Archive for July, 2008

Ruby Ban?

July 31, 2008

The big headline in jewelry news is the Burmese Ruby and Jade ban just signed into legislation by President Bush. The reason is simple: To punish the brutal regime there by taking away an important export. Some companies, like Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari, were already voluntarily taking part in this effort, but with Bush’s signature it becomes law.

This law doesn’t apply to stones already in the States, and the stones can be imported from other countries under certain conditions. So now might be a great time to stock up on beautiful ruby jewelry without worrying what kind of political group the sale might profit. To learn more about the legislation, click right here.

Here are some of my ruby favorites currently on Portero:

Gurhan 24k Yellow Gold Ruby Briolette Wish Bone Chain Drop Earrings. Oh so sexy, especially for summer. I love the shoulder-dusting length and the simple silhouette.

Stephen Webster 18k White Gold Ruby Tattoo Drop Earrings. The rhodium-plated white gold (which turns the metal black) really makes the rubies pop in these rock ‘n’ roll earrings.

Cartier Vintage 1920 Platinum Burmese 4.66 ctw Ruby Diamond Ring. A total stunner. This Burmese specimen is top-notch, and its age means that it has nothing to do with the current ban.

Image via jckonline

Haute Hand-me-Downs: Our best selling bags

July 29, 2008

So why, you may ask, am I including a picture of a car’s interior in a post about handbags? Well, I thought I’d diverge a bit from the expected fawning over our best-selling bags and instead give you some little-known facts about the brands that are featured in this week’s homepage. Yes, we are highlighting four brands you know very well: Gucci, Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton–these are pieces that will always be worth the investment.

I’m pretty sure you already know exactly why these four brands continually top Portero’s sales, so I decided to do a little digging and find out a few stories behind the companies that you may be interested to hear. Let’s start with Gucci (and that car interior picture above). When the company was going through a bit of a downturn in sales, Aldo Gucci decided to expand into new markets, one of which was a partnership with American Motors Corporation. The 1972 AMC Hornet “Sportabout” station wagon was decked out in Gucci stripes and emblems, and was one of the first American cars to offer interiors by a fashion house.
Most people are aware that Hermès started out as a saddle company, but did you know that the founder’s grandson Émile-Maurice bought the exclusive rights to the use of the zipper for clothing and leather goods? This was around 1914, and you can imagine that this really made Hermès a luxury brand on another level. (The saddle above, FYI, was a one-of-a-kind creation made by Hermès for Selfridges in London.)

We talked a lot about Chanel handbags during our amazing vintage auction, so here’s a tidbit about Coco’s famous perfume: The number 5 was picked solely because it was Chanel’s lucky number. Like all of her clothes, Chanel specifically created a very simple bottle, and the design has not changed at all since its introduction in 1921.

I’m sure you’re aware of the value and beauty of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks, but do you know why they were so innovative at the time? Besides being made of lightweight and airtight trianon canvas, it was the flat shape that really made an impact. Before Vuitton’s version, trunks had rounded tops, mostly to let water run off the top. But these rounded tops meant that stacking was impossible, so Vuitton’s invention truly changed the face of travel.

The unique histories of these companies are really what make the products so special. Click right here to link directly to the homepage, and bid on something that can be passed down for years to come.

Portero 500

July 28, 2008

Great news if you love a great deal…Portero recently launched the Portero 500, a final closeout of amazing items that all have a starting bid of $500. It’s definitely worth a look: These are not just your run of the mill baubles. We’re talking about Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, Roberto Coin, Hermes, and more.

Shop now through July 31 to take advantage of these extra-low prices.

If I were doing the shopping, I would snap up the H.Stern Women’s 18k Yellow Gold Beaded Hoop Earrings pictured above in a hot second. They are perfect for summer, and have a lot more personality than your everyday hoops.

Some Like it Hot

July 23, 2008

There’s certain accessories that I pull out for the summer months that don’t get much play during cold weather. Turquoise and coral, definitely. Strappy stilettos, obviously. But what about watches? Some people save their colorful straps for summertime (opting for the more traditional brown, black or metal for winter), while others have less expensive sporty versions that seem more appropriate for outdoor activity.

Luckily, this week’s Portero theme is featuring watches that are practical, durable and appropriate for any type of sport you are attempting in the great outdoors. From diving watches to those created just for boating, racing and aeronautics, we have a wide selection that vary in terms of price, style and materials.

First, a little background. Diving watches were created for military purposes in the 1930s, and feature a minimum water resistance greater than 100 meters (or 330 feet). Most high-end models have a resistance of 200-300 meters, but there are styles that can far exceed those depths.

If you are a scuba diver or are regularly underwater, one of the most important things to do is to have your watch pressure tested (at a repair facility like Tourneau) every year or two and have the seals replaced. Brands also recommend rinsing the timepiece with fresh water after being exposed to seawater.

Boating or Yachting watches, in addition to having many of the same characteristics of diving watches, can offer many functions like tide chart accuracy. Racing watches are all about precision. Featuring complications like split second chronographs and stop functions, these models are all about the art of timing and the exact amount of time and speed you can achieve.

Lastly, we have aeronautical, or Pilot, watches. While you might think that Breitling owns this category, there are a host of other brands (including IWC, Bell & Ross, and Longines) that make highly technical pilot watches. Things to look for are ultimate durability, and characteristics including magnetically sheilded cases, maximum readability, and the precision of a chronograph.
Click right here to redirect to the homepage to check out our great selection of specialized timepieces.

Christmas in July

July 22, 2008

It’s always fascinating when high-end stores and brands put together their “Wish Lists” for the upcoming holiday season. At Selfridges in London, the just released and insanely expensive merchandise includes a stuffed animal with a price tag of over £43,000. What kind of teddy bear could command that kind of cash? Apparently it’s a limited edition Steiff that features a 24-karat gold snout, emerald and diamond eyes, and fur embellished with gold leaf. If that wasn’t enough, it will also be sold with a Montblanc pen complete with an ink pot filled with liquid gold.

Other items include an Alexander McQueen handbag that resembles a Faberge egg for £29,530, jeweled champagne bottles and cashmere dressing robes.

If you’d like to indulge in some of the same brands at Portero prices, have no fear: We carry a wide variety of Montblanc and Faberge merchandise. Here are my picks for fabulous gifts any time of the year, at prices that won’t empty your pocketbook:

Montblanc Boheme Red Rhodolite Jewels Gold Plate Ballpoint Pen. As a writer, I always love to have one beautiful and well-made pen at my disposal. This is the Couture version.

Faberge Limited Edition 18k Gold Enamel Diamond Drop Earrings. I love the hand-painted enamel and the delicate diamond accents.

Image via The Daily Mail

On the Verge: Jeanne Johngren

July 21, 2008

One of my favorite parts of writing about jewelry is hopefully bringing new designers to the attention of my readers. Right now I’m happy to bring you just a few pieces from the lovely Jeanne Johngren, an artist who started out as a filmmaker and who now creates in gold and gemstones. I am completely smitten with her medallion-like pieces, such as the Mandala discs above in 18-karat gold, sapphires and diamonds. Mandala, apparently, is a mystic shape known to embody harmony, balance and focus that comes from the ancient Buddhist and Hindu religions.

Above, her Quattro pendant studded with gorgeous blue-green tourmalines is another stunner. I have always been a fan of rich yellow gold with colorful gems, and I particularly like how Johngren isn’t aiming for perfection with her stone setting–when not perfectly in alignment, the overall effect is charming and one-of-a-kind.

Here are another set of discs, this time in earring form. Called Sunburst, the pattern would really catch the light beautifully. Circular pendants have always been a favorite of mine, and Portero has a great selection that vary in size, shape and material. Here are a few I wouldn’t mind picking up:

Gurhan 24k Yellow Gold Phoenician Bead Necklace. I love the juxtaposition of the hand-hammered disc and the dangling gemstones.

JewelMak 14k Yellow Gold Diamond Pendant Necklace. Sparkly and feminine, I like the modern Art Nouveau elements of this pendant.

David Yurman 18k Yellow Gold Diamond Cable Disc Necklace. This falls into the “everyday wear” category because it will look good with anything. I like how the signature cable motif has been twisted to create motion.

Images courtesy Jeanne Johngren.

Full Disclosure

July 16, 2008

Although most of our time is spent gathering and authenticating our huge selection of luxury goods for auction, occasionally we like to take a few minutes to check on Portero’s reputation out in the world. While customer feedback is our number on priority, it’s always helpful to read press from our peers as well. That’s why we’ve created an entire page dedicated to Portero in the news.

Sometimes you don’t want to take our word for it, so click right here to see articles from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Women’s Wear Daily and, among many others. 
Mostly, these articles are praising our authenticated luxury merchandise, as outlined in our Buyer’s Protection Plan and Portero’s Promise. This is something you won’t find on eBay, and it’s in fact the reason Portero was created in the first place–to devise a site where consumers don’t have to take on the burden of proof themselves. 
As just another way to give our members full disclosure, we have also added a Glossary page to the site. Click right here to clear up any misconceptions you might have about the auction process, or just to gain a better understanding of the way we do business. 
And don’t forget, free shipping on orders over $1,000 ends at 11:59PM ET tonight!

Caveat Emptor

July 15, 2008

Ah, those three little words. Don’t they make you feel great? I’m not talking about ‘I love you,’ but something even better in the world of online shopping: Buyer’s Protection Plan. In the light of recent developments in the world of consumer protection, Portero’s Promise to our customers becomes even more important.
So let’s backtrack a bit. Maybe you’ve heard about the lawsuit brought by Tiffany & Co. against eBay? Basically, Tiffany & Co. sued eBay, accusing the auction site of not doing enough to stop sales of counterfeit items. A victory would have been bad for the site and the sellers, but a win for the consumer who would be protected. In the verdict by Judge Richard Sullivan, handed down just a few hours ago, the law sided with eBay. According to Sullivan: “Tiffany must ultimately bear the burden of protecting its trademark.”
What this all boils down to is less protection for the end consumer, who can never be sure if something he or she is buying on eBay is real or fake. That’s where Portero comes in. Our promise from the start was to offer just such a protection by authenticating every piece of merchandise on our site. That means that we take care of the hard part for you. And if, by chance, something slips through the cracks, we offer a 100% refund of the purchase price plus any shipping or insurance costs you might have incurred.
So now that you can breathe a sigh of relief, let’s get down to shopping. This week’s Portero homepage reflects our biggest selling jewelry brands, with the embattled Tiffany & Co. leading the pack. Other featured designers include Bvlgari, Cartier, Chopard and Gurhan. No matter which piece strikes your fancy, you can shop easy knowing that each and every bracelet, earring, ring and necklace is authentic.
Need a little more justification? How about free shipping. All purchases over $1,000 will show up at your door with no extra fees attached–just place your order before Wednesday at 11:59PM ET.
To read up on all the specifics of Portero’s authenticating and protection programs, click below:
Portero’s Promise
Buyer’s Protection Plan

Monday Eye Candy: Gumuchian

July 14, 2008

I’ve just happily gotten my hands on some images from Gumuchian‘s brand new Summer 2008 collection and I had to share them with you. I am really digging the designer, Myriam Gumuchian Schreiber, and the old Hollywood glamour route she is taking with these pieces. 

Above, the Heart bracelet is made up of 18-karat white gold and 11.03 carats of diamonds. I love that the motif isn’t too literal, and combines both a modern simplicity and old-world attention to detail. 
These gorgeous earrings are another winner for me. The platinum, diamond and amethyst drops have elements of the unexpected, such as the mixing of all the different cuts. I love that the rounds are held together by baguettes, and the Deco styling is offset by the bold purple–a color that isn’t automatically associated with jewelry from that era. 
I’ve certainly saved the most dramatic for last. This Buddha necklace is not for the demure among us: crafted from carved amethyst, it also features diamonds, pink sapphires and onyx. I love the sautoir style of the necklace and pendant and the alternating stones in the chain. 
Portero carries a large selection of Gumuchian jewelry–click right here to see what’s available to bid on right now. 

Fool’s Gold?

July 10, 2008

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I am a big fan of gold. Most of my jewelry is in fact yellow gold, and my engagement ring is rose gold. I am also a big fan of food. I am one of the least picky eaters around, and a great meal never gets old. Sometimes, though, two rights make a wrong, as with this trend of gold ON food. 

This is something I really don’t get. Let’s start with the image above, from a Swiss chocolate maker called Cocoa Gourmet. For a mere $1,250, you can get your hands on a box of 12 chocolates covered with edible gold, silver and sprinkled with diamonds. 

If you’d rather have your gold with booze, New York City restaurant Buddha Bar should be your next stop. For $50, the bartender will make you a specialty “Gold Digger” cocktail (above) featuring gin, vermouth and “gold wrapped” olives. 
Our least expensive option comes from Greenpoint, New York store Jan & Aya. These homemade twinkies from baker Sarah Magid, called Goldies, will set you back $6 a piece. Dusted with gold powder and filled with organic chocolate and buttercream, these are not meant for brown-bag lunches. 
Honestly, I just don’t get it at all. Why spend an exorbitant amount of money to eat something that will taste exactly the same without the expensive ingredient? I guess there must be a market, though, if people continue to make them. 
I much prefer to wear my gold. Here are three Portero pieces that I’m coveting in a major way right now:
Gurhan 24-karat gold opal Paradiso drop earrings. Totally chic and very modern, I love the rich tone of the gold and the delicate chain. 
H. Stern 18-karat gold interlocking heart band. I like that this ring itself is flexible, and that the hearts aren’t too literal. 
Vintage 18-karat gold bamboo link chain bracelet. Swoon. If I hit the lottery, I would snap this beauty up in a heartbeat–it would look great with everything from jeans and a white t-shirt to a cocktail dress. 
Images via Cocoa Gourmet and