10 Things Rocking the Industry: June 2016



RECORDS

The Jubilee Ruby was touted as the most important ruby to come to auction in the United States over the past quarter-century, and it certainly lived up to that billing when Christie’s put it up for sale on April 20. The 15.99 ct. ruby—certified as both Burmese-origin and untreated—fetched $14.1 million, making it the most expensive colored gemstone ever sold in the United States. While that’s still not diamond-level—the world’s most expensive diamond sold for $48.5 million—the sale shows the growing profile of gems at auction.

Above: The Jubilee Ruby ring, designed (and signed) by Verdura

FESTIVALS

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Just a few reasons to get excited about the May 11–22 Cannes Film Festival: Julieta, a new film by Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar; jury president George Miller, whose six-time-Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road was the toast of Cannes 2015; and, oh yes, the annual Chopard Red Carpet collection, which comprises 69 extraordinary pieces in honor of the French film fest’s 69th year. This year’s designs are an homage to femininity, according to the Swiss high jeweler—sinuous, supple styles that “gently caress the skin.” Look for actresses in lacy diamond chokers, lush cabochon earrings, and necklaces that cover the collarbone in rows upon rows of colorful cascading beads. 

Necklace in 18k white gold and titanium with a 29.8 ct. white opal, 413 cts. t.w. emerald beads, 29 cts. t.w. topaz, 5.9 cts. t.w. amethyst, 4.4 cts. t.w. rubies, 4 cts. t.w. Paraiba tourmalines, 3.9 cts. t.w. rubellites, and emeralds and sapphires

RETAILERS

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New York City retailer Michael C. Fina has sold jewelry to everyone from Lyndon Johnson to Frank Sinatra. But with 85 percent of its sales now coming online, the company is closing its Park Avenue store and will exist only in cyberspace. President and chief merchant Steven Fina insists Fina isn’t going away, and that its 81-year history sets it apart from online competitors: “I was at a Florida airport and I gave the TSA agent my license, and he said, ‘Fina, like the jewelry company? You guys are famous.’ No one is handing him a license that says Blue Nile on it.” 

Steven Fina, Jeffrey Fina, Ashley Fina, and Michael A. Fina

DIAMONDS

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The Argyle Pink Tender usually boasts pink diamonds, and maybe the odd red. But rarely violet diamonds, for good reason—they are super-rare, rarer even than the pinks that typically make up the tender (which aren’t exactly common, either). So it was certainly noteworthy that this year’s tender will feature the 2.83 ct. Argyle Violet (pictured), a GIA-graded fancy deep grayish bluish violet stone originally cut from a piece of 9.17 ct. rough and the largest purple stone ever found at Argyle. Somewhere, Prince is smiling. 

KEEPSAKES

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Diamond dealer Eyal Cohen, owner of New York City–based Luxury Diamonds Inc., is debuting his new line of diamond gifts with a pacifier fit for royalty. The $400,000 objet d’art (pictured) is the first of Cohen’s new line of natural diamond gifts under the name Objet De Luxe. The blingy binky is crafted from 4 oz. platinum, a 10 mm white pearl, and a 0.89 ct. natural green-blue diamond. “My objects are a wise choice for anyone seeking a memorable gift, which could rise in value,” Cohen says. Doesn’t anyone give silver spoons anymore?

IN MEMORIAM

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James Currens may not have been a household name, but in the jewelry business, he was widely respected—enough to win a staggering 19 American Gem Trade Association Spectrum awards, including five Best of Shows. On April 14, the Bangkok-based designer, who began in the business when he was a teenager, died at age 58. His many admirers say it’s a devastating loss. “He was a great, great craftsman,” said gem carver and jewelry designer Naomi Sarna, a former student. “He made those of us who were fortunate to learn from him much, much better jewelers. It was a life-changing and certainly craft-affirming experience.”

James Currens’ platinum Tropical Storm ring, with a 22.1 ct. emerald and 11.47 cts. t.w. diamonds, which won Best of Show at the 2014 AGTA Spectrum Awards

SYNTHETICS

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It is routine for lab-grown diamond manufacturers to market themselves as an “ethical” alternative to mined stones. In March, Martin Rapaport had enough. In an editorial in his newsletter, he fumed that “instead of helping diggers become socially responsible and supporting fair-trade diamonds, [manufacturers] are telling people not to buy from diggers. That is evil.” He also fired off a letter to Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured), an investor in and sometime spokesman for Silicon Valley startup Diamond Foundry, saying his backing “threatens the livelihoods” of millions in Africa. A few days later, Diamond Foundry fired back, calling Rapaport “the aging leader of the diamond industry who now represents everything that is wrong about it.” When that response didn’t seem to win the company any fans, it offered to station a gem-grower in the diamond-dependent nation of Botswana. At press time, it was not clear if the country had responded.

MINERS

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It’s often said no sign identifies the occupants of 17 Charterhouse Street. Yet in the days De Beers dominated the diamond trade, its Fort Knox–like headquarters (pictured) was iconic and instantly recognizable, a source of widespread awe and wonder. Now after eight decades on the same London street, De Beers is relocating crosstown to the headquarters of parent company Anglo American—meaning yet another piece of industry history is being laid to rest. (The fabled sights moved from the building to Botswana in November 2013.) The move is expected to be completed later this year.

CELEBRITIES

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The future of jewelry has arrived, and good news: It’s full of diamonds. This year’s Met gala, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” featured an endless parade of ethereal, futuristic looks evoking body armor and superhero style. Turns out nothing works better with a Judy Jetson–esque gown than a massive Lorraine Schwartz diamond ear cuff and knuckle ring—you may not like Kim Kardashian but you’ve got to like her jewelry—and a diamond headband really does go with anything, especially a cape. (Particularly a Fred Leighton headband. Thank you, Nicole Kidman.) And we can’t remember the last time we’ve seen so many dynamite diamond drop earrings. It was the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes combined!

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Tiffany & Co. Fringe earrings (worn by Emily Ratajkowski, pictured) in platinum with pear-shape and round brilliant diamonds; $135,000

STATS

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The University of Michigan’s measurement of consumer confidence fell to 89.7, its lowest reading since September. All this doesn’t mean we are careening toward another recession, said the survey’s chief economist Richard Curtin, but it does show that consumers remain cautious and fearful about slow wage gains and the state of the economy.

(Ruby: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2016; Fina family: Sasha Maslov/The New York Times/Redux; Currens ring: Sandro Art Photography; DiCaprio: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images; Ratajkowski: Ovidiu Hrubaru/Alamy)