French Jewelry Heist

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Today’s post is about the biggest jewelry heist to happen in France, which took place ironically in Cannes as did the previous two heist to happen this year.

Recently, french authorities increased border security as part of the manhunt for the robber who made off with an estimated $136M worth of diamonds and jewels in possibly the world’s biggest heist. Investigators said checkpoints have been stepped up on the country’s borders with Spain, Italy and the principality of Monaco after Sunday’s heist at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes on the French Riviera.

On Monday, authorities raised the estimated value of the minute-long heist, taking it past the $100M raid on a Paris store in 2008 and making it likely among the biggest in the world. The lead investigator Philippe Vique, a prosecutor in the nearby town of Grasse, said police had interviewed staff at the glamorous hotel which featured in the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie “To Catch a Thief” starring Cary Grant.

Officers were also reviewing  all security camera footage for clues, although sources say that the man covered his face with a scarf, cap and wore gloves. Vique added that the robber who they believe acted alone,  entered through a French door at the side of the hotel on the famed La Croisette seafront. It was not broken, so investigators are unsure if it was left open or whether the thief had cracked it open.

He then made his way to the temporary jewelry exhibit held over the summer by the prestigious Leviev diamond house, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. Armed with only a hand gun he threatened three private security guards, two vendors and a manager of the sale, before shoveling the jewels into a briefcase. He then fled with 72 pieces including rings, pendants and diamond-encrusted earings, although he dropped some of the jewelry as he made his escape.

Fortunately, no customers were present during the crime and no one was hurt.

Leaving through a different French door he jumped about one meter onto the terrace next to the hotel before darting into a side street. The whole thing was said to be over in a minute.

The owner of the jewels, Lev Leviev said in a statement that company officials were cooperating with authorities investigating the loss. We are relieved that no one was injured in the robbery,” he said.

Vique said police were not currently making any link with the infamous Pink Panther gang, who in a daring raid broke one of their members out of a Swiss jail, last Thursday. Gang member Milan Poparic escaped after accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with bursts from their AK-47s.

Ironically, sunday’s heist came two months after two smaller jewelry robberies hit the annual Cannes film festival, where many of the world’s top movie stars are lent gowns and gems to parade on the red carpets and at glamorous parties.

The Carlton Cannes Hotel itself has proved to be a particularly irresistible target for thieves since it was built in 1911.

In August 1994, three machine gun-toting crooks stormed into the hotel’s jewelry shop and cleared its shelves of $60 million worth of gems. They have never been caught.

 

As always, Live, Life, Lamour,
R.Lamour

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Suzanne Belperron’s Jewelry Legacy

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Today’s post highlights the life and some of the great works of Suzanne Belperron.

Suzanne is a Parisian jeweler, she began working in 1919 at age 19, and continued without stopping for the next 56 years. She died in 1983. Her life and career spanned the modern movement in the arts, feminism and the emergence of fashion as a big business.

Elegant and audacious, she pioneered a new aesthetic style in jewelry, yet never sought recognition. Despite her discovery by the cognoscenti of style, her celebration by the fashion press, and her profound influence over the rest of the 20th Century’s jewelry design, her name is still not as known today. When the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry was auctioned in 1987, only 5 of 16 Belperron pieces were tentatively identified. She was once asked why she never signed her work, Madame Belperron replied: “My style is my signature.”

What set her apart from her peers was the fact that she drew on motifs from a range of cultures—African, Cambodian, Celtic, Egyptian, Indian, Mayan—and created a daring new look which was hailed as both “brilliant” and “raw.”

 

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Belperron’s designs are so unique containing elements that are bold, playful, and anti-ornamental that they tend to strip away one’s average assumptions about jewelry. Her sculptural shapes anticipated modern design, like Chanel, she showed that high style could come from unfancy elements.

 

As always, Live, Life, Lamour,

R.Lamour

Say Yes! A love story

After sharing her wonderful love story, a south Florida woman became the proud owner of an $11,000 pair of Erica Courtney earrings. In the story of the ups and downs of her relationship–including her fiancé’s unique proposal–for Jewelers Mutual’s “Everlasting Love” contest winnings went to her.

To enter this unique contest, contestants were asked to share what everlasting love meant to them on the contest’s website between April 30 and May 21. Americans voted on the entries and narrowed the field to just five finalists. Jewelers Mutual and Courtney herself then chose the winner based on creativity, originality, and representation of everlasting love.

Ariela Yasova shared the story of her and her fiancé Matthew’s relationship in a story titled, “For Better or Worse, We’re Always Together.”

The couple’s courtship began as a long-distance relationship, which then followed with a medical crisis–two members of Matthew’s family were diagnosed with cancer–that led them to the realization of just how strong their relationship was.

A short time later, Matthew took his girlfriend on her fist Ferris wheel ride and when the car got “stuck” at the top, Matthew pulled out his cell phone loaded with music which reminded him of his girlfriend Yasova and then proposed. She said yes.

The couple’s story received over 1,700 views on the contest website and 379 votes, enough to make them a top five finalist and eventually be chosen as the contest winner.

The pair said one of the first things they will do with their new earrings is get them insured.

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As always, Live, Life, Lamour,

R.Lamour

 

 

Asia’s New taste

In a recent Hong Kong jewelry auction, there has been a noticeable shift in the tastes of jewelry collectors. Although there were a variety of pieces offered ranging from celebrity inspired pieces to actual jewelry worn in actual films,  the star power had almost no effect on the price of these sometimes interesting collectables.

At the top lot of the auction was a wonderful pair of jadeite bangles, which sold for $6.9 million to an Asian private buyer. Overall, when the dust cleared, the auction totaled $36.9 million and 79 percent was sold by value.

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This ruby and diamond necklace (above) sold for $3.2 million, while a jadeite and diamond suite, consisting of a necklace, earrings and a ring (below), realized $2.4 million.

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All top 10 lots of the auction, which were largely jadeite and diamond pieces, were sold to Asian private buyers.

“Nowadays, jewelry collectors have much wider interests,” said Ellen Sin, director of Tiancheng’s jewelry department. “Besides the conventional top jadeites and diamonds, colored gemstones like natural rubies and emeralds have been sought after and drawn increasing attention … We will continue our perseverance in bringing more unique jewelry in line with market tastes from all over the world to collectors.”

 

As always, Live, Life, Lamour,

R.Lamour

Edgy Jewelry designs

Recently at the Las Vegas JCK jewelry show there was a competition for the edgiest designs. The edgier designers of course ruled the evening at the Couture Design Awards this past Saturday night, with two first-time exhibitors taking home a pair of awards each.

The winners included London-based Tomasz Donocik who won in the category for diamond jewelry above $20,000 as well as in the category of debuting at Couture. Alp Sagnak of Atelier Minyon, a New York-based designer, took home top honors in silver and the coveted people’s choice award.

This year’s Human Spirit Award went to designer David Yurman surprisingly, who insisted he couldn’t accept the award by himself and called to the stage the woman he called his love and his muse, his wife Cybil.

I’ve taken the liberty to feature some of the design winners below.

jckThis ring was made by Tomasz Donocik, whose ring is shown here, he won two Couture Design Awards. This was his first year exhibiting at the show.

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This necklace from Arunashi won for gemstone jewelry above $20,000.

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The winning design in the pearl category was from Mikimoto.

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Schaffrath won the Couture Design Award for platinum with this ring.

As always, Live, Life, LamourR.Lamour

Chopard jewelry heist!

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Although unfortunate, jewelry heists are one of my favorite stories to read about. As shocking as it may seem, these quite carefully planned criminal acts only succeed with a lot of planning to be rewarded with a handsome stash of jewels.

It may sounds very much like the plot of a Hollywood thriller but tonight while a fancy jewelry company was hosting a ball at the Cannes Festival,  thieves broke into a company employees’ hotel room and stole roughly $1 million worth of jewelry. This unfortunate tuurn of events occured as the representative of Chopard, the Swiss-based watch and jewellery company, left the jewelry stash in a safe in his room at the Novotel Hotel in Cannes as he attended a late-night gala at a much more luxurious hotel just across town. Upon his return, he noticed that the  thieves had ripped a safe from the wall of his room.

French police said the Chopard gala lasted until 5 a.m. and strongly believe the burglary happened around 2.30 a.m. They also do not believe this was a solo job and deduced they knew exactly what they were doing.

In another twist of irony, a film with a similar plot had just been screened at Cannes. Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” which is about a celebrity-obsessed teenagers  in Los Angeles who follow movie stars online and break into their homes while they are at public events. The film is based on a real gang of teens who broke into the home Paris Hilton and other stars.

Chopard doesn’t just make jewels. They also make the Oscar-like trophies for the Cannes film festival, the crystal and gold Palme d’Or. Festival officials all say the that the Palme’s are safe.

 

As always, Live, Life, Lamour

R.Lamour

Engagement ring finder app: The VOW

Ringapp

Wedding and engagement season is soon upon us as the winter fights off its time to roll back. As this season comes into full swing, many eager brides to be anxiously start parousing through different internet jewelry stores and sites with their hopeful future husbands hinting and in search of that fairy tale engagement ring. In this day and age things have taken a slightly different turn in making this arduous and time consuming search more easily through our world of apps. Yes there’s an app for that.

In October 2012, Simon and Nelly Cohen  developed and launched their fledgling engagement ring finder app, The Vow.  When they debuted their app, the cost of creating it amounted to their entire life savings. Luckily for the longtime married couple—co-owners of Cherie Dori and the Diadori bridal lines—their nest egg investment seems to have been well-spent.  The Vow, is currently ranked in the top 50 in Apple’s Top Free Lifestyle Apps—the single most popular diamond, jewelry, and ring-finder app, ahead of the big names Blue Nile, Tiffany & Co., and even Cartier. This app is so popular that it receives roughly 3-4 thousand downloads a day!!

The Vow allows users to survey 120 Diadori bridal engagement SKUs in 3-D, while a GPS feature locates the closest of 350 participating retailers. “We’re not in the middle,” says Simon. Additionally, Diadori rewards users for sharing the app and helping to generate new leads—aka potential ring buyers—by giving points for things like posting pics of favorites to Facebook. The points eventually add up to a prize, such as a cultured pearl necklace. “All we do is uplift the brand of the store [carrying our pieces],” explains Simon.

The Cohens invested in the app after reading research which shows that ­consumers prefer shopping on apps instead of websites. (Shoppers like the speed and convenience of mobile apps, reports a March study from ­Compuware.) Now, the company has a wait list of retailers that want to be involved. “We are combining both worlds, Cyber-shopping and stores ” Simon says.

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As always, Live, Life, Lamour,

R.Lamour