October 2015 Newsletter
Table of Contents
Shows and Events
- 52nd Munich Mineral Show: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2015
- Sotheby's: A Timely Trio
- Middle Kingdom at the Met
- Emerald Symposium Report
Pala International News
- A Geologist Speculates
By John M. Saul
Editor: David Hughes
Shows and Events
Mineralientage München 52nd Munich Mineral Show: October 30 – November 1, 2015
Pala International's Bill Larson and Will Larson will attend this year's Munich Show.
When: October 30 – November 1, 2015
Where: Munich Trade Fair Centre
Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM each day
Friday, October 30 (Trade only)
Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1 (Trade and public)
In Gemworld, for the fourth year, the Munich Show will highlight the work of recent graduates, in Young Designers' Corner. As well as being a showcase, this is a competition. You have until August 31 to submit your entry. More information on the show is forthcoming.
Sotheby's: A Timely Trio
On November 11 in Geneva, Sotheby's will offer the largest cushion-cut fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be auctioned—the Blue Moon Diamond. The 12.03-carat diamond was cut from 29.62 carats of rough, discovered at the Cullinan Mine in South Africa. Blue diamonds from this mine make up a minuscule 0.1% of the mine's product.
Our readers may recall that the Blue Moon Diamond was exhibited at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County a year ago. Eye-catching blow-ups of the diamond and its remarkable red phosphorescence were posted at the museum's foyer during the exhibition's gala opening. The diamond also engaged the attention of Jeffrey Post, Curator-in-Charge of the Smithsonian's Mineral Collection, who tested the stone. And, yes, its name comes from its rarity: once in a ___ ___. It has a presale estimate of $35–55 million.
Londoners can catch a preview October 18–22, New Yorkers October 30 – November 1. The diamond was included in Sotheby's Selects, the firm's e-newsletter, which also featured the glamor photography of Francesco Scavullo, classic General Motors automobiles, how the look and style of the Rolling Stones "define rock and roll," art lover's London, and ten jewels priced under $10,000.
Also offered on November 11, at the Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels sale, is "The Queen Maria-José Ruby Ring," which had been in the personal collection of Maria-José (1906–2001), the last Queen of Italy. It was given to her on the occasion of her marriage to Crown Prince Umberto in 1930. It is a 8.48-carat natural "pigeon's blood" Burmese ruby, with a presale estimate of $6–9 million.
Bully for Brooches
Somewhat paling in comparison with what the Blue Moon is expected to fetch, Sotheby's Important Jewels sale of last month, with a grand total of $18.4 million, still offered some lovely jewels. Among them were a variety of brooches that were profiled via video by Frank Everett, of Sotheby's Jewellery Department.
Also last month, Sotheby's Diamonds celebrated its ten years of partnering with the Diacore Diamond Group. The gala dinner was held at Sotheby's Hong Kong and featured preview of Sotheby's Diamonds commemorative jewelry collection. The collection was reflected in the menu, by the Mandarin Oriental, which created dishes (below right) inspired by the "In the Pink" and "Day Series" collection.
Middle Kingdom at the Met
Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II is credited with the reunification of Egypt following the collapse of the Old Kingdom (2686–2181 B.C.E., Third through Sixth Dynasties) and the instability of the First Intermediate period (2181–2061 B.C.E., Seventh through Early Eleventh Dynasties). The roughly four hundred years of the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2030–1650 B.C.E., mid Eleventh through Thirteenth Dynasties) are considered a renaissance chapter in Egyptian culture, art, religion and politics. A new exhibition shines the spotlight on this period, "Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, now through January 24, 2016. According to the Met, during the Middle Kingdom, the aforementioned traditions "first conceived and instituted during the Old Kingdom were revived and reimagined." For instance, Mentuhotep revived the practice of self-deification.
With its large holdings in Middle Kingdom objects, the Met is well situated to take on an exhibition of this size, which features 230 objects culled from its own collection as well as those of thirty-seven other lenders from North America and Europe. (The absence of Egypt itself from these thirty-seven speaks to the challenges the Met must have faced in the mounting of this show.)
Visitors to "Ancient Egypt Transformed" are treated to many objects never before displayed in the United States. The Met calls the exhibition "the first comprehensive presentation of Middle Kingdom art and culture." Pictured below is only a tiny sampling of the richness to behold in person: diadems, gold rosettes, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, broad-collars, girdles, amulets, scarabs, flails, jewelry chests, pectorals, carved vessels and ritual implements, and pendants. What is most striking about the variety of objects presented is the lifelike statuettes and other portraits in stone, bringing the viewer into palpable, if still virtual, contact with the inhabitants of four thousand years ago.
Jewelry Design Workshop Offered
In conjunction with "Ancient Egypt Transformed," a workshop is offered, on October 17 and 24. Learn from Brooklyn Metal Works how to cut and finish metal during this two-session workshop. Draw ideas from the exhibition and walk away with a contemporary piece of jewelry inspired by antiquity. Details here regarding this and other special events.
Emerald Symposium Report
The following is a copy of a recent press release, reprinted essentially in its entirety.
The inaugural International Emerald Symposium in Colombia took place from October 13 to 15, with a wide range of local and overseas emerald experts from government and the private sector providing input regarding the current state of the global emerald business and the challenges it faces. The conference was attended by 320 representatives from across the globe with the conference venue hotel full to capacity. The meeting was organized by Fedesmeraldas, the Colombian Emerald Federation, and supported by all the country's emerald-related bodies and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
The Symposium addressed the challenges and opportunities faced by the emerald industry including resource management, manufacturing, treatments, certification, nomenclature, technology, consumer education and branding. It was the first time that producer countries had come together at a high-level international gathering to address issues relating to the emerald business in the same way that diamond industry representatives have done in the past for their trade. The Symposium organizers said they expected the conference to lead to a harmonization of the global emerald industry along the lines of that achieved by the global diamond business at a time when demand for emeralds worldwide is strong.
Pala International News
Pala's Featured Stone: Dumortierite from Tanzania
Pala International is lucky to have a large body of gemologically oriented readers. We get mail daily with articles and new localities and offers of rare gemstones. Our featured gem this month comes from just such an enthusiastic reader. And it is offered here for sale: a rare gem-quality dumortierite of extraordinary color with a GIA certificate. Let this be a reminder to keep Pala in mind for exceptional rare gems that you all find along the path of collecting.
A simple rough purchase turns into potentially one of the rarest and largest of its kind. Fancy-colored sapphires are common in the Umba Valley, since rough has been mined and traded there for a long time. A gem dealer bought a few pieces of what were thought to be sapphire and to his surprise, after cutting and certification, one orange-pink piece turned out to be dumortierite. An anomaly amongst the sapphire fields in Umba, dumortierite is a more complex mineral of the neosilicate group. Dumortierite is defined by the chemical structure Al7O3-(BO3)(SiO4)3, and is most often found in gem-grade material as small included blue crystals. This extremely unique orange-pink hue is reminiscent of a padparadscha sapphire and is a one-of-a-kind piece.
Interested? Contact us!
New Emporium, New Market
The Myanmar Gems Enterprise announced a new jade emporium this coming December, but it will be limited to Burma traders only. The sale will take place in Naypyidaw, December 7–13, will be limited to rough jade and is hoped to stimulate value-added crafting.
Meanwhile, gem traders in Sagaing, located in central Burma, intend to set up what would be the country's fourth gemstone market by the end of the year, as reported by Myanmar Times. An unofficial market already has been operating there for seven years. The Sagaing Region Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs' Association has crafted a plan for the market, which would consist of 450 8x8' shops. The plan will require several levels of approval: local, regional, and probably national.
Mogok Native Makes Parliament Bid
Last week, Myanmar Times published an interview with Daw Thet Thet Khine, who is joint secretary general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and vice president of Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs’ Association. She also is a jewelry dealer who is running in the Parliament election November 8, under the National League for Democracy party, running in the Dagon constituency in Yangon. Of course, trade facilitation is a subject of interest for the candidate. As an entrepreneur, she said, she's used to getting things done, but will be a team player and is eager to contribute.
Chinatown Merchant Hopes to Branch Out
Shwe Nan Daw is a shop in Yangon's Chinatown, founded in 1994 by U Aung Kyaw Win. His choice of location for the shop, which sold gold and gem-studded ornaments was fortuitous, since he had no competition in the area, as he told Myanmar Times recently. When he received rivals, he was able to undercut their pricing and took advantage of advertising. Two more stores opened in 2000 and 2012. Another will open in 2017, but the merchant is eager to hit the international market with just the sort of value-added goods that December's domestic-only emporium is hoping to encourage. Had it not been for the 1988 protests in Burma and the ensuing school closures, he might have gone into medicine. His parents' suggestion that he choose business proved fruitful.
Call for Military Pull-out
On October 12, following a three-day conference, the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA) called for an end to Burma's military dominance in the extraction of gems, jade and metals, according to Myanmar Times. The group sees the hegemonic status quo as a major cause of financial insecurity and conflict in the country, which were issues dealt with in the meeting. MATA has been holding monthly meetings with the Ministry of Mines as Burma looks towards joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (which we discussed two years ago).
Burma Designer Employs Jade in Couture
Designer Latt Latt faced a challenge in 2014: selecting her design theme for the second Myanmar Fashion Designer Group Show. She thought of "jade" and figured out a way to incorporate the stone into fashions, using copper wire as the armature. She conceives the design and then the stone is cut to order; a finished piece takes about a week. She plans on taking her work to the 2016 Hong Kong fashion week.
No More Speculation
With free download of John Saul's book, readers
need not puzzle over its twenty-two-word title
John Saul has been mentioned in the pages of the Palagems website since its inception in 1999, with the reprint of the chapter Tsavorite, in which he figures prominently, taken from Peter Bancroft's 1984 classic, Gem & Crystal Treasures. More recently he collaborated with Richard Hughes, Vincent Pardieu and Wendell Wilson on a tanzanite monograph published in 2009 by Mineralogical Record. Last year, we pointed to a review by Hughes of Saul's newest book with the hefty title, A Geologist Speculates: On Gemstones, Origins of Gas and Oil, Moonlike Impact Scars on the Earth, the Emergence of Animals and Cancer. Hughes has been familiar with Saul's work for years, commenting on a 1981 article by the author on diamonds, "It was immediately clear that it was not your mother's geology."
Now, Saul, via that same review by Hughes, is offering a free PDF of his complete 150-page book via Lotus Gemology, the Bangkok-based lab Hughes runs with his wife Wimon Manorotkul and daughter Billie Hughes. I can't wait to read it on the iPad they gave me for Christmas last year, especially the final chapter, which my brother has trumpeted, and which discusses how a "post-Darwinian" strategy of our biological ancestors, via cooperation, led to our own humanity.
— David Hughes
Avarice and Alienation: The Jewels of the Romanoffs, Part 2
Last month, we looked at the fate(s) of the Russian crown jewels during the first five years after the revolution of 1917 through the pages of major American newspapers. The survey culminated in 1922 with a detailed description of the jewels by New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, with phrases like "a square foot of incandescent fire" and "here the laurel leaves' weight was as of leaves on the trees of jewels Aladdin saw in the wonder garden beneath the earth."
In Part 2 of our survey, which covers the next four years, 1923 through 1926, we discover why the Soviets waited so long to show off perhaps the greatest collection in the world: the jewels had been lost.
Also in this installment, Duranty delivers a second description of more jewels, this time in the "strong-rooms and cellars" of the Hermitage, again invoking his Arabian Nights hero. "Here, in a prosaic twentieth century strong-room," Duranty writes, "were amassed the gifts Aladdin's genie of the lamp brought high-piled on the heads of Ethiopian slaves to buy the Emperor's consent to his daughter's marriage to Aladdin—literally the same gifts, for this glittering brilliance was made up of the masterpieces of Oriental goldsmiths from Persia and the lands beyond."
Finally, a sale of the Romanoff jewels is challenged by a group of expatriate attorneys. Will the deal be sealed?
— End October Newsletter • Published 10/15/15 —
Note: Palagems.com selects much of its material in the interest of fostering a stimulating discourse on the topics of gems, gemology, and the gemstone industry. Therefore the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those held by the proprietors of Palagems.com. We welcome your feedback.