique knowledge of local craftsmen and stones. With this background, it cannot come as a huge surprise that his talent was sotted and recognised almost immediately. He was quickly snapped by iconic agent Valery de Mure and selected for the prestigious Rock Vault group and won the British Fashion Council award in 2012. Besides his well deserved success, the best feature about Fernando is his jewellery. His "fluid" pieces combine semiprecious gemstones like calcite with delicate rose gold snake chain in ultra sensuous designs; the "electric" series is modern glamour in a punk fashion with black gold set with a unique combination of sapphires and blue topaz or all white set in opals. His Gemfields emerald collection combines the best elements of his work so far, the fluid snake chain design with the irregular shaped stones that transmit so much energy to the pieces. And so, one could continue mentioning all of his innovative ideas, like the use of blue john (a rare english stone) in fine jewellery. Most certainly we will be watching!.

Fernando Jorge electric ring set in black gold with sapphires and blue topaz

Fernando Jorge ring set with Blue John

Fernando Jorge Gemfields emerald and diamond earrings

Fernando Jorge fluid earrings detail

Fernando Jorge by Vogue Brazil

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

CARTIER Mystery Clocks… unveiled

What's Houdini got to do with timepieces? Plenty as it turns out. Not Harry Houdini himself, but the original artist and watch inventor who he took his stage name from. That man is Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, the man who designed the mystery clock. Houdin was a self-taught magician and engineer who was fascinated by the idea of the disappearing act and sleight of hand tricks. His work involved the use of transparent glass displays and hidden mechanisms that connected to the display of the clocks he built, and won renown for its inventiveness. Many of his clocks involved hiding the gear train within the clock base, which was then connected via a rod or serrated glass or crystal dial to the display, creating the illusion that the clock ran without any additional wheels. During the 19th and early 20th century, mystery clocks were highly popular among the elite, who found it a fascinating design. 

Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin Mystery Clocks c.1850

Originally inspired by the work Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the first Mystery Clocks were designed for (Louis) Cartier in 1913 by Maurice Couet and known as the “Model A.” They featured rotating rock crystal discs to which hands were mounted to indicate the hours and minutes. The rock crystal allows the viewer to see right through the clock, which seemingly has no perceptible means for the hands to move. The mechanism by which the crystal discs turn is invisibly powered by gears hidden in the frame of the clock, while the base of the clock conceals the main body of its mechanical movement. For decades the “Pendule Mystérieuses” or “Mystery Clocks” have captured the imagination. The cost and complexity of the mystery clocks has meant that, over the years, few examples have been made and they achieve astronomical prices every time they come out in auction. 

Cartier Mystery Clock set with Citrine in Black Jade and enamel
Cartier Mystery Clock set in Quartz

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Gemstone Series: Collecting AGATE

The Agate is a semi precious gemstone that was discovered over 3000 years ago by greek philosopher and naturalist Theophrastus, on the shore of the river Achates. It belongs to the mineral family of the Chalcedonies, a type of quartz like Aventurine, Carnelian and Onix. Agate when cut exhibits a series of lines and different colours that make it strikingly attractive. This gemstone has been used in art objects and jewellery for centuries. It was very popular in traditional Scottish silver and gold jewellery, specially used in brooches and buckles combining different colour agate. Black and botswana agate was priced in Victorian jewellery and almost any single colour variety was used during the Art Deco period, from green, black and white to auburn jasper agate. In contemporary jewellery Agate has experienced a huge revival and it is used in almost every costume collection as well as by fine jewellery makers like Kimberly McDonald to masters like JAR.

Antique Victorian Banded Agate & Pearl Bangle Bracelet in 18k Gold 

Gold tiara by Carlo Guiliano supporting a stylized wreath of banded agate laurel leaves and pearl berries; the front takes the form of a rosette of similarly carved petals centring on a single pearl. London, c. 1860
Art Deco Jasper Agate & Diamond Pin / c. 1920
JAR, Agate and diamond brooch

Sunday, 22 December 2013

LUZ CAMINO: First art, then jewellery

It is not every day that a Spanish artist gets to the top of the Art Jewellery world, here is Luz Camino's well deserved homage. After more than two decades making and designing strikingly unusual pieces of jewellery or little bejewelled sculptures, Madrid based Luz Camino is currently featured in the recently published book  "21st Century Jewellery Designers", retailed at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and exhibited in  the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Yet in Spain she is a connoisseur's secret, her work is admired by artists and coveted by collectors but still unknown to the general public. She is the first Spaniard that has succeeded as an Art Jeweller, hopefully she will have paved the way for younger talent. And perhaps this will mark the beginning of Art Jewellery being truly appreciated in Spain.

Luz Camino earrings

Luz Camino wing brooch, set with sapphires, emeralds and acquamarines in enamelled gold and silver  

Luz Camino opal bangle set in silver

Cartier, jeweler to kings

More than 600 pieces from the Cartier Heritage at one of the most complete exhibitions about Cartier jewellery organised ever. After the successful exhibitions in Madrid and Shanghai, this is the Paris "grand finale". Unmissable!.

Visit the website
Cartier, jeweler to kings

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The must have 40 books about JEWELS

Collecting (JAR) Jewels

Ever since my visit to the JAR Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in NY a few days ago, I have been circling around the idea of what can I possibly write about it that has not been said or written yet. I came out of the Museum absolutely intoxicated, these were no jewels, they were sculptures set with fabulous gemstones. These may not be pieces for one to wear but most certainly they are pieces to dream about. It did not even bother me that I could not try them on or that none was explaining me the intricacies of the pieces, I just wanted to see them,  their shapes and motifs are so imaginative and surprising that even the idea of them is interesting!. So I have become a hunter for JAR jewellery, and I have decided to start collecting the pictures of as many as I can find.

JAR Earrings 2011 Emeralds, oriental pearls, diamonds, and platinum Private collection Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.

JAR Lilac Brooches 2001 Diamonds, lilac sapphires, garnets, aluminum, silver, and gold Private collection Photograph by Jozsef Tari. Courtesy of JAR, Paris.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Crazy about Suzanne BELPERRON

Today Sotheby's London has auctioned a few jewellery pieces that belonged to the Duchess of Windsor. As far as provenance it does not get better than that. And as far as makers, as one should expect with the Windsors, most of the pieces were by Cartier. There was one exception, however, a relatively worthless ring set with a beautiful heart shaped citrine of an intense orange hue. The ring was made (never signed, for she never signed her pieces) by Suzanne Belperron. The estimate was £2,000 to £3,000, surely the less important piece of the series, yet it has been sold, after a fierce bidding, at more than ten times the lower estimate (including premium, but still…). The previous memorabilia articles have all gone for the lower estimate or within the range and the three important Cartier pieces afterwards have been sold at a high price but nothing spectacular. The highlight today has been the insignificant ring made by a remarkable woman jeweller whose creations are becoming collectors' icons.

Citrine ring by Suzanne Belperron, 1955. Formerly in the collection of the Duchess of Windsor

Monday, 9 December 2013

BVLGARI: blue or green? Christie's or Sotheby's?

Here is an idea for a trip aimed to put together a striking set that surely was never meant to be. This week two pieces made by Bvlgari will be auctioned; the first one by Christies in New York, is a pair of drop earrings that combine sapphires and emeralds in a alternate design. Very Bvlgari, in a JAR kind of way… The Christies auction will take place on December 10th.  

BVLGARI, drop earrings set in yellow gold and diamonds with emeralds and sapphires

The second piece is a 1970's watch made by Piaget for Bvlgari (here is the connection!) and it features the signature snake design of the House set in yellow gold enamelled in vivid translucent blue and green enamel. The eyes are set with two pear shaped diamonds. The watch will be auctioned by Sotheby's in London on December 12th.

BVLGARI, 1970's watch by Piaget, set in yellow gold enamelled in blue and green with two pear diamonds

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A rare Diamond "Escargot" brooch by Suzanne BELPERRON

Suzanne Belperron is undoubtedly one of the grandest feminine figures of all times in the jewellery world. The brand and the archives were acquired by Verdura in 1999, now owned by the Landrigan family, who is now promoting and exhibiting her work. This together with the huge attraction of her pieces in recent auctions have revived her genius and turned her into a cult jewellery designer.

Not unlike Verdura, Suzanne Belperron is better known for her attention to design rather than to precious stones. In fact she often did not even use precious materials, yet her pieces are always perfectly finished and flattering, reflecting her deep understanding of jewellery making.

Her "white" jewellery is quite rare, for she preferred working with yellow gold and coloured stones. The brooch below is therefore a high collectable piece, it was made between 1932 and 1940 and it is set in white gold (not platinum probably due to its scarcity during World War II) with old mine european circular cut diamonds arranged in four interlacing scrolls trimmed with a string of baguette cut  tones. A striking piece, which still carries her "trademark" round voluminous design. The brooch will be auctioned by Christie's NY next week on Dec 11th.

Diamond Escargot Brooch from Suzanne Belperron, 1932-1940

We saw recently another piece of white jewellery by Suzanne Belperron, the striking three band bracelet featured below.

Diamond cuff by Suzanne Belperron, the Lewitt collection

Saturday, 7 December 2013

CARTIER Jewels from the Duchess of Windsor

I am going to be vey cheesy, so I apologise in advance. Those who normally read me know that I stick to factual descriptions of jewellery but today was too good to resist. The combination includes lunch at Cipriani (C London now) sitting next to Mr Cipriani himself,  and afterwards trying on the Duchess of Windsor pieces at Sotheby's with no other than Valentino…, yes Valentino!, luckily he was more attracted by the cigarette cases and Duke's memorabilia than the Duchess pieces, so I still have a chance!.

Cartier Amethyst, Turquoise and diamond bracelet from the Duchess of Windsor
The bracelet above is a striking piece, it features a very original combination that was a favourite of the Duchess, amethysts and turquoise. It was made by Cartier in 1954. When the full collection of the Windsor jewels was auctioned for the first time, in 1987, there were five pieces with the same gemstone combination; the best known one being the famous Cartier bib necklace later acquired by Elizabeth Taylor and exhibited in The Art of Cartier. The bracelet matches a ring of similar design made by Cartier in 1989.

Cartier, Amethyst, Turquoise and Diamond ring
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

There is another piece of great historical significance in the collection, the sapphire bracelet that the Duchess wore in 1972 she was finally received by Queen Elizabeth II.

Cartier sapphire bracelet, 1945, from the Duchess of Windsor

The auction will take place at Sotheby's London on Thursday, December 11th.

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A victorian SAPPHIRE of substance

This week, Bonhams London auctioned forty pieces from the collection of famous best seller writer Barbara Taylor Bradford, best known for her novel "A Woman of Substance" which, with 32 million copies, is one of the top ten bestselling fiction books of all time. The collection was mainly contemporary very large pieces, with only one antique brooch that immediately caught my eye. It was a 44 carat Sri Lankan sapphire with a double diamond cluster all set in silver and yellow gold. The brooch is beautiful and very finely made, and since I have a weakness for victorian cluster brooches, it was destined to make it to the blog. The brooch was purchased by her husband at London antique dealer SJ Phillips in 1996.

Victorian Sapphire Brooch from Barbara Taylor Bradford 

The name Sapphire has a greek origin and it means "blue stone". Together with Rubies and Emeralds, Sapphires are one of the three kinds of most precious stones and the four C diamond quality classification applies to them. So Clarity, Cut, Colour and Carat determine the value of a stone. Although they can be found in a large variety of colours, blue is the most sought after and valuable one.        Origin matters a lot, it signals the stone colour quality (and distance purple hues) but also its rarity. The most sought after ones are from Kashmir because of the purity of their blue and also because since 1937 most mining activity has ceased in the region. The second category in terms of origin, is Burma; the stones from this region display an often referred to as "electric blue" colour due to both its intensity as well as its even distribution. The third most important region is Sri Lanka, the stones here are a bit lighter, yet often more uneven. The light tone brings in more brilliance and this makes Sri Lankan sapphires a favourite stone in jewellery making.