Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age Exhibit

In June I had the pleasure of visiting the Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age exhibit twice, currently on display at The Forbes Galleries in NYC. The first event was part of a talk with conceptual gem artist John Hatleberg, who has several pieces on display. The event was organized by the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and its co-director, Elyse Zorn Karlin, who guest curated the exhibit. At the second event Elyse gave a private tour of the exhibit to a small group. Both times I was struck by how much detail and information could be packed into the small exhibit. The jewelry gallery at Forbes is just one room but this exhibit, which includes over 100 pieces, contains so many amazing pieces of jewelry. With just a few days left until the exhibit closes, it is a must-see for all you jewelry and space geeks!

SpaceJewelrycover

“The purpose of this exhibition is to document how the history of space exploration has been reflected in our popular culture through both fine and non-precious jewelry and to showcase the beautiful and whimsical jewels that are being crafted today as jewelers continue to ponder the mysteries of the universe.” — Elyse Zorn Karlin, Guest Curator

Although the exhibit is centered around jewelry inspired by and related to space, there is also great non-jewelry memorabilia to go with the gems — a space ship sewing set from the 1930’s, a space cadet thermos, and a space-themed toy piano from the 1950’s all contribute to the far-out feeling of the exhibit:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The centerpiece of the room, which is the first item you see as you walk into the main area of the exhibit, is the Tampa Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels. This one-of-a-kind piece, from a private collection, contains a multitude of diamonds and gemstones — round, baguette, and rose cut diamonds; pink, purple, blue, and yellow sapphires; onyx; orange garnets; red spinels; and beryl. It was created in 2010 and was inspired by the science fiction novel From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

The movement in this piece is incredible, the way the diamond trail of the rocket has swirled around the neck several times, and the burst of orange air beneath it. An ingenious part of this design is the large yellow sapphire at the bottom of the piece, which has an orange garnet set underneath it that shows through because of how thin the yellow sapphire is. It adds to the dream-like fantasy of the piece. Along with that, this necklace can be worn nine different ways, since it is made up of detachable and interchangeable pieces. Such a fantastic piece, especially for this exhibit!

The exhibition contains a wide range of jewelry, with items from the dawn of the space age (the late 1950’s to 1960’s) along with contemporary pieces, like the Venus Earrings by Steven Kretchmer Design:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Looking at these earrings you might think, “Cool earrings, I get it, they look like diamonds in orbit”. But they are so much more than that! There earrings are made up of 18 kt gold, diamonds, and polarium, a permanently magnetized platinum alloy created by Stephen Kretchmer. One of the amazing behaviors of polarium is levitation, which is exhibited in these earrings. The diamond discs are not attached to any part of that center rod — they keep their amazing spacing simply because of the poles repelling. How amazing is that!

There is a fascinating section in the exhibition dedicated to jewelry that has flown in space. Astronauts are allowed to take up to twenty personal items on a space mission, with a limit of 3.3 lbs total. Jewelry is often taken as part of this package because of its small size and sentimental nature. Of course having a piece of jewelry that has gone up into space greatly increases its value as well, and many pieces can fetch between $50,000 – $100,000 at auction, depending on which astronaut it belonged to. One of my favorite pieces is a Towson watch worn in space by commander Gerhard P.J. Thijiele, on loan from the National Watch and Clock Museum, which was worn on US Space Shuttle Mission SS-99 from February 11th-22nd, 2000. The date on the watch is permanently set to the 22nd, the last day of the mission. Looking at the worn leather band and the stopped clock you can almost imagine it has soaked up special space powers!

If you thought the idea of having items on display that have been in space was cool, another section of the exhibit features jewelry created using materials that come from space. This includes meteorites, tektite, moldavite, pallasite, and moissanite. A fun example of this is the Kitchen Sink ring by John Hatleberg:

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

Photo courtesy of Forbes Galleries

This ring is true to its name with a plethora of gemstones set in it — pallasite, white diamond, red emerald, South Sea pearl, zircon, tourmaline, spinel, sapphire, tsavorite, aquamarine, and irradiated diamond. I imagine it is strong fluorescence in these diamonds that gives them a milky glow, which matches so perfectly with the other gemstones in the ring. The green overtone of the South Sea pearl gives the feeling of an alien lifeform’s skin. Couldn’t you imagine this is what the surface of some fantastic alien planet looks like?

I could go on and on about the amazing jewelry at this exhibit, but I would rather leave the surprises for you to see for yourself. The last day of this exhibition is September 7th, 2013, and it is free to the public. If you are here in NYC, treat yourself to a lunch break at this stellar gallery. It is truly out of this world!

P.S. Although I mention The Forbes Galleries a million times in this post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous space-tastic jewelry!

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Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s – April 2013 (With Results!)

Yesterday you heard all about my trip to the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction. Let’s continue the story! After seeing all those sparkly jewels uptown, I made my way down to the Diamond District, which Christie’s is nestled next to on 49th Street. Lovely gold detail on the wall as you enter the exhibition:

Christie's wall Insta

Christie’s was packed when I got there. Plenty of tourists as well as serious buyers were checking out the jewelry. Christie’s also took inspiration from the flowering trees in NYC and had lovely bouquets of cherry blossoms and white tulips. It really is such a nice touch!

Lot #199, “A Diamond Necklace, by William Goldberg”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

Lot #199 Insta

I love that there is every shape of diamond in this double-strand necklace — oval, emerald-cut, marquis, pear-shape, cushion, round, and heart-shape. And while just a single strand of this would be beautiful, the grace of the double strands makes this necklace even more special. A really beautiful piece!

PRICE REALIZED: $363,750 USD

 

Lot #22, “An Antique Gold Parure”, estimated at $10,000 – $15,000 USD:

Lot #22 Insta

This case, which was gorgeous in its own right, has a necklace, two bracelets, a brooch, a pair of ear pendants, and a tiara. The whole set was a work of art! You wouldn’t even need to wear the jewelry, just set out the case for people to swoon over. There were some spots where the metal was tarnished or worn away, but it didn’t matter. Still impressive!

PRICE REALIZED: $13,750 USD

 

Lot #98, “A Diamond Ring, by Harry Winston”, estimated at $250,000 – $350,000 USD:

Lot #98 Insta

Yep, that’s my hand. When I say I fell in love with this ring, it’s a complete understatement. Usually I just look at the jewelry when they take it out of the case, maybe try it on a little, and then go on my merry way to the next case. This one, I put it on my finger, and it fit perfectly. It felt like some Cinderella-glass-slipper magic. Plus, the proportions of it on my hand are perfect. Sigh. I actually took it off my finger quickly after taking this photo so that I wouldn’t get too attached. Oh, you probably want to know more about the actual diamond? This is a modified cushion-cut diamond weighing approximately 10.24 carats, is E color, with VS2 clarity. I really hope that the person who purchased it loves it and wears it as much as I wish I could!

PRICE REALIZED: $423,750 USD

 

Lot #40, “A Colored Diamond Ring”, estimated at $60,000 – $80,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This heart-shaped light yellow diamond weighs approximately 8.86 carats, and is mounted in yellow and white gold. I love how wide the shoulders of the heart are — it gives the ring a young, fun, playful feel. The yellow hue was very striking in person.

PRICE REALIZED: $105,750 USD

 

Lot #70, “An Art Deco Diamond and Onyx Bracelet”, estimated at $20,000 – $30,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This diamond and onyx bracelet, set in platinum, was produced circa 1925. Isn’t it so fantastically graphic? It’s exactly what I imagine when I think of art-deco. It would look great with a flapper dress!

PRICE REALIZED: $43,750 USD

 

There are several pieces of jewelry that I want to show you that were on special display, but they are part of the Geneva Christie’s auction in May. So let’s save them for a few weeks from now, that way we have something to swoon over during the five month stretch until the next jewelry auction season in September!

The last, most amazing diamond of the auction was “The Princie” Diamond, Lot #295:

Image courtesy of Christie's

Image courtesy of Christie’s

This extraordinary 34.65 carat cushion-cut Fancy Intense Pink diamond was the most buzzed about jewel of the entire auction. Heralding from the ancient Golconda mines in South Central India, this beauty was originally owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad. It was first auctioned in 1960 and purchased by Van Cleef & Arpels for £46,000 (the equivalent of $1.3 million USD today). It was named “The Princie” after the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, India, who was in attendance at a Van Cleef party in their Paris store in 1960 with his mother. A fun phenomenon of this diamond is that it flouresces a bright orange color when exposed to UV radiation. Christie’s says this is the largest pink stone to display this characteristic. But let’s get to the part we’re all dying to know — how much did it sell for???

PRICE REALIZED: $39,323,750 USD (world auction record for a Golconda diamond)

This diamond was purchased by an anonymous bidder, and aside from breaking the Golconda diamond world record, it is also the most expensive diamond ever sold at Christie’s (the previous diamond being the Wittelsbach in 2008 for $24.3 million USD) and in the United States. That’s $1,135,000 USD per carat! Other fun facts about the auction are that 241 out of 294 lots were sold, and the entire auction brought in $81.3 million US dollars.

Which is your favorite piece from the auction? Would you love to wear that double strand necklace of mixed cuts? Or perhaps you think The Princie is the prettiest pink? You know my answer already — I will forever remember how great that cushion cut diamond ring felt on my hand. Until the next auction!

P.S. Although I mention the name Christie’s a million times in this blog post, I was not paid or perked to write about this exhibition. I am simply a lover of gorgeous gems, especially the ones that I get to try on!

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