October 1998

October Feature


They're the few, the proud, the extremely wealthy – and they want top-of-the-line jewels

Trendwatchers have written much about the democratization of luxury in the 1990s. The junior assistant who saves up to buy the Hermès scarf, the Louis Vuitton eyeglass case or the David Yurman ring feels she can have a piece of the aura that once surrounded the Duchess of Windsor or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

But jewelers know the genuine luxury customer looking for an important and expensive jewel isn't the shop assistant who's buying something small merely to own a piece of a luxury brand. In fact, that assistant's quest for brand names may soon send really wealthy consumers elsewhere. New York Times Fashion and Style Editor Holly Brubach recently wrote that as brands become ubiquitous, their appeal to the upper crust may wane. "In a world in which so many different brands compete for our attention, the prestige of one seems to cancel out another," she says. Brubach envisions a day when the people with serious money will actually search for unique and label-free products when buying at the top end of the market.

Jewelers hoping to sell top-of-the-line jewelry must know how to appeal to this kind of a luxury customer. A good jeweler can put his or her own stamp of expertise on a high-end sale, guaranteeing the diamonds and gemstones are of the highest quality, and that the gold or platinum content and construction are up to the store's stringent standards.

But even the best jewelers need backup. Here's a pick of the marketplace's current luxury jewelry, much of which luxury pretenders will only dream about. But make no mistake, the dream is important, too, in sustaining the mystique of all jewelry. Manufacturers know this and often create showpieces such as these simply to whet the appetite of the masses for more down-to-earth creations.

Henry Dunay's new perfume, Sabi, which graces Professional Jeweler'scover this month, is a good example. Dunay fashioned a diamond-topped, limited-edition version of the perfume vial with a luxury price tag of $30,000. The diamond top can then be joined to a pendant attachment and worn as a piece of jewelry. For the mere mortals, Dunay also designed a beautiful diamond-free bottle of perfume with a price tag of $225 per ounce. Both debut at Neiman Marcus this month, with a wider rollout expected next year.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue and Lorraine Suermann

Scalloped platinum necklace features 351 tapered baguette diamonds and 189 round diamonds totaling 14.85 carats. Suggested retail, $32,670. Detachable 18k white gold pendant holds a 5.91-ct. tanzanite and 1.02 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $7,470. Photo by Zale Richard Rubins, Photo·Graphics.
Carl K. Gumpert, Los Angeles, CA; (800) 843 3998 or (213) 626-6531, fax (213) 627-4406.

This flower fit for a princess is fashioned in platinum and 18k gold with diamond pavé (0.23 carat of fancy yellow and 19.76 carats of white) and a 5.59-ct. ruby. Suggested retail, $217,500.
Élan, Greenwich, CT; (203) 629-0578.

All eyes will focus on the wrist that wears these sapphire bracelets by Ella|Jewels. The channel-set yellow sapphire bracelets have a faceted pink sapphire clasp or faceted blue sapphire clasp, each holding 15-16 carats in white and yellow gold and each retailing for $10,000. The blue sapphire bracelet in 18k white gold features 20 carats of blue sapphires and a floral clasp with 0.15 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $20,000.
Ella|Jewels by Ella Gafter, New York City; (212) 398-0101, fax (212) 302-0153.

The Sahara bracelet by Damiani resembles the movement of rippling dunes and a shining light in a mirage. The contours are fashioned with 1,865 diamonds and 298.50 grams of gold.
Ketty Maisonrouge & Co., New York City; (212) 757-2468, fax (212) 757-2833.

This mother-of-pearl gambling chip dates back more than 250 years, one of many handcrafted for British royalty and nobility in China. When the British were ousted from China for perpetuating the Opium Wars a century ago, the pieces were transported to England and are only now being rediscovered. This pin/pendant frames a mother-of-pearl antique gambling counter in 14k gold. Cultured pearls nestle in 14k gold leaves, and a South Sea pearl hangs from the bottom. Suggested retail, $5,000.
Donna Chambers Designs Inc., White Plains, NY; (914) 287-0303,

Emerald-cut diamonds set in platinum lend a classic air to this necklace (157.25 carats), bracelet (57.70 carats) and earrings (14.06 carat).
Philippe Diamond Corp., New York City; (800) 247-5570 or (212) 869-5570, fax (212) 944-2506.

18 Tahitian black pearls and 33.22 carats of diamonds define this luxurious necklace by Craig Drake. Suggested retail, $88,000. Matching earrings have two black Tahitian pearls and 2.91 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $6,820.
Craig Drake Mfg. Inc., Philadelphia, PA; (215) 568-2330, fax (215) 564-0579.

Elegant ensemble by Eugene Biro Corp. features 27.67 carats of round brilliant and baguette diamonds and a 2.06-ct. emerald-cut center diamond set in platinum. The bracelet holds 9 carats of round brilliant and baguette diamonds.
Eugene Biro Corp., New York City; (212) 997-0146, fax (212) 764-4506.

"Juno," a collaboration by Paula Crevoshay and Michael Stoller, is a one-of-a-kind 16.97-ct. carved amethyst perfume bottle crowned with moonstones, sapphires and an oval opal. Suggested retail, $9,000.
Mellika Co. Inc., Upton, MA; (508) 529-4494, fax (508) 529-4495.

18k gold interlaced necklace is 16 inches long and has five diamond sections totaling 1.0 carat set in platinum. Suggested retail, $9,200. The 18k five-strand, 7-in. bracelet is $1,450 suggested retail. The 18k gold cross-stitch earclips (top) are $1,850, the Yin-Yang earclips (middle) are $1,750 and the interlace earclips (bottom) with 12.5mm mabé pearls are $2,700.
Yuri Ichihashi, New York City; (212) 777-2450, fax (212) 777-2241.

Fit for royalty, a rainbow of 104 flawless diamonds weighing 217 carats and a 5-ct. teardrop center set this necklace apart from the rest. Suggested retail? A cool $12 million.
A. LeVian, New York City; (800) 239-9224, fax (212) 944-7734.

Diamonds and more diamonds. The tennis bracelet is invisibly set with 13.09 carats of princess-cut diamonds and 7.30 carats of Crisscut® diamonds in 18k gold. The 18k gold and platinum ring at left holds 0.84 carat of Crisscut diamonds and a 0.75-ct. center diamond. Second from left is a ring with 2.80 carats of Crisscut diamonds and a 2.52-ct. center stone in platinum. The third ring has 1.37 carats of round diamonds and 0.70 carat of Crisscut diamonds in platinum. The fourth ring features 2.41 carats of Crisscut diamonds and a 1-ct. center diamond in platinum.
Christopher Designs, New York City; (212) 382-1013, fax (212) 768-8978.

From the belly of a mollusk come these natural golden cultured South Sea pearls. They're separated by gold stations holding 9.40 carats of diamonds and 70 carats of graduated emerald beads. Suggested retail, $72,000.
Gumuchian Fils Ltd., New York City; (800) 223-0774 or (212) 921-2755, fax (212) 764-7278.

Elegant, rich, simple. Satin-finished platinum and diamond collier, bracelet and earrings.
Rudolf Erdel Platinum, New York City; (212) 633-9333, fax (212) 242-7678.

From the Colonna Romana collection by Giuseppe Picchiotti, this necklace, bracelet, earrings and ring are inspired by architecture. The necklace holds 21.95 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, 13.76 carats of baguette diamonds, 31.27 carats of square rubies and onyx. Suggested retail, $194,000. The bracelet has 11.11 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, 3.61 carats of baguette diamonds, 13.84 carats of square rubies and onyx. Suggested retail, $83,000. The earrings are made of 3.52 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, 1.41. carats of baguette diamonds, 1.46 carats of square rubies and onyx. Suggested retail, $24,000. The ring holds 1.78 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, 1.32 carats of baguette diamonds, 1.14 carats of square rubies and onyx. Suggested retail, $16,500.
DJS Marketing Group, Miami, FL; (305) 860-9500, fax (305) 860-9454.



Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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