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Posts by Simon Teakle

A Special Jewel & True Original

by on October 29th, 2011

Multicolored Sapphire & Diamond Necklace in Titanium with Matching Earrings

There is a rare breed of contemporary jewelry that, the minute it is made, one knows it will endure the vagaries of fashion and never become the victim of boredom.

This multicolored sapphire necklace is one such enduring example. Mounted in titanium, it combines quality material with superb design and craftsmanship. Built in Geneva, in one of the world’s finest workshops, it was so difficult to make the designer vowed he would never construct jewelry using these techniques again.

Titanium is one of the most difficult metals for a jeweler to craft; it is temperamental and stiff, so if mistakes are made the work must be scrapped and begun again. Gold and platinum are much more forgiving.

The audacious way that the designer has mirrored the brilliant colors of the sapphires in the titanium itself (through a painstaking scientific process that is difficult to describe and harder yet to understand) is what makes this a masterpiece.

Instead of creating a piece that could be considered gaudy or gauche, he has transformed what could have been a predictable multicolored sapphire necklace into something both elegant and utterly unique.

The Evolution of Diamond Cutting & the “Antique Cushion”

by on October 1st, 2011

graff-10-ct-cushion-cut-diamond-engagement-ring

Betteridge Collection Graff 10.04ct 'Antique Cushion' Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamond cutting is a combination of art and science that has evolved over many centuries. A cutter’s understanding of diamond’s precise physical properties combined with a finesse to bring out exceptional beauty is extremely rare. Although the understanding of how to maximize the weight from a crystal and achieve maximum brilliance is now almost faultless, to realize a gem’s potential for beauty remains a true art form.

The first brilliants, known as Mazarin’s, were introduced in the middle of the 17th century. These crudely fashioned stones were a more sophisticated creation than the Indian rose-cuts, and these in turn gave way to the cushion-cut, which was the most popular style of cutting by the middle of the 18th century. Many historic gems were refashioned at this time including the Agra and Hope diamonds.

Although modern brilliants and princess-cut diamonds have established themselves as a benchmark of technical perfection, the “Antique Cushion” has endured aesthetically as one of the most beautiful ways to cut a stone. This 10.04 carat diamond is a lovely example, the GIA grade is G-color and VS2-clarity, which makes it an extraordinarily beautiful gem, but not so perfect as to demand an exorbitant price for the size.

Mounted simply by Graff to enhance the stones elegant shape, this ring presents a wonderful opportunity to own an important stone that represents value in every way.

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Value, Ever an Increasing Virtue

by on November 5th, 2010

Betteridge Collection Rose-Cut Diamond Drop Earrings by Otto Jakob

Betteridge Collection Rose-Cut Diamond Drop Earrings by Otto Jakob

Without the creation of new jewelry and the ever-changing world of fashion, there would not be the enticing and fascinating arena of antique and period jewelry.

Importantly, in an era in which the value of a label or name may seem transitory, entering the secondary market of a well-known brand can offer exciting opportunities.

It is remarkable how quickly contemporary pieces come onto the market. especially when considering the significant decrease in value. By stripping away manufacturing costs, marketing budgets and celebrity sponsorship (to name a few) the natural value of an object becomes compelling to buyers where in today’s world hard assets are becoming an integral part of people’s financial portfolio.

This week alone, jewelry by Bulgari, Cartier and Tiffany & Co., along with the work of Pomellato and Cathy Waterman have all been bought and sold in the store.

Highlighted here are some elegant rose-cut diamond and 18k gold drop earrings by Otto Jakob, a popular contemporary jewelry designer. Over ten years ago, these earrings commanded a price in excess of $50,000. Today, while still just as beautiful as the day they were made, they retail from Betteridge for just $34,000.

Value and great jewelry can go hand in hand, but discipline and determination are wonderful virtues to have in this fast paced and really fun part of the second hand jewelry market.

Gem Lore & Legend

by on November 5th, 2010

Betteridge Estate Collection Diamond Riviere Necklace with Pear-Shaped Diamond Drop

Betteridge Collection Diamond Riviere Necklace with Pear-Shaped Diamond Drop

The lore of gemstones is as romantic and exciting as any subject. Dynasties have been destroyed, fortunes made, and legends created over the pursuit of stones.

And while literature or Hollywood may have exaggerated- many of the tales of daring do- it is important to know that the reality is also very objective and pragmatic.

The imagery surrounding gems involves the pursuit, and stories around any character, but once presented with a gemstone or gemstone jewelry one has to be objective with one’s analysis.

Diamonds and colored stones have so many subtleties, highs and lows, that to encapsulate them in a single paragraph is impossible.

As a snapshot of gem jewelry, this antique diamond necklace is a wonderful example of 19th century diamond elegance. The pear-shaped diamond drop of 4.57 carats is of exceptionally high quality, E color VS1, and is cut to portray a drop of frozen air suspended below a single line of wonderful old mine cut diamonds.

Exuding personality it has the imagery of old money inherited jewels, but is in fact as wearable now as the day it was made.

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Masterful Design

by on November 5th, 2010

Betteridge Collection 'Juno' Gem-Set Brooch by Boucheron

Betteridge Collection 'Juno' Gem-Set Brooch by Boucheron

Masterful design, coincident with exceptional craftsmanship, creates something timeless that transcends trends as well as culture. Objects are sought after all over the world, and like all areas of the fine and decorative arts, competition is intense.

When looking for this type of object, a relationship with someone or a company can fast track and often save significant amounts of money where otherwise one may go to auction and become locked in to aggressive bidding with a similar private collector. Sourcing with expertise is a rare commodity and the advice that goes alongside can be invaluable.

The term magnificent is also a subjective adjective, it can manifest itself in scale as well as value, but presence and beauty are crucial. Just because a stone is 20, 30 or 40 carats, the word should not necessarily apply.

In the case of ‘Juno,’ this jewel was designed and made by Boucheron, the hallowed design house. It was exhibited at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and is one of the great Art Nouveau jewels. Juno (the most powerful Roman goddess) is carved in white jade, clothed in peacock armor and detailed with yellow sapphires and diamonds. It is a tour de force of design and manufacturing, and can carry the word magnificent with great comfort. It is almost five inches long and as a pendant as striking and symbolic as any Art Nouveau jewel ever made.

Education is Part of the Fun

by on November 4th, 2010

Alexandrite & Diamond Ring, $55,000

Betteridge Collection Alexandrite & Diamond Ring

The most interesting aspect of the jewelry market is that there are layers upon layers of information one leading onto the other. There are also markets within markets that operate in different ways in different parts of the world. Colorless diamonds and colored diamonds; natural pearls and cultured pearls; as well as countless periods and styles spanning three hundred years are just part of the panoply.

The three snapshot articles above have barely scratched the surface of our world.

It is widely known that the best buyer is an educated buyer, and in response to this Terry Betteridge, Warren Lagerloef and I are regular speakers in Greenwich and around the country at private events and international fine arts fairs.

Most recently in Greenwich I gave two presentations on the importance (or not) of signed jewelry, and the range of colored gemstones apart from “the big three.” In these seminars I worked diligently to illustrate each subject with images of jewels I have handled spanning 25 years as well as wonderful hands on examples of each genre.

A Small Gem from a Powerful Empire

by on July 31st, 2010

Art Deco Moghul Carved Emerald & Diamond Pendant

Art Deco Moghul Carved Emerald & Diamond Pendant, $19,500

The Moghul Empire of 1526-1857 was a period of unparalleled power, when wealth and Indian culture flourished — none more so than with its extraordinary supply of gems and jewelry. Not only did it provide some of the greatest gems known, but the legacy of style and design has influenced jewelry houses around the world ever since.

This influence was never stronger than during the Art Deco period, when all the great firms were intoxicated by all things Indian. In particular, the refashioning of older stones to contemporary objects was “de rigeur” for the old Indian royal families, as well as their Occidental cousins.

This Art Deco pendant is a perfect example of how Western taste became seduced by this genre. The small symmetrical platinum and diamond cap sits on top of a nineteenth century emerald bead of approximately 30.00 carats, exquisitely carved with foliate lotus motifs and delicate vertical fluting.

This carving is typical of the Moghul style, where naturalistic motifs would cover every possible area. Made in England in the 1920’s, it is a wonderful combination of simplicity and decoration, and is as wearable today as when it was first made.

An Antique Sapphire and Diamond Flower Spray Pin

by on July 1st, 2010

Victorian Sapphire & Diamond Flower Brooch

Victorian Sapphire & Diamond Flower Spray Pin, $28,000

The Victorian era is often described as being rich, opulent and grandiose, particularly in the fine and decorative arts; however, in between lofty tiaras and dripping necklaces, many pieces of jewelry display grace, elegance and a timeless appearance. Figurative jewelry was also extremely popular, and, in particular, flora and fauna were interpreted in almost every way.

This sapphire and diamond brooch dates from around 1860, and is a perfect example of exceptional workmanship combined with an elegance that translates to an object considered beautiful in any era. Set with a 15 carat natural Ceylon sapphire, the scroll leaves have a sculptural quality that is much more three dimensional than many pins one sees from this period. The flower has a long curved stem suspended in the wind in an arching line of diamonds perfectly proportioned for the shoulder it is to rest on.

To use contradictory terms this is understated elegance that has tremendous impact for the sophisticated lover of jewelry.

Cartier 20.43ct, D-Color: The ‘Blitz Diamond’

by on June 1st, 2010

GIA-certified: 20.43 carats, D color and VS1 clarity

In the summer of 1940, the German Luftwaffe attempted to win air superiority over southern Britain and the English Channel by destroying the Royal Air Force and the British aircraft industry. This attempt came to be known as the Battle of Britain, and the Germans saw victory over the RAF as absolutely essential if they were eventually to mount an invasion of the British Isles.

At the beginning of 1940, a South American copper and tin ore magnate arrived in London to secure a valuable contract to provide essential metals to the war effort. On this visit, he met an English girl, fell in love and an ensuing affair resulted in a swift engagement. There was now an urgent need for the best diamond in London, and on the 29th of February in Cartier on Bond Street, this 20.43ct diamond was given as the engagement ring.

Alongside this very romantic story, the ‘Blitz Diamond’ is everything an important stone should be. The pure colorless stone of extremely fine clarity (D, VS1) has been superbly cut, and for a large stone, it retains a grace and elegance that is perfectly mirrored with Cartier’s aura in the first half of the twentieth century.

Power Play: Marina B Art-Deco Inspired Ruby & Diamond Earrings

by on April 1st, 2010

Marina B Ruby & Diamond Earrings, $75,000

These spectacular ruby and diamond earrings by Marina B are a radical departure from her usual style of playful color and polished gold in bold unusual shapes.

Marina Bulgari was the granddaughter of Sotirio Boulgaris, the founder of Bulgari. In 1979, she opened her first boutique in Geneva and went on to international recognition.

The Art-Deco-inspired spirit to these earrings includes very fine Burmese rubies surrounded by pave-set and baguette-cut diamonds mounted in platinum.

Different jewelry designs create a wide variety of styles, and these earrings are about confidence, power and glamour.