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The Humble Origins of the Engagement Ring

An engagement ring, worn as a sign of a couple’s pending marriage, is a physical token of solidarity far beyond promised words.  Have you ever wondered how this tradition all started?  The idea of giving a future wife something to show a commitment traces its origins to the Stone Age, when the man would tie braided grass around his beloved’s wrists, ankles and waist, so her spirit would be under his control.  During the Renaissance, Archduke Maximilian of Austria was the first to propose to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, with a diamond ring, but the trend only gained favor among the European nobility.  It was not until 1938, when De Beers, the famous diamond cartel, launched a massive ad campaign convincing young men that the only way to show their love and commitment was through buying diamond rings.  And, almost ten years later, they introduced the enduring slogan, “A Diamond is Forever,” spurring even greater sales.  Since then, the idea of giving a diamond engagement ring has become the unquestioned norm of today’s society.


Buccellati Dreaming

At last week’s Paris Couture, the most anticipated fashion week of the year, Buccellati, known for its unique style, introduced their Bracelets de Rêves (Dream Bracelet) Collection.  The collection consists of bangles and cuff bracelets, decorated in various diamonds and gems, capturing the height of Italian fashion.  “Dream 17” is a white gold cuff bracelet with an oversized tourmaline gemstone in the center, encased in a gold rim and surrounded by diamonds with a gold design running through, giving the whole bracelet a dramatic appearance – a definite eye catcher.   The line includes many more distinct bracelets with intricate diamond and colored gemstone designs, that will showcase the individuality of the wearer.

Buccellati, is both a contemporary designer jewelry brand and also the last name of a family whose passion for crafting was passed on from generation to generation.  In the eighteenth-century, Contardo Buccellati, a silversmith, opened a workshop in Italy for silverware and jewelry. Mario Buccellati, a goldsmith and a relative to Contardo, re-established the workshop in the early 1900′s and began to mold jewelry masterpieces.  His son, Gianmaria, has also shown his own passion for jewelry, founding the Italian Gemological Institute, and in 1979, opening his flagship store in Paris.

Vahan’s New Bamboo

The upscale jewelry maker Vahan Jewelry released a new line:  the Bamboo Collection.  The initial piece of the collection is a sterling silver band bracelet with a 14k gold vermeil overlay.  The surface of the bracelet mimics a regal bamboo shoot with diamond studs forming the ridges of the stalk.

Vahan Jewelry was founded in 1968 by Leon “Sasha” Der Calousdian.  His first collection was sold at Bergdorf Goodman, a high end department store, and his jewelry became popular very quickly.  He was the second designer to ever be exclusively represented by that store.   Bamboo is known to be of the fastest growing plants in the world, and can grow up to four feet within 24 hours.  The rapid growth in the popularity of Vahan Jewelry makes the choice of a bamboo line seem exceptionally appropriate.

Vahan Bamboo Collection:

Alexis Bittar Introduces Miss Havisham

This week, Alexis Bittar, known for his signature lucite bangles, released the “Miss Havisham” collection for fall.  Striving for an exclusive look, his new pieces push boundaries with geometrical and unusual shapes.  One necklace for the fall line has gold spikes, one of which is encrusted in diamonds, creating a modern, sophisticated glow.   The collection’s cuff bracelet uses delicate gold chains to create a flowing, liquid effect in gold for an edgy appearance.

Alexis Bittar, often considered as one of the most talented jewelry designers, sells his modernistic jewelry in over 30 countries.  He explained that the Miss Havisham collection was inspired by his early years in New York, but we can’t help but note the irony of his new, edgy and modern line being named for a character in Great Expectations who was stuck in the past.

Miss Havisham fall collection:

Cartier Announces New Orchid Jewelry Line

This week, Cartier, the world famous jewelry design company, released a new jewelry line: a diamond and rock crystal twist on the orchid, Cartier`s floral emblem.  Cartier has reinvented a flower by lifting it out of a vase and redesigning it as a masterpiece resting on the ears and neck of a woman.  The new line contains a pink gold orchid ring with a gold petal dotted with morganites.  Another piece within the collection takes a more sophisticated and traditional look with pink gold orchid earrings and a brilliant gem dangling like a tear drop from the petal of the flower in morganites.

Since the establishment of Cartier in 1847, the world has recognized the company for its unique style and elegant craftsmanship.  Flora has always been a part of Cartier`s jewelry collections since the beginning, including, roses, irises, daisies, lilies, and of course the orchid.  Cartier believes the orchid is the queen of the garden for its beauty, inspiring them to elegantly capture its essence in their jewelry.

Cartier’s Orchid Collection:

May Jewelry Give-away Results

Congratulations to Susan, who has won a silver micro-pave CZ disk necklace.

Watch our Facebook page for our next contest.

The True Color of the Diamond

Diamonds… a girl’s best friend.  They come in all shapes and sizes… and colors, too.

It used to be that the all-time favorite for an engagement ring was a round, or brilliant, cut white diamond.  And although it still remains a favorite, princess cuts and ovals are rising in popularity, too.  But that will be a topic for another post.

Now I want to talk about diamond colors.  Most diamonds are white, but for those who want something different and unique, an engagement ring with color in the diamond is the latest fashion.  Every year it seems as though a new color of diamond becomes popular.  In recent years, we have seen canary yellow and more recently, chocolate brown.  But until this year, I had never seen an orange diamond.

In November, Christies’ auction house sold a 14-carat vivid orange diamond for $35MM.  The expected sale price had been $20 million, but its unique color enticed bidders even higher.  In pictures it is magnificent – I can only imagine the color in person.   (Later that month, a 60 carat pink diamond set an all-time record for any diamond at $83MM!)

Diamonds are graded by using the 4 C’s: cut, clarity, color and carat.  Colored diamonds are graded in their clarity and color differently than are a colorless diamond.  The deeper the color, the rarer the diamond is, and the more valuable it will be.  The clarity then becomes less important because the faults will be less noticeable.   Colorless diamonds are cut to maximize their brilliance, while colored diamonds are cut to showcase their color.

So to sum things up, it doesn’t matter how you slice it, colored or colorless, a diamond is a true beauty of nature, and we can appreciate them in any color or shape.