by Terry Betteridge on November 18th, 2015
This week, I’ve had the privilege of attending the 7th Forum de la Haute Horlogerie held in Lausanne, as an expert for the Americas to the Cultural Council. One of the main topics of discussion: What it means to be High (“Haute”)?
In the millenarian arts, it’s an atelier painstakingly hand-embroidering, stitching and crafting one of a handful of dresses for only the greatest of fashion’s well-heeled followers. Is a Richard Mille, made of space age stuff, its hundred case parts quickly carved by CNC and innovative programming, high? All the complications achieved, but the hand of a craftsman pretty much ignored?
So then, how high? As a myopic, high is close. Look at a Patek Phillipe watch from 1900 where the hands alone, have more real handwork than a million dollars of Richard Milles; a dial of fired, hand painted numerals whose flare was the signature of an individual immediately known for his seraph like no other; as clear a statement of his achievement as it was of his own style. Does the watch with simply stamped or cut hands even belong in the same conversation? I believe it doesn’t.
The difference in this step higher, is finish and finish is just that; taking something to its end. To deliver rough machinery is fine for John Deere and Caterpillar, but not for Haute Horologie. It is in fact, nothing but a profit with the loss of honesty. When timekeeping can be a cellphone and complication is conquered with a key stroke, then doesn’t “finish” and art, become the Height that is excellence?
In my own shops, the finish is the “table stakes”, the non-negotiable. Design and complication are the customers choices. Finish, the beauty of the hand that crafts, will always be the Haute in what we make.
Never forget, that for watchmaker or jeweler, real art is where craft and love join.
by Terry Betteridge on November 3rd, 2015
I find the title, “luxury,” given out at every turn, something of an insult. It’s demeaning to the buyer who obviously must rely on another’s taste and knowledge to get something good; it implies he’s nouveau or simply “posing”. For the folks who look and care about the way things are designed and made, it’s just unnecessary and trying too hard.
Some great things simply stand out for their staking out of new ground; for performing better or simply being the best of what they can be and to me, that’s luxurious.
Patek Phillipe owns the realm of beautifully made, perfectly functioning men’s dress watches, where you really do expect your family to treasure one forever. This Annual Calendar (Ref. 5205G) is everything in elegance and functional investment that a watch could offer.
A fabulous glass to drink from: Whether you have a fine Bordeaux or simply iced tea, there is something wonderful about slowing the moment down and going to a favorite vessel.
I have very old crystal: some hand-engraved with political or religious declarations, sometimes a sailing ship or royal stag. Anything has to taste better held in history and beauty.
Luxury isn’t a magazine telling you something, it’s reveling in the accomplishment and skills of craftsmen and artists and honestly, toasting them: It’s all about them.
by Win Betteridge on October 10th, 2015
by Terry Betteridge on March 13th, 2015
Engraving for presidents, movie stars and Greenwich school teachers, Carlos Colonna has been the hands engraving many of the most important crest rings, trophies and sterling pieces. On the average day, he’s sharpening his tools and craft with Betteridge.
Hand-engraving remains among the most difficult and important aspects of the jeweler’s craft: at Betteridge, we’re blessed to have Carlos still working at the bench and continuing to produce enduring works of this nearly, lost art. Each of the examples here, he cut entirely with the handtools he shapes himself, then wields with the skills and confidence gained over his sixty year career.
As a collector and dealer in old silver, I’ve found countless times the embellishment of a great heraldic device or inscription adds terrific value, perhaps more than ever before, now hundreds of years later. These engraved pieces become time machines; portals to another generation, epoch and even culture. Understanding the form and use, then the importance of the provenance told by the engraved images let’s you into another world where these badges of station and achievement were instantly recognized and respected.
by Win Betteridge on October 28th, 2014
Legendary jeweler Verdura celebrates its 75 years of style with the introduction of the rare, limited edition “Theodora” cuff. The “Theodora” motif on the cuff marks the beginning of Verdura’s career as a jewelry designer and his earliest collaboration with Coco Chanel. In 1930, Verdura, with Chanel as his muse, shattered the status quo in 20th century jewelry design. The revolution they began broke from the proliferation of platinum and diamond jewelry whose popularity was verging on monotony.
Inspired by the Byzantine mosaic of Empress Theodora at the Italian Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Verdura and Chanel set out to break the rules of popular style. For the first time in the 20th Century, gemstones were pressed into yellow gold in such splendid contradiction to one another: the primary colors of precious rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds were electrified into new life beside the vivid half-hues of semi-precious amethysts, peridots and tourmalines. It was an iconoclast departure. At the time, British Vogue observed the “unusual results and a number of colour harmonies hitherto unknown to jewellery.”
The first foray into this new realm of color was a pair of Byzantine-inspired brooches in loosely cruciform patterns, called the Theodora and Ravenna brooches. These two brooches became harbingers of change, precursors to the full exploration of twentieth century Byzantine style. They were the inspiration for the iconic Maltese Cross cuffs created by the Duke of Verdura for his friend Coco Chanel in the early 1930’s. These brooches were eventually given to Diana Vreeland, a friend and client of Chanel. She further popularized them by wearing them in unusual ways, notably on her turbans and hats. These were a signature of Ms. Vreeland throughout her life.
by Win Betteridge on August 17th, 2014
On July 20th, Betteridge proudly presented 1999 World Series Champions Fan Ring Day at Yankee Stadium.
The first 18,000 guests 14 and younger received a replica of the 1999 World Series Champions ring. In recognition of one of the truly extraordinary Yankee teams, Betteridge designed the ring to resemble the original as closely as possible.
It was a great day at the Stadium (the Yankees won in the bottom of the ninth!), and everybody left a champion.
by Win Betteridge on August 6th, 2014
by Terry Betteridge on July 28th, 2014
Here we have a tale to be re-told by a Sherlock… At first glance, the tankard is English. It is Charles II in form and mark, but the chasing, a wonderful illustration in sterling silver, is extraordinary for it’s depth and detail; poetry fully written.
In 1735, a poet of little fame except for this one ode, wrote the story of his kindly hosts to whom he was apprenticed in his youth: Darby and Joan. Wrinkled and stooped, but smiling and satisfied with comfort of a lifetimes memories together, the old couple sits smoking and drinking outside their favorite pub, their dog tight by their sides. “What are the charms can you guess, that makes them so fond?” asks the writer who then answers, “Tis the remembrance of youth… The thoughts of past pleasure…”
Noel Coward, in the middle of the last century knew the poem still and parodies the loving oldsters in his musical Sail Away with the song of Bronxville Darby and Joan, keeping the story still alive and more local.
by Win Betteridge on June 26th, 2014
New York – June 25, 2014 – Greenwich-based fine jeweler and watch retailer Betteridge today announced that it has partnered with Borderfree, a market leader in international cross-border ecommerce solutions, to expand its online customer experience globally. By partnering with Borderfree, Betteridge now offers international shipping to over 100 countries and territories worldwide in more than 60 global currencies.
“With Borderfree, we have extended Betteridge’s exceptional, personalized service to clientele around the globe,” said Win Betteridge, Director of Business Development, Betteridge. “I am proud that our international customers will now enjoy the same effortless online shopping experience as those purchasing domestically.”
Over the past decade, international sales grew to nearly 10 percent of Betteridge’s total revenue, but several elements of the company’s international business held it back from even greater sales abroad. The risk of international credit card fraud combined with the logistics of coordinating international shipping were too complex for the company to manage effectively at scale. By leveraging Borderfree’s technology and services platform, Betteridge can now present customers around the world with product prices in their preferred currency, guarantee the lowest possible total price including customs and taxes, and ensure seamless international shipping. Additionally, with secure international credit card transactions, Betteridge can offer its customers the flexibility and confidence they desire.
“Betteridge is already seeing significant demand coming from customers around the globe, and we’re excited to help them take their international business to the next level,” said Michael DeSimone, CEO, Borderfree. “Betteridge is a historic American fine jeweler and thus a natural fit for the slate of iconic brands we partner with and bring to international shoppers eager for American goods.”
“Borderfree provides the logistical support we need to expand Betteridge’s seamless online shopping experience beyond U.S. borders. We are excited to join the capabilities of Borderfree’s platform with the excellent customer service and exclusive selection for which Betteridge is known,” said Mr. Betteridge.
by Terry Betteridge on June 20th, 2014
These tiny jewels, each of gold or platinum, were quite exotic statements worn by pretty conservative fellows otherwise. There are laconic women in the Art Nouveau styles, toothsome critters of all sorts, and then a “scaredy-cat” and frightening baby sporting a diamond bonnet and face of carved pink moonstone; all of them incredibly well crafted as miniature standout pieces for a gentleman’s tie. I remember most of these framed by my fathers vest or granddad’s fuzzy waistcoats, fondly, except for when I’d be chased to bed with one in a good hearted threat from pop who would brandish one in musketeer fashion.
The old man was proudest of his bird crystals: Reverse carved to complete full relief of the animal and then painted with translucent oils to show every feather of that,” just shot” mallard duck or the standing snipe. He gave Mom a life sized bumble bee carving that was so well done, every person who saw it assumed a live bee had been somehow trapped in crystal: Only the pre-World War One carvers managed to include every hair carved, though great painters remained through till the 40’s.