Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Famous Rubies: The DeLong Star Ruby

Since it is almost July, and the ruby is the gemstone for that month, I thought that my featured gemstone article should be about a particuarly famous ruby - The De Long Star Ruby.

This fabulous Ruby, which is over 100 carats, was discovered in the early part of the 20th century in the Moguk mines of Burma. In terms of size, it is one of the largest and finest star ruby in the world, second only to the Rosser Reeves Star Ruby.

Star rubies are magnificent gemstones that display a six prong star that seems to glide across the surface of the gem, due to an optical phenomena known as "asterism." The star effect is best seen when the star ruby is inspected in a single light source such as sunlight or a spotlight.

Photo credit: flickr.com

The DeLong Ruby has an interesting history. It was purchased by Martin Leo Ehrmann in the 1930s. In 1937, sold the rare ruby to a Mrs. Edith Hagging DeLong for a price tag of $21,400. Mrs De Long then donated it to the American Museum of Natural History in the same year.

The museum paired this rare ruby with another famous gemstone - The famous "Star of India" which is a light blue star sapphire. The two stones were exhibited in the J.P. Morgan Hall of Gems and became two of the most popular exhibits in the collection.

In 1964, several valuable gemstones, including the DeLong Star Ruby, were stolen by Jack Rowland Murphy, along with two accomplices. The robbery apparently was a plan in the making due to shoddy security. According to reports, Murphy had cased the museum earlier and, after talking to a 17-year-old visitor, discovered that security was lax to non-existent. He learned that the burglar alarm system was non-operational, and also that a second story window in the jewel room was usually left open. Jack and his accomplices climbed in through that open window and then discovered that the display case alarms were non-functional as well. It's amazing that the museum hadn't been robbed before!

The stolen jewels were valued at more than $400,000. The news media dubbed this robbery the "Jewel Heist of the Century." The ruby was ransomed and then later recovered. There are conflicting reports as to the designation. Some report it as a phone booth in Florida and other reports state that it was a foot locker at a Miami bus station. Murphy and both his accomplices, Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark, were arrested two days later and received three-year sentences. Most of the other jewels were recovered as well.

The robbery later became the subject of a popular Hollywood movie in 1975 called "Murph the Surf." The movie was directed by Marvin Chomsky, and movie featured Robert Conrad, Burt Young, and Don Stroud who starred as Murphy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Swarovski Opens New Store in Soho - Jewelry Your Way

Collectors of vintage jewelry know how fond some of the early designers of rhinestone vintage jewelry were of Swarovski crystals. The clarity, cut and color of the stones is just superb. If you also love these crystals, you will be interested in the new store which recently opened in Soho.

The Store is called Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED ™ Concept Store is one of only three in the world, and allows shoppers to design and customize their own jewelry necklaces, charm bracelets, earrings. The customized pieces are made to order and mailed within two weeks.

Photo credit Swarovski

The store says that you can choose from over 2000 elements, which include crystals, gems and pearls, in their Library of Light (pictured here) to create one of a kind jewelry pieces. Prices of the elements start at $5. The store also gives customers the option of shopping online.

To support the launch of it’s new store, Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED™ teamed up with Hollywood actress, Blake Lively, and not-for-profit organization charity: water, for the grand opening of the Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED™ Concept Store on June 25.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fabulous Jewelry Exhibit - Loud Bones by Nancy Worden

Last week, I talked about The Ornament as Art jewelry exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington, but the exhibits don't end there. All summer long, the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma will also be celebrating the one of a kind jewely made by contemporary artist Nancy Worden. The jewelry will be on display from June 27 to September 20, 2009.

This internationally renowned Northwest jewelry designer has been making jewelry for three decades which explores the cultural dynamics that shape contemporary social and political agendas, emphasizing the female experience in the United States.

Photo credit Tacoma Art Museum

Her jewelry is very forceful, quite unusual and commands an audience. The exhibition will be part of the Tacoma museum's Northwest Perspective being shown this summer. An accompanying exhibit will be Ornament as Art, featuring the avant-garde jewelry from the Helen Williams Druitt Collection, which will be on display from June 6 through September 13,2009.

Looks like it will be an interesting summer for those in the Tacoma, Washington area this summer. Be sure to drop by and view the collection if you are vacationing nearby. For those of you who won't be there, the Tacoma Museum has a few of Nancy Worden's jewelry pieces shown on their site.

The exhibit - Loud Bones: The Jewelry of Nancy Worden is organized by Tacoma Art Museum as part of the museum’s Northwest Perspective Series. The piece shown here is called "The Leash" and is from 2003. It is made from silver, nickel, brass, fur, pearls, glass eye and found objects.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Cancer

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Today's astrological sign is Cancer, which is the sign for those born between June 22-July 22. The sign is depicted as a Crab and it is a water sign.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of zodiac-signs-astrology.com/

Those born under the sign of the Crab are said to be emotional and very caring. They are usually pet lovers and are very dependable. On the negative side, they can be a little oversensitive and prone to mood swings and a bit pessimistic.

Thinking about buying jewelry for your Cancer friend and don't know where to start? Let's examine some of these zodiac facts for a bit of inspiration.
  • Their primary color is silver
  • The birthstones are the pearl and moonstone
  • Lucky numbers are 8 and 3
  • Best locations - near the water
  • Gemstone is the emerald
  • Flower is the lily or any white flower

Since the sign for Cancer is a crab, you could choose any style of jewelry which features the crab as a motif. These cute crab earrings might be just the right gift. Or how about this cute cancer stickpin featuring a crab? Both pieces are only $5.99 in my online stores. Just click the pictures for more details.

Not interested in anything quite so Zodiac inspired? Here are a few other choices based on the facts in my list above. Since silver is the color, that leads us to any silvertone jewelry. My ebay store has a huge range of it for sale.

Cancer people like the seashore, so nautical jewelry or fish jewelry might be a good choice for gifts for them.

Since one of their lucky numbers is three, how about a pretty three strand bracelet like this fabulous glass three strand bracelet by high end contemporary design Anne Klein? The colors are just perfect for summer and it's available for only $14.99.

And with Cancer's fondness for white flowers and a pearl as a birthstone, you can't go wrong with any pearl jewelry. Here are a few choices for inspiration. Prices range from $12.99 to $27.99.

Have fun treating your friend with this interesting water sign.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Featured Vintage Jewelry Designer - JJ - Whimsicals, Figurals, Artifacts and More!

Collectors of figural jewelry, particular lovers of cat jewelry will be well aquainted with today's featured designer - JJ (Jonette Jewelry Company.)

The company was founded in 1935 in Providence, Rhode Island, under the name of Providence Jewelry Company. The owner was Abraham Lisker. Abraham was originally trained as a physician, but gave up this career to begin what would become his life's work. His brother Nathan joined the company in 1937 and the company became known as Lisker & Lisker.

Because of the popularity of some early mother of pearl figurals and ballerina pins, the company decided to focus on making figurals. Their designs are of above average quality and so whimsical and fun to wear.

The second world war interrupted the production of the company when Abraham closed the doors of the company and enlisted in the army for a two year tour of duty. He returned to Providence and renamed the company Jonette Jewelry Company - JJ for short - which was a combination of his father's name John and his mother's name Etta.

J.J. Designs are hallmarked simply with the letters JJ on a rectangular cartouche. I've also seen the letters placed directly into the metal itself as well. Most of the designs all had two things in common - great detail and whimsical designs. This is a photo of the hallmark:

The owner, Abraham, retired in 1972 and his son Gordon took over. In 1986 Lisker trademarked the name "Artifacts" which was an ethnic line with an antique finish, designed to look like historical artifacts. Another line at this time were those with a Southwestern motif such as coyotes, cacti, etc. The company closed in 2006.

Cats and dogs were popular subjects, but the company also did brooches and pins in a wide variety of other animal shapes. They also made a range of very interesting sports jewelry with bar pins and charm dangles featuring the sport.

JJ jewelry has always been widely collected by lovers of thematic motifs. Expect the pieces to raise in value with other collectors now that the company has ceased production.

Here are some photos of a few pieces to give you an idea of the whimsical quality of the JJ designs. All pieces are available in my online stores. Just click the photos for more details. Prices range from $9.99 to $14.99.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jewelry Find of the Week - David Andersen White Sterling and Enamel Leaf Set

I've been fortunate to aquire an estate collection of fabulous sterling silver Scandinavian jewelry recently. This week's jewelry find is a stunning demi parure by Norwegian silversmith David Andersen. The design features a gorgeous leaf design in sterling silver and white basse-taille enamel. Nice gold vermeil wash over the sterling.

The brooch has the harder to find four petal design and the earrings feature two petals.

Made in the mid 20th century, this design is part of a range of Scandinavian sterling silver jewelry which is much sought after and very highly collectible. It is featured in many of the resource books about jewelry from this period.

The brooch is 2 1/2 x 1 1/8" and the earrings measure 1 x 1 3/8". Fully marked on the back with the sign of the scales and the words D.A. 925s sterling Norway. There is also a W in a circle which refers to Willy Winnaess who worked for the company in the 1950s.

This lovely David Andersen sterling silver leaf set is available from my Vintage Jewelry Lane store for $149.99. I also have listed several other David Andersen sterling pieces this week from the same estate purchase.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Michon Jewelry Making Blog Giveaway - Beads and Yarn

There is nothing like a good giveaway promotion, especially when it involves jewelry in any way. I discovered a new one today when googling jewelry sites. The blog is called The Michon Jewelry Blog and is an interesting blog about all things jewelry - especially jewelry making.

The owner of the site has a promotion going right now. And it's easy to enter. All you have to do is tell her, in the comments section of her blog, what supplies you want her to give you. She has the goodies already made up and the answer that most closely describes her mystery package wins it!

She even gives a hint: the prize involves BOTH yarn AND beads. This promotion is called Crafty Goodness Giveaways, so head on over and tell her what you would like her to give you for your jewelry making projects.

If you are a jewelry seller and would like to have your site featured here, please email me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in Catherine Zeta Jones' Jewelry Box?

This is another chapter in my peek into the jewelry boxes of popular stars. Today we examine the content of Catherine Zeta Jones' jewelry box. This is always a fun experience for me. I never know when I starting looking to see what type of jewelry is worn by my latest star. Sometimes, it matches up with the image I have in my mind and sometimes it's very very different.

Photo credit thecinemasource.com

My impression of Ms. Jones is that of a woman who would wear very little jewelry, other than perhaps long dangly earrings.

Many stars who are voluptuous do not wear much in the way of necklaces. My daughter says it is so "that people will look at their boobs." My impression was totally incorrect, however. Catherina Zeta loves necklaces of all kinds.

And it's not only necklaces that she is fond of. This lady loves her jools, whether it be the earrings I pictured her in, or big bold bracelets, bib and statement necklaces, or rings and things.

Here is a peek into her jewelry box. Do the photos match up with your previous impression of her?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today's Jewelry Exhibit - Ornament as Art , Avant Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection

It is going to be a summer of exhibits in Tacoma, Washington this year. The Tacoma Museum of Art will begin the first of its summer jewelry exhibits on June 6. The exhibit is called "Ornament as Art" and will feature the avant garde jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection. The museum will have the exhibit running until September 13, 2009.

Photo credit Tacoma Art Museum.

According to the museum, the exhibit is the first major exhibition of contemporary jewelry to fully explore its impact as a global art form. The exhibit draws from the collection of jewelry educator, gallerist and expert Helen Williams Drutt English.

Jewelry first started getting avant-garde in the 1960s, when designers such as Alexander Calder, Lucio Fontana and Salvador DalĂ­, far better known for their sculptures and paintings, made designs that forayed into the realm of jewelry. This exhibit is a reflection of that emerging trend.

Three distinct themes will be explored in this collection: Jewelry which tells a narrative, jewelry influenced by 20th century art movements and the interaction of jewelry and the body as a performance act.

The piece featured here is from the Ornament as Art exhibition and is by Dutch artist Gijs Bakker. It is called "Dewdrop" and is so lifelike, one can almost feel the morning dew. The neckpiece from 1982 consists of a giant photo of a red rose which is sandwiched in layers of PVC. There is a slit and hole in the middle of the flower so one can wear it around the neck. Not for everyone, but that is what avant garde is all about anyway. Should be an interesting exhibit.

The exhibition will be in tandem with another fascinating exhibit called "Loud Bones" which will feature the works of Nancy Worden. The Worden exhibit starts later but will also continue throughout the summer. I'll talk about it as it gets closer to the exhibition date.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Cabochon

Our word of the day is cabochon. A cabochon is a stone or bead which has one flat side and the another side which is smooth and domed. The flat side is placed into a setting which has a flat finish and the rounded side is the top decorative side.

The word cabochon comes from the French word "caboche," which means a knob or small dome." A cabochon normally has no facets, although there are exceptions here too. Occasionally, transparent stones such as emeralds, amethyst and garnet, are also sometimes fashioned as cabochons.
Photo credit Tammy Powley of about.com: jewelry making

Many cabochons are round or oval about other shapes are fairly common too, such as navette and marquis shapes. Cabochons can be made of various materials - glass, lucite, gemstones, etc. There are rhinestones which have flat backs too, but they are more commonly referred to as flat backed rhinestones rather than cabochons.

About.com has an interesting article on the process of cutting a stone cabochon that you may want to read if you would like further information on the subject.

Here are some photos of vintage jewelry pieces which use cabochons. All items are available from my store Vintage Jewelry Lane. Click the photos to go to the listing page. Prices range from $9.99 to -31.99.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Resource Books - Which ones are right for you?

If you are going to collect vintage jewelry and have an eye on the investment value of the piece, then you may want to consider also investing in some vintage jewelry resource books. But with so many of them available how are you supposed to know which ones are most worth investing in?

I have a large number of them in my personal library and find that there are a few that I use most of the time, so I will outline the ones I find most useful for identification, information, and pricing. I will discuss a few general resource books and some that are designer specific.

1. Costume Jewelry 101 - The Basics of Starting, Building and Upgrading by Julia C. Carroll.

This is a personal favorite of mine and one to have if you are just starting to collect vintage jewelry. It gives a great introduction to the subject, outlines how and when to buy and gives very good overviews of four good designers for beginners. The book also outlines other designers in less detail. Photos are very good and the book also gives an idea of retail values.

2. Costume Jewelry 202 - The Basics of Dating Jewelry 1935 - 1980.

This is a follow up book to the one above and is for more advanced collectors. The book talks about 6 methods for dating jewelry and has patent numbers and patent design photos to help with the identification process. Lovely photos, retail prices and some examples of early vintage jewelry advertisements.

3. Unsigned Beauties of Costume Jewelry by Marcia "Sparkles" Brown.

This is a collector favorite! - This book has many photos of jewelry of various kinds. The price guide is reasonable but she does not take into account unsigned pieces that are known to be from certain manufactures which results in an under pricing for some of the items featured in the book.

3. Signed Beauties of Costume Jewelry (Volume I and also Volume II) by Marcia "Sparkles" Brown.

Each of the two volumes features different designers, so they compliment each other very well. The guide talks about each of the featured designers in great detail and outlines the markings used by them as well as design characteristics, although no pictures of the makers marks are shown. Wonderful pictures and suggested retail values are included.

4. Emmons and Sarah Coventry Jewelry Fashion Show - Deborah A. Robinson.

The book for collectors of Sarah Coventry Jewelry. I have several reference books for her pieces, and this one is the most complete, in my opinion. A huge number of her pieces are featured, with names of the designs, years of manufacture and suggested retail prices which are very accurate. Emmons jewelry is also featured to a lesser degree.

5. Copper Art Jewelry, A Different Luster - Matthew L. Burkholz and Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan

Fabulous book for collectors of copper vintage jewelry. Mainly discusses the work of Rebajes and Renoir/Matisse Renoir but also has a chapter on other signed and unsigned pieces of the period. No values, but clear photos with great detail. The book has a two page spread of design photos which gives the name to some of the Renoir piece, although not all.

6. Miriam Haskell Jewelry - Cathy Gordon and Sheila Damfiloff

The resource book for collectors of Miriam Haskell jewelry. It contains over 600 color photographs which are categorized design techniques. Both signed and unsigned pieces are included, and the book has very clear detailed photos of the back of the pieces to help with the identification process. Also includes retail prices.

7. The Art of Juliana Jewelry - Katerina Musetti

All Juliana pieces are unsigned and are identified by design techniques, so if you plan to collect Juliana jewelry, this book is a must. The book contains over 400 color photograph of Juliana jewelry made between 1947 and the 1990s. The first part of the book has chapters devoted to each style of jewelry made with clear photos of clasps, pin backs, stone settings etc. Retail prices are also included.

There are many other books which give a wealth of information, but these should get you started and will give you a good overview of information you will need in your vintage jewelry search.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pink Panthers - Jewelry Robbers, not the Peter Sellers Movie

Inspector Clousseau from the 1970s Pink Panther movies series would be quite upset to know that a gang of international jewelry robbers is using his famous name.

The Swiss police have been working with Interpol for the last two years in the investigation of a group called "The Pink Panthers." Authorities say the group could involve as many as 150 poeple. The members are mainly Serbs, Croats, Montenegrans and Bosnians who fought in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Photo credit explosivetoday.com

Thanks to their investigative work, Lausanne detectives have recently arrested two men believed to be part of this international network of trained jewelry thieves. This group is thought to have stolen more than $200 million worth of gems and watches from jewellers in 20 countries, including Switzerland.

The group got its name after a robbery in London in 2004, when one of the theives tried to hide a fabulous blue diamond in a container of face cream, in the manner of the classic Pink Panther movie starring Peter Sellers.

Elsewhere the thieves have been more bold. In April 2007 they smashed cars into a shopping mall in Dubai and snatched $3.4 million in diamonds in broad daylight with plenty of witnesses filming it in a Wafi City Shopping mall in Dubai. The youTube video has received over 200,000 hits on youTube. They are certainly brazen!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thematic Jewelry - Great Gift Ideas

Many collector's of vintage jewelry look for particular designers or hallmark's or design technique. To them, the investment quality of a piece is the most important factor in choosing which piece to buy.

Other collectors purchase pieces that just appeal to them in various ways with no thought about the actual value of the piece itself. Those that are in this category might find themselves always gravitating to thematic jewelry - such as music jewelry, or cat jewelry, or coin jewelry, or any number of other themes.

One of my online stores - Vintage Jewelry Mall, specializes in various types of thematic jewelry. We have a wide range of all types of themes whether it be patriotic jewelry, teacher jewelry, animal jewelry, cowboy and western jewelry, zodiac jewelry, religious jewelry or Christmas jewelry. There is something for all tastes and budgets.

This type of jewelry makes a very good gift idea. Does your friend have a house full of turtle pillows and t shirts and figurines? What would be a better gift idea than this pair of cute JJ signed turtle earrings shown above? The price is only $9.99 so they won't last long.

If turtles aren't your thing, then have a look at some of these other thematic jewelry pieces. Prices range from $8.99 to $14.99. You can click the pictures for more information on the piece, or browse the thematic jewelry page of my site for more ideas.


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