June 25, 2010

A Fine Engagement

Having recently returned from the 3-day hen do of my soon-to-be sister-in-law the time seems right for a post on engagement rings. As luck would have it, the launch last week of Tiffany’s Engagement Ring Finder iPhone app (more below) makes the story newsworthy too. What follows is by no means a full chronology, but a few fun facts nevertheless.

• The notion of a ring as a marital symbol can be traced back to North Africa of 5,000 years ago and rings made of reeds and grass rings are depicted in images of that time. The circular Egyptian hieroglyph stood for eternity whilst the hole in the middle represented a gateway through which the wearer entered into a new partnership.

•In ancient Rome and Greece rings were placed on the fourth finger of the left hand because it contained the vena amoris, or vein of love, which reputedly led straight to the heart.

•When Archduke Maximillian of Austria used a diamond ring to tie the knot with Mary of Burgundy in 1477 he sparked off a craze that lasts to this day.

•During the 16th century the practise of engraving simple sentimental statements such as ‘I love you’ on rings became popular. These love tokens were known as poesy rings. This one dates back to the Renaissance.

•At around the same time gimmel rings (made of 2 or 3 hoops or links that fit together to form one complete ring) were often used as betrothal rings in Europe. The engaged couple would wear one hoop each and rejoin them to use as a wedding ring. Martin Luther popped the question to Catherine Bora in 1525 with a gimmel ring that bore the legend: ‘Whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder’.

Enameled gold and diamond gimmel ring c.1600

•Prior to the end of the 19th century it wasn’t uncommon for the lucky bride-to-be to receive a sewing thimble.

•De Beers have a lot to answer for. In a bid to boost sales they spread the rumour that a man should blow three months' wages on an engagement ring, and in 1947 they came up with the oft-quoted slogan 'A diamond is forever'.

•In addition to being valuable, the diamond has been attributed with a host of desirable properties including the ability to ensure loyalty and fidelity. The name has its roots in the Greek word Adamas, meaning invincible – which puts a whole new spin on my surname!

•Fast forward to 2010 and Tiffany & Co.’s Engagement Ring Finder is a first-of-its-kind iPhone app that includes a Ring Sizer facility, access to a team of expert consultants, and a range of styles that may be viewed with diamonds of six different carat sizes.

•The Tiffany setting – a claw that holds a gemstone to a plain band ring – is the most common setting for a diamond solitaire.

June 17, 2010

Louis V Takes A Trip

I can't decide whether I love this Louis Vuitton necklace, or hate it. It's doing something to me though...

Designed by Lorenz Bäumer (who's also designed for Chanel and Baccarat) it's one of six one-off necklaces which form the centrepieces of a collection of parures called L’Âme du Voyage aka The Soul of the Journey (or somesuch).

Inspired by LV's travel heritage these lace-like trinkets are packed with diamonds, rubies, pink sapphires and garnets to name a few. Like it or not (and the craftsmanship is undeniable) at around $2.5 million US this necklace this is one luxury round-the-world trip.

3 Days Later...

In the wake of the comment and link below it's worth noting that in Nov 2008 LV patented 2 diamond cuts – the rounded fleur quatrefoil and the pointed fleur – both of which can be seen in this collection.

June 16, 2010

Philippe Sajet

You wait forever for some horn jewellery to come along and then a whole bunch turns up at the same time. Hot on the heels of yesterday's post about Florian's new men's collection comes this ring by Dutch jeweller/artist Philippe Sajet. I can't find a lot about Sajet online (except a Facebook account which I've just messaged) but going on this, I think we should be friends.

Ring made from water buffalo horn and gold, 2003

More to come as my online stalking bears fruits...

Time Flies

I just spotted these Timeless Watches by Rogan on the Coolhunting website.
Created with sustainability in mind they're assembled from old watch parts so that each one is, in effect, unique. They come in matte black and gold, and cost $110US each.

Seeing them brought to mind a couple of other bits of watch-jewellery I've encountered along the way. Gia Bahm at Unearthen (who I interviewed recently for Adorn London) covers antique watch faces with pyramid crystals and when I asked her why they appealed to her, she told me: "I'm attracted to vintage watches for the same reasons I like each crystal - it's a one-of-a-kind piece. It's special to come upon each watch and appreciate it for its own unique characteristics."

Natalia Brilli, who creates the most amazing leather-encased works of art – including a lap top and a full drum kit - made this Nolex for AW07. I think she re-issues it from time to time and one of these days I'm gonna buy me one.

Husam el Odeh's another jeweller who specialises in re-contextualising apparently redundant objects. From antique salt spoons and decanter stoppers to pencils and belt buckles he turns trash into treasure and in 2007 he put his own spin on a stash of vintage gold watches.

The appeal of objects such as these is difficult to pin down, but the fact that disparate designers explore it again and again suggests it works on a level other than the purely aesthetic. Is it about holding on to time, running out of time or simply sticking two fingers up at time? Who knows... For me these timepieces that no longer function in the sense for which they were intended work on a couple of levels. The visual puns tickle me, but the fact they've stopped (or don't even exist) makes me ever so slightly sad. Maybe that's the point.

Boucheron - So Sweet

Boucheron has extended its Tentation Macaron line with a collection of mini versions. The green one brings to mind one of my less successful Parisian dining experiences which involved a plate of vivid green macaroons, a gallon or two of very cheap red wine and an embarrassingly premature conclusion to the meal. On balance, these are definitely the tastier option.

White gold and tsavorites

Yellow gold and orange sapphires

June 15, 2010

Boys In Jewels Part 3 - Florian

Florian is another one of my very favourite jewellery designers. He's just sent me the look book for his new Spring/Summer men's collection and it's safe to say this is a winner. Forget notions of tacky bling for boys, or unfounded fears of looking effeminate – this stuff's unabashedly masculine, albeit with a soft centre.

Horn necklace and bracelet set: polished cow horn, rope and leather cord, rhodium plated brass chain

Horn necklace: natural and polished antler, polished cow horn and rope

Leather cord and chain necklace

Horn pendant necklace with polished cow horn and rope

Rope necklaces

Polished horn pendants with snake chain (left) and leather cord

Vintage Week at Adorn

Juliet at Adorn has devoted her website to all things vintage this week. Click here to read a little something I wrote for her...

And here's a few pix Juliet didn't use. They are works by Julia Muggenburger of Belmacz - one of my very favourite jewellers working today. Each piece incorporates vintage elements sourced by Julia on her globetrotting adventures.

Roman Still Life
Music Note
Joie Double

I had the pleasure of meeting Julia a while back. She gave me a tour of her plush showrooms on Mount Street in Mayfair and told me all sorts of weird and wonderful stories about the pieces she has created over the years. My favourite was about the queen's former dentist who commissioned Julia to make him a ring using a piece of green jade. He eventually lost it in the sea on holiday. Bummer. Julia is eccentric in the very best sense of the word - quirky, wildly creative and very entertaining.

June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Bulgari

When Bulgari first launched their B.zero1 collection in 2000 it comprised a small selection of gold rings with moving central spirals, decorated with diamonds and gems. Since then the now iconic range has expanded to include bracelets, pendants, earrings and wristwatches each of which boast all the key elements of Bulgari style, namely a re-interpretation the Tubogas coil detail, and two lateral rims with the double logo engraved.

To celebrate the B.zero1’s 10th birthday Bulgari recently launched a capsule collection that explores new materials and novel interpretations of the line’s classic staples. Special mention goes to the pink gold and mirrored steel ring designed by artist Anish Kapoor (top image, below).