Pearls and Press at Asprey & Garrard

Asprey & Garrard hosted an evening of “Lustre and Luxury” to highlight its collection of South Seas pearl jewelry and to introduce James Ogilvy, son of England’s Princess Alexandra and publisher of the “Luxury Briefing” newsletter. Ogilvy shared his insights into the world of the luxury customer gleaned from his perspective growing up in the British royal family. The event also celebrated the fourth anniversary of the publication.

Attendees included Walter Fischer, CEO of Rolex North America; Arnaud Bamberger of Cartier London; Pamela Gross of; and socialites Eric Javits, Serena Boardman, and Nadja Swarovski.

The South Seas pearl jewelry on display, valued at $5 million, was from the firm’s Fifth Avenue store. The centerpiece was a magnificent pearl necklace, reputed to be the finest and most expensive on the market today. Consisting of 26 flawless cultured pearls, it took more than 10 years to assemble and is valued at more than $3 million.

“Our customers seek out luxury items that are unique, and South Seas pearls closely reflect the qualities that our customers desire,” commented Philip Warner, president of Asprey & Garrard New York. “We feel the potential of this category has barely been tapped by other prestige retailers, and promotions such as this define our corporate strategy.”

WJA Supports Future Designers

True to its mission, the Women’s Jewelry Association addresses itself to assisting and mentoring women in the fine jewelry industry. An important part of this activity is the awarding of scholarships to deserving women wishing to further their education.

This year yielded a bumper crop of talented newcomers, who showed their creativity and enthusiasm through their jewelry designs. Their designs reflected many of the currently popular themes, such as nature-inspired motifs and bold combinations of pearls, gemstones, and precious metals. Scholarships ranged from $500 to $5,000.

For information about next year’s scholarship program, write WJA, 333B Route 46 West, Suite B-201, Fairfield, NJ 07004; (973) 575-7190; fax (973) 575-1445.

Diamond Supplier Unveils Jewelry Line

Celebrating the millennium in brilliant style is Christin Diamond International, a New York diamond supplier that has changed its address and its product category. This 30-year-old firm has relocated to Rockefeller Center and has unveiled an innovative new limited-edition collection of finished diamond jewelry.

Entitled Jubilee 2000, the new collection represents a joint venture of three creative people: company owner Christin Widodo; Benjamin Moller, a New York-based diamond sightholder; and award-winning designer Mario Panelli. Designs include a number of intricate, patented pieces that celebrate the beauty of the diamond and the significance of the new century.

The new jewelry comprises the Solo Mio Collection, designs in white and rose gold that open to reveal a diamond solitaire; the 2000 Collection of white gold and diamond pendants that slide open to reveal the new date; the Forever Collection, with a pivoting center globe; the Jubilee Collection of crosses with opening center sections of diamonds; the Love Collection of engraved discs; and the Infinity Collection of pendants and cufflinks. Suggested retail prices range from $700 to $1,900 keystone.

Jubilee 2000 by Christin Diamond International, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1100, New York, NY 10020; (800) 361-4296; fax (212) 218-8055.

Design Discovery – Alex Soldier, Contemporary Russian Master

Even as a child, Russian-born Alex Soldier displayed a talent for sculpture, woodcraft, and painting miniatures. But before pursuing art as a career, he got a technical education. He earned a master’s degree in engineering and went on to specialize in jewelry design at Perm’s Polytechnic Institute School of Art in Czechoslovakia. After graduating in 1981, the young artist began work as a chief designer in Perm’s largest jewelry factory.

After a time, however, he felt ready to explore new ideas. When he won a prize at Czechoslovakia’s international jewelry show in 1984, he knew he was on the right track, and he began showing his work at jewelry trade fairs in Italy and Finland.

When he arrived in the United States in 1990, instead of signing on with a jewelry firm, Soldier began to work independently, trying to develop different ways of designing and producing contemporary jewelry in 18k gold and platinum and with precious gemstones. Since then, his work has been exhibited at the New York Jewelers of America show and to the public through special exhibitions at the United Nations and the Mougans Gallery in Cannes, France.

Soldier’s signature jewelry collection is fabricated of 18k gold and platinum and studded with diamonds, pearls, and colored gemstones. Each piece is a small, three-dimensional sculpture, with convex and concave parts, handmade textures, and gemstones set at unusual angles. Retail prices begin at around $500.

The artist’s one-of-a-kind pieces are finely detailed figurative designs, depicting famous ballet dancers in flight or mythical figures in elaborate costumes. The late Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev was a favorite subject. Many of Soldier’s pieces are given as prizes to distinguished artists. “Triumph,” one of Soldier’s most noteworthy designs, is a prize awarded to exceptional Russian artists. The statuette is based on a sketch by famed sculptor Ernest Neizvestny and interpreted by Soldier in 36 individual pieces of gold, which are hand-detailed with intricate textures.

This creation, and many of Soldier’s other sculptures, are sold at Russian World Gallery in New York. For information, contact Alex Soldier Designs, 7702 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209; (718) 491-1616.

Deadly Sweet

What Lucrezia Borgia used as a deadly accessory in the Renaissance era, modern women can wear as an elegant container for saccharin tablets. Jewelry designer Michael Weggenmann of Kaserslautern, Germany, created this “Medici” poison ring from platinum and .75 ct. of diamonds. For more information about the ring or the designer, contact the Platin Gilde International, Feldbergstrasse 59, D-1440 Oberusel, Germany. Tel. (49 61) 715 1002, fax (49 61) 715 3850, e-mail:

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