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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It’s Results Time! Sotheby’s – April 2013

Yesterday I told you all about the Magnificent Jewels I saw at the Sotheby’s auction viewing. If you missed that post, you can check it out here. Well, the results are in! (I will let you know what the pieces for sale in the May Geneva auction sell for next month!)

Lot #124, “Platinum and Diamond Bracelet, Chaumet”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

PRICE REALIZED: DID NOT SELL

 

Lot #390, “Pair of 18 Karat Two-Color Gold, Fancy Color Diamond and Diamond Earrings”, estimated at $350,000 – $450,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

PRICE REALIZED: DID NOT SELL

 

Lot #387, “Exceptional Pear-Shaped Diamond”, estimated at $9,000,000 – $12,000,000:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Lot #387 CropPRICE REALIZED: $14,165,000 (this is an auction record for any white diamond sold in the Americas)

 

Five bidders vied for that pear-shaped diamond, but only one took it home. Are you amazed at that price? This stone was one of very few pear-shaped D-color diamonds over 50 carats to be auctioned in recent decades. I guess someone wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on it! This sale at Sotheby’s brought in $53,490,938 in total, which was a new record sum for them for a spring jewelry auction in New York. Only 70 of the large collection of 397 pieces went unsold. I’m looking forward to seeing that adorable watch bracelet again at a future exhibition!

P.S. Although I mention the name Sotheby’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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Magnificent Jewels at Sotheby’s – April 2013

It’s jewelry auction season! Yesterday I happily traveled to both Sotheby’s and Christie’s for their April 2013 Magnificent Jewels auction viewings. These exhibitions usually happen close together, but this year they were completely overlapped. And with the same name for the event, it can get quite confusing! Here is my experience at the Sotheby’s viewing. Come back tomorrow to see my posting about the Christie’s viewing!

If you haven’t read my earlier posts about these auctions, you can catch up here with results here, and here with results here. Sotheby’s is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and this year they had an awesome billboard on the side of the building. Makes you want to go in, right? Let’s!

sotheby's billboard

Lot #630 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Fancy Light Purplish Pink Diamond Ring”, Property of a Gentleman, estimated at $1,200,000 – $1,800,00 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This Fancy Light Purplish Pink Diamond weighs 12.85 carats and has VVS1 clarity. The faint pink color in person was really lovely — a real ballerina pink. Another great feature is the three rows of diamonds in the halo design. It gives it a real feeling of decadence.

Lot #636 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Magnificent and Very Important Ring”, estimated at $4,000,000 – $6,000,000:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

What a photo, right? This cushion modified brilliant-cut diamond weighs 27.90 carats, is D color, and is Internally Flawless. Wow! The first thing I noticed about this diamond wasn’t that it was Internally Flawless, but that the shape of it was so gorgeous. Cushion cuts are not all the same dimensions, and some can be longer or wider, with more or less gradual curves to the corners. The shape of this one is really visually pleasing, and gives the diamond an air of sophistication. It was incredible to look into a diamond with no inclusions, and it was as sparkly as could be for a cushion cut. If I had to guess, this one will sell for more than the estimated high price!

Lot #501 as part of the Geneva auction in May, “Spectacular Diamond Bracelet, 1930’s”, Property of a Lady, estimated at $70,000 – $90,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This bracelet was incredible to see and touch up close. It has SO many diamonds! The photo above doesn’t show it well, but the diamonds are set within a really interesting pattern of metalwork. Flipping it over was like looking up at stained glass windows within a church. This is the kind of bracelet where you don’t need to wear any other jewelry! It is also very wide, more like a cuff than a traditional deco bracelet. Here is a photo of it on my wrist to give you an idea of the scale:

Lot #501 Insta

Made me feel like Superwoman!

Lot #663 as part of the Gina Lollobrigida auction in Geneva in May, “Magnificent Diamond Necklace/Bracelet Combination, Bulgari, 1954”, estimated at $300,000 – $500,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

One of the magical things about this necklace is that it can be separated into four pieces, two of which can be worn as bracelets. Gina Lollobrigida, the legendary actress, was even known to wear it as a tiara, which she did when she received her 1961 Golden Globe:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

In person it’s refreshing to see that this necklace doesn’t sit completely flat — the edges of those floral elements pop up, which gives the piece such great movement. Very youthful and playful! (It is also important to note that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 23 jewels from her collection will go to fund an international hospital for stem cell research.)

Since all the above pieces are part of the Geneva Sotheby’s auction in May, I will post an update for the results from them then. The rest of the jewelry I am going to cover now will be up for auction tomorrow here in New York.

To give you an idea of how beautiful the styling at Sotheby’s is for these auctions, they had vases full of lush and fragrant cherry blossoms in key spots in the viewing rooms. Such a lovely touch!

Sotheby's cherry blossoms

Lot #124, “Platinum and Diamond Bracelet, Chaumet”, estimated at $15,000 – $20,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

The diamonds in this darling bracelet weigh approximately 12.75 carats together, and the dial is even set with a small cabochon sapphire. It is a skinny bracelet, which means the face of the watch is teeny tiny. I’m surprised they got all the numbers in there! I think this is a fantastic way to design a bracelet. Make it sleek and elegant, and then add a small touch like the watch face to make it special. What girl wouldn’t want to be able to tell the time while looking fabulous?

Lot #390, “Pair of 18 Karat Two-Color Gold, Fancy Color Diamond and Diamond Earrings”, estimated at $350,000 – $450,000 USD:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

These earrings are set with one round near colorless diamond weighing 5.02 carats and one round Fancy Intense Yellow diamond weighing 5.01 carats. Part of why I really enjoyed these earrings was because at the World Gold Council conference this past weekend there was a brief discussion about the fact that earrings don’t have to be identical as long as they are balanced. This is the perfect example of that. These earrings are the inversion of each other, not just in the color of the diamonds but in the color of the metals as well. Such a fun way to be elegant but also have some character!

And now, for the final and most impressive diamond of the auction, Lot #387, “Exceptional Pear-Shaped Diamond”, estimated at $9,000,000 – $12,000,000:

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This colossal diamond weighs 74.79 carats, is D color, and has VVS1 clarity with the potential to be Internally Flawless. Gazing at it in it’s case (this one doesn’t come out to touch), it must be about 2.5 inches long. It has this lovely true teardrop shape, long and slender. Here is another photo to show some bit of scale:

Lot #387 CropCan’t wait to see what this beauty goes for!

Which is your favorite piece of jewelry from the collection? If I could take any of them home, I think I would want that slim watch-bracelet. I could conceivably wear it on special occasions, as opposed to the 74.79 carat pear-shaped diamond! Come back on Thursday to find out what they all sell for!

P.S. Although I mention the name Sotheby’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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