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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fire Destroys Swatch Group ETA Workshop

The Valjoux 7750 or ETA 7750 is a widely used chronograph movement.  Photo credit: Wikipedia

A Sunday morning fire completely destroyed the Swatch Group's ETA workshop in Grenchen, Switzerland, the company said in a statement. No one was harmed as the facility was not in operation. 

The fire broke out at approximately 8:45 a.m. at the galvanic department of the main building and was under control at 9:30 a.m., Swatch Group said. The fire did not spread to other buildings in the complex, which contain other Swatch Group watch production subsidiaries.

"Thanks to the swift and efficient intervention of the ETA-internal fireworkers and the fireworkers of the town of Grenchen, the fire could not expand to the neighboring workshops," Swatch Group said in its statement.

The reason for the fire is not yet known, Swatch Group said, adding that it's too early to place a price tag on the damage. Company officials did not say how this will impact production. Local police informed nearby residents due to the heavy smoke. 

ETA is a subsidiary of Swatch Group. It designs and manufactures mechanical and automatic watches and watch movements. It is best known as the supplier of the overwhelming majority of movements found in Swiss watches.

Swatch Group Ltd., Biel, Switzerland, designs, manufactures, distributes and sells finished watches, watch movements, watch components, electronic systems and jewelry.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays

 

Snowflake earrings from JAR. All the best for you and your loved ones this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Former Tiffany Exec Sentenced To A year In Prison For Stealing $2M From Employer

Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun
In terms of news, it hasn't been a good holiday for Tiffany & Co. Over the weekend the luxury jeweler learned it lost its dispute with Swatch Group. Now, the latest high-profile mishap was the sentencing Monday of a former employee for the theft of 2.1 million in jewelry from the company’s Fifth Avenue headquarters building. 

Of course it's a much more difficult holiday for Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, a former VP of design & product development at Tiffany & Co., who was sentence to a year and a day in prison in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe. 

Lederhaas-Okun, 47, of Darien, Conn., pled guilty in July for the theft, which occurred over a four-month period. In addition to the prison term, she was sentenced to one year of supervised release, ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million pay and more than $2.2 million in restitution.

Under her duties and responsibilities at Tiffany, Lederhaas-Okun had the authority to check out jewelry belonging to Tiffany for work-related reasons. Between November 2012 and February 2013, she admitted to checking out more than 165 pieces of jewelry with a retail value of more than $1.2 million, including diamond bracelets, platinum or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants. She then sold some if not all of this jewelry for $1.3 million to another company in Manhattan, who the US Attorney’s office and the court haven’t named. It’s also unclear whether the company knew it was purchasing stolen jewelry. 

To conceal her theft, she repeatedly made false statements to Tiffany, according to court documents. For example, after her termination in February 2013, she told company representatives that she had only recently checked out the missing jewelry in anticipation of creating a PowerPoint presentation. However, the missing jewelry had been checked out months earlier, her supervisor was unaware of any such presentation being worked on by her and there was no presentation on her computer. In addition, she claimed the stolen jewelry could be found in a white envelope in her office, but a search of her office shortly after her departure did not yield any such envelope.

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High Jewelry Collection Represents 400 Years Of Family Ownership

This complex, open-work necklace from the Medici collection required what the jewelers described as "new articulation systems" to ensure its beauty and comfort.

The Parisian high jewelry house, Mellerio dits Meller, has spent 2013 celebrating a landmark for longevity that is rarely, if ever, achievable. The luxury jeweler, whose client list over the centuries includes nearly all of European royalty, has been operating under the ownership of the same family for 400 years.

A gold corsage tops this brooch where emeralds and pearls move freely.

It is considered to be the oldest jeweler in the world and the oldest family-owned company in Europe. It has the original books and paperwork to back up those claims in its rich archives, which are kept in its 9 Rue de la Paix boutique and workshop.

The Medici diamond tiara.

The firm, now owned and operated by the 14th generation of the same family, specializes in hand-made jewelry, almost all of it created on premise. The company was founded by the Mellerio family in 1613 in the rural region of northern Italy that borders Switzerland. It was created because of an act of royalty. Specifically, Marie de’ Medici, Queen of France, granted special privileges to the Mellerio family by royal decree, which allowed the family firm to trade throughout much of Europe.

The same diamond tiara shows its versatility by converting into a necklace.

The family began trading in Versailles in 1777, where it attracted the patronage of its most famous client, Marie Antoinette. In 1796, the firm moved to Rue Vivienne, Versailles, retaining the patronage of the Empress Josephine. The firm then moved to Paris eventually settling at 9 Rue de la Paix.

Medici Lush emerald ring

The company opened a second shop in Madrid in 1850 to service the Spanish royal family, including Queen Isabella II. It has a long close relationship with the Dutch Royal Court. It also operates in Luxembourg and Japan.

Medici Lush eight-flower ring

To celebrate its milestone the company created a high jewelry collection named after its founding patron, Marie de’ Medici, which represents the grand history of the royal jeweler.

To create the Medici collection, the family looked into its past using its archives. They also invited well-known jewelry designer, Edéenne, a Canadian native who now works in Paris. She created modern interpretations of jewelry inspired by the old drawings.

The result is a collection of pieces inspired by nature that are sensual, complex and at the same time easy to wear. There are openwork pieces and items made with “grey” gold. There are pieces that are rough in texture, recreating an antique feel. And of course there’s a tiara. In this case one that converts into a necklace, which harkens back to 19th Century jewelry usage.

The company also released a book, in French, chronicling its history, Mellerio dits Meller: Joaillier des Reines, by Vincent Meylan, published by Éditions Télémaque.

I will be writing more about this remarkable company in the coming year.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

A ‘Shocked’ and ‘Disappointed’ Tiffany & Co. Ordered to Pay $450 Million to Swatch Group


A long, simmering dispute between two powerhouses in the luxury jewelry and watch world appears to have come to an end when a Dutch arbitration panel ordered Tiffany & Co. to pay 402 million Swiss francs ($450 million) to Swatch Group for breach of contract. In addition, a counter-claim by Tiffany & Co. was dismissed by the panel.

The dispute, which has been ongoing since 2011, was argued before the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, which provides a confidential way of resolving such disagreements. The result of the arbitration in Swatch’s favor was announced in a very brief statement by the watch company Sunday followed by a much longer statement filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission Monday morning by Tiffany. 

Tiffany cut its forecast for the year based on the ruling and it says it will continue to seek legal remedies.

“We were shocked and extremely disappointed with the decision of the majority of the arbitral panel,” said Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany chairman and CEO, in the SEC statement. “We firmly believe the panel’s ruling is not supported by the facts of this case or the various agreements between the Swatch parties and the Tiffany parties. While we are reviewing our options with our legal counsel, I want to assure you that we do have sufficient financial resources to pay the full amount. We will record a charge for the after-tax impact of the award, which we estimate to be approximately $295 - 305 million, in the fourth quarter.”

In 2007, the two companies announced that they signed an agreement to produce and market watches under the Tiffany & Co. brand name. In September 2011, Swatch Group had terminated the collaboration for what it termed as a breach of contract and pressed claims for damages in December 2011 against Tiffany. In March 2012, Tiffany filed a counterclaim with the court of arbitration in charge.

The original agreement between the two parties was that Swatch Group—which produces, markets and sells watches under approximately 20 brands from the popular low-cost Swatch watch to the prestige and luxury brand, Breguet—was to design and produce watches under the Tiffany brand name. Those watches were to be sold through Tiffany stores around the world. Tiffany apparently didn’t think the watches created by Swatch fit their brand image. Swatch charged that Tiffany did little to market and sell those watches.

Tiffany noted in its statement that one of the three members of the arbitration panel issued a dissenting opinion and that the amount awarded reflects approximately 8.8 percent of the damages claimed by Swatch.

Tiffany, according to its statement, was also ordered to pay two-thirds of the cost of arbitration (approximately $800,000) and two-thirds of the cost of legal fees ($8.8 million).

 “We do not believe that the award will impact our ability to realize our existing business plans in the short or long term, and we are extremely pleased to be moving forward with our plans to design, produce, market and distribute our own Tiffany & Co. brand watches,” Kowalski said.

Kowalski said the payments will be made from cash on hand and funds available under its existing debt facilities. The company said that the charges associated with the award will reduce earnings per diluted share for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2014, to $2.30 - $2.35 from the guidance of $3.65 - $3.75, issued a month earlier.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Emerald Expositions Acquires Owner of Antique Jewelry Fairs

The Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show is one of the tradeshows being acquired. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Tradeshow and exposition company, Emerald Expositions, Inc., has acquired George Little Management LLC for $335 million, according to a joint statement from the two companies.

GLM, based in White Plains, NY, owns and operates approximately 25 tradeshows and expositions in five markets, including seven luxury antique fairs. They are: Armory Antique Show, LA Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, Miami Beach Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, Miami National Antique Show, New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, Pier Antique Show and The Original Miami Beach Antique Show. The company has approximately 130 employees and operates out of six U.S. offices.

Emerald Expositions, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., owned by a Toronto-based private equity firm, Onex Partners III, was formerly Nielsen Expositions (owned by Nielsen Holdings N.V.), which owns and operates 65 tradeshows and conferences in nine markets. Onex acquired Nielsen in June and changed its name Emerald Expositions. That acquisition included the jewelry tradeshows Couture Show in Las Vegas, JA New York, JA Special Delivery New York, and the online jewelry publication, National Jeweler.

The transaction is anticipated to close in January 2014, subject to customary regulatory approvals and other adjustments. The acquisition will be funded with approximately $200 million of debt and a $140 million equity investment from Onex Partners III. 

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Chance To Give A Special Holiday Jewelry Gift With These Items From De Beers and Alexandra Mor

De Beers Phenomena Glacier seven-row diamond bracelet

I’ve already written jewelry and watch gift guides for procrastinators. This is for you super procrastinators as we enter the final weekend before Christmas. I'm here to let you know there is still hope. These jewelry pieces from De Beers and designer Alexandra Mor would certainly make a loved one happy and keep you in good graces for 2014. 

De Beers Diamond Jewellers, the retail partnership between the mining giant and the luxury conglomerate LVMH, has ventured into the high jewelry category in a big way with its Phenomena collection.

The diamond and white gold jewelry collection is made up of five lines (“Crest,” “Frost,” “Glacier,” “Reef” and “Stream”) that provide differing artistic interpretations of water in its natural state. Each line consists of a full set of jewelry. These are one-of-kind pieces and in fact when I viewed the collection when it first arrived in mid-November one of the items was missing because it was sold. I was told a few others were under discussion.

The company describes the collection as a modern take on traditional jewelry. These are mostly large, complex and well-crafted pieces with extremely high-carat value made with combinations of exceptionally cut diamonds. Yet these pieces are sleek, streamlined and sophisticated highlighted by sensual curves throughout. The white on white palette adds to its modernity. Despite the size and weight of many of the pieces, they are easy to wear because of articulations in the metal that hug the skin.

The collection is available at the De Beers New York boutique until January 1.

Alexandra Mor cushion-cut lilac tanzanite and diamond ring

Jewelry designer Alexandra Mor has made quite a name for herself in a short time with her “demi-couture” brand of jewelry, which consists of limited editions, one-of-kind and custom-made pieces from her New York workshop. A couple of her signature characteristics include the use of large colored gemstones, “floating” diamond melee and knife-edge wire trim for her well crafted pieces.

Mor was one of a handful of international jewelry designers chosen to create a piece of jewelry for a bespoke jewelry collection curated by Gemfields (an emerald and amethyst mining and marketing company). The collection was unveiled in March. Two months earlier, she received the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in the fine jewelry category.

For the holidays Mor has available a one-of-a-kind ring centered with a 25.78 carat cushion-cut lilac tanzanite surrounded with 3.67 carats of step-cut baguette diamonds, set with 0.90 carat 1mm “floating” diamond melee and knife-edged wire. The gems are platinum set on 18k yellow gold with Alexandra Mor logo gallery and signed by her.

Mor has assured me that the piece is available and can be shipped anywhere in the world before the holidays end. Contact the company directly at 888-944-2237; 212-921- 4391; or at contact@alexandramor.com

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Martin Katz Celebrates New York With Jewelry Collection and Hotel Suite

Pear-shaped rose-cut cognac diamonds of 6.43 carats surrounded by a mirco-set border of cognac and white diamonds; topped with two kite diamonds of 4.03 carats, four round brilliant diamonds of 0.95 carats and anchored by 10 channel set baguettes.

Los Angeles-based luxury jeweler designer Martin Katz has done something that may seem a bit outside his toolbox by designing a 5,000-square-foot luxury suite at the renovated Towers at The New York Palace hotel. To mark the opening of the space, he also released a colorful and architecturally driven New York-themed jewelry collection.

The first floor salon of the Martin Katz Jewel Suite, one of two signature suites as part of the $140 million renovation of The New York Palace hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

“There’s nothing like it in New York,” he said of the Midtown Manhattan hotel suite.

Known as the “Martin Katz Jewel Suite,” it includes a two-story, 20-foot “Waterfall of Diamonds” chandelier, along a grand stairway, a 10-seat dining room, an indoor-outdoor entertainment space with a wood burning fireplace and outside whirlpool. The living room on the 53rd floor has 15-foot windows with a view of both the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

A 13.18-carat oval Mexican fire opal serves as a center stone of this ring extended by flames of green tsavorite garnets and orange-red sapphires.

Nearly everything in the Art-Deco themed space was designed or specified by Katz (in collaboration with interior design and architectural firm, BBG-BBGM) and represents his 25-year history as a jewelry designer. Original artworks (photographs, paintings and other works) throughout the space represent some of his iconic jewelry lines. For example, his circle pendant necklace motif was used as a dome on a light fixture and a glass etching in a circular window. A rotating collection of his jewelry, many loaned by clients, are displayed gallery style in the foyer. Lavender runs throughout the space in the fabrics and wall treatments.

The terrace has a rare view of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and has a hot tub (not shown). 

As Katz showed me around the suite I asked him how difficult it was to branch out into interior design. “It was easy,” he said. “Just like designing my home.”

The price of the suite matches the sky-high view at $25,000 per night. However, there are some unusual extras, such as a Martin Katz microband ring and, if desired, a free consultation with the jeweler. There’s also an “Ultimate Proposal” package starting at $50,000 a night that includes a private consultation with Katz for the creation of a custom-designed engagement ring and/or wedding bands, and a private dining experience for two.

Vintage tassel style earrings with two cushion rose cut diamonds weighing 7.39cts, two round diamonds weighing 1.15cts, 40 baguette diamonds and microset with 62 diamonds.  Set in 18K white gold.

To coincide with the suite being opened to the public, Katz has released a new line of jewelry using architectural shapes and Art Deco themes based on the New York skyline.

Katz is known for his high-quality diamond jewelry, pioneering micro pavé settings, and for his stackable “Microbrand” rings. However, during the past few years he has been using a variety of colored gems and this collection shows this.

The grand stairway with the 20-foot-high “Waterfall of Diamonds” chandelier and gallery style showcases that contain a rotating collection of Martin Katz jewelry.

The details of the work, such as the fine micro pavé settings and the unusual-shaped gems are among the signatures of Katz’s jewelry.

“I approach things for true design and without concern for the difficulty and cost of making it. I become really picky with the stones I choose and even pickier with how to mount them,” he says. “What I come up with is something that reflects a deep passion and vision. I’m not completely sure what I’m looking for but I know it when I get there.”

Triangle shaped black opal and diamond pave' drop earrings set in blackened 18K white gold; two pear shape stained glass opals weighing 4.31cts and microset with 172 diamonds. 

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A 17.56-carat pale blue Burmese sapphire is accented with two trapezoid diamonds and microset with white diamonds and blue sapphires. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nine Timely Luxury Watch Gifts for the Holidays

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Caliber 1731 combines the complexity of a striking mechanism with the additional challenge of producing the thinnest minute repeater caliber and the thinnest minute repeater watch on the market—at just 3.90 and 8.09 mm thin respectively. It has a 65-hour power reserve, a silent flying strike governor, which steadies the rate at which the hammers strike the gongs. It is available at Vacheron Constantin boutiques.

Buying a luxury watch as a gift can be a downright terrifying experience. The choices are near endless in this day and age.

Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours Chronograph relies on two discs, one atop the other, to show not only the hours, but to also indicate whether it is day or night. This unusual time display is made possible by Montblanc’s caliber MB R220. The chronograph tallies 60 elapsed seconds and 30 elapsed minutes on rotating discs with motionless hands. It is available at Montblanc boutiques.

Fortunately, I put together a list of nine watches that cover a variety of mechanical variations, designs and lifestyle attributes. There are watches in all shapes, styles and prices. Some of the world’s most prestigious watch brands are represented as well as critically acclaimed independent brands. There are ultra thin watches. There are watches in line with a lifestyle pursuit, such as high-powered automobiles or world travel. Several watches on the list have fanciful complications. Then there are the timepieces that speak to history and heritage. There’s even a watch brand that’s made in America.

Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon boasts one of the biggest moonphase apertures on the market along with rich guilloché dials and three-dimensional big moon. The 42mm, 18k red gold case houses the Arnold & Son caliber A&S1512 mechanical hand-wound movement. It has a one day-deviation every 122 years, at which point a single push on the corrector will keep it in sync for another 122 years. It retails for $28,550.

Surely there is something on this short list that could be a perfect gift for that special man in your life.

Nomos Glashütte Zürich Weltzeit 5th Avenue watch was designed in Zurich built in its manufacturing facility in Glashütte, Germany, and dedicated to New York. It’s powered by the Nomos in-house caliber Xi. To view the time in another zone, press the button above the crown at 2 o’clock until the desired location is at 12 o’clock. The “New York” display is at the 3 o’clock marker in red typeface next to a 24-hour disc. It is available at Wempe stores worldwide, limited to 100 pieces. 

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Jaquet Droz Grande Heure GMT has 24 indexes in Arabic numerals set around a Grand Feu enamel dial make it easy to see all the hours of the day in two cities. The hands are designed in the form of a compass. The red hand indicates local time while the blued steel hand shows the time at the destination. When the two hands come together in the same time zone they merge into a single, bi-colored indication of the exact time. 

For the first time the Piaget Altiplano watch integrates a calendar and holds its place as the thinnest watch in the world in its category. The 40 mm watch has an 18k rose gold case set with 72 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 1 ct). The 1205P ultra-thin automatic mechanical movement is the thinnest in the world (3 mm thick), with small seconds and date and a 22k rose-gold oscillating weight.

The Dubey & Schaldenbrand Grand Dome R92 has a stainless steel tonneau-shaped column wheel chronograph combines vintage movements with modern craftsmanship and design. The R92 movement was originally fabricated in the 1950s. It uses a swivel-pinion design to synchronize the chronograph components. The dial is exposed providing full view of the movement. It retails for $16,700.

Graham Silverstone “RennSport” Skeleton reflects the accuracy and efficiency of automobile mechanics, showcases all parts of the caliber G1790 chronograph movement. The 46 mm steel case has polished bevel horns. A lateral porthole on the case at 10 o’clock provides a view of the escapement and balance wheel. Limited to 250 pieces it retails for $14,580. 


Devon Tread 2 Shining is manufactured in Los Angeles. It runs on Devon’s distinctive Time Belt movement and powered by a lithium-polymer rechargeable battery that can power the movement for up to 28 days. It retails for $9,950.

Luxury Jewelry Holiday Gifts For Procrastinators

Best-known as Angelina Jolie’s jewelry design partner, Robert Procop has created a colorful interpretation of Paris’ most famous monument, the Eiffel Tower. The diamond and gem expert, and luxury jeweler created a ring made of white gold and amethyst topped with a 50.83-carat aquamarine. The Eiffel Tower ring is available at, Robert Procop private locations in Beverly Hills, Geneva and Hong Kong.

There’s only eight shopping days left before Christmas and you still have no idea what to give your loved one. It’s difficult to go wrong with luxury jewelry as a gift for the holidays. However, choosing that will make your loved one swoon is difficult because tastes in fine baubles are personal and there are endless choices available for every need.

This one-of-kind fringe necklace by Graff has 69.40-carats of diamonds and 108.10-carats of rubies. The price is available upon request at Graff Diamonds boutiques.

The 10 pieces of jewelry I provide include one-of-a-kind high jewelry creations, pieces that can be worn throughout the day and fine designer pieces. They include items made of diamonds, colored gems and pearls. There’s even a colored-enhanced diamond ring.

Emerald and diamond earrings from gem and jewelry company, Omi Privé, are handcrafted with 13.06 total carats of pear-shaped emeralds accented with 1.05 carats of brilliant diamond rounds set in platinum. The suggested retail price is $225,000. Visit www.omiprive.com to find a retailer.

Prices range from “If you have to ask” to more affordable pieces. When available I listed the price and where the item can be purchased. Hopefully these gifts ideas can help you procrastinators buy something appropriate before it’s too late. I provided the price and availability for most of the pieces.

The Exclusive Collection Double Strand Tahitian Pearl Necklace by Mastoloni is made of Tahitian Pearls (12-14mm) secured with a diamond encrusted clasp set with 18k white gold. It has a suggested retail price of $42,500. To find a retailer, visit www.mastoloni.com.

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The Ruby Divine Ring by Martin Katz features a 2.56-carat natural cushion shape ruby microset with 336 round diamonds and 26 round rubies set in 18k white gold. Price is available upon request at the Martin Katz Beverly Hills boutique.

Amethyst and diamond earrings by jewelry designer and manufacturer, Miiori, are centered with two amethysts stones (8.19-carats) and 5.73cts of white diamonds set in 18k white gold. It retails for $17,275.

Venetian Rose Windows Earrings by Italian jewelry designer, Bizzotto, are made of 18k white and rose gold, diamonds and pink sapphires. Suggested retail price is $8,740.

The Petales Entrelaces Petits Pétales bracelet from Montblanc’s Princess Grace collection is a delicate and discreet pink gold piece of jewelry that can be throughout the day and for any occasion. It is available at Montblanc boutiques throughout the world.

The Etoile de Vie Ring by Mauboussin features a pair of 18k white gold stars, one topped with white mother of pearl alongside a second covered in pavé diamonds. It retails for $2,100 and is available at the Mauboussin boutique on Madison Avenue, New York.

Natural pink diamonds are among the most sought after in the world. Fiamma Jewelry has developed a proprietary technology to create color-enhanced pink diamonds. The Beverly ring is centered with a 1.3-carat cushion-cut diamond surrounded by 82 round brilliant pink and white diamonds mounted in 14k white and pink gold. It retails for $6,799. To find retailers visit fiammajewelry.com.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Audemars Piguet, Swarovski and Gemfields Woo Art Lovers At Art Basel Miami Beach

An aerial view of the “Curiosity” exhibit, commissioned by Audemars Piguet for Art Basel Miami Beach.

Luxury brands like to be where the wealthy mingle which leads them to support events like the recently concluded Art Basel Miami Beach. Among the companies jockeying for a marketing advantage by associating with the finest works in modern and contemporary art were Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, Audemars Piguet, luxury crystal manufacturer, Swarovski and colored gemstone, mining and marketing company, Gemfields.

A closer view of the “Curiosity” installation. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Audemars Piguet has been out front in its support of Art Basel. In May, the company announced that it has signed on as a “Global Associate Partner” with its three fairs in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

A close look at the "snow" covering the chalet and the drawing of the wood grain. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

In Miami, the company partnered with contemporary Parisian art gallery Galerie Perrotin by presenting a new site-specific work by French artist duo Kolkoz. The installation, titled “Curiosity,” came in the form of floating snow covered Swiss Chalet placed off the pier of the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key.

The graffiti-filled site has been closed for more than 20 years and at first glance didn’t seem like a suitable place for an art installation befitting a luxury watch brand. However, it turns out that was one of the reasons the site on nearby Virginia Key was chosen. The other was the water and the heat of a typical South Florida day, which also contrasts with the snowy winter scene. The “snow-covered” chalet and pier from a distance appears to just pop up out of the water. Up close it’s easy to see that the pier is covered in a white fabric while the “chalet” is an inflatable house similar to an inflatable play station for children.

Clever and playful, this installation provides a proper setting in a number of ways. It alludes to Audemars Piguet’s wintry home in the Vallée du Joux and it gives focus to the marine stadium. The stadium, which was forced to shut down following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is being slated for a complete renovation.

The watch brand also had a large display of its watches in the Art Basel Miami beach “Collectors’ Lounge,” which included a retrospective of its Royal Oak watch.

An art collaboration with Brazilian architect and designer Guilherme Torres and Swarovski Crystal Palace.

In the contemporary art world South America is hot and Brazil is the epicenter of this hotness. Taking advantage of this, Swarovski Crystal Palace—a program created by the crystal company where it collaborates with artists, architects and designers to create works of art with Swarovski crystal components—teamed with Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres to create the roots of a Mangrove tree in an installation titled “Mangue Groove” that focuses on conservation for Design Miami, a contemporary art show held alongside Art Basel Miami Beach.

The installation takes the form of an abstract diagram that describes the division of spaces into cells with corresponding focal points, combined with the mangrove-root imagery. The artwork used design angled structures of acrylic tubes filled with amber-colored Swarovski crystals and illuminated from within by LEDs. The metal joints of the structures are covered with dodecahedron-shaped wooden caps. These “root” structures, which Torres wanted to look “as if they were made of crystals,” are set into shallow pools of water, against a backdrop of projections of an Amazonian sunset.

Torres used the 2014 arrival in Brazil of Swarovski Waterschool, a project that teaches children about water conservation. Water is a key component in the manufacture of Swarovski’s crystals, as the theme. However, he said he didn’t want to make obvious references to it.

Gemfields made its presence known not with an art installation but with a movie project titled, “React to Film,” by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The emerald and now amethyst mining and marketing company sponsored an event at the outside orchid gardens of the Delano Hotel (still cool after all these years). The event featured three five-minute documentaries of three groundbreaking modern artists, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and David Hockney, by young filmmakers, Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, Lance Accord and Lucy Walker.

The event gave Gemfields the opportunity to show its own promotional film of its Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, starring its ambassador, Mila Kunis. It provided an opportunity for a company that owns the Fabergé luxury brand and commissions one-of-a-kind jewelry from internationally known designers to associate its company with great artists.

Assistant Editor Maria Ling contributed to this story.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jewelry Sparkles at Art Basel Miami Beach

Large Kinetic Earrings (1968) by Jesus Raphael Soto

By any measure Art Basel Miami Beach, which just completed its 11th year, is a huge success. One of the ways its success has been demonstrated is the more than 20 art shows that have grown around the big event, held this year on December 5 – 8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

18k gold bracelet with white gold balls by Pol Bury, 1968, being shown by Didier Ltd.

Probably the most important of those fairs is Design Miami, which was held in a big white tent across the parking lot of the convention center. This was my first year attending what is now known as ABMB and was surprised to learn that Design Miami was focusing on art jewelry with no fewer than seven galleries dedicating at least some of their space to jewelry created by artists. The pieces included works by those who are known for their jewelry as well as world class artists who normally use other mediums. Among the highlights:

Ross Lovegrove 18k ring, made with 3D printing technology. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

* Louisa Guinness Gallery of London presented a show celebrating its tenth year of collaborating with artists to make jewelry. Ross Lovegrove was among the artists featured with a collection of 18k gold rings using 3D printing technology titled “Foliates.” Other artists on display included Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Alexander Calder.

Didier Ltd. of Londonde dicated its space to the 40th anniversary of a ground-breaking jewelry exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in 1973, "Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry." Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

* Didier Ltd. of London paid homage to the 40th anniversary of a ground‐breaking jewelry exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in 1973, "Jewelry as Sculpture as Jewelry." This exhibition brought together 131 pieces by 50 of the most avant‐garde jewelry designers and artists of the time. Didier Ltd presented a retrospective of this exhibition, including several unique pieces that were shown in Boston. It included pieces by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Jesus Raphael Soto.

White gold necklace with colors and lines by Carlos Cruz‐Diez.

* Elisabetta Cipriani of London presented 11 pieces of jewelry by Carlos Cruz‐Diez, (three bracelets, two necklaces, two rings and four brooches) the artist hand made in the 1970s for his family and friends. Cruz‐Diez specializes in kinetic and op art and his jewelry pieces reflect this through the use of colors and lines that produce movement in relation to how light is directed at them.

Brooch by Margaret DePatta, c. 1950.

* Mark McDonald of Hudson, NY, presented several jewelry pieces by Margaret De Patta, who specializes in metalwork jewelry using architectural forms.

Butterfly Brooch by Gjis Bakker

* Caroline Van Hoek of Brussels presented the works of Gjis Bakker, which included human figures, automotive motifs and more traditional pieces.

I hope this is a trend that continues at Design Miami, ABMB and at other art shows held during the week in Miami. I need an excuse to attend again next year.

Assistant Editor Maria Ling contributed to this story.

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