W | Masters' Piece “Wow, wow, wow.” Cindy Sherman, dressed in head-to-toe black, all the way down to her Chanel biker boots, is sitting inside Anna Hu’s glitzy boutique at New York’s Plaza Hotel—far from her usual stomping grounds. She’s so awestruck, she’s on the verge of tears. The story begins this past May at the annual Creative Time art benefit, where Sherman, who would be the first to tell you that she’s hardly a fine jewelry aficionada, was taken with Melva Bucksbaum’s million-dollar necklace—a gigantic lotus-flower stunner, encrusted with pink diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, designed by Hu. “That’s the first time I heard of Anna,” recalls Sherman. Turns out, one of the evening’s items up for auction was an opportunity to collaborate with Hu on a custom creation. Sherman went for it: “I shot my hand up, taking a chance but assuming that I’d be outbid.” She was, by art connoisseur Amy Phelan, to the tune of $15,000. But when word circulated that Sherman was the underbidder, Hu—who had ardently followed the photographer’s work while studying for master’s degrees at Parsons and Columbia—said she would be honored to make a second piece with Sherman. The next day Sherman matched Phelan’s bid. Two months later, they got started. Hu showed Sherman her collection, which she launched in 2006 and divides into two categories, Western contemporary and Oriental traditionalism. Sherman was drawn to the latter, especially Hu’s fantastical snake, dragon, and frog gems. “I am a fan of insects, reptiles, and mushrooms—things from nature,” says Sherman. As for Hu, snakes are one of her favorite motifs. “In the Egyptian culture, the snake is the goddess of jewelry and the goddess of fortune,” says the jeweler, who was introduced to precious stones as a child in Taiwan by her diamond-dealer father. “It’s almost equivalent to the dragon in Chinese culture.” With that the plan was hatched: a bracelet-ring combo connected by two intertwined serpents, one in 18-karat yellow gold and the other in 18-karat white gold, both set in five carats of white, black, and yellow diamonds and garnets and dotted with pigeon-blood rubies for the eyes. (It goes without saying that the initial $15,000 grew into a much pricier commission.) The bauble is held together by an onyx and mother-of-pearl yin-yang symbol, as well as by seven flexible joints that allow the piece to bend with the knuckles. “If this was made in a jewelry house, it would take at least eight months,” explains Hu. “But I had five French artisans working late into the night to finish it.” (And just in the nick of time—it was completed at 5 a.m. the day of this story’s photo shoot.) Back to the “wows” at the Plaza, where Sherman is still gazing at the new bling wrapped around her wrist and index finger. “It’s like having a little gorgeous pet,” she says. “It almost seems alive. I couldn’t be more thrilled.” So thrilled that the downtown minimalist has turned into a bona fide diamond devotee? “I think it’s too precious to wear all the time,” notes Sherman. “My friends will think I’ve gone completely uptown if I start wearing jewels during the day, although I do love the idea—perhaps when I’m in my 70s.” - Talya Cousins & Sarah Taylor    

 

W | Masters' Piece

“Wow, wow, wow.” Cindy Sherman, dressed in head-to-toe black, all the way down to her Chanel biker boots, is sitting inside Anna Hu’s glitzy boutique at New York’s Plaza Hotel—far from her usual stomping grounds. She’s so awestruck, she’s on the verge of tears. The story begins this past May at the annual Creative Time art benefit, where Sherman, who would be the first to tell you that she’s hardly a fine jewelry aficionada, was taken with Melva Bucksbaum’s million-dollar necklace—a gigantic lotus-flower stunner, encrusted with pink diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, designed by Hu. “That’s the first time I heard of Anna,” recalls Sherman. Turns out, one of the evening’s items up for auction was an opportunity to collaborate with Hu on a custom creation. Sherman went for it: “I shot my hand up, taking a chance but assuming that I’d be outbid.” She was, by art connoisseur Amy Phelan, to the tune of $15,000. But when word circulated that Sherman was the underbidder, Hu—who had ardently followed the photographer’s work while studying for master’s degrees at Parsons and Columbia—said she would be honored to make a second piece with Sherman. The next day Sherman matched Phelan’s bid.

Two months later, they got started. Hu showed Sherman her collection, which she launched in 2006 and divides into two categories, Western contemporary and Oriental traditionalism. Sherman was drawn to the latter, especially Hu’s fantastical snake, dragon, and frog gems. “I am a fan of insects, reptiles, and mushrooms—things from nature,” says Sherman. As for Hu, snakes are one of her favorite motifs. “In the Egyptian culture, the snake is the goddess of jewelry and the goddess of fortune,” says the jeweler, who was introduced to precious stones as a child in Taiwan by her diamond-dealer father. “It’s almost equivalent to the dragon in Chinese culture.” With that the plan was hatched: a bracelet-ring combo connected by two intertwined serpents, one in 18-karat yellow gold and the other in 18-karat white gold, both set in five carats of white, black, and yellow diamonds and garnets and dotted with pigeon-blood rubies for the eyes. (It goes without saying that the initial $15,000 grew into a much pricier commission.) The bauble is held together by an onyx and mother-of-pearl yin-yang symbol, as well as by seven flexible joints that allow the piece to bend with the knuckles. “If this was made in a jewelry house, it would take at least eight months,” explains Hu. “But I had five French artisans working late into the night to finish it.” (And just in the nick of time—it was completed at 5 a.m. the day of this story’s photo shoot.)

Back to the “wows” at the Plaza, where Sherman is still gazing at the new bling wrapped around her wrist and index finger. “It’s like having a little gorgeous pet,” she says. “It almost seems alive. I couldn’t be more thrilled.” So thrilled that the downtown minimalist has turned into a bona fide diamond devotee?

“I think it’s too precious to wear all the time,” notes Sherman. “My friends will think I’ve gone completely uptown if I start wearing jewels during the day, although I do love the idea—perhaps when I’m in my 70s.” - Talya Cousins & Sarah Taylor

 

 

W | Quite A Dish

De Beers calls in the Talisman---a priceless objet that, in a pinch, could double as a plate. But that’s no way to treat a masterpiece laden with 691 diamonds. Comprising both rough and polished stones----­­­for a total of 270 carats----the wonder was a year in the making, although it took De Beers nearly a decade to discover enough rough diamonds (11o of them) for the right-inch creation. Andrew Coxon, the company’s resident rock hunter, located the 17.1-carat cognac-colore ceneter stone in the nick of time. “We made more than 20 trips for this sole purpose,” he notes, “and it was at the very last week before the deadline that we found it, in Namibia.” As for its price, CEO Francois Delage says the wonder is not meant to be sold----but nevertheless, he will entertain offers. 

 

On His Watch | Marc Jacobs creates a bold, timely new collection for Louis Vuitton.

A major watch buff, Marc Jacobs is an avid collector who regularly scours auction house catalogs. Now he’s designed a few timepieces himself: the three-style Emprise collection for Louis Vuitton. Though they share key motifs—crocodile bands, pavé diamonds and hardware reminiscent of the house’s beloved trunks—each of the looks has its own unique attributes. One has an ebony face with the LV logo placed at five o’clock (a play on the Roman numeral). Another features a white dial showcasing the numbers. And Jacobs outdoes himself with a glitzy, diamond-encrusted offering that lets the hands speak for themselves. Strong and ornate, these watches get it right time after time.

 

 

Go for the Gold

Olympic champions aren’t the only ones sporting gold. The luxe metal is sure to adorn many a wrist by way of the watch, with no physical exertion required. Opting for a graphic approach, Gucci flaunts sexy curves with its Chiodo timepiece. Incorporating the signature square-head-nail shape used by the house since the Sixties, the chic design combines 18-karat yellow gold with a mother-of-pearl face. Van Cleef & Arpels is also minding its heritage; its watch features the iconic Alhambra four-leaf-clover motif on a diamond-encrusted charm that moves freely around the sleek bezel. And Milus achieves extravagance with an overstated, chain mail–like creation bedazzled with more than 1,000 diamonds. What a way to strike gold.

 From left: Gucci’s 18k yellow gold watch with mother-of-pearl face, Milus’s 18k rose gold and diamond watch with mother-of-pearl face, Van Cleef & Arpels’s 18k rose gold and diamond watch.

 

Sweet Tock | A fresh crop of watches catches the wave of the fuchsia.

Once reserved for Swatch-wearing teens circa 1985, splashy pink and purple watches can now be spotted on posh and sporty adult wrists too. Movado sweetens its double-wrap offering with a sliced band in bubblegum pink. Ideal for the fun-loving gal on the go, the scored leather strap adds a youthful twist to the house’s spare signature dial. Hublot and Philip Stein prefer to juxtapose extravagance with practicality. The former sets a milky face encircled by rectangular amethysts against a sturdy rubber band topped with chunky gold bits. The latter couples satin and diamonds in a slim and trim evening timepiece that features dual time zones. Now that’s two-timing of the best kind.

From top: Movado’s stainless steel watch,Philip Stein’s stainless steel and diamond watch, Hublot’s 18k red gold and amethyst watch.

 

Inside Job | Skeleton watches show what they’re made of.

 Overexposure might have reached its saturation point in the celebrity sphere, but baring all can still be a good thing. Take, for example, the skeleton watch, whose revealing nature—its inner parts are on full display—is the key to its beauty. Timepieces by Vacheron Constantin and Parmigiani flaunt a complicated tangle of gears that showcase the intriguing craft of old-school watchmaking. Offering more streamlined versions, Omega opts for components arranged in neat, concentric circles, while Corum’s face is set with a tidy row of tiny gold gears. Beautifully intricate, these mechanical wonders look especially chic when paired with an alligator or leather band.

Clockwise from top: Corum’s 18k rose gold watch, Parmigiani’s 18k rose gold watch, 18k rose gold watch, Vacheron Constantin’s 18k rose gold watch.

 

 

W | All That Glitters

To commemorate its 150th anniversary, Boucheron has pulled out every conceivable stop, unveiling a treasure trove chock-full of exquisitely ornate, one-of-a-kind pieces. For one such creation, its over-the-top Gourmand necklace, the house dove into the jeweled equivalent of a bowl of lusciously ripe fruit. 

Cascading sapphires play the lead role in the white gold stunner—a brilliant, multicarat mix of pink, mauve and orange-yellow stones. Atop emerald drops that glisten like tiny leaves on a strawberry are rubies, diamonds and still more orange-yellow sapphires. With an adornment this spectacular, no self-respecting hedonist could help but indulge.

 

Sign of the Times

The sun, moon and stars may light up the sky, but these celestial-like luminaries are a bit more attainable. Van Cleef & Arpels’s dreamy watch plays with the duality of day and night, employing discs of sapphires and diamonds that rotate under a smooth mother-of-pearl earth as time ticks by. The summer sun influences Glashütte Original’s diamond-encircled gold timepiece on an alligator band, while Me&Ro creates its own mini constellation with an 18-karat yellow gold crescent moon and star necklace. And Stephen Webster’s silver and blue goldstone ring, derived, he says, from “biker stud work, gothic stained-glass windows and glam-punk style,” is absolutely heavenly

 From left: Me&Ro’s 18k yellow gold and diamond necklace, Stephen Webster’s silver and blue goldstone ring, Van Cleef & Arpels’s 18k white gold and diamond watch with aventurine and mother-of-pearl dial and satin band, Glashütte Original’s 18k rose gold and diamond watch. 

 

Jewelry Insider | The New Auctioneers Jewelry auction houses bring to mind wealthy dowagers trading in pearl strands, but a new generation of New York experts is refashioning the houses’ stodgy reputation. “Just as you have a real-estate or a stock portfolio, you should have a jewelry portfolio,” says Nazgol Jahan, 32, the worldwide director of jewelry at Phillips de Pury & Company. Since her 2005 appointment, she has differentiated Phillips from its competitors by focusing on contemporary designs with affordable price points (from $2,000) that appeal to a younger, more fashion-conscious clientele. “There’s something for everyone at our auction,” says Jahan, who handpicked the jewels set to appear in the house’s inaugural jewelry sale on December 8, at Phillips’s new uptown gallery in New York. She moonlights as a designer as well, commissioning pieces for clients who are often inspired by Jahan’s signature jewels, such as her diamond-encrusted butterfly earrings. Rahul Kadakia, 36, Christie’s Americas head of jewelry, admits he can’t wear any of the roughly $25 million worth of jewels sitting on his desk, which are destined for the house’s October 20 sale in New York. (The Bulgari Blue, a dramatic ring with a 10-plus-carat, triangle-shaped vivid blue diamond that took Kadakia two years to woo from a European collector, is expected to fetch more than $12 million.) Kadakia joined Christie’s, the No. 1 jewelry-selling center in the world, at 22 as a trainee and whirled through the ranks of its European offices. In 2004, at age 30, he took over the New York department and for three of the past five years  has kept annual sales above $100 million. “I brought the market here,” the rainmaker says, adding that his goal for 2010 is $120 million. “We broker deals for some of the most important diamonds in a very discreet manner,” says Kadakia of Christie’s private sales. In the spring he flew to the Middle East to sell the world’s largest marquise-cut D flawless diamond, a 90-carat gem, for roughly $15 million. Major stones are also the currency of diamond guru Naval Bhandari. As vice president of sales for Sotheby’s Diamonds—a partnership launched in 2005 between the auction house and the Steinmetz Diamond Group—Bhandari, 36, peddles rare and important diamonds that creative director James de  Givenchy transforms into bespoke jewelry. “We’ve married them with art, creating these one-of-a-kind objects that are edgy, contemporary, and very luxurious,” Bhandari says of the pieces, some of which include unorthodox materials such as rubber, wood, and steel. (They start at $50,000 and run into the millions.) He curates his clients’ collections too, by searching for pieces to enhance their holdings—such as the Duchess of Windsor’s iconic Cartier flamingo brooch, to be sold at Sotheby’s in London on November 30. “Other luxury items wear out or become outdated,” he says, “but there are few objects that surpass a diamond’s perfection.”    

Jewelry Insider | The New Auctioneers

Jewelry auction houses bring to mind wealthy dowagers trading in pearl strands, but a new generation of New York experts is refashioning the houses’ stodgy reputation. “Just as you have a real-estate or a stock portfolio, you should have a jewelry portfolio,” says Nazgol Jahan, 32, the worldwide director of jewelry at Phillips de Pury & Company. Since her 2005 appointment, she has differentiated Phillips from its competitors by focusing on contemporary designs with affordable price points (from $2,000) that appeal to a younger, more fashion-conscious clientele. “There’s something for everyone at our auction,” says Jahan, who handpicked the jewels set to appear in the house’s inaugural jewelry sale on December 8, at Phillips’s new uptown gallery in New York. She moonlights as a designer as well, commissioning pieces for clients who are often inspired by Jahan’s signature jewels, such as her diamond-encrusted butterfly earrings.

Rahul Kadakia, 36, Christie’s Americas head of jewelry, admits he can’t wear any of the roughly $25 million worth of jewels sitting on his desk, which are destined for the house’s October 20 sale in New York. (The Bulgari Blue, a dramatic ring with a 10-plus-carat, triangle-shaped vivid blue diamond that took Kadakia two years to woo from a European collector, is expected to fetch more than $12 million.) Kadakia joined Christie’s, the No. 1 jewelry-selling center in the world, at 22 as a trainee and whirled through the ranks of its European offices. In 2004, at age 30, he took over the New York department and for three of the past five years 

has kept annual sales above $100 million. “I brought the market here,” the rainmaker says, adding that his goal for 2010 is $120 million. “We broker deals for some of the most important diamonds in a very discreet manner,” says Kadakia of Christie’s private sales. In the spring he flew to the Middle East to sell the world’s largest marquise-cut D flawless diamond, a 90-carat gem, for roughly $15 million.

Major stones are also the currency of diamond guru Naval Bhandari. As vice president of sales for Sotheby’s Diamonds—a partnership launched in 2005 between the auction house and the Steinmetz Diamond Group—Bhandari, 36, peddles rare and important diamonds that creative director James de 

Givenchy transforms into bespoke jewelry. “We’ve married them with art, creating these one-of-a-kind objects that are edgy, contemporary, and very luxurious,” Bhandari says of the pieces, some of which include unorthodox materials such as rubber, wood, and steel. (They start at $50,000 and run into the millions.) He curates his clients’ collections too, by searching for pieces to enhance their holdings—such as the Duchess of Windsor’s iconic Cartier flamingo brooch, to be sold at Sotheby’s in London on November 30. “Other luxury items wear out or become outdated,” he says, “but there are few objects that surpass a diamond’s perfection.”