Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Designer Spotlight: de Grisogono

Set with over 100 black and white diamonds, this spectacular watch is fashioned out of solid 18k white gold. The pave-set band is inlaid over a stingray leather de Grisogono strap, and the mechanism is visible through the glass case on the backside of the watch. This masterpiece in time technology was crafted by the jewelry firm de Grisogono as part of their Grande Collection.

Founded by Fawaz Gruosi, de Grisogono has been dedicated to absolute perfection and continual innovation in jewelry and watch design since 1993. De Grisogono jewels are characterized by bold and exuberant designs executed with cutting-edge techniques, creative twists, and absolute perfection.

Every de Grisogono jewel features bold and often neglected gemstones, asymmetrical design elements, and breathtaking glamour. This particular watch is a testament to de Grisogono's signature use of the previously ignored black diamond. Historically, until Fawaz Gruosi began integrating black diamonds into his creations, they were largely overlooked by designers in the luxury industry. Thanks to Mr. Gruosi's passion for overlooked beauty, today black diamonds firmly hold their place in court with majesty, mystique, and allure.

Fawaz Gruosi is a man of intense curiosity, adventure, and passion. His Mediterranean roots shine forth in his bold use of color and his infinite reinterpretations of form and line. He approaches everything with emotion, purpose and intensity, and this shines forth in every piece his firm produces.

Mr. Gruosi puts great stock in his intuition, and while paying tribute to the esteemed traditions of jewelry design at all times, he continually pushes the boundaries of the industry, propelling his jewels into the most elite of haute couture style. In the area of watchmaking, de Grisogono has taken tradition and built upon it, inventing never-before-seen complications that set de Grisogono far apart from its watchmaking competition.

While de Grisogono is fully committed to Swiss watchmaking heritage, they have pushed the boundaries of tradition to create exclusive in-house movements with ingenious complications. With these innovations, Mr. Gruosi and his team of skilled watchmakers have added value and exclusivity to their Swiss watches. Mirroring the ingenuity on the inside, they've brought to light the mystical allure of never-before-seen materials, including stingray leather, black diamonds, and icy phosphorescent diamonds, gemstones that have become the signature of de Grisogono's watches and high jewelry.

de Grisogono's watches are a testament to Fawaz Gruosi's impeccable design philosophy. "I design out of instinct and express my inner passion into unexpected and extravagant creations," says the legendary designer on his website.

The origins of his philosophy grew out of his childhood experiences in Florence, Italy. Born in Syria in 1952, Mr. Gruosi eventually moved with his Italian mother and Lebanese father to Florence where he lived until he was 18 years old. His first jewelry-related job was as a janitor in a Florence jewelry store. Following his passion for gemstones and design, he was soon promoted to store director in London. From there, he became Harry Winston's representative to the Alizera family in Saudi Arabia, and from there the doors to Europe's most esteemed jewelry houses opened for him.

By the mid-1990s, Fawaz Gruosi was ready to take his mastery to the next level. He opened his first solo boutique in Geneva, where he established the adventurous de Grisogono brand. His commitment to excellence and his courage in pushing the boundaries of design tradition quickly catapulted the brand into high jewelry fame. Today, de Grisogono continues to draw from Fawaz's pursuit of technical virtuosity and vanguard design.

Mr. Gruosi's designs are inspired by his unique experiences and everything in the world around him. Whether inspired by "the shape of a lampshade or the color of the sea," he expressed to Huffington Post writer Yvonna Russell, Fawaz aims to highlight the natural beauty of the men and women who wear his pieces. "I do not have a particular woman in mind when I design. I make the piece, and the right woman will be drawn to it," he told Ms. Russell in the same interview.

Are you drawn to the lines of this de Grisogono masterpiece?

Are you inspired by the unconventional use of rapturous gemstones in traditional settings with an edge?

If so, we cannot recommend more highly the high jewelry and timepieces created by the masterful designer and artisans at de Grisogono.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Grain-Set Jewelry

This spectacular white gold halo ring features a magnificent blue oval sapphire weighing 4.02 carats. Centered on the edges of its shoulders are two trapezoid cut diamonds nestled amid two stunning halos of brilliant round cut diamonds. It is these round cut diamonds and their settings that we are most interested in today.

While the large sapphire is held in place by four metal prongs, the white diamonds are held in place by a traditional grain setting. Grain-set jewelry was historically created with a handful of beading (or graining) tools. The technique is typically employed when setting a number of equal-sized stones in lines.

This setting is a highly specialized technique and therefore requires the skills of a seasoned master stone setter. It first gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, carrying through the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco periods of jewelry.

All these grain-set jewels were crafted by hand, using a drill to cut all the holes in the metal and a beading tool to raise a bead of metal up and over the stone's four corners to secure it in place. Today, CAD jewelry design makes it possible to create grain-set designs without the labor-intensive process known in the 20th century. Thus, bead-set jewels are returning to contemporary style.

While as many as six beads, as few as three, can be used to set a stone in place, four is the most common number of beads for a grain setting. Sometimes, a five-grain setting is chosen, in which four beads are placed at each "corner" of the stone and a fifth bead is set in between to give a visual distance between each stone in the row.

Probably the most popular form of grain setting is the pave setting, in which a carpet of small diamonds cling to the surface of a setting to create a sea of bling. Each tiny diamond is set with beads, adding more shine and brilliance to the overall look of the piece. With this technique, the small stones are sunk to their girdles, set to nearly touch each other. With the aid of a hand tool called an onglette graver, each of the beads is cut and fashioned. After which, the stone setter uses a round graver is to roll the metal into position and lock the stones into place.

A grain setting works best for small, calibrated brilliant-cut stones, though it can also be chosen for any flat-backed stone: cabochons, rose cuts, or half or three-quarter cut pearls. According to writer Anastasia Young, the grains of metal trick the eye, maintaining the visual texture across the entire setting.{1}

In some cases, the grain setting is used without stones. This is a particularly useful technique on pieces that have areas of metal that are too small to mount with stones. Millegrain is a variation of this technique which adds interest and beauty to what would otherwise be a smooth, blank area on a ring or brooch.

When purchasing a grain-set jewel, you'll want to inspect it carefully for quality. Well-crafted jewelry will always feel smooth to the touch. Any rough or splintery edges indicate poor craftsmanship. Inspect pave and micropave jewels under a loupe to ensure that stones are set tightly. Loose stones are an indication of amateur workmanship and should be avoided in the purchase of high-end jewelry. While inspecting it under the loupe, ensure that none of the diamonds or gemstones were chipped during the setting process.

We cannot stress enough the importance of being willing to request of your jeweler that they demonstrate the quality and workmanship of every jewel they sell. Whether you're purchasing a new, vintage, or estate jewel, the quality of your investment should matter to you and to your jeweler.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer


  1. Young, Anastasia. Gemstone Settings. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press LLC, 2012, p. 121.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Designer Spotlight: Buccellati

This exquisite designer ring is set with 39 brilliant-cut diamonds in white gold rhombs. The scalloped border is molded in an openwork design with frilled yellow gold, fashioned in the likeness of Venetian lace. In all of its magnificence, this ring sings with the hallmarks of its high-class designer, Buccellati.

Buccellati is the trade name for one of the most prestigious jewelry design firms in the world. Its headquarters are located in New York City, but this family-owned dynastic jewelry house owes its beginnings to the influence of its birthplace, Milan, Italy.

In 1919, Mario Buccellati opened his first jewelry boutique on Largo Santa Margherita in Milan. Having learned the secrets of the Italian goldsmiths, Signori Buccellati put his acquired skills to use. Drawing upon the inspired works of the Italian Renaissance, Buccellati infused every jewel with imagination and inspiration. Striving for perfection, he developed a meticulous approach which has now brought forth signature designs that look almost like the delicate lace that inspires them.

True to form, this particular Buccalleti jewel features the signature pairing of gold and diamonds. When their work is not inspired by fine textured linens, it is inspired by flowers and leaves. Every Buccellati piece is completely hand engraved. A smooth surface is rarely found in this designer's work, as that would be boring. And Buccellati is never boring, never predictable, never run of the mill.

In all their pieces, an elegant simplicity can be found. Recurring patterns, recurring themes, reinvented from one year to the next. Every piece is made by hand, drawing upon centuries of trade secrets passed down from father to son/father to daughter.

Today, Buccellati is in the capable hands of four Buccellatis. Gino manages the silver goods, Maria Cristina oversees marketing, and Andrea serves as president of the firm. These three men inherited the firm from their father, Gianmaria, who in turn inherited it from his father, Mario. The fourth Buccellati, Lucrezia, is the first female to hold the prestigious position of designer alongside her father, Andrea.

Lucrezia represents the new age of Buccellati in what she calls "a soft passage from old to new."{1} She explained to Galena Mosovich of Ocean Drive that the house has always aligned two generations to work together in conceptualizing the firm and its designs. In this way, the secrets of the trade are passed down without interruption, and tradition is always influenced by the now.

With a current focus on engagement rings and jeweled electronics cases, Lucrezia continues to draw on the Italian Renaissance for her cues. Techniques passed down for over four centuries have been enhanced with the introduction of more sophisticated tools which are used to wrought decidedly classic designs.

Buccellati jewels are inspired by many things, including nature's beauty, elements of dreams, Venetian lace, the works of Benvenuto Cellini, Italian architecture, and of course by the woman who will wear their jewels.

Buccellati believes this woman is a feminine wonder, naturally elegant and beautifully spontaneous. This woman infuses every aspect of her life with a joyful flair. Her beauty is timeless, and her style is inimitable. She is one of a kind.

If you are this woman, then may we invite you to visit our Seattle-area showroom and try on this magnificent Buccellati gold and diamond ring?


  1. Mosovich, Galena. "Presented by Buccellati: How Lucrezia Buccellati is Leading Her Family's Jewelry House into a New Generation," Ocean Drive, December 5, 2014.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jade Hunting in Big Sur

Do you appreciate nature's treasures: sand dollars, serpentine, and nephrite jade?

Do you love sweeping vistas, majestic sea cliffs, and breathtaking ocean views?

Are you in search of the perfect California honeymoon destination?

Are you up for trail blazing, beach combing, and rock hounding?

If you said yes to any (or all) of these questions, then may we suggest a honeymoon getaway at Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur, California?

Ventana is situated on 243 acres of Highway 1's most spectacular countryside. With views of the majestic coastline, lush redwood forests, sweeping spring green meadows, and stunning canyons, Ventana offers breathtaking scenery for every taste.

To get there from Seattle, drive south until you reach the turnoff for California Highway 101. Continue south toward Los Angeles, turning off at Monterey to merge onto Highway 1, the West Coast's most spectacular seaside drive. Drive through Monterey, take in the sights at Carmel By the Sea, and hug the shoulders along the cliffs for another hour until you reach the resort.

Ventana Inn & Spa offers a boutique luxury experience to every guest, including a restaurant specializing in scrumptious fare made with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients from Central California; an in-house spa featuring swimming pools, Japanese hot baths, facials, massages, and more; and an in-house art gallery featuring the works of local artists. Shuttle service is also available to transport guests to nearby shops and restaurants.

Their luxurious guest rooms feature plush king-size beds with Egyptian cotton bedding, a private deck or patio, soaking tubs, binoculars, umbrellas, flashlights, and walking sticks. Everything you'll need to fully immerse yourself in the enchanting tranquility of Big Sur.

Once you are fully rested, you and your sweetheart will be ready to embark on a unique and exciting treasure hunt for the nephrite jade found on nearby beaches. Big Sur jade hunting is not for the faint of heart, so be prepared with sturdy hiking shoes, good maps, and some practice with spotting the sought-after green stone.

We recommend beginning at Sand Dollar Beach early in the morning, at the first low tide. Sand Dollar Beach is a day use area administered by the US Forest Service as part of the Los Padres National Forest. A small fee is required, and there are a few regulations for jade hunters, so look further into such details before heading out.

All of Big Sur's beaches lie far below the road, nestled at the base of amazing cliffs and bluffs. Sand Dollar Beach offers a 98-step stairway that leads to the public beach. In the early morning, you'll have the place mostly to yourself, offering you a first run at finding sand dollars and jade.

For jade, you'll want to search near the larger rock outcroppings, where the crashing of the surf has smashed the larger boulders into small enough bits for you to pick up. Dig down into the sand and gravel, and keep your eyes peeled for shimmering green or black stones. Carry a pocket knife with you to test your yield, as an abundance of green serpentine coexists onshore with the more precious and illusive jade.

Serpentine is a soft stone that is not coveted commercially, and unless you fall in love with its unique properties you will not want to expend your energy carrying much of it back up those 98 steps with you. Nephrite jade will shimmer when you hold it up to the sunlight. It has a translucent quality and is so hard that a knife blade will not scratch it. In fact, you may find that the nephrite actually scratches your knife.

If you're unsatisfied with your hunt, then you can take to the surf. Sand Dollar Beach is reported as being one of the best surfing beaches along Big Sur. According to the website California's Best Beaches, "The waves come in big and can break well out from shore or can be forgiving and gentle breaking close to the beach." If you'd rather, you can also take to the sky. Hang-gliders and para-gliders often land in the meadow to the south of the beach.

But if you want to take your jade hunting to the next level, then we suggest a short drive, another 0.6 miles south, to the unmarked turnoff for Jade Cove. Beware, this hike and beach are among the most rugged public access points on Big Sur. The trail can be treacherous, especially when wet. And the waves can be sneaky, swift, and fierce at any time of year.

If you choose to hunt Jade Cove, you'll be more likely to find worthwhile jade stone, and you'll be privileged to sea the California Coast at its most spectacular. However, be sure you do plenty of research ahead of time, and keep one eye on the waves at all times. You might also consider hiring a guide to take you to this most popular of jade hunting locales on the coast.

Be sure to give us a call when you come home with your cache. We'd love to help you find the perfect vintage or estate setting to best commemorate your honeymoon treasure.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Allure of Blue Sapphires

At EraGem, we love sapphires. The bigger and bluer, the better. This azure hue of corundum gets its color from an intrusion of titanium and iron in its elaborate crystal structure. Blue sapphires can range in color from pale sky blue, to royal blue, to deep sea blue.

We are partial to the deep sea blue colors here at EraGem. Like the one pictured here, a gorgeous deep blue Sri Lankan sapphire weighing nearly 8 carats! Nestled in a four-prong platinum setting, this magnificent sapphire is accented by four channel-set tapered baguette white diamonds. This sapphire would serve well as a right-hand finger ring, though we think it would shine even brighter as a stunning engagement ring for a woman who values romance, purity, wisdom, and divine favor.

Blue sapphires represent all that and more. In Persia, the ancients believed that the very color of the heavens was derived from the sapphire pedestal on which the earth rested. The minuscule (in comparison) raw sapphire stones found scattered across the land were thought to be chips off this grand foundation stone.

Blue sapphires have long been associated with religious leaders, worn by clergy to enhance their connection to divine wisdom and favor. Non-religious spiritualists have sought the help of sapphires to aid in the acquisition of prophetic knowledge and to increase their ability to channel powerful energies.

The ancients relied on sapphires to ensure fidelity, chastity, and temperance. Many Europeans during the middle ages believed that sapphire was the true blue gem, a gift of which symbolized the highest order of friendship, solidarity, honesty, and loyalty.

This long-held association with fidelity has made blue sapphires a popular choice for engagement rings, as has its association with royalty. Sapphires and rubies were once held in as high esteem for royalty as the diamond, and blue sapphires continue to be a favorite among modern royals.

Buddhists believed blue sapphires brought one closer to enlightenment and strengthened a postulate's devotion. Christians relied on sapphires to protect them from harm, particularly from poison, plague, black magic, treachery, and treason. They were also believed to provide wisdom, insight, and understanding to those who sought divine help.

Blue sapphires are associated with academia, as well. Believed by some to be the Stone of Wisdom, these gorgeous blue gems were thought to inspire curiosity and to increase mental acuity. They were believed to promote self-discipline, activating the ability to order one's steps and reach one's goals in a methodical and conscientious manner.

Today, they are associated with the psychology of the color blue. Blue is calming, bringing serenity in the midst of chaos and stress. The sense of peace blue brings can lead to the release of tension and clear the mind of negative thoughts that cloud creative approaches to problems. A blue sapphire, then, might open your mind to new thoughts, inspire contemplation of the beauty around you, and restore balance to your body and mind as you reflect on the mesmerizing rays of light emanating from within its faceted body.

We cannot more highly recommend encountering a blue sapphire in all its glory. To do so, please call to make an appointment with one of our associates. It would be our pleasure to share with you the beauty of our selection of blue sapphires.

~Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer