From Ethiopia, Emeralds

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By Victoria Gomelsky

 

In 1990, while Vladyslav Y. Yavorskyy was a geology student at the University of Odessa, he visited his first emerald mine, the Malysheva deposit in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

“I got there and began to dig with a hammer,” he recalled. “You spend one week on a mine, you get a half pocket of emeralds. I never managed to get anything clean, to selling standard. But the color was fantastic.”

Today, the Bangkok-based gem dealer and author of “Gemstones: Terra Connoisseur is infatuated with emeralds from another, very different, locality: a two-year-old mine in southern Ethiopia, near the trading town of Shakiso.

He said the color of the bright green gems from East Africa rivals that of stones from Colombia, the traditional source of top-quality emeralds.

He is not alone in his assessment.

There has been a lot of excitement among international gem dealers about the discovery, particularly because many of the Ethiopian stones do not require oil, a traditional form of clarity enhancement.

Mr. Yavorskyy said, “The best Ethiopian stone I have is a 10-carater, and it’s like the best Malysheva emerald — so beautiful.” And, he added, “You look at the crystal and you see big money inside.”

The interview was edited and condensed.

When did you first hear about the Ethiopian emerald discovery?

In 2016, the first material came out at the Tucson gem shows. There were bigger crystals but not clean, not good for faceting. One year later, we started to get a lot of stuff in Bangkok, the most open market on the planet.

What’s your impression of the gemstones?

The first stone I got over 10 carats was a spinach color, really pure green. There are a lot of lighter ones — most of the production is lighter, like any other mine — and mostly below 5 carats, but the quality of the material is exceptional. Plus, it’s natural. And you don’t pay millions. If you’re talking a 10-carat super Colombian, it’s a million-dollar stone and never available. And here, you open your palm and you put this stone in your palm, you enjoy it, and you don’t spend as much as your house cost to buy it.

 

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Tanzanite, 50 Years Later

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Tanzanite brooch, Tiffany & Co. (Photo: Tanzanite Foundation)

From: The New York Times

By Melanie Abrams

May 10, 2018

When Tiffany & Company introduced tanzanite in 1968, the company was sure the semiprecious stone would be successful. (“Tanzanite is the first transparent deep blue gemstone to be discovered in more than 2,000 years,” a Tiffany vice president told a Times reporter the next year.)

But no one anticipated the creativity that it would still be inspiring.

Named for Tanzania, where the only mine still operates, tanzanite’s allure lies in its colors, including green, red, purple and blue, “depending on which angle you look at it,” said Melvyn Kirtley, Tiffany’s chief gemologist and vice president for global category management including high jewelry.

The new gemstone had an enormous effect on the house’s design style in the ’60s, Mr. Kirtley said, turning it from simple gold jewelry to colorful designs with large stones. Cases in point: Donald Claflin’s ornate 1968 diamond floral brooch with an 84-carat tanzanite and, in 1969, Jean Schlumberger’s fantastical winged-bird pin with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, a cabochon emerald and a large tanzanite as its stomach.

For the stone’s 50th anniversary with Tiffany, Reed Krakoff, the house’s chief artistic officer, has showcased it in two new Paper Flower collections introduced in the United States this month and at Harrods in London on June 21, then across Britain in July. The high jewelry earrings echo the colors of an iris with tanzanites ranging from soft blue to violet and blue sapphires; in fine jewelry, tanzanites accentuate abstract blossom designs.

Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival this week, Chopard’s latest Red Carpet collection includes a multistone choker with six tiers of tanzanite beads and a blue titanium-edged pink ceramic disc with a 12.4-carat pear-shaped aquamarine that “give a modern twist,” Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s artistic director and co-president, said in an email.

[…]

The color also is an important element for Alice Cicolini, a jeweler based in London, who said she played “with the idea of tanzanite as a color pop.” She placed tanzanite beads on either side of the orange lacquered sphere in her multistone Candy Kimono Nibble necklace “to bring attention to the center of the necklace.”

She also added a tanzanite briolette to her blue topaz, sapphire and lapis lazuli chandelier earrings. “It adds movement between the flowers,” Ms. Cicolini said, “and that extra layer of articulation, and because the thing that is articulating has such a vibrant color, hopefully it catches the eye more.”

Annoushka Ducas, creative director of her namesake brand, has included tanzanite and diamond earrings and rings in her new Imperial collection, inspired by the Russian kokoshnik headdress. “I use it quite a lot with brown diamonds as I like the not-so-bling look and the softness of the brown and the blue working together,” she said. “If you set tanzanite with brilliant white diamonds, it has a colder more ostentatious effect, whereas with brown it’s more low-key and everyday.”

The Brazilian designer Yael Sonia captured a tanzanite gem in the black rhodium-plated openwork cage of her Perpetual Motion series. “The black rhodium cube makes the tanzanite edgy, and the tanzanite softens the black rhodium,” she said.

More literal uses of the stone’s blue tones have been made by the Canadian jeweler Holly Dyment, who created the iris in her evil eye ringswith tanzanite. And Wendy Yue, a Hong Kong designer, adorned a snake’s head with a triangular tanzanite for her new necklace, which has a matching ring.

Although tanzanites can be worn in everyday jewelry, they are not as hard as diamonds or rubies, so designers use various methods to protect the stones. After Mimi So, a New York jewelry designer, had 120 tanzanite beads threaded individually to create the tassel for a necklace, she strategically placed 18-karat gold flowers accented with diamonds or emeralds at the top of the grouping, helping them to move freely. The Taiwanese designer Anna Hu set a 102.15-carat tanzanite on her multistone pendant brooch with invisible bezel prongs — a secure yet delicate way to set the stone — so “all you can see are the vibrant colors,” she said.

Wallace Chan, a Hong Kong jeweler known for his innovation, creates extra-soft tools for his work with tanzanite. They include a polishing wheel made with leather from a sheep’s belly for the 15.90-carat tanzanite adorning his multistone Bridging Dreams ring, “to buff out the micro scratches on the gemstone to perfect its finish,” he said in an email.

Experts disagree on how soon the world’s supply of tanzanite will be exhausted, with some saying it is almost mined out. But some designers are still discovering the gemstone — “to keep a step ahead,” said Ana Khouri, a New York-based designer who was adding tanzanites to her ear pieces, including a new white-gold-and-diamond ear crawler with pink, green and blue tanzanites.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page S4 in The International New York Times.

Diamond Portraits: Sotirio Voulgaris

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Source: Ehud Arye Laniado

The diamond industry has always lent itself to well-told stories. The beauty, wealth, even power associated with this fantastic creation of earth easily captures the imagination. Those involved in the trade of diamonds and creation of jewelry were often unusual people, who thanks to their tendency to do things in their own unique way succeeded in their endeavors. Of the many people whose stories have been told here over the past year or so, Sotirio Voulgaris holds a unique place. His name is virtually unknown, although his eponymous brand is well known, his geographic origin is different than other central players in the industry, and the route he took was uniquely his, leaving a sublime legacy behind him.

Sotirio Voulgaris was born in a small village in the Pindhos mountain range in Epirus, Greece on March 18, 1857. His chances of surviving childhood or even infancy were very slim. He was one of 11 children born to his parents, all ten of his siblings died, leaving him as the sole survivor. The area where he was born and raised has a history of jewelry making and is known for its silversmith art. Traditionally, since ancient times, jewelry design, making, knowledge, and skills were passed down from father to son. Sotirio’s father, Giorgio, was no different, passing to his son generations of accumulated understanding of how to turn the hard, cold metal into wonderful creations of desire.

The Voulgaris family specialized in unique silver earrings, belt buckles, and sword sheaths. And in this same tradition, Voulgaris was trained in his ancestors’ craft. His grandfather used to sell his jewelry as a street vendor, but Sotirio and his father Giorgio decided to open a small store in their village.

During that period, the region was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, and the decades old hatred between Greeks and Turks had many ugly manifestations. One was a series of fires set by Turks that targeted Greek establishments, aimed to hurt them financially. In 1873, one of the stores set on fire was that owned by the Voulgaris family, when a decision was made to burn down their home village of Paramythia in order to rebuild it from the ground up. The security and safety of the local Greeks did not improve, and in 1876 Sotirio was a victim of an attempted robbery.

Those events led Sotirio’s father Giorgio to the decision to immigrate. With a desire for safety and a more peaceful life, the family left its ancestral land and moved to the beautiful Greek island of Corfu in 1877. There they opened a small jewelry store. A few years later, Sotirio met Demetrios Kremos, a Macedonian silversmith. They became good friends, and decided to try and reach further with their dreams. They left Corfu and sailed to Brindisi and then travelled to Naples, where they opened a small gold jewelry shop together in Piazza dei Martiri in 1880. Sotirio may have immigrated to distance himself from violence and crime, but at times, that bad luck kept following him around. Not long after they opened their store, it was looted. Naples suffered from a serious crime wave, and their store was broken into and robbed several more times. The two partners decide to try their luck in another place, and left Naples for Rome in 1881.

A Greek merchant who lived in Rome offered Sotirio and Demetrios the opportunity to display their jewelry in his store, making room in one of the store’s windows. Rome was going through a modernization and growth spurt, and the two jewelry makers did well. However, disagreements between them developed to the point that they decided to part ways.

Honing and perfecting his innate silversmith skills, Sotirio Voulgaris set up his first shop on his own in 1884 at 85 Via Sistina, just down the street from his previous location. As he was getting ready to open the store, he made an important business decision: to Italianize his name. He changed his name to Bulgari, the phonetic version of his Greek name, and adopted Bulgari as his company name.

Enamored with the history of ancient Rome, Bulgari developed a jewelry design style that incorporated the symbolism of the city into his designs, which were no longer limited to silver, adopting gold as his metal of choice. His designs were bold, large, incorporated semi-precious gems, and characterized by long soft lines that added grace to the large jewelry items. As further tribute to Roman history, Bulgari replaced the ‘U’ in his store name to ‘V’V, the Latin letter for U. Sotirio knew that great design would serve him well, and he trusted his workmanship to construct high-quality jewelry as well, but to really succeed, he needed a little more. In 1894, he moved the store to a new location, 28 Via Dei Condotti. Street traffic was good, and his business continued to grow, but when he found out that he could clench a store up the street at number 10 Via Dei Condotti, just by Piazza di Spagna, he grabbed the opportunity.

In 1905, Bulgari opened the second store with the help of his two sons, Costantino and Giorgio. Bulgari wanted to attract British and American tourists heading to the Spanish Stairs Fontana della Barcaccia, famous tourist destinations. This location later became the Bulgari flagship store of today.

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