Evolution of the Jewelry Industry in America: Colonial Era

A lot of talk has been made about the future of retail. I cannot walk down a street or look out a window on my commute without being reminded of the shift in consumer spending. Store closing and out of business signs seem to be popping up in Boston and online. Type in ‘store closing’ and see what that search brings you the words: panic, scramble and apocalypse were in the three stories at the top of my list. Much of the retail ‘apocalypse’ talk has been pointing to the apparel part of the industry. The question I ask seeing these stories is what does this mean for the jewelry industry?

To be able to better understand the future it helps to understand the past. A very overused saying but still insightful. For the rest of the month I want to focus on the jewelry industry in America. This will be a return to my book bling series by focusing on one book: Jewelry in America (1600-1900) by Martha Gandy Fales. It is divided into 4-time periods:

[1] Colonial (1600-1775)
[2] Federal (1775-1825)
[3] Mid-19th Century (1825-1875)
[4] Late 19th Century (1875-1900)

This book is more than just pictures of antique jewelry Ms. Fales looks at trends of the country and how the jewelers and jewelry stores evolved. That is how we will learn and be better prepared for the future by recognizing how trends in the country affect trends in the jewelry and the industry.

Confucius states it best, ‘Study the past if you would define the future’. Why use a quote by a Chinese scholar that lived long before the time America was founded? Because the beginning of this story starts in another country, long before America became a country of their own…

In the beginning
History tells of the Pilgrims that came over from England to worship without persecution, but traveling to a new world was typically for trade or war over resources. In 1608 John Smith was with a crew to look for new resources. Settling in what is now Virginia, Captain Smith thought practically about creating an environment for survival not treasure hunting. Reading Fales stories about Smith reminded me of the 1995 Disney movie Pocahontas. So much of that movie was inaccurate but some of the plot was following history, the villain and leader of the crew, Governor Ratcliffe, is in a mad fever to find lots of gold, but the men have no real experience with it, they are hunters and builders not goldsmiths. But that doesn’t stop Governor Ratcliffe from having the crew devote their time to digging.

Disney Pocahontas scene: Governor Ratcliffe has crew dig for gold

Well in real life goldsmiths were sent over with Smith’s crew due to the false hope of their being large amounts of gold found. In fact, the crew included two goldsmiths, two refiners and a jeweler, none of which could practice their craft in the new world. What happened when there are no materials and few customers? The jeweler returned home to England.

Realistically, the crew needed to hunt and settle the land (build shelter, etc) to survive. Like Smith was doing in the movie as he surveyed the land.

Disney Pocahontas scene: John Smith explores new world

Had to sneak of photo Disney’s John Smith in!

Once more colonists settle trade picked up but the role of the jeweler was much different than it is today.

What was happening in this period?
• People were settling in America
• English influence
• Low morality rate

I mention the top two points in my story above but to touch on the last point, with this new land came disease and poor conditions of living that lead to deaths at an early age than we have now. Death was a major part of colonial life a fact that the people embraced and accepted as best they could.

How did these events affect jewelry trends?
As people came to America and started a new life they bought some jewelry with them but the trend in this era was simple jewelry. Colonists did not have a major need for extravagant jewels when they are doing daily chores. Also, many of these colonists had religious influence that did not put a lot of value on jewelry.

With the English being the ones who lead the start of the colonies in America, England held a major influence over the jewelry brought into the country. Colonists had their jewels brought from England and imported jewelry for buying. Jewelry was also still primarily for nobility and the rich. In addition, the trend until the late 17th century was that men wore far more jewels than women. Signet rings, buckles, buttons, etc. all sparkled on men with a high status.

With a low morality rate, memorial jewelry was a major trend. Lockets, rings, cameos, anything to mark the remembrance for those that had passed.

What gemstones were popular at the time?

Cannot fit all the jewelry I’d like to in this post but a great example of garnet jewelry from the time with a famous owner. This necklace was owned by Martha Washington, America’s First, First Lady. Order from London (no surprise there) by her husband George in 1759. Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies Association, Virginia.

What was the role of the jeweler and jewelry store at the time?
Neither really existed at the time. There were not dedicated jewelers or jewelry stores. Silversmiths/goldsmiths doubled as jewelers and sold some wares in their shops. Not much was made with limited materials, skills and customers. Those that could afford the good jewelry bought from England, the most trusted source of jewelry at the time. England also had higher taxes on imports from other countries so English jewelry was what was most commonly sold.

I personally loved reading about a famous American patriot, silversmith and budding jeweler. Paul Revere was a Bostonian that has several silver pieces in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston as well as a ring I got to see on a trip there last winter.

There were a lot of years in this period but not too much happening in the world of jewelry in America. Next, I will look at the Federal Era and America’s freedom from England and how that made great changes for the jeweler and the stores! Sign up for emails and return for more Data in the Rough!

Skinner Fine Jewelry Auction: June 2017 Analysis

Back for part two of my analysis of the Skinner Fine Jewelry Auction of June 2017. If you missed my highlights from the Susan Freeman collection that was a part of the June fine jewelry auction, click here.

The results are in! This article will look at how Freeman’s collection of % sold did against the other items in the Skinner auction for this year and last year. Then I will look at what the regular items did by category and see the bottom 6 and top 6 of the auction.

This year versus last year

In my last analysis, we saw that the lots sold were 68% and unsold were 32 % for the Freeman collection. Below a chart of sold and unsold lot % for the 2016 and 2017 June Fine Jewelry Skinner Auctions.

Bar-chart-Skinner-Fine-jewelry-yoy-2017-2016

Freeman’s lots are included in the chart for 2017. You see the bars to the left is the % for 2016 84% sold. The right has this year which is a little lower at 83% sold. If the 14 unsold lots had been sold from the Freeman collection, this would only bump that number up to 86% sold, not a major change from last year. Had all of Freeman’s lots been removed from the auction the sold rate would be at 85%. Even though her collection did not perform as well as the average it did not have a significant impact on the % sold versus last year.

What didn’t sell

So then what categories did not perform as well for the items that did not belong to Freeman. Below a table that does not include the Freeman Collection. The total lots on auction were 413; 37 were Freeman’s leaving us with 376 regular lots at auction.Table-Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017

The category with the most lots were rings at 108 lots. 90% of them sold. The lots in the same category as necklaces and earrings were the lowest performers with only 78% and 76% selling. Without making the article too long and tedious the categories can be drilled down to see if for example studs sold less than long earrings etc. but I am just showing a high-level view for your interest. The categories are not as important as seeing what big ticket items did not sell. For example, which would you rather have if you were employed by an auction house, 3 pairs of earrings estimated to sell for $500 each that do not sell or a ring estimated for $10,000 that is not sold? For me, the later would be worse because more money is lost to me than if the former scenario happened.

The top 6 unsold items by their estimate below:

Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-Top-3-unsold-itemsSkinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-next-3-unsold-items

Hard to believe the Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels pieces did not sell. Do you think it was due to the cost, lack of interest, or the design was not pretty enough? As I work more with auction data I will hopefully have a better answer for that.

So, what did better than expected?

King George

A list of the top 6 sold items that performed better than their high estimate. This is different than top selling items by price. If you want that go to the Skinner results and sort by that. I am hoping to dig a little deeper with this data.

Skinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-top-3-items-above-estSkinner-June-Fine-jewelry-2017-next-3-items-above-est

For this auction, it was all hail King Georg Jensen! 5 of the 6 pieces did better than estimated. All these pieces were signed. I feel there may be a trend for well-made silver jewelry emerging. I have seen Jensen do well at auctions but time will tell if this will be a designer whose pieces are increasing in value at the auction block.

I hope you enjoyed my auction analysis for the June Skinner Fine Jewelry. Return soon for more from Data in the Rough!

 

 

Susan Freeman Collection at Skinner Auction House

When you travel what items do you buy as souvenirs for yourself? Do you buy any jewelry from your destination? Skinner Auction House in Boston Massachusetts hosted a small sampling of a traveler whose taste veered towards the Arts and Crafts and high-end costume jewelry that went up for sale today. Susan Freeman, a jewelry designer and collector based in New York had 37 items in the June Fine Jewelry sale at Skinner.

I will look at some highlights from Susan Freeman’s collection (to see full collection at Skinner click here) and then look at the results for her collection.

Highlights

For me the top item I wanted to see was the praying mantis brooch by Marcel Boucher. I have a few of his costume jewelry pieces. Marcel Boucher started his career in the 1920s at New York, working for fine jewelry houses such as Cartier. He started his own business in the late 1930s. Many of his pieces are highly collectible due to the quality of work can mistake them for fine jewelry. One of the most collectible pieces is the praying mantis. I have seen it online for sale of up to a few thousand dollars. I went to see Freeman’s brooch in person and was surprised at its size.

A large brooch but if I get the chance I will buy one day. It makes quite a statement.

Another fun item of costume jewelry was a bracelet attributed to Hobe. A designer based in New York in the late 1920s. The jewelry company was popular in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This bracelet is rhinestones and carved green glass.

 

Another vintage costume brooch, designed as a bird clutching a floral spray. No designer listed

A change from the costume was a small amount of Arts and Crafts jewelry like this Silver, Boulder Opal, and Beryl Necklace, with Celtic motifs. Picture from Skinner on left, my picture on right.

 

Her collection

Art Deco and sterling jewelry were also featured in the sale as part of her collection. The pieces came in different materials but were not the romantic, high sparkle you might traditionally think of. Some examples below. (Photos from Skinner)

(l) Art Deco Silver Pendant, Etienne David, France, c. 1930, (m) Art Deco Enamel and Aluminum Cuff, (r) Art Deco Lacquered Metal and Leather Brooch, Attributed to Jean Dunand

 

Her tastes in jewelry are unique. I tried to find more about her but only saw she had a sale at Bonhams for another jewelry collection in December of 2009. (Link to that auction here) Picture below of Freeman from the 1970s provided by Skinner.

Results

How did Freeman’s collection do in Boston? Her collection sold at a rate lower than what last year’s rate of sold versus unsold was. For last year’s fine jewelry (June 2016), 84% of the pieces sold. In Freeman’s collection of 37 pieces only 23 (68%) sold. Of those 23 sold only 9 (39%) met the high estimate or went beyond it. For example, without the buyer’s premium, Lot 32 the Art Deco Silver Pendant by Etienne David pictured above was estimated to sell between $600-$800, it sold for $800. The praying mantis brooch lot 11 was expected to make between $600-$800, it sold for $1000 (no buyer’s premium included). Which is great for the auction house which adds a percentage on to the sale for their fees.

What did not sell? One quick scan of the items shows that of the 14 items, 6 (43%) had been attributed to a designer, meaning the style was inspired but not created by them or at least cannot be proven that they designed it. The pieces that mentioned attributed did not sell. For collectors and investors attributed will not do much for resale value unless the buyer cares only about the design for their own enjoyment or the materials have some value.

The results of all pieces from the fine jewelry auction will be updated and I will see in my next post how the whole auction did and see if Susan Freeman’s collection matched the results for the rest of the auction items.  I hope you enjoyed the article. Do you have any stories about a piece you collected? I would love to hear about it in the comments. Return soon for more from Data in the Rough!

Putting the ‘Social’ back into my Social Media

I keep my blog focused on jewelry, but for two months I’ve been silent. To my readers I apologize. Blogging is not my main job. The role of business analyst has been what has paid my bills. In early April, my current job at a retail eCommerce company outside of Boston Massachusetts ended due to a poor holiday season. For the retailers out there, I’m sure you can empathize with that struggle.

I signed up for unemployment and am actively seeking a new job opportunity. What does this have to do about jewelry? Not much, it does have an impact on my blog and social media strategy. The quote that comes to mind…

I would not go so far to say I did any ‘soul searching’ but I have been looking at my situation and what I could have done differently. I would have liked a stronger network. For the past two and a half years I was volunteering in a women’s group. I realized that when all this happened my hopes that those years would be reason enough to help me when I was down were wrong. At the last meeting, I stepped down from my role. What I needed and what they were offering left me with the realization that I stayed on the wrong path for too long. I wasn’t being involved in the things I loved.

Chanel has it right. I am knocking on new doors and volunteering for a group that helps entrepreneurs with their marketing and social media strategy. This is something I am passionate about and I believe will help me find  a better job.

Not having a regular routine is challenging. My biggest challenge finding people to socialize with and not make my unemployment situation the focus. This brings me to the blog and title of the post. Social media lately has felt less social. I like other accounts photos, they like mine, maybe a comment is exchanged but not a lot is learned about the person. With the first day of summer approaching I am going to work on putting the social back into my social media. I plan to do that by utilizing Instagram stories, sharing more of life in New England and learning more about the jewelry industry through interviews with store owners, designers, anyone with a story to tell. Who’s with me?

Thank you for following me and taking your time reading this post. Please feel free to comment below or email me direct at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com . Check back soon for more exciting news from Data in the Rough!

How Oscar Heyman became the Jewelers’ Jeweler

Full disclosure I have been waiting for this book, Oscar Heyman The Jewelers’ Jeweler, to be released for almost 3 years. I follow JCK news frequently and on July 15, 2014. This story by Jennifer Heebner showed up.

I clicked on the link immediately! There was the editor detailing how this book about the over 100-year-old jewelry company was being worked on by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The main point I wanted to know was the release date, which was estimated around 2015 or 2016. Well that was pushed out, but I waited and waited. Then on February 3rd, 2017 I received an email from the Museum of Fine Arts about the book’s release on April 1st.

April 1, 2017, arrived and I called the MFA to confirm they had this book. The weather in Boston on April 1st was terrible with snow, wind and rain, a good joke for New Englanders’ thinking winter was behind them. Once I knew the book was ready to buy I made my journey, by public transportation no less, to the museum. Why go on the worst day when I could wait for a sunnier day the next? I wanted this book and the wait had been long enough. Amazon was even behind, not releasing it until the next week.

So what got me to this point? What is it that drew me to Oscar Heyman’s jewelry? It wasn’t the jewelry that got me curious about this company it was their reputation and their story.

The Beginnings

In 1901 the Heyman family sent two of their sons, Oscar and his older brother Nathan to train to be jewelers in the Ukraine. They were living in the Russian controlled area of Latvia at the time. These young apprentices manufactured jewelry and other objects for international clients and the House of Peter Carl Faberge. I had previously seen this reference to Faberge in literature about the Oscar Heyman & Brothers Company. This is what caught my eye and had me research and follow this firm for many years now.

I have written some about Faberge. He is one of my (if not my) favorite designer! My goal is to own a small item manufactured by Peter Carl Faberge’s company. It does not matter what it is, because whatever I buy will be of the best quality.  That is what made Faberge’s company so wonderful every piece no matter the size or value had to be consistent in quality. Everyone that worked for him or represented his company had to meet his high standards.

From what I have seen and learned about the Oscar Heyman Company on my own and through this book is that they have several aspects of their company that parallel Faberge’s. One being their craftsmanship and the second, relationships.

 

Craftsmanship

I see a lot of jewelry at auctions, stores, designer open houses, etc. and the over used phrase of, ‘That is so beautiful!’, is frequently heard at these events. But there must be more than beauty to make a piece of jewelry be looked at as an object of art and desire. The jewelry needs a soul.

A story I have highlighting the character of an Oscar Heyman piece, is from a Christie’s online auction preview I went to last year.  I was going through the cases, starting at one end and working around, when I heard a Christie employee telling a woman that was trying on jewelry from the case about an Oscar Heyman ring that she identified. I tried to move inconspicuously towards the two. The woman telling the story continued telling how Christie’s received a group of jewelry to be cataloged for this auction and as she was going through the jewelry, a ring stood out to her as being something that looked like it was by Oscar Heyman. There was no stamp of the designer but the worker wanted to just see if it might be one of theirs. Pictures and details of the piece were sent to the Heyman office and sure enough Christie’s was contacted and told the ring was in the Heyman archives! Making it a total of three Oscar Heyman rings being offered at this auction! The woman trying on jewelry was no longer looking at the piece she was currently trying on but taking in this fun story of discovery. She quickly asked if the piece she had on was the ring. Her ring was of a gold alligator that wrapped around her figure, most likely a Kieselstein-Cord ring, definitely not an Oscar Heyman, the Christie’s worker confirmed that.  What was the ring you ask? Well the other onlooker wondered if she had picked it but did not ask about seeing the actual ring. I looked in the case and saw three rings with a similar design, a large stone with smaller stones around it. One stood out and I had a feeling that was the ring. So I asked to see the Oscar Heyman ring and the employee picked the one I had my eye on! A yellow diamond in the center with smaller alternating yellow and white diamonds around it. What stood out to me? The setting. The stones were layered and seemed to sit a little higher than the other similarly designed rings. Picture below:

So that was one down. I spotted the second one, a ruby that was in a case by itself.

 

Had to try it on!

The third one I had to ask. This sapphire and diamond ring was in another case, two out of three is not bad!

Not every quality piece I have seen is from Oscar Heyman, but every Oscar Heyman is a quality piece.

 

Relationships

Another aspect that the book touches on is relationships the company has with their employees and retailers.

Company loyalty can be hard to find. Even when you do find a stable job the conditions can be hard to be happy in. So, it was refreshing to hear a story about how the Oscar Heyman employees handled the 25th anniversary of the company. Oscar Heyman and his brother came over to America in 1906 and founded their company in 1912. The 25th anniversary took place in 1937, a time when the country was struggling with troubling economic hardships. The day was to be like any other but the employees wanted to mark the occasion. For the silver anniversary, the employees worked in secret for fourteen months to complete a clock to present to their employers. Picture below found from post by Couture Musings:

Around the globe are the letters O. Heyman & Bros each character marking an hour. The figure on the right is to represent a workbench jeweler. The figure on the left is the god Mercury, that represents commerce and financial gain. At the silver base are the names of all the current employees for that time. It was touching to read that story and to think how much those employees must have loved working for the company to do all this!

Faberge ran a workshop that also cared for their workers. The workers had good wages, excellent working facilities and even had the opportunity to manage small businesses within the company. Many pieces not only have the stamp of Faberge but the maker in charge of that object. It gave a sense of pride and ownership to the workers. Rare for a company to be so invested in their workers.

The retailers also had favorable comments about Oscar Heyman. Mr. Heyman passed away in 1970, the book notes that one retailer recalled during the Depression how Mr. Heyman granted his clients with the option of credit and the opportunity to sell the jewelry on consignment. This helped many businesses stay open as paying for those high-end pieces would have crippled their cash flow significantly, causing them to possibly go out of business.

These businesses were not just a few retailers Oscar Heyman’s business model is selling to stores not to consumers. Black, Starr & Frost, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels to name a few had Oscar Heyman & Bros manufacture jewelry to sell under their stores name. When going to auctions you can still find pieces marked as one retailer but were created by the Heyman Company.

Below is a bracelet that was clearly marked in the Sotheby’s catalog as being from Black, Starr & Frost but on Instagram Heyman shared it as one of the pieces they manufactured. In the book a similar bracelet is pictured and credited as Oscar Heyman. Details of this amazing piece at auction are taken by me below.

Looking Forward

The book spends its time focusing on Oscar Heyman’s business from 1912-1970. Ending their story with the passing away of Oscar Heyman on July 13, 1970.  A few paragraphs mark the centennial that the company celebrated 5 years ago but the focus on the book is the company through the years.

I genuinely enjoyed the book. I was a little concerned when I saw the page count, worrying it would be all photos and no real story, like a coffee table book. It would have been the easy way to make this book.  The thought of picking from hundreds of thousands of jewelry photos seems difficult but how could you go wrong with picking any piece, especially with all the rich history? This book was to show and explain why Oscar Heyman is the Jewelers’ Jeweler. This isn’t a title they claimed for themselves like a marketing campaign. The title has been given to them by the employees, retailers and customers who have been a part of their story. I look forward to continuing to see their jewelry at auctions, in stores and on social media for a new audience to appreciate.

Links to buy the book from Amazon are here or from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston click here

Will this be the year that the Pink Star shines?

April has arrived and with it some amazing auctions! Hong Kong is the major auction destination this week for Sotheby’s. If you have not checked out their items for the Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Auction, you should! That Auction is on Tuesday afternoon, but the real show is the diamond that is coming back on the market for a single auction in the evening. You may have seen or heard of the Pink Star. (Pictured above courtesy of Sotheby’s) This internally flawless pink diamond is a massive 59.6 carats was up auctioned off in November 2013 at their Geneva sale. The winning bid was $83.2 million dollars but the buyer soon backed out. The reason for the buyer’s change of heart? They could not afford it. Sotheby’s then acquired the gem and now is hoping that their investment pays off. You can read more on that 2013 auction here.

It was a disappointing end I’m sure for the auction house. Christie’s had sold the Princie Diamond, a 34.9 carat pink diamond in their April auction for $39,323,750 (buyer’s premium included).  I saw that one up close, the florescence was amazing. The glow unlike anything I had ever seen! (Picture of diamond below courtesy of Christie’s)

 

2015 would again bring mixed results for large colored diamonds at the auction house. Sotheby’s again faced disappointment at their Magnificent Jewels sale held in April 2015 at New York, with the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond failing to make the minimum estimate.

Shirley Temple Blue Diamond, my photo

Then Sotheby’s achieved a notable success. The Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction in November 2015 saw the highest price paid for a blue diamond. The Blue Moon a 12.03 carat blue diamond sold for $48.4 million, having the highest price paid per carat for a blue diamond. Christie’s also had success in their November Geneva Magnificent Jewels Auction that year. They set the record for highest price per carat for a pink diamond. The Sweet Josephine (16.08 carats) sold for $28.5 million dollars. What is interesting is both diamonds that year were sold to buyers in Hong Kong.

Sweet Josephine, courtesy of Christies

 

Blue Moon, courtesy of Sotheby’s

So will this be the year that the Pink Star shines and leaves Sotheby’s with a great return on investment? It can go either way. On the one hand the economy has been a little shaky the past few months. On the other hand, jewelry is being looked at more seriously as an investment piece again. Town and Country had a great article on that here.  Having the diamond sold at the Hong Kong auction is a smart move as that has had some major buyers in the past, mentioned above. Without knowing the estimate, it is harder to say if it will sell or not. People did bid on the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond they just did not meet the minimum required. I do not know how much Sotheby’s paid for the Pink Star, the minimum is anyone’s guess. There was no estimate listed the last time in was up for sale. I will be watching for it and commenting on my other social media channels. Have you seen the Pink Star? Do you think it will sell? Love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for reading and visit Data in the Rough again very soon for more!

Pink Star, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Reevaluating Your Social Media Plan with 3 Lessons from a Tortoise and a Hare

Two years ago, this month I started posting on Data in the Rough.  The time felt right to continue working on something I was passionate about, jewelry and analytics. I have not done as much analysis as I would like to but I see that as an improvement not a failure. With the holidays’ over and winter in its last stages, it really is an ideal time for anyone that has made a resolution to reevaluate their goals and benchmark their progress. For me it is focusing a little more on driving insight and results through data around me. One way is to refocus on my social media plan.

I am on the usual platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.  I have also consulted a few people on their social media for their personal or business use, mainly Facebook and Instagram. The comments and questions I get center around followers, engagement, content to put out, protecting your intellectual property and return on investment, to name a few. All these platforms have different audiences and expectations. So how does a small business owner or someone looking to create their personal brand do it and not waste too much time? A strong and adaptable social media strategy!

To do that you need a plan and a focus. For that I have 3 suggestions as you find the right social media plan and strategy. Since this blog focuses on the jewelry industry I am going to use jewelry from Christie’s auction house to highlight some important lessons from the Aesop fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, that you can apply to creating a stronger social media plan.

Rabbit – by Kutchinsky sold for $10,032 at Christie’s London Auction, gold and gemstones; Turtle – by David Webb sold at Christie’s online auction, gold, platinum, lapis lazuli, mabe pearl, diamonds

So you want to join the latest social media craze, everyone is talking about it, everyone seems to be on it. You should be too, right?

  1. Look at what you are currently doing and see if it is possible to effectively use this new tool. The tortoise challenged the hare to a race, not to prove the tortoise was faster but that he could beat the hare. Can you see yourself benefiting from this new platform? Are your customers asking about your presence on this platform? Is your target audience on this platform? How much time are you willing to spend or pay someone to spend?
Rabbit- by Cartier sold a Christie’s Geneva Auction for $18,118, gold, ruby, enamel; Turtle- artist unknown sold for $15,000, diamonds, pearl
  1. Look at your own attention span and current social media platforms you are on. Do you have patterns that may make it difficult to focus on starting this new social media tool? How can you improve your current social media accounts to learn about yourself and your business moving forward. The hare is clearly faster but he got distracted comparing himself to others. Taunting the tortoise on his slower strategy without thinking about his own did not change either racer.

    Turtle-unknown artist, online auction, emerald, diamond, ruby; Rabbit-by Raymond Yard sold at Christie’s for $37,500, diamond, multi-gem
  2. Don’t compare yourself with others on social media. This is the hardest and most important thing to remember when online. It is hard not to see others bounding ahead and you continue to inch by or feels like you are standing still. The tortoise (turtle) knew that the hare (rabbit) was faster but his slow and steady pace worked for this one race. As I mentioned above, had the rabbit worried about his own progress and not of the turtles then he would have easily done better by finishing the race at his own pace. The rabbit got distracted by the turtle. There are times you’ll feel like the tortoise and see lots of ‘wascally wabbits’ pass you by.
Turtle- by Van Cleef & Arpels sold at Christie’s online, pink and blue sapphires,gold; Rabbit-unknown artist sold at Christie’s London for $893, gold, diamonds, ruby

 

They get featured on a blog or have a photo that earns them a lot of likes and followers. That kind of thing happens with the world of social media and ‘overnight’ success stories. You need to only focus about your brand and your story. A clear focus and some daily effort can get you a clear path to your own finish line!

That also leads to another question you need to answer, what will be your primary measurement of success for this platform?  Using money as your only way to gage success can leave you missing valuable opportunities. For the jewelry industry, it can take several visits either in a store or online before a purchase is made. The platform you choose to be on is another touch point. Somethings to consider when looking at measurements for your return on investment:

  • Can you sell on this platform?
  • How secure is the payment method?
  • Will this affect your relationship with other stores that sell your product?
  • Is your supply chain agile enough to take an increase in your business? Do your other vendors/suppliers have other clients that may take a higher priority?

So then how can you make progress for your brand if money is not a great metric? Some suggestions for other metrics:

  • Brand awareness-Getting more people interested in your brand could lead you to be picked up by a store or featured on a blog.
  • Getting a specific message out- Are you supporting a cause that is affecting a greater population? I have seen companies that are wanting to make money but also have social issues that need to be addressed, like ending human trafficking.
  • Engagement with your customers-Social media is a great way to get feedback and test out new ideas with your fan base.

This is only a starting point. I am going to continue to look at different social media platforms and tools to see what might help you in moving forward with your social media plan. It’s a race with yourself that will determine your outcome.  Keep following Data in the Rough for more on jewelry and the data behind the diamonds. Let me know your thoughts on the subject and what platforms you’d like to hear about. Instagram is a favorite of mine so I’ll be posting a bit more on that throughout the next few months. As a thank you for reading this post below are my two favorite pieces of jewelry that I found when looking for turtle and rabbit jewelry to use for my blog.

A pink diamond and white diamond rabbits’ brooch with a ruby by Graff sold at Christie’s Hong Kong Auction for a little over $129,000. The turtle is an antique brooch sold a Christie’s auction for $70,500 and is made of opals, diamonds and rubies!

Revival Jewelry: Highlights from the Boston Exhibit

Spring will be here next month but while the weather is still deciding to go back to winter or move forward to warmer weather you can take in a new jewelry exhibit that has come to Boston. This new exhibit is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I signed up for a lecture last week to coincide with the new exhibit. The new exhibit is on revival jewelry. I was telling my dad about the lecture and the new exhibit when he asked ‘what is revival jewelry?’ My short answer was that is jewelry that is copied or inspired by jewelry from the past. Revival jewelry has a lot more history to it. I want to show highlights of the exhibit and hopefully give more detailed examples of what is revival jewelry is.

What is Revival Jewelry?

With images of the past readily available to artists, they can draw inspiration from the history, art and ideas to guide their current designs. Sometimes it is subtle and in other cases it is a copy of the technique.  This trend started in the early 1900s.

Revival Jewelry to connect with the past

Lots of exciting discoveries and inventions were made in this time but one discovery excited the early 19th century and that was the discovery of the Egyptian rulers’ tombs. Scarabs, hieroglyphics, golden gods were a few of the things that fascinated the British explorers and the public as they learned more about this exciting chapter in history.

The top item in the picture below, is a scarab from Egypt created around 740-660 BC. Beneath that is a brooch made of Gold, platinum, faience, diamond, emerald, smoky quartz and enamel by Cartier in 1924. Detailed view to the right.

To connect with a feeling

Nationalism

Revival jewelry was being made for the patriotic wave that swept over Europe in the 19th century cameos of Queen Elizabeth I were reemerging as a tribute to the current strong female monarch ruling Britain, Queen Victoria. The one featured as an example in the museum is below.  This cameo necklace was made around 1890 and made with gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, agate, and glass.

Vacations

Different parts of the world are known for different styles and techniques in jewelry. Coral was a souvenir from Naples, micro mosaics were associated with Rome. Recall any trips where you have bought jewelry because it was inspired by images or techniques of the past?

Revival Jewelry to master old world techniques

Sometimes the best way to learn is recreating the art itself. Some of the techniques featured at the exhibit were:

Enameling

This pendant was a favorite of mine from this group. It is titled Girl Blowing Bubbles, circa 1910 made by a designer from Spain of gold, platinum, pearl, ivory, sapphire, diamond and plique-a-jour enamel.

Granulation

This is technique uses small balls of gold to add texture to the designs.

These gold earrings were made around 1870-1880 by Italian Designer Castellani. Look at the bottom part and see all those dots, each separate when added.

A more current artist, Italian born Andrea Cagnetti created this Chort pendant in 2002. This is 22 karat gold!

Revival Jewelry to recreate familiar creatures

Stories and lore of the past have captivated many throughout history but there are creatures that keep drawing mystery and inspiration to artists trying to say what it is that fascinates them with a certain subject like…

Snakes

As early as the beginning of creation these creatures continue to mesmerize people all over the world.

An amulet with a vulture-headed snake made in Egypt around 664-525 BC.

Snake belt by Elsa Peretti, 1970s made of silver and sapphires.

One of my favorite ways the snake is interpreted is by Bulgari. This diamond, gold, platinum, ruby, enamel watch created in the 1960s was one of the highlights for me of the exhibit!

Medusa

This was another theme that had my personal favorite piece. The Head of Medusa pendant created by Cartier in 1906! The materials are platinum, gold, diamonds, natural pearl coral and enamel.

There were many other pieces, cameos, crosses, coins, but these were some highlights to give you a better understanding of the different types of revival jewelry. What is your favorite era? A piece above that you really liked? If you are in the Boston area between now and August 2018 you should make plans to see Past is Present: Revival Jewelry!

The Language of Pins: Stories behind Madeleine Albright’s Collection

Legion of honor pin owned by Madeleine Albright

I was going to post this earlier but the politics got so ugly I wanted to wait until the dust settled. With the inauguration this week a question I have is what jewelry will the first lady and the daughters of the President wear? I’m sure that and so much more will be analyzed over the next four years. Some of those small choices are not given much thought but for one former White House employee there was a distinct correlation between her pin choice and her mood.

Bejeweled Mickey pin owned by Madeleine Albright, made 1989, Disney

I posted on Instagram art from the all-night event at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a few months ago. I was unable to attend the special evening events but Madeleine Albright spoke to a group of museum attendees. Some Instagram attendees shared selfies with the former Secretary of State , I’m not posting those but will share a photo of the pin Albright was wearing. I had seen it in a book I read a few years back, Read my Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box by Madeleine Albright. The pin is titled Breaking the Glass Ceiling, by an unknown artist.

Albright had a second pin on with the candidate she is supporting. I won’t mention that either since it only takes one guess knowing which president she served under. So, no more election talk on to the jewels.

The book is a fun read about a collector that happened to serve in a high government office but Ms. Albright’s history of collecting did not start when she got the job of secretary of state, but earlier at age 8. She was the daughter of an ambassador to Yugoslavia on a visit Madeleine’s mother was given an emerald ring surrounded by diamonds. That memory stayed with Madeleine and when she was old enough she was given that ring. The love of pins came from her college days when it was fashionable to wear pins with sweaters. Also in college, the tradition of getting pinned by your boyfriend was to be engaged. Madeleine was pinned by Joseph Albright, they had 3 children. Madeleine was still gifted pins by friends and relatives. Some antique and a few homemade. Below is a pin of beads on safety pin, common at craft fairs and similar to the one owned by Ms. Albright.

 

She had high end brooches as well like these two from Cartier.

Panther pin, Cartier owned by Madeleine Albright

 

Coral, Lapis Bird in Cage, Cartier made in 1944

How did her trademark pin wearing get started? The story is shared by Albright and starts with a snake. See below.

The Serpent’s Tale

The book goes through some of Albright’s family moments where she worn and acquired her pins but I am skipping ahead to her days in Washington where her collection got a lot more attention.

 

The major start to kicking off her jewelry collection in the White House was during Bill Clinton’s first term as President of the United States (1993-1997).  To set the scene, Ambassador Albright was coming in after the first Persian Gulf War and Iraq was required to accept the UN inspections and disclose about all their weapons programs. Saddam Hussein, the Iraq leader at the time, would not comply causing Albright to publicly criticize him. A poem was printed by the Iraq press in retaliation to Albrights behavior. I won’t reprint the poem but use the phrase that caused the start of her pin phase. In the poem the poet referred to Ambassador Albright as an ‘unparalleled serpent’, among other unflattering things. So when Iraq officials were scheduled to meet with her again she need to find the right item to make a statement. This coiled snake pin by an unknown designer was bought a few years back. The reason was unknown to Albright who mentioned in the book to ‘loathe’ snakes. It was perfect though and the press loved it. Albright was sending a message in her own way to the world. This soon became her trademark and still continues to this day.

Albright wearing serpent pin with her ‘don’t mess with me’ face!

Albright has many more pins and stories in this book that could be finished in an evening. A few more from her collection.

Bug Pin by Iradj Moini

 

Lady Liberty clock pin by Gijis Bakker of the Netherlands

Are there any pins you wear to work or wear on your coat for going out? I brought some that belonged to my grandmother that can take a commute to work or errands on the weekend! Thank you for reading and check back for more!

Top hat Eagle pin, 1940 by Trifari

 

Christmas Time in the City: Boston Jewelry Stores’ Holiday Window Displays

It’s that time of the year again! People are busy shopping for gifts and then cold and snow slow down your plans. You are determined to go out but with a plan and a list! Good for you! In these quests for gifts have you taken any time to just look around at the holiday window displays? I took last weekend to do some shopping and some admiring around the Boston area jewelry stores.

I went to Newbury Street first. This is a major luxury shopping street. It has several big brand and local stores. The windows of the shops are small so I only took photos of windows with a holiday theme that was present. A favorite window of mine when I go to Newbury Street is Cartier.

Cartier

With the New York renovation these windows don’t pull you in as quickly but the incorporation of the brand with the holiday season is excellent. I do miss the boxes on the trees outside the store that doubled as ornaments but it is still a beautiful display.

I couldn’t post just the display but I wanted to look at a few of the items that stood out in the display. The ring to the left is the Galanterie de Cartier ring that reads on the website to be made of white diamonds and black lacquer set in white gold. The earrings  are from the same collection with the same materials, links are included.

I love how they added the Cartier panther to the windows as a finishing touch!

Shreve, Crump, & Low

This display is my pick for the best jewelry! The window is traditional with garlands and winter figurines.

The jewelry however has a bit of everything! The window as you can see is very large so I will focus on some key pieces.

The first will be the three necklaces that are the main pieces of the window!

I edited out the glare and helped make the colors richer than my camera could pick up! The ruby necklace on the left is over a quarter of a million dollars and has 25.28ct of rubies and 32.29ct of diamonds set in platinum. The Diamond Wreath Necklace to the right has 65.15ct of diamonds set in platinum and comes at a lower price point of $200,000. My favorite is the ruby necklace but the final necklace comes very close to it.

This is a vintage one of a kind Boucheron Diamond Necklace from an prior estate that has made it to Newbury Street! The center cushion cut diamond is 3.52ct. The clarity of this stone is a VVS1, which for those unfamiliar with the grading system is a step below IF (internally flawless) which is about the best you can have in clarity. This really is a showstopper and just a little over half a million dollars! Links are underlined if you want more details on these pieces.

Shreve’s had the window with some winter/ Christmas themes next to smaller items. Those ruby earrings again pieces I love to see. One more before moving on…

The photo did not come out as well as I hoped because the color of the diamonds is hard to tell. This 11.16ct Blue Sapphire Ring is surround by a layer of light colored pink diamonds then a layer of white diamonds on the outside.

John Lewis

I don’t have too many details on this shop. The display is small but the prices are listed for these items which I like. I also thought the use of small wrapped packages was a nice touch in staying true to this small, minimalist display. All the jewelry displayed is sterling silver. A link to where the business is located here.

Alexis Bittar

Not a traditional fine jewelry brand, he has a line but my focus was on his fashion jewelry line.The holiday window display for his store was in my opinion, the most creative use of a display I saw that day!

A lot of jewelry is displayed but in the most traditional way for the holidays, hanging up ornaments! A close up below!

What do you think?

Tiffany & Co

There are two Tiffany stores in Boston. I went to the one inside an indoor mall, to reduce the glare and get some better light. I also love the extra touch of adding the diamond decals to the outside of the store. A close up of the design is below.

 

Another great part to the decorations is the Tiffany tree! Trimmed with the signature blue boxes and ornaments in the shapes of diamonds! Oh to have a tree stacked with all those Tiffany gifts!!

Now on to the windows. The store has two windows to have its holiday window display. The first one I saw was an elaborate dinner table set for a fabulous party.

I love the details of adding the jewelry on the plates as though the are only little party favors! It recalls stories I read of the high society life in America before income tax came into effect. One story I remember talked about guests opening their napkins to find a gold bracelet as a gift from the hostess.

The other window on the right is the traditional tree complete with Tiffany presents. I have always enjoyed Tiffany’s window displays especially the holiday window displays because of their more traditional approach. It’s nice to look at a window and think pretty instead of ‘what was that?’

What are your favorite stores to go and see the holiday window displays? Thank you for reading and return soon for more from Data in the Rough! And have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!