Archive for March, 2009

German Engineering: A. Lange & Söhne

March 31, 2009

When it comes to high-end timepieces, Swiss-made is usually the standard to go by. Defying those odds is premiere German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne, a company founded in 1845 and still making some of the world’s most innovative and costly timepieces today.

I read about A. Lange recently when the company won an award for its Cabaret Tourbillon timepiece, the reader-judged “Watch of the Year 2009” presented by newspaper Welt am Sonntag and Armbanduhren (Wristwatch) magazine. (See image above.) The readers were definitely wowed by a world’s first in the realm of tourbillons: the inclusion of a ‘hack seconds’ (or ‘stop seconds’) feature. This basically means that when the crown is pulled out from the watch, the seconds stop running to allow for more accurate time setting.

Another relatively recent innovation from A. Lange (March ’07) was the unveiling of the first wearable mechanical watch with a 31-day power reserve. In layman’s terms, this means that the watch only has to be wound once a month, in this case, with a special key.

While we don’t have the brand new Cabaret Tourbillon yet on Portero, we do have a gorgeous A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Platinum Men’s Automatic 101.035 Watch (image above). If you’re looking to start investing in top-of-the-line movements, this watch is the perfect way to go. Considered the most affordable watch made by the brand, the 1815 model is highly sought after by collector’s beginning their quest into the world of A. Lange & Sohne.

Jumbo Jewels

March 30, 2009

Last week I told you about the trend report I put together about the jewelry marketplace, and I shared some tips for shopping from the Diamond Information Center. Well, now I want to share some more insider information from Helena Krodel at the Jewelry Information Center (JIC), a total pro and fabulous trend forecaster.

According to Helena, one of the main trends for the upcoming year will be “Jumbo Jewels”–large-scale accessories that can make an outfit all on their own. She broke this down for me into four smaller groups: Statement necklaces (especially bibs and collars), Statement Cuffs, Gemstone cocktail rings and Hoop earrings.

I’m also really feeling this look for spring and beyond. If you want to shop some of these looks, just click below to check out some of my picks for Jumbo Jewels featured on Portero right now. (For variety, I chose one look for each category at the lower end of the price range and one at the high-end.)

Statement Necklaces:

Yves Saint Laurent Golden Braided Collar Toggle Necklace. I am loving the bold yellow gold and ’80s-vintage feel of this oversized collar.
18k Yellow Gold 12.06 ctw Diamond Necklace. Totally stunning and will never go out of style.

Statement Cuffs:

M+J Savitt Hammered Gold Plated Turquoise Cuff Bracelet. The cabochon gemstone, hammered metal and oversized profile are all perfect for the upcoming season.
Sterling Silver 18k Yellow Gold Rose Cut Diamond Vintage-Inspired Hinged Bangle Bracelet. This Indian-inspired bracelet will go with anything–from jeans and a white t-shirt to a ball gown.

Gemstone cocktail rings:

Jewel of Ocean 18k Yellow Gold Lapis Lazuli Cocktail Ring sz 5.25. As I mentioned before, Cabochons are right on target for 2009.
Yossi Harari 24k Yellow Gold Large Opal Cocktail Ring sz 7. Opals are fantastic because no two are exactly alike–thus this ring feels totally custom.

Hoop Earrings:

SOHO 18k Rose Gold Black Enamel Hoop Earrings. Rose gold looks perfect on every skin tone and the random enamel feels like a bit of modern art.
JewelMak Hammered 18k Yellow Gold Aquamarine Hoop Earrings. JIC says that “gemmed” or “charmed” hoops will be big.

Image via


March 27, 2009

Today is definitely looking like the start of a great weekend–the sun is shining, it’s Friday, and we’re offering a surprise 10% off sale through next Tuesday. This means 10% off site-wide* and through all categories; so whether you’re looking for a great hostess gift for the upcoming holidays or a pair of stilettos as a treat for yourself, you can start bidding at even lower prices.

Want the details?

Use Promo code: MARTEN
Expires on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 11:59 PM ET.
*Birkins will be excluded.

Happy weekend!

Buying Time

March 25, 2009

This week we’re highlighting savvy shopping in the form of Investment Watches. These are timepieces that will hold their value for years to come–whether they are rare, created from precious materials or just a brand name that will always be collectible.

Portero has such a large selection, though, that we wanted to take our education one step further. So, we created a special guide called “How to Buy an Investment Watch” that will always be available on the site. Click over to learn the basics–from speciality watch terms to what brands and models will make the best future heirlooms.

Shop Portero’s Men’s and Women’s Investment Watches:
$7,500 – $9,999
Over $10,000

Educate yourself on How to Buy an Investment Watch

Back to Basics

March 24, 2009

I was recently putting together a trend report for one of my freelance clients, and I decided to interview all of the major jewelry industry organizations to get a feel for the marketplace. When I got to the Diamond Information Center (DIC), they definitely had some thoughts on how women were shopping and what pieces will be big for 2009.

Sally Morrison, the Executive Director of the DIC, had this to say:

“Women want quality items that they can wear all the time and will last forever. Never has it been more apparent that diamond jewelry is a smart buy. And diamond jewelry is meaningful – it is hard to say that about a new purse or pair of shoes. What we are seeing is that people are buying fewer but better things, so rather than buying lots of pieces, they are choosing to buy one great piece and are being more discerning about it. So, instead of buying a lots of things of a lesser quality, they are choosing to buy fewer things but of a better quality. There is also a return to the classics, to simple clean pieces such as diamond studs and diamond drop earrings, which we saw a lot of during the award season.”

This is definitely smart thinking. Investment pieces are those that won’t lose their value and aren’t dictated by trends. If I had my pick on Portero, I would go with jewels like these Custom Platinum 2.74 ctw Diamond Stud Earrings or this Tiffany & Co Platinum Diamond Hexagonal Band Ring sz 6.25.

Want a perfect example? Look at Penelope Cruz, above, in diamonds at the 2009 Oscars. She chose simple studs and a gorgeous diamond riviere necklace by Chopard. (Yes, of course these diamonds were worth millions, but the look was decidedly unfussy and certainly not risky.)

The point is that you don’t want to spend your extra cash on jewels that won’t last a lifetime. The smartest choices this season are classic, enduring pieces that will definitely be future heirlooms.

Going to the Chapel?

March 18, 2009

If you or someone you know is thinking about popping the question, there’s no doubt that they should give Portero a look before buying any bling. Love and marriage continues even in a bad economy, so it makes perfect sense to get the best deal you can on a piece of jewelry that will be worn every day.

If you’ve never shopped for substantial diamonds before, you may need a place to start. You can always pick up a copy of my book, A Girl’s Guide to Buying Diamonds (shameless plug!), if you need to brush up on the basics. It covers everything from the 4Cs (color, cut, clarity, carat weight) to choosing the style that’s right for you.

If you’re looking for an online tutorial, you can check out Platinum Guild’s Buying Guide, and there’s also quite a bit of information on the A Diamond Is Forever website, including information on insurance and diamond facts.

Be aware that an engagement ring doesn’t need to be all white! The trend of using colored gemstones or colored diamonds is not just a passing fad; going with a stone you or your fiance loves will make the ring just that much more special. Even if you’re not planning a wedding anytime soon, you probably know someone who is contemplating a proposal. Passing along our 50% savings (and more) will be a lifesaver for any future groom.

Shop Portero’s selection of engagement rings

Officially Cartier

March 16, 2009

Michelle Obama sure knows how to bring modern to the White House. In her recently-released official portrait, she donned a black shift dress by Michael Kors, a simple double strand of pearls and a Cartier Tank Francaise watch. Yes, the look is simple, but the sleekness of the outfit is what feels so fresh. No bulky skirt suit; no overpowering makeup; no hairdo that looks as though it could stand up to a wind tunnel.

The Tank is an interesting Cartier model because it has had several evolutions since the original was released in 1917. The Tank Francaise is only 13 years old, and it is marked by a square dial held by a rectangular case. The bracelet itself was created to look like the tracks left by a military tank. Although retail prices for this model usually start at $3,875, Portero has a selection of Tank Francaise watches with opening bids as low as $2,520.

Obama also knows that you can’t go wrong with pearls. I love the size of these pearls and the weight of the necklace. It’s not over-the-top, but the stones are substantial enough to feel luxurious and stylish. If you’re wondering how to pick pearls that aren’t outdated, here are two wonderful suggestions available right now on Portero:

Rachelle Epstein Japanese Gray Cultured Pearl Aquamarine Rondelle Bead 9-Row Necklace. Yes, it’s dramatic, but it’s also terribly chic. Gray is the color of the moment and the aquamarine beads in-between each pearl are both playful and sophisticated.

M+J Savitt Gold Plated Sterling Silver Clear Crystal & Pearl Necklace. The affordability of this statement necklace is possible because there is more crystal than pearl; but the look is still totally luxe.

Want to copy Obama’s style? Shop Cartier Tank Francaise right here.

Green with Envy

March 11, 2009

Although St. Patrick’s Day is known less for shopping and more for, well, cocktails; it’s also a time to celebrate a bit of luck. And it sure seems lucky to find Portero prices on some of your favorite luxury brands. We’ve put together a really fun assortment of green items for you to look through–not just an expected mix of emerald and jade, but green leather goods and accessories, too, in a wide range of hues.

I personally love the Gucci crocodile checkbook/wallet featured on the homepage. The oversized logo feels very retro and the pop of color will make paying for things at least a bit more exciting. If green isn’t your color, then click over to our selection of Lucky Charms. From four-leaf clover baubles to dainty pendants that could very well become your signature piece, these are little jewels with a lot of personality.

As an aside, if you’re ever looking to shop by color on Portero, it’s a snap. Just type in your preferred shade in the upper right-hand search box and a list of items in all categories will show up.

Click below to shop:

Green Jewelry
Green Accessories
Lucky Charms

Mini Masterpieces

March 10, 2009

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go meet with one of the most talented jewelry designers in the world yesterday–Sevan Bicakci (above, photo by me). Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Sevan has been creating jewelry since he was 11 years old. His jewelry often references the architecture and lore of his home country, but it’s the precise stone setting and unbelievable gemstone carving that really sets him apart from the competition.

His newest collection, Ida, is based on the two mountains of Mount Ida–one which is found in Greece and the other in Turkey. These sacred locations are extremely important in Greek and Byzantine mythology; in fact, the Olympic Gods gathered there to watch the epic battle of Troy.

Sevan’s work is part sculpture, part jewelry and part architecture. This new collection is made up of monuments containing hand-cut quartz, citrine, tourmaline and rock crystal that have been inversely carved and painted as mini-sculptures inside of the each ring (which stand up like Greek statues). Having seen them in person, I can tell you that each piece is truly spectacular. Although a language barrier doesn’t always make it easy to talk with Sevan, the beauty of the work really shines through. He told me that he particularly likes the use of blue and green diamonds as accents in these pieces and that each one takes months of painstaking work to be completed.

Check out just a few of the pieces from the Ida collection below. There is a wide range of materials used in each of these rings, including 24-karat gold, silver, and MANY diamonds. (Prices hover around $50,000 each.) If you want to see his jewelry in person, head over to Barney’s New York.

Interview: Ivanka Trump

March 9, 2009

I recently spoke to businesswoman/jewelry maven Ivanka Trump for a magazine article, and she had some interesting things to say about the category of contemporary jewelry and what women are looking for when they shop. If you didn’t know that Ivanka had a jewelry line, check it out right here. It’s definitely high-end (she partnered with a diamond company) and pricey, but it also manages to make a statement about fashion and style.

The newest pieces in the line focus on large pieces of rock crystal mixed with traditional diamonds. There’s a sort of vintage/retro thing going on with the jewels, but the scale and simple silhouettes also feel very modern. If you want to try on the pieces in person, you can head to her Madison Avenue boutique. Here’s just a bit of the interview that will run in TJF magazine next month:

Q: How has your career in real estate helped you with this jewelry line?
A: We’re builders, so I’m used to wanting to achieve a certain look for the best price. Rock crystal doesn’t pretend to be diamond, but it gives us a certain look. We never compromise on materials, but we can also spend a bit less to create a line that is all-encompassing.

Q: Why did you decide to use a mainly black and white palette for the line?
A: Black and white is chic, elegant and wearable. It can transcend the season and remain timeless.

Q: Why will women enjoy visiting your boutique?
A: We tried to create an environment that was really meant for the female buyer. It’s a boudoir. People have responded very well to that–the time for stoic jewelry stores has passed. We serve chocolates and champagne and have fun.

Q: What style are women today particularly looking for?
A: Statement pieces that are timeless. Women want something very luxurious but be able to spend a bit less.

Rock Crystal Bib Necklace with diamonds

Rock Crystal Bracelet with diamond Pagoda clasp

Pave diamond and rock crystal door knock earrings