Top Hats & Pearls
They say persistence pays off, and Harvey Rovinsky would agree. For four years, the president of Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers, with stores in Radnor and Newtown, Pa., and Marlton, Somers Point, and Atlantic City, N.J., has vied for the jewelry sponsorship of the 52nd Annual Century Club Gala hosted by the AtlantiCare Foundation, whose affiliation with AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Pomona, N.J., makes it a high-profile event in southeastern New Jersey. “Many of their doctors are our clients,” Rovinsky tells JCK.
As the jewelry sponsor, Bernie Robbins provided the grand prize for the raffle: one fabulous piece of pearl jewelry worth $5,000. Honora had created a one-of-a-kind 78-inch South Seas Tahitian pearl necklace featuring peacock colors of baroque pearls and 10 full-cut, burnished-set diamonds.
Robbins’ team also dressed the evening’s honorees in Honora pearls, and gave $100 store gift certificates, part of which were donated back to the Foundation, to those who bought $100 raffle tickets. (More than 700 were sold.)
The old Hollywood–themed gala attracted 700 guests—including area surgeons and community leaders—to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., in mid-May at $650 per couple. Honora signage—like a branded step-and-repeat and photos showing various ways to wear the grand-prize necklace—dotted the interior, which also featured an Honora boutique full of jewelry for guests to try on.
“Having the Honora brand associated with fine retail jewelers at prestigious charity and in-store events is mutually beneficial and strengthens our partnerships,” says Lloyd Berger, Honora’s director of national sales.
While sales were not permitted at the event, an AtlantiCare exec did visit Robbins’ Somers Point store the following Monday. She picked up six pieces of Honora jewelry.
During the American Gem Trade Association’s Tucson GemFair 2011, Ron Greenidge, director of Emiko Pearls in Bellevue, Wash., and a companion spotted a scorpion crawling along a curb near the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Greenidge—who’d seen plenty of the critters before (and not just bejeweled ones on his workbench)—remained unfazed; his Hong Kong–based business partner, on the other hand, “freaked out,” says Greenidge.
Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. It inspired the pearl jewelry maker to create a nonpoisonous scorpion in 18k white gold with colorless diamonds and a 15.3 mm white Australian South Seas baroque pearl—with a slightly corrugated look to it, just like the exterior of a scorpion—set topside as the body. Greenidge unveiled the final piece three weeks prior to the JCK Las Vegas show. Accented with 2.79 cts. t.w. diamonds, the brooch retails for $15,000.
The scorpion is just the latest animal immortalized in Greenidge’s menagerie. Depending on shape, luster, and the inspiring animal’s surface, some pearls become rabbits, elephants, camels, butterflies, and more. The tops of pearl “spiders,” for example, must be smooth to resemble the arachnoid; for a honeybee he recently debuted, the bee’s body—set in cotton candy–esque pink gold—possessed an astonishing luster.
“Each pearl is studied to decide what animal it could be—if it can be used for an animal,” says Greenidge. Decisions also depend on what’s in stock, and what areas of pearls, if any, need to be camouflaged by gemstone and metal accents. Still other pearls aren’t meant to become jewelry at all, as was the case with a $72,000 pearl, gold, and diamond camel sculpture Greenidge sold to a diamond dealer from Malaysia. “There was no way to make it wearable,” he says.
As for the scorpion, at press time it was looking for a home. The last one sold in September 2010 to a collector in Utah. Greenidge is confident this one will go quickly. “We never take into consideration who will buy our pieces, but they don’t stay with us for long.”
“We sell freshwater for trendiness and price points, and those run from $200 to $500. We also sell a lot of pearls with gemstones mixed in to give color and texture. We have a lot of dyed pearls in coppers, browns, oranges, reds, and greens. Looking at the fall forecast for fashion, those should tie in well.”
—Julie Smetzer, sales consultant and buyer, Argo & Lehne, Columbus, Ohio