Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Secrets of the Sapphire - They're Not Just Blue

September's birthstone has a complicated past. You’d think that after centuries in the limelight, almost everything to know about the sapphire would be out there in the open. But that hasn’t been the case - until now. Sapphires for example, have always liked to consider themselves the perfect blue gem. It’s about time, though, that they come out of the jewelry box and stand proud. Sapphires are not just blue...

Much like the changing color of fall leaves, Sapphires sparkle in a palette of colors from blue to pink, yellow to green and all the colors in-between. There are even colorless sapphires that appear almost identical to diamonds.

There’s just one color that you won’t find in a Sapphire closet. It’s not that it doesn’t exist; it’s just that it’s sort of estranged from the family and prefers an entirely different name.

Sapphires and their estranged gem relatives are both members of the Corundum family - not a family you’d want to mess with in a dark alley. Members of the Corundum group are known for their extraordinary hardness (9 on the Mohs scale), exceeded only by diamonds - and the diamond is the hardest mineral on Earth. Thanks to that hardness, sapphires are easy to look after, requiring no more than the usual care on the part of the wearer.

For thousands of years, sapphires were hunted far and wide as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire that gave its blue reflection to the sky, hence the Latin name "sapphiru", which means blue.

The gem has long symbolized faith, remembrance, and enduring commitment. According to tradition, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred stone. This supposed "divine favor" is why sapphires often were the gem of choice for kings and high priests throughout history. In fact, the British Crown Jewels contain a number of notable sapphires. Prince Charles even gave Princess Diana a sapphire engagement ring.

But back to sapphire’s sexy secret. The only color that sapphire doesn’t come in is red. There is a red member of that ultra-hard Corundum family. It prefers to go by the name ‘ruby’.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Diamond Jewels, Gold Lions, Clooney AND Pitt? That's Amore!

Statement necklaces, artistic bangles, and diamonds, diamonds, diamonds littered the red carpet at the 66th annual Venice Film Festival this week. High fashion is always on parade at the world’s oldest film event, and this year is certainly no exception.

Before we get to the jewels, the JI would like to take a just brief moment to appreciate the coming together of two very important forces in Venice this year. George Clooney AND Brad Pitt. There to show off their new film, Burn After Reading (directed by the Cohen Brothers), the dynamic duo hit not just the red carpet but all the hot parties and…well… we’re sure they left hundreds of drooling women in their wake. Mea culpa!

OK. Moving on.

The festival’s “Sala Grande” outside the historic Palazzo del Cinema gave us Charlize Theron in two stunning looks, models and dignitaries looking elegant and oh so Italian, and Tilda Swinton in…well…you be the judge. The current ‘big’ trend was on display and new looks for the wrist caught our eye on both Charlize and supermodel, Claudia Schiffer.

We will continue to keep tabs on festivalgoers until the Golden Lion is awarded to the best film on September 6th, as Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei, Kim Basinger and many others have yet to show us their Venetian best. Viva La Cinema!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Solid Gold Meets Heroin Chic

Move over Rue McClanahan, there’s a new Golden Girl in town. The UK’s Independent reports that a 110-pound, solid gold statue entitled ‘Siren’ will debut at the renown British Museum on October 4th. The subject? Kate. Moss. And we thought gold chocolate, gold facials, and gold doggy beds were a little wacky.

The runway’s golden girl is the muse of artist, Marc Quinn, who created a solid gold replica of the supermodel in some kind of yoga pose. The piece is worth $2.8 million and is thought to be the world's largest gold statue since the time of ancient Egypt. Leave it to Kate to give Cleopatra a run for her money.

"I thought the next thing to do would be to make a sculpture of the person who's the ideal beauty of the moment," Quinn said of his creation. "But even Kate Moss doesn't live up to the image." Tell us about it. Ms. Moss has thankfully not been in the headlines much since splitting with troubled rocker, Pete Doherty, but the image of her snorting that “white powdered substance” is perhaps the most lasting one to date.

The museum released only a close-up pic of the statue as a teaser, so we’re not sure what yoga pose dear Kate is immortalized in. Our money’s on Child’s Pose.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Brooch Heard 'Round the World

Brace yourselves jewelry junkies. The brooch is back! No longer the domain of grandma and your flashy Aunt Ida, the brooch is beaming everywhere from the runway to TV's hit series Mad Men. But perhaps the most important brooch sighting was on would-be first lady, Michelle Obama (a.k.a. the new Jackie Kennedy), during her highly anticipated speech at the Democratic National Convention. If there was brooch buzz before, Obama sent the look into the stratosphere.

No matter your political persuasion, the starburst brooch Obama wore with her turquoise Maria Pinto dress had tongues wagging throughout jewelry land. Who designed it? What is it made out of? Where can I get one? Our sources reveal that it came straight from Mrs. O’s jewelry box and was symbolic of Barack’s rising sun campaign logo. It is said that she wore it close to her heart to symbolize that her speech was coming straight from the heart. I see your eyes rolling. Hey – whatever works, people!

But you don’t have to be married to a presidential candidate to hop on the brooch bandwagon. Much like the pearl strand, the brooch is one of the more versatile and accessible jewelry looks. Dig through your grandma’s jewelry box for a vintage piece or shop around for a new, modern interpretation. Pin it on to add flash to your little black dress or throw some sparkle on your office attire. The opportunities are endless (much like the race for the White House).

So do your country proud and 'brooch' the subject in your own fabulous way. Cindy McCain, are you taking notes?
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Diamonds Glitter at the US Open

We’re used to seeing diamonds on tennis’s hottest stars at the US Open every summer. Serena Williams wore $40,000 diamond chandeliers one year that fell off during a set! We know you’re supposed to ‘leave everything on the court’ out there, but that’s taking things a bit far.

This year, tennis phenom Asia Muhammad brought the bling to a new level. The Las Vegas youngster from Andre Agassi’s’s tennis academy put diamonds on her tennis racket! Famous Las Vegas jeweler, Michael E. Minden, adorned Asia’s signature pink racquet with two diamond letter A’s. The VS quality pave set rocks are set above her grip and weigh in at one carat.

“This is the first time I’ve actually put diamonds on a piece of athletic equipment,” notes Minden. “However, we came up with a special process to affix it to the racquet, with a special technology to transfer the letters to a new racquet when Asia wears out the first one.”

She’ll unfortunately have to bring it back to the Vegas courts after losing her opening match yesterday in two sets. Maybe one carat wasn’t enough to impress the tennis gods? There's always next year, Asia. We give you a solid "A" for effort!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pricey Pearls Are One in a Million

Pearl strands have always been in style. Coco Chanel made them chic in the 20s, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O took them to new heights in the 60s, Madonna and Barbara Bush put their stamp on them in the 80s, and now Michelle Obama is carrying the torch well into the new millennium. They are the perfect Mother’s Day gift and are always the right choice to wear at the office. And while the popular bauble comes in many different varieties and price points, luxury jewelry designer, Mikimoto, is taking them to 11.

A one-of-a-kind, limited edition, pearl strand is now available for a mere $1,000,000. Some lucky gal will get to take home 27 perfectly cultured pearls, plus an art deco clasp with 11.92 carats of diamonds. According to Mikimoto, the necklace is special because it is made from South Sea pearls of the highest quality that took ten years to cultivate. They’re rated AAA, which means they have a superb silver white luster.

For those of us who can’t afford a bodyguard to go with our jewelry, there are many other affordable alternatives. And some designers are mixing up the traditional strand by adding chunky beads and crystals. Think ‘pearls go punk’. One final pearl of wisdom: long, layered strands are a must-have look for fall. Mixing
colors and lengths is perfectly acceptable.

We may not have a million bucks, but we can certainly look like we do. Go out there and make Coco proud!
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Gossip Girls Go Back to School - And Need a Jewelry Lesson

Fashionistas, take a moment away from your Vogue fall fashion editions to celebrate another long-awaited arrival. Gossip Girl returns on September 1st. The cast kicked off the second season last night at Henri Bendel’s ultra-luxe, Fifth Avenue store in NYC, where stunning GG-inspired window displays were unveiled. Sadly, two of our favorite things were missing from the fête: Blake Lively and good jewelry.

We can’t speak to the looks in the display windows, but the outfits on the red carpet were anything but inspiring. Even Leighton Meester, who rarely makes a misstep, came out a little, shall we say, dull. Aren’t you listening to us girls? BIG jewelry is BACK!

Actress Taylor Momsen got it right, with layered chains and a statement, vintage piece, but we’re wondering why she chose the 'Sandy from Grease meets Joan Jett' look to go with them. Jessica Szohr’s winged gold charm necklace makes sense for the first day of school, maybe, but underwhelmed at a fashion-inspired soiree. Hello? And Dreama Walker’s bangles nearly swallowed her wrist. We won't mention the feather ‘boa’. Ugh. Ladies!

It’s a sad day in bling-land when the hottest cast in town makes a poor showing. We’ll give them a chance to redeem themselves when costume designer, Eric Daman gets his hands on them for the actual series. At least HE brought out the glitter last night. As if!
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diamonds, Dubai and The Donald

Jewelry lovers, you have one person to thank for getting Hollywood to break out the bling this weekend. One Mr. Donald Trump. Trump and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem of Dubai (a.k.a. one of the richest dudes on the planet) threw one humdinger of a soiree in Bel Air to introduce the new Trump International Hotel and Tower in Dubai.

When money talks, people listen. And when money throws a party – you take off the diamond studs and your ‘tasteful’ little gold pendants and bring out the big guns. Oscar darling, Hilary Swank, got the memo and dazzled with a gorgeous Y-neck diamond stunner. We admittedly miss her long locks, but the short do gives the rocks the platform they deserve.

Hayden Panettierre complemented her leopard print mini with a pair of stunning gold drop earrings, and Private Practice star, Kate Walsh, followed suit with some extra-long vintage diamond dazzlers.

The evening’s entertainment, Christina Aguilera, kept it simple with some big diamond hoops, and Trump spawn, Ivanka, wore an even larger version of the same. The apple doesn’t fall far.

You have to hand it to The Donald. He knows how to get people excited about architecture. The Dubai addition to his signature tower collection is one of the most anticipated structures on the luxurious Palm Jumeirah. The 62-story, stainless steel and glass tower will be the tallest building on the man-made island (of course) and should be completed in summer 2011. We're ready for our invite, Mr. Trump.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gold - The Metal of the Sun

With the enormous success of the Beijing Olympics, gold has been on everyone's minds these days. We thought you might like to know a little bit more about this precious metal we humans have been so obsessed with through the ages.

Gold has been one of mankind's most revered substances since the beginning of time. Throughout history, great civilizations have built up treasuries of this precious metal, reserving golden objects for their most important rituals and ascribing miraculous powers to it.

The ancient Egyptians equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The Etruscans created meticulously hand-made objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. The Chinese saw gold as the yang of the sun (with silver representing the moon's ying). To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewelry of no less than 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness. Meanwhile, the Incas called gold the "sweat of the sun". In some cultures, gold is even eaten to cure such ailments as arthritis, ulcers and tuberculosis.

One sign of gold's lasting value: it has been used as a currency for more than 5,000 years. It is perceived as permanent wealth as opposed to paper currency and is bought in large quantities during times of crisis.

But perhaps the most alluring use of the sun-colored metal has always been in jewelry. In fact, three-quarters of the world's gold mined each year is used to make jewelry. The metal's permanence has made it a symbol of enduring love and heritage, and pieces are passed down from generation to generation. It is the recommended jewelry gift for couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

The factors that have driven gold's everlasting, universal appeal are numerous:

  • Gold is extremely rare - It is estimated that all the gold ever mined would fit underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It takes several tons of ore to produce just one ounce of gold.
  • Gold is beautiful - Jewelers throughout history have preferred gold to all other metals for its warm golden color. The metal also takes well to alloying with other metals, which has allowed metalsmiths to create a rainbow of shades. For instance, mixing gold with copper creates rose gold; mixing gold with silver creates green gold; and mixing it with palladium produces white gold.
  • Gold is durable - The sheer amount of gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient cultures on display in the world's museums is a testament to the metal's enduring beauty. It is extremely heavy, with one cubic foot weighing half a ton. Although pure gold is relatively soft, it becomes exceptionally strong when alloyed with other metals. Because of its indestructibility, gold is used by the electronics industry to create 10 billion tiny electrical contacts each year.
  • Gold is pure - Because of this purity, it is not affected by air, heat or moisture and is resistant to tarnish. These properties have helped make gold bullion such a valuable commodity.
  • Gold is extremely malleable - Gold is so easy to work with that a single ounce can be drawn out into an unbroken strand approximately 60 miles long. It can be melted or shaped to create any design.
Now you can wow them all at the next cocktail party with your keen insight and encyclopedic knowledge of one of our favorite obsessions. Or just wow them with some stunning designs.
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Carry the Torch with Designer Jewels

The golden glow of the Olympic flame is slowly fading, the sharp pangs of Phelps withdrawal have turned into a dull ache, and the looming presence of the dreaded closing ceremonies lingers like the Beijing smog. How can we capture the Olympic spirit forever when all we have to look forward to now is…(heavy sigh)…football season? Luxury designer Roberto Coin thankfully comes to the rescue.

Coin created several Olympic-inspired luxury creations that will lighten the mood – and, alas, your wallet. First up is the Golden Sneaker. Made of high-tech 24-karat gold and finished with Coin’s signature ruby, the shoe is priced at a mere $31,000. A small price to pay for Olympic glory.

A more reasonable offering is the boxing glove pendant. Made of 18-karat white gold with diamond accents, the piece weighs in at $620.

Our favorite is the snuggly panda pendant, created to symbolize the Chinese culture. Retailing at $1,580, the good luck charm is made with diamonds and black sapphires in an 18-karat gold setting.

But perhaps the best cure-all for our Olympic hangover is the peace sign pendant. This gorgeous diamond pave piece is available in 18-karat white gold with a retail price of $520.

So don’t fret sportsfans. We may not have late night volleyball thrillers and swimmers in speedos anymore. But we’ll always have diamonds.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lights, Camera, Diamonds

There’s nothing like capturing those cherished memories on film. That glorious day at the beach, your cat snoozing in the sun, the family portrait, complete with matching holiday sweaters. But why do it with just any old camera. Now you can point and shoot - with diamonds.

Tennis glam girl, Maria Sharapova, was at New York’s Pier 17 yesterday to debut five, Canon Powershot Digital ELPH cameras - each encrusted with 88 white diamonds. That’s 2.22 carats of bling. The $12,000 cameras are not for sale, alas, but will be awarded to five lucky winners via a nationwide sweepstakes.

In the meantime, New York City dwellers can swing down to the South Street Seaport locale today to take pictures with the leggy tennis champ. If her US Open performance is anything like this year’s Wimbledon, she might want to take this spokesmodel thing more seriously.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chain Chain Chains - The Must-Have Fall Jewelry Trend

Great news! The New York Times Style Magazine reported this weekend that “Jewelry is back in a big way.” And by big they’re saying that women should no longer be afraid to wear a true ensemble (earrings, a necklace, and (gasp!) a bracelet). Or to combine costume with vintage. Or to layer their looks. That’s where the chains come in.

A close sister to this summer's pendant necklace craze, statement chains should go big. Varying lengths and link sizes are key. Confused? Enter Madonna. Madonna not only turned 50 this weekend, but she - yet again - showed us all how to rock the jewelry trend of the season. Her birthday bash outfit was your basic black, but was complemented by a Mr. T-like showing of bling. Scarlett Johannson also wore the look well at the recent premier of Vicky Christina Barcelona.

The good news for us mere mortals is : We don’t have to break the bank to recreate the same style. There is nothing wrong with pairing real and fake this season. Go for it. And there is also nothing wrong with wearing multiple metal colors – gold, white gold, silver – you name it, you can don it.

So break from the chains that bind you, jewelry lovers. Layer those links for fall!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alma Awards Jewelry Fashion: Classy Meets Trashy

The jewelry looks ran the gamut at this weekend’s taping of the 2008 Alma Awards, which honors the artistic achievement of Latinos in film, television and music. Let’s start with the good news, shall we?

Two words: Jessica. Alba. This woman just gave birth and ruled the red carpet in an elegant pink Narciso Rodriguez bespoke gown with the perfect pair of diamond and crystal earrings. A forty-something and fabulous Daisy Feuntes wore the yellow gold summer trend to perfection to offset her floor-length, fitted white number. And Entertainer of the Year award-winner, America Ferrara, didn’t disappoint with a black and white striped Diane von Furstenberg cocktail dress from the Resort 2009 collection. A classic pair of drop diamond earrings were her only jewelry accessory, and the less-is-more choice worked.

Eva Longoria, the show’s host, wore a strange, jewel-accented satin dress that hit at that wrong part of the leg. And the hair screamed helmut. What happened here? And then there’s Paula. I can’t figure out if she takes this outfit seriously, but it is a serious calamity. The beaded black neck brace and matching drop earrings are gaudy incarnate. And the mermaid dress could have been plucked from the closet of a drag queen. In 1986. At least she keeps our tongues wagging, bless her.

To catch the full effect of Eva’s 500 costume changes, you can watch the show September 12th on ABC.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Tickled Pink - A Wedding to Match the Ring

It’s official. Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are wife and wife. Twenty wedding guests dressed in summer formal attire made their way to the power couple’s $29 million home in Beverly Hills this Saturday, and Us Weekly reports it was a beautiful affair.

"It was all close friends and family," said a source, adding that no celeb guests were spotted entering all day. “Before the intimate ceremony, the brides posed for pictures with Ellen’s mom and their two dogs”. Both wore Zac Posen and exchanged rings by Neil Lane. Portia’s engagement ring debuted at the Daytime Emmy Awards in June – a gorgeous marquis cut Neil Lane sparkler set with pink diamonds. It matched perfectly with her Cinderella inspired pale pink wedding dress and the pink and white flowers that were spotted making an entrance earlier that day.

DeGeneres, 50, and de Rossi, 35, have been dating since December 2004. On May 15, 2008, the day after the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on gay marriage, DeGeneres announced on her talk show that she and de Rossi were planning to tie the knot.

The audience, which included a beaming Portia, responded with a standing ovation.

Ellen then quipped: "I'll tell you who the lucky guy is soon."

Congratulations to the happy couple!
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Worth His Weight In Gold?

Eight gold medals. It doesn’t get any better than that. For the millions of Americans who stayed up well past our bedtimes to watch Michael Phelps make history, last night’s 4 x 100 relay made it all worth it. And while the miracle of the Olympic experience may be priceless to Michael and his teammates, I was left wondering: What are eight gold medals really worth?

NBC News reports that gold medals are made primarily out of silver. Huh? “According to the Olympic Charter, the gold and silver medals must each be made of at least 92.5 percent pure silver, and the gold medal must be gilded with at least six grams of 24 carat gold.” Six grams of gold at today’s prices is approximately $160. Add that on to the silver, which is only worth about $60 per medal, and you’re talking a $220 take home value at the end of the day.

Ok. That’s a little disappointing. But let’s face it. The true value of a gold medal has to figure in its rarity and – for athletes like Michael Phelps – the moment in history it represents. In other words, he'd get a lot more than $220 on eBay. Congratulations to Michael and the entire Olympic swim team for giving us an amazing nine-day ride. Now we can get some sleep.
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