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Top jewelry designers’ work showcased in Jasper52 sale Feb. 16

Featuring iconic designs from Cartier, Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels, Jasper52’s online fine jewelry auction will be conducted on Tuesday, Feb. 16. This special sale offers only the best in luxury jewelry, watches and fashion.

Van Cleef & Arpels Fleurette 18K gold ruby diamond double flower ring, size 4¾. Estimate: $16,000-$19,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Peter Max jewelry featured in Jasper52 jewelry sale Feb. 3

Bidders competing in a Jasper52 auction of Antique to Modern Fine Jewelry have their pick of nearly 400 lots in an online sale Wednesday, Feb. 3. This unique jewelry auction showcases fine jewelry from a variety of designers, eras and mediums. This auction offers unique treasures, from heirloom estate pieces to elegant showstoppers.

Peter Max button necklace or belt, circa 1960, 39in long. Estimate: $12,000-$14,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Luxury designer jewelry showcased in online auction Jan. 26

More than 300 lots of designer jewelry and watches are offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Featuring iconic designs from Piaget, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels and others, this special sale contains only the best in luxury jewelry, watches and fashion.

Cartier Panthere 18K yellow gold diamond, rhodolite and garnet enamel ring with Cartier certificate and Cartier box. Estimate: $14,000-$17,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Victorian-era tiara stars in Jasper52 jewelry sale Dec. 29

A 150-year-old gold Persian tiara, sparkling with 8.5 carats of diamonds and rubies, is one of the fantastic pieces in a Jasper52 online auction of Exclusive Estate and Designer Jewelry that will be conducted on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Yellow gold diamond and rubies Persian tiara, 79.5 grams, circa 1870. Estimate: $17,000-$20,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 presents Swiss-made Natkina jewelry Dec. 21

Swiss jewelry brand Natkina is presenting its fine jewelry of previous and current collections in a Jasper52 online auction on Monday, Dec. 21. Nearly 600 lots of Natkina contemporary designs are described and pictured in the Jasper52 auction catalog.

Tsavorite, diamond and 18K yellow gold dangle earrings. Estimate: $18,000-$22,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Navajo expressed artistry with silver adornments

NEW YORK – The Navajo, who traditionally seek balance and beauty throughout their lives, adore ornamentation, especially silver. So families accumulate all they can afford. Besides, explains Charley B., raised on the “Big Rez” reservation near Chinle, Arizona, “Silver jewelry is given as gifts from birth, then all through life.”

Charley’s grandfather, a medicine man, wore all his silver – rings, bolos, concho belts, bracelets, ear pendants, moccasin buttons, hatbands, and bow guards – when performing healing ceremonies. His grandmother, a Navajo “star-gazer” and “hand-trembler” diagnostician, wore all her splendor, plus apparel bearing weighty Mercury-dime and Walking-Liberty-dollar buttons. All that radiance, though unrelated to religion, inspired respect and trust.

Silver concho belt, commercial leather and sinew with metal buckle, 43in, circa 1890. Sold for $7,000 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Yet Navajo silverwork is a relatively new art.

Decorative silver reached the New World in the 16th century, along with Spanish conquerors who decorated their horses with dazzling, silver-mounted bridles. Like the Moors, who had long ruled Spain, they believed that its shimmer averted the Evil Eye.

Hispanic blacksmiths, impressed by these trappings, eventually created similar bridles, trading some for Navajo cattle. In the 1850s, Atsidi Sani, a venturesome Navajo blacksmith, tried his hand at silverwork, using crude tools forged from scrap metal.

Leather bow guard adorned with silver buttons, 79 grams, 6in circumference, 2½in high, first quarter 20th century. Sold for $1,800 + buyer’s premium in 2020. Image courtesy of John Moran Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

While bands of his tribe were forcibly held at Fort Sumner in New Mexico Territory, he taught them his new-found techniques. By the time they returned to their homeland a decade later, scores had mastered the skill.

Initially, Navajo silversmiths melted American silver coins into ingots over charcoal fires. Then, by pounding them flat, they fashioned bridle bits, belt buckles, and bow guards for themselves, their families, and their community. Many of these early pieces featured simple, stamped geometric ornamentation, accented with filed or chiseled grooves and gashes. Others featured punched, scalloped borders.

Navajo silver bracelet featuring gem quality turquoise, stamped ‘RS,’ 105 grams, 1⁵⁄₈ x
5⁵⁄₈in, circa 1970. Sold for CA$450 (US$452.36) + buyer’s premium in 2012. Image courtesy of
Seahawk Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

By the 1880s, Navajo silversmith also crafted heavy ingot bracelets and earrings, embellishing some with choice blue or green bits of turquoise. Within a decade, many featured this “sky stone,” believed to offer physical and spiritual protection, more extensively. Yet it rarely overpowered the silver in their designs.

Once Navajo silversmiths mastered more advanced techniques like pounding silver into dies and soldering, they constructed more intricate creations. Silver conchos, possibly inspired by Spanish buckles, for instance, feature large shell-like, repoussé domes threaded through leather belts. Squash blossom necklaces, featuring flower-like beads resembling Spanish bridle floral motifs, are pairs of domed, soldered coins. Bridle-inspired najas, horseshoe-shaped, good-luck pendants often adorning these necklaces, were painstakingly sand-cast.

Squash blossom necklace featuring central, sand-cast, turquoise-tipped 3¼ x 2¼in naja suspended from dual strands of separated beads, each featuring bead and naja, on a 24in foxtail chain. Sold for $5,750 + buyer’s premium in 2017. Image courtesy Soulis Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Anglo-American trading posts, established across the Navaho Nation in the 1890s, eased contact with the outer world. Since then, the relationship between trader and Navajo has been mutually beneficial. Traders provide Navajos with needed food, clothing, tools and art supplies. (When the U.S. government forbid defacing American currency, for example, traders supplied silversmiths with pure, soft Mexican pesos instead.) Navajo artists, in turn, sold completed creations to traders, who brought them to market.

From the 1920s, Navajo smiths, now including women, created lighter, smaller, more portable designs for the growing tourist trade. Others, in urban, Anglo-owned workshops, mass-produced similar pieces from prerolled silver sheets and precut components. Yet at the same time, innovative Navajo craftsmen, like Kenneth Begay and Mark Chee, were creating superb pieces for tribal use and retail. Sales fell, however, during the Great Depression.

Navajo silver hatband featuring groups of pear-shaped, bezel-set turquoise divided by raised crescent embellishment, marked ‘IH Sterling,’ 72 grams. Sold for $375 + buyer’s premium in 2020. Image courtesy Hill Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Navajo silver regained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, as interest in Native American culture rose. Since production did not meet demands, however, prices soared. Yet toward the turn of the century, traditional Navajo silver pieces, along with fashionable watchbands, combs, barrettes, brooches, and earrings were readily available. Since then, master Navaho silversmiths, including Lee Yazzie and Ben Begaye, have combined traditional skills and innate creativity with sophisticated style.

Serious collectors, though, may seek Navajo “old pawn,” silver jewelry that, from the early 1900s, trading posts accepted as collateral on loans for necessities. Even today, women may swap sand-cast or turquoise-studded bracelets for bolts of cloth, redeeming them after their sheep are shorn. Farmers may swap prized concho belts for seeds, redeeming them at harvest home. Others routinely keep all their silver in pawn, “borrowing” it briefly for communal dances and ceremonies. “Stuff changes hands whenever there is a need,” Charley explains. “ Families in the midst of a dispute, for instance, might redeem their entire fortune, then don it to demonstrate strength and independence.”

Silver bracelet featuring turquoise set on stamped motifs resembling feathers, 5.5 x 1.2in, first quarter 20th century. Sold for $3,750 + buyer’s premium in 2010. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

If old pawn silver is not redeemed within the contracted period of time, however, it becomes “dead pawn,” which traders are authorized to sell at will. These historical pieces, which rarely reach the market, are prized not only for primitive style and silver content, but also for their authenticity – unevenly wrought wire, worn edges, crackled silver and crazed, natural turquoise. Some even boast original pawn tickets.

These treasures, created by Navajos for Navajos, reflect not only tribal art and culture, but also a notable time in Native American history.

Pandora has a charm for every occasion

NEW YORK – Among modern collectibles, Pandora charms are some of the most well-known and widely worn. Introduced in 2000, Pandora charms are designed to allow the wearer to express her personal style through jewelry with personal meaning. Hundreds of styles of dangle and clip-style charms have been released since then in gold, sterling silver, rose or two-tone. Today, Pandora is synonymous with charm jewelry and while charm bracelets are its bread-and-butter, it even has necklaces that can accommodate a few charms.

A 14K gold Pandora charm bracelet sold for $2,750 + the buyer’s premium in November 2019 at Dallas Auction Gallery. Photo courtesy of Dallas Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

There are charms for all interests and to commemorate many occasions from a wedding, a memorable trip to the birth of a child. They also have been a godsend to those who found themselves stumped for gift ideas but could look like a rock star by getting that special woman a charm each year for graduation, Mother’s Day or her birthday to add to her bracelet/s.

Popular charm themes are animals and family as well as special collections, including Star Wars and Disney. Most new charms range in price from about $25 to about $75, though the 14K gold ones are pricier. Pandora’s most expensive charm is a pavé gold heart that features real diamonds, which retails for over $600. In 2020, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Pandora issued a limited edition charm each month based on designs in its archives. Charms that are not selling at goal levels are periodically retired from production to make way for new styles. Some of these retired charms can become more valuable over time, owing to scarcity. Among desirable retired examples are some charms issued to benefit charities, especially the Randers Frog charm. This was issued in 2003 for a Kiss the Frog event and only sold in Randers, Denmark. Fairytale-inspired charms, including ones paying homage to Hans Christian Andersen stories, are also collectible as are strikingly designed retired charms such as Daybreak, which features cubic zirconia.

This 14K gold Pandora bracelet with 24 charms earned €3,000 + the buyer’s premium in October 2015 at Henry’s Auktionshaus AG. Photo courtesy of Henry’s Auktionshaus AG and LiveAuctioneers

Generally, the plainer the charm is, the more affordable it is and Pandora’s sterling silver charms are on the first pricing tier with one of its most popular models, the Motherly Love charm, selling for $25. Adding gemstones and embellishments such as colored enamels and Murano glass elements, depending on the intricacy of the work, will increase the price for these charms. Among its newest releases and sure to have a strong following given the popularity of Disney’s Mandalorian is a charm featuring Baby Yoda called The Child, which retails new for $55.

A University of Kansas Jayhawk charm, one of the retired 14K gold charms, clips and spacers on a Pandora bracelet that fetched $3,100 + the buyer’s premium in July 2019 at Circle Auction. Photo courtesy of Circle Auction and LiveAuctioneers

While the company is based in Denmark, the charms are made in Thailand – finished by hand – and the company reportedly has a production staff of over 5,000 people there. Pandora charm jewelry is sold around the world and there are some charms that are only sold in certain countries. A football helmet was sold in America while a cricket bat charm was an Australia exclusive and reportedly a dice charm was available only in Las Vegas. Short of having a personal shopper overseas, some passionate collectors buy or trade with others online. There are several Facebook groups for this purpose that are quite active.

This 14K gold Pandora bracelet with 21 gold charms and clips brought $2,750 + the buyer’s premium in August 2018 at Dan Morphy Auctions. Photo courtesy of Dan Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

As with many luxury items made today, fakes will abound in the marketplace. “Spotting Pandora fakes can be quite difficult, especially if you are not overly familiar with Pandora’s catalog of charms,” according to the blog, Mora Pandora. Authentic Pandora charms feature a Pandora hallmark, usually “S925 ALE” or “925 ALE” for silver charms, and “G585 ALE” for gold charms. Hallmarks can be faked, however, so be careful when buying online.

The Art of Pandora blog website routinely reviews Pandora charms, especially as new ones are released. Among its recent reviews was Pandora’s relaunch of one of its earliest charms, the Stars charm that features small cutout stars on the cylinder-shaped charm that has ruffled edges. “The Pandora 20th Anniversary Stars Cham (799119C00) encourages and reminds its wearer to dream big and wish upon a star,” it writes.

Bearing 28 Pandora 14K gold charms, this sterling silver Pandora bracelet went for $1,350 + the buyer’s premium in September 2019 at Apple Tree Auction Center. Photo courtesy of Apple Tree Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers.

Personalization is the top-searched item for on crafting e-commerce site Etsy this holiday season and Pandora charms owe their popularity to their personalized nature. Mixing and matching favorite charms lets you express your personal style with charms that speak to important moments in life. They also ensure your jewelry designs don’t look like anyone elses.

Jasper52 offers high style in Antique to Modern Fine Jewelry Auction, Oct. 7

You may have heard the old line, “Say it with flowers.” It’s a classic way to express feelings for another person, for any number of different reasons or occasions. But if you really want to make an impression, “Say it with jewelry.” It’s easy to buy tasteful, high-quality jewelry, even if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about jewels or precious metals. You can leave it to the experts at Jasper52, who never fail in putting together auctions of fine jewelry that include the most sought-after designers, gems and design periods.

Vintage 14K gold, sapphire and diamond earrings. Estimate $4,000-$5,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Natural vs. Synthetic Diamonds: Spotting the Difference

This lovely set of natural diamond earrings with a total carat weight of 2.40 carats set in 14K white gold sold recently for $10,400. A similar set of synthetic earrings in the same setting would sparkle similarly but sell for a fraction of that price. Image courtesy: Estate Jewelry Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

A diamond is forever, but does it matter if the diamond was recently cultured or one that was produced over millions of years? It may not matter to the heart, but it can at auction.

Natural diamonds are the very definition of elegance and design. Their mystique comes from millions of years of tectonic pressure and powerful volcanic activity. However, there are other much newer options that symbolize everlasting love.

Natural Diamonds

The way a natural diamond reflects natural light is bedazzling. A rainbow of sparkling color is a natural expectation from the exquisitely handcrafted facets of a cut diamond. But what is a diamond, anyway?

Scientifically, any diamond is grown as a tetrahedron, eight triangle-shaped facets that grow from the center outward in a flat square pattern of nothing but hard carbon and tectonic pressure. This pressure deep within the earth’s crust creates the diamond, but volcanic activity “pushes” them closer to within 100 miles of the earth’s surface in kimberlite magma pipes where they are mined, sorted and processed into natural diamond jewelry. The total time from pressurized carbon to “I do” is several million years.

This sterling silver with large 2.25 carat synthetic white diamond pendant sold recently for $50 , considerably less than if it had been a natural diamond. Yet from a distance, its cut, carat, clarity and sparkle rivals that of a natural diamond. Image courtesy Greenwich Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Synthetic Diamonds

Once natural diamonds were revealed to be nothing more than compressed carbon, by Antoine Lavoisier in 1772, attempts to recreate the natural process to form synthetic diamonds were underway. It would take nearly 200 years and numerous attempts around the world to replicate the process to the point that the resulting product was acceptable for commercial or industrial use.

The most economically feasible process to create synthetic diamonds was developed by General Electric (GE) in the 1950s. The process known as High Pressure and High Temperature (HPHT) begins with a diamond “seed” placed within metallic material which is then subjected to very high pressures and high temperatures. This slowly builds up diamond carbon around the natural seed, somewhat similarly to how a natural pearl germinates, producing one synthetic diamond over a period of about a month.

More recently a Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process was developed that uses low pressure and high temperature. Carbon-based gas such as methane or plasma is pumped into a closed vacuum chamber where a microwave beam then breaks down the carbon molecules. The carbon falls over a panel of multiple diamond seed plates over a month or so slowly building up to create more than one synthetic diamond at a time.

While both processes produce properties that are visually similar to those of a natural diamond, they are so significantly different from each other, and from natural diamonds, that close examination of their atomic structures can easily determine their origin. HPHT diamonds will show a yellow octahedral and blue flat cube structure known as a cuboctahedron, while a CVD synthetic diamond structure features a flat square structure with usually a dark brownish edge of graphite that has to be chemically removed. Neither type displays the octahedron or eight-sided triangle structure of a natural diamond.

How to Quickly Tell

Just looking at a diamond will not necessarily tell you whether it is natural or synthetic. However, there are simple tests that any gemologist can quickly perform to identify the differences through coloration, inclusions, and stress patterns.

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA.edu) color variations help to identify diamonds in different ways. While natural diamonds can show some uneven coloration, HPHT synthetic diamonds will show mostly uneven coloration when both are viewed under either magnification or an immersion test. CVD synthetic diamonds show no uneven coloration at all. Under ultraviolet light, natural diamonds will fluoresce blue and yellow; while synthetic diamonds fluoresce in green, yellow green, yellow, orange or red.

Inclusions are an important aspect of diamonds, whether natural or synthetic. Natural diamonds feature bits of dark carbon embedded within the diamond. HPTP synthetic diamonds will also reveal dark inclusions, but these are remnants of the metal flux used in its production. Because they are metallic, they can sometimes be attracted by a handheld magnet, where natural carbon will not. CVD synthetic diamonds are manufactured with no inclusions.

Under magnification, natural diamonds will feature a “strain pattern” usually observed as a crosshatch, mosaic, or of different striations of colors that clearly demonstrate geological pressures evident from its natural creation. Synthetic diamonds show no stress patterns at all.

Other Diamond Types

There are other diamond types that form part of the gem industry classifications as well.

Within a large collection of smaller diamond stones such as are seen in this lot weighing 10 carats, there might be a mix of natural and synthetic diamonds, especially if the stones are 0.2 carats (11 mm) known as melee. There is no standardized test to sort out the difference just yet. Auction price: $1,000. Image courtesy: Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers

Diamond Melee  

The term melee is used to describe smaller brilliant-cut natural diamonds as well as all small synthetic diamonds. They are used to embellish mountings around larger gems and are categorized as usually weighing about 0.2 carats (about 11mm). Because of their small size and cut in much larger quantities, determining whether they are synthetic or natural is time consuming. A cost-effective test has yet to be devised. A mix of natural and synthetic melee in a commercial packet of 100 diamonds is not unusual.

Diamond Simulant

Once diamonds were able to be replicated in a laboratory setting, a number of diamond-like substitutes were developed. Cubic zirconia, synthetic moissanite, Yttriam Aluminum Garnet (YAG), synthetic spinel, synthetic rutile, and strontium titanate easily replicate the clear brilliance of natural diamond, but at a fraction of the cost. While they have a similar appearance to natural diamonds, they have very different chemical and physical properties that can be readily identified by using a thermal tester, which won’t work with synthetic diamonds.

These 10K gold earrings are set with a quarter-carat (total weight) of irradiated blue diamonds. The “enhanced” melee diamonds are still diamonds, but the change in color reduces their overall value. They sold for $295. Image courtesy World Jewelry Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Diamond Enhancement

Neither completely natural nor completely synthetic, a natural diamond can be treated to cover or repair noticeable flaws. Drilling to remove obvious inclusions, filling in cracks, changing or enhancing the natural color through irradiation or even changing the color completely are a few ways to improve the commercial appeal of a natural diamond. Once it is disclosed that it is an enhanced natural diamond, the auction value is much lower than that of a natural diamond.

Values of Diamonds

The value of all diamonds, in any format, is still certified by the 4 Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity, not necessarily in that order. Grading each natural or synthetic diamond is still important, especially for auction and resale.

There are several well-respected diamond-grading certifications available from the American Gem Society (americangemsociety.org), the Gemological Institute of America (gia.com) and the International Gemological Institute (igi.org). While each has their own specialty, they will all evaluate and certify both natural and synthetic diamonds.

Retail prices for synthetic diamonds were higher than natural diamonds only about three years ago, according to the gem industry experts. That’s because manufacturing synthetic diamonds was very high, but innovations have begun to lower the manufacturing cost dramatically so now natural diamonds have a higher retail value overall. But what about resale value?

Natural diamonds may lose at least 50% of their retail value when it comes time to sell to a dealer. Even so, natural diamonds never quite lose their value and, in fact. rise over time at a steady rate, while synthetic diamonds never do, according to the diamond industry.

The resale value of synthetic diamonds isn’t very high if at all. “Lab-created diamonds have no resale value,” says a recent article by Michael Fried titled Lab-Created Diamonds: Prices & Value for diamonds.pro, a consumer-oriented industry website. While that may be true when you want to sell to a dealer, recent auction values show a healthy interest in synthetic diamonds, if not for investment then at least to affordably complement special occasions. “The basic question is, are you willing to sacrifice long-term value for short-term bang for your buck?” asks diamonds.pro.

Another consideration is whether the gem industry is able to confidently identify and heavily restrict “blood or conflict diamonds” that consumers don’t want to acquire. A synthetic diamond just might be a safer alternative to the ones mined and sold by murderous militia.

So, whether your goal is simply to make a sparkling personal statement or you’re planning to make it a lifetime deal after exchanging heartfelt “I do’s,” be assured that there’s a diamond for that.

Jasper52 auction shimmers with fine jewelry Sept. 30

Jasper52 will conduct an online auction devoted to fine jewelry from a variety of designers, eras and mediums on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The nearly 300 lots ranges from everyday wear to elegant showstoppers to unique antique heirlooms.

GIA-certified emerald and diamond ring in an 18K yellow gold setting valued at $50,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.