Faberge Egg Reborn

Fabergé, the world’s most iconic artist jeweler, has after 99 years revived its revered tradition of creating the most precious and coveted of objets d’art, the “imperial egg”.

Founded in 1842, by Peter Carl Faberge, the company won worldwide acclaim for its artistry in creating objets d’art, jewelry and timepieces. The imperial Easter eggs, which were commissioned by The Russian royal family, are universally recognized as some of the greatest masterpieces of the jeweler’s art.

The story began, in 1885, when Tsar Alexander III decided to give a jeweled Easter egg to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed that the Tsar, who had first become acquainted with Fabergé’s virtuoso work at the Moscow Pan-Russian Exhibition in 1882, was inspired by an 18th century egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Wilhelmine Marie of Denmark. The object was said to have captivated the imagination of the young Maria during her childhood. The Tsar was, apparently, personally involved in the design and execution of the egg, making suggestions to Fabergé as the project went along.

Easter was the most important occasion of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church. A centuries old tradition of bringing hand-colored eggs to church to be blessed and then presented to friends and family, had evolved through the years and, among the highest echelons of St Petersburg society, the custom developed of presenting valuable bejeweled Easter gifts.

So it was that Tsar had the idea of commissioning Fabergé to create a precious Easter egg as a surprise for the Empress. Thus the first Imperial Easter egg, The Hen Egg, was born and with it a 32 year annual tradition that continued all the way up until the Russian Revolution.

This year in collaboration with the Al-Fardan family, one of the world’s most renowned collectors of pearls, Fabergé has crafted the extraordinary Pearl Egg.

Pearls have been coveted and treasured for centuries, linked inextricably with royalty, style and status. The Pearl Egg draws inspiration from the formation of a pearl within an oyster.

Harnessing twenty highly skilled workmasters, the egg has been crafted from 139 white pearls, 3305 diamonds, carved rock crystal and mother-of-pearl set on white and yellow gold. An ingenious mechanism enables the entire outer shell to rotate on its base, simultaneously opening in six sections to unveil its treasure, a unique grey pearl of 12.17 carats, sourced from the Arabian Gulf and exhibiting exceptional purity.

The company revealed that Hussain Al-Fardan paid an undisclosed seven figure price for this masterpiece!

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest

Simple Care Tips: Jewelry

We all likely should be cleaning our treasures more than we probably do. Jewelry, though meant to be worn, is delicate and ones daily routine can take its toll.

As a general rule, “It’s good practice to put your jewelry on last—after cosmetics, hair products, body sprays and perfume,” notes Mark Mann, the GIA’s senior director of global jewelry manufacturing arts. “You’ll protect the integrity and appearance of all gemstones and metal alloys and keep your pieces looking beautiful in the long run.”

Inevitably grime will build up so when it does follow these simple cleaning tips:

Diamonds, Rubies & Sapphires….

Return your non-porous gemstones to sparkly wonderfulness by soaking them in warm (almost hot) water for at least 30 minutes, with a bit of good old dishwashing soap. Stick to a basic detergent, one without moisturizers or anti-bacterial ingredients. If there’s a build-up of gunk, use a soft wooden toothpick to carefully lift heavy materials away from the back of the gems after soaking.You can also gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, working the bristles in, around, and under the gems. Rinse under warm running water and repeat until all the gunk is gone. Do not use abrasive cleaning products such as those with bleach and degreasers. These products will scratch precious metals and chlorine has the potential to attack base metals in gold alloys and weaken prongs.

Turquoise & Pearls…

Turquoise and other porous gemstones should be wiped with a soft cloth. They should never be soaked it in water as they may absorb the moisture, dulling their surface. Don’t use cleaning solutions on them and if there’s accidental contact with chemicals, immediately blot the gems dry with a cloth. When possible avoid getting sunscreen, make-up, perfume and body lotion on them. Pearls can occasionally be cleaned with mildly soapy water and a very soft brush. Rinse, blot and allow to dry lying flat on a towel so as not to stretch the string. Make sure strands are completely dry before wearing.

Silver

Contrary to popular belief soaking actually makes tarnish worse. Dishwashing soap is your friend, just mix a few drops with warm water, then dip a soft cloth in and use it to gently rub the jewelry; after rinse in cool water and blot until dry. For heavier tarnish, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels, which can scratch). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry. I have also found non whitening toothpastes to be ‘silver friendly’.

Gold & Platinum 

Yep, you guessed it, dishwashing liquid and warm water. Let gold jewelry soak for about 10 -15 minutes, then get your soft toothbrush and give it a good scrub. Rinse your pieces off after with warm water and dry with a towel. Don’t swim or shower in your gold, chlorine causes discoloration and soap can leave an unattractive film on it.

I hope you will find these tips useful. If you have any questions or blog ideas please send me an email. I would be delighted to hear from you!

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest 

Guilt Free Indulgence: Fine Jewelry

With consumer confidence waning as it tends to do when the economy is down, or when there is political unrest (the US federal government shutdown definitely qualifies) discussions generally turn to preserving wealth and tightening one’s belt to conserve. ‘Real money’ aka gold has started to become a hot topic again and with prices having retracted to 2010 figures, it is looking more and more attractive.

What does this have to do with the collectible world? Well a lot actually. Many of my clients regularly buy high end jewelry. Even though they don’t see it as such, they in fact have amassed quite incredible collections that are valuable even merely as just scrap!

Why is this so important? Because I just made a large sale recently thanks to a discussion with a client who was shopping for jewelry for his wife. He realized he was likely to buy a whole bunch of gold coins anyway soon and could kill two birds with one stone.

A fine jewelry collection built over a long period of time brings wonderful joy to the wearer. In addition, a collection can be and often is, quite a considerable part of a couple’s or individual’s wealth.

With the purchase of most things such as clothing and cars, it takes many decades to build a collectible group of any note, except in the very rare instance. Until then these items will likely decrease considerably in value. They might not become collectible at all, especially since many of today’s fashionable items are mass produced.

Precious metals and precious gems on the other hand have been steadily increasing decade after decade. Gold in the last decade alone has risen 300% despite coming down from its highs. Diamond wholesale prices have increased 925% since 1960 (according to wealthymatters.com). And that is just for a generic one carat white diamond! The fact is it is becoming more and more expensive to mine these valuable commodities at reasonable prices. They are harder to get to, the density of the finds is far less, labor is higher and gas prices have risen 400% since 1993 alone!

People are not losing interest in precious metals and minerals. On the contrary even just the loose stones are racking in record prices. Take for example the flawless white 118 carat diamond that raised $30.6 million on October 7th at Sotheby’s auction. And in November Sotheby’s is estimated to raise more than $60 million for a 59.60 carat pink diamond. An expected record breaker for any gem auction!

Indeed bling is as popular as ever.  With prices of the underlying raw materials continuing to rise decade after decade, at a rate far higher than inflation, so has the price of good quality jewelry. Given that the world population continues to grow and the mineral reserves depleted there is no reason it shouldn’t.

So this is where the guilt free pleasure comes in. Many people keep a portion of their wealth in gold or other precious metals – physically in the form of gold bars and coins, or in other less tangible forms like securities. Why not view your household’s collection of jewelry as a long term investment and on the downside a solid hedge.

Heaven forbid you should ever have to sell under duress. It is comforting however, in times of uncertainty to know you have a liquid and portable collection that can be sold at the very least for scrap and likely more. Most dealers in fine jewelry are willing to buy back pieces at wholesale prices at the very least, and much more for rarer items. Short term loans with jewelry as the collateral are becoming more common and allow one to not have to sell the items at all.

The shoe collection will bring you pleasure over the years like the jewelry, but will do little more than keep your feet warm in a time of crisis.

Obviously fine jewelry will be sold at a premium price, it includes labor and many other costs (especially in the case of good vintage and antique pieces). This premium is worth it, especially since you will hopefully get a lifetime of pleasure from it. As long as you purchase for a fair price you will know in the back of your mind that you have a good hedge for any crisis. Don’t be scared to haggle a bit with dealers, or make offers. After all you are not just buying something pretty, you are making a serious investment.

So enjoy your stunning treasures, guilt free, you know you deserve it!

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