Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vintage Value Venture - Getting Ready For The Cold

Well now that the worst scientific scandal of our generation has been exposed, I can finally stop worrying about melting ice caps and concentrate on getting prepared for cooler temperatures.
And how better to get prepared but with a warm wrap coat.
Right now I'm loving this 1940's film noir look.
Doesn't a coat like this need a great hat

And a great brooch for the lapel
Yeah I know, it was a 1980's revival on the runways this year but as long as I'm thinking vintage I'd rather go for the retro 1940's look.
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Jewelry Biz - A Tale of Two Cities, Akron and Geneva

Jewelry has the distinction of being one of the few luxury goods that has both a high end and a low end, in the way that a private jet does not. The high end of course is the private client and auction business and the low end is the retail chain store business like Zales and Kay Jewelers.

On the high end:
I really don't know how to describe the high end other than tremendous.
Take this month's Sotheby's Geneva Magnificent Jewelry Auction for example

Magnificent Jewels of Important Historical Provenance
& Rare Coloured Diamonds Soar at Sotheby’s Geneva,
Bringing CHF 37,011,375 ($36,682,714, €24,553,028)

Magnificent Vivid Green Diamond Sells for CHF 3,106,500 ($3,078,914, €2,060,825),
a New World Auction Record Price Per Carat for a Vivid Green Diamond--

--The Roxburghe Rubies Bring the Unprecedented Sum of CHF 5,821,000, ($5,769,309, €3,861,602),
A World Record Price for a Ruby Suite

Since extraordinary jewels are bringing extraordinary prices
The Wall Street Journal asks
They are rare, beautiful, valuable and a girl's best friend but traditionally diamonds haven't really been considered an asset class in their own right.
Diamonds do not have the "safe haven" status of gold, and their prices are more volatile than the precious metal. While spot gold has gained around 25% in value this year, diamond prices have fallen by at least 10%, in line with the poor performance of the luxury industry, according to U.S.-based IDEX Online Diamond Prices, which tracks global asking prices for polished diamonds.
While respected authorities in the jewelry business advise against buying diamonds for investments
David Bennett, Geneva-based chairman of jewelry for Europe and the Middle East at Sotheby's, says: "Like art, we would not advise someone to buy diamonds for investment purposes. People should buy diamonds for the joy of wearing them."
we've still got
the growing demand for tangible assets and portfolio diversification has led to the launch of a number of diamond investment funds this year, which believe they can achieve double-digit returns for investors.

Have a few extra dollars in your bank account?
Here are some investment options:

KPR Capital launched a Cayman Islands-domiciled open-ended investment diamond fund with a minimum buy in of $250,000.
Alfa Capital, the Russian investment group, launched a diamond investment fund with a minimum investment of €1m and an estimated yield of 15% to 17%.
Emotional Assets Fund was launched, investing in a number of assets from fine art and rare stamps to diamonds and diamond jewelry. The fund is targeting a growth rate of 15% per annum with a minimum investment of £100,000.
Dazzling Capital, a London-based company investing directly in period jewelry, also opened its doors this month, co-founded by former Christie's auctioneer Humphrey Butler.
The company, which accepts a minimum investment of £10,000 with an estimated return on investment of 11%

Names like Emotional Assets Fund and Dazzling Capital certainly sound contrived
especially when we know that white diamonds are not rare, they are scarce due to controlled distribution, yet returns have gone up because sales at the high end are off the charts.
But given that diamonds will bring an 11-15% return, why would you buy into a fund when you can just buy actual diamonds and get the pleasure of wearing your investment?

I'm dubious about buying diamonds, individually or in funds, unless they are rare and colored (fancy) "If you want to buy diamonds for investment purposes, they should be big and fancy (colorful)," says Holly Midwinter-Porter, a gemologist at U.K. jeweler Boodles. "Red and green are the rarest, and unlike white, man-made diamonds, are finite as they are only found in one or two areas in the world." She says returns on rare diamonds can enjoy double digit growth a year, and their portability makes them more appealing than gold or art to some investors. And if you are looking for a big red diamond I have one for sale.

But I do think that buying period diamond jewelry, like the emerald set in this photo, is an intriguing investment.
Another option for investors is the vintage diamond jewelry market -- considered capable of more lucrative returns because of the added value of provenance. Mr. Butler brokered a $4.5 million deal with the Louvre in 2004 for an antique emerald and diamond necklace and ear rings by Nitot, presented as a wedding present by Emperor Napoleon to his second empress, Marie Louise of Austria. The owners had bought it for a fraction of the sale price 10 years before.
With fine vintage jewelry, intrinsic value + provenance = return on investment.
So I will be interested to see the results of tomorrows Sotheby's London sale of

After last year's horrendous holiday season, and the subsequent some 1,500 retail jewelry stores that went out of business, the big corporate chains such as Kay Jewelers and Zales are hoping for an increase in same store sales due to less overall competition.

Akron Ohio based Signet, which owns Kay and Jared, sees the demise in the industry as an opportunity. "Our balance sheet puts us in a stronger position competitively," Terry Burman, chief executive of Signet Jewelers Ltd., said in an interview.

In the current quarter, which includes the holidays, Wall Street analysts estimates Signet will post a 2% increase in sales at stores open at least a year. Last year, Signet's fourth quarter sales slumped 16% in the U.S. and 9% in the U.K.

I certainly hope that the analysts are correct given

The holiday season is crucial for jewelry chains, many of which record the majority of their sales and up to 100 percent of their profit in the period. Signet, for instance, books 40% of its sales and 70% of its profit in November, December and January, with the bulk of its sales coming in the last two weeks of December.


For the fiscal third-quarter ended Oct. 31, Signet, the largest chain jeweler in North America, posted a loss of $7 million, or eight cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of loss of $15.1 million, or 18 cents a share. Results for the company's latest quarter included a $5 million benefit from a change in U.S. vacation policy.

While I can afford an investment in Signet or Zales (versus a diamond fund)
Shares of Zale were up 10%, or 47 cents, to $4.40, while Signet shares were off 56 cents, at $26.32, both in 4 p.m. trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
I'd still rather not invest in any retail jewelry business that caters to the low end.
My money is on fine vintage jewelry because that is what savvy consumers buy.
And my last word on the subject
London based estate jeweler Humphrey Butler, yes he of Dazzling Capital and the Napoleonic Emeralds, is selling the same set of Tiffany diamond bird brooches for $10,500
that is selling for $5950.
So even in the vintage estate jewelry market it pays to be discerning when making any purchase.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vintage Value Venture - The Winter Fur Suit

Just because I was boasting about having 90 degree weather for Thanksgiving doesn't mean that I don't miss real winter temperatures....especially when the cold calls for something with a little fur.
Here are my vintage picks for staying chic and warm
and I would wear any one of these suits

1960's Saks Adolphe black wool suit with beaver collar and cuffs
$425 at Vintage Swank
(Wouldn't you offer no more than $275 given other vintage suits online?)

1950's Hart Schaffner Marx nutmeg wool suit with mink collar
$300 at Tresor de Vintage
(Don't you love this Mad Men color and 3/4 sleeves which are perfect for kidd gloves?)

1960's Dan Millstein black wool dress with jacket and white mink collar and hem
$295 at Couture Allure Vintage
(Is it just me or is there something Mrs Santa about this suit?)

1960's Saks red wool suit with mink collar
(seriously, where can you buy a wool anything, let alone a suit for $95?)
1970's Lilli Ann grey knit suit with fox collar
(this fox looks strangely like lynx or coyote in this photo, doesn't it?)

Why would anyone buy new when these gorgeous and reasonably priced vintage pieces
are available online?
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Music - It Might Get Loud

The next musical performance that I want to see

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Around Town - La Opera - The Trouble With Tamerlano

While I love baroque music and appreciate vocal acrobatics, I've never been a fan of baroque opera and this season's Tamerlano, composed by Handel in 1734, performed by the LA Opera didn't make me a fan.

There was nothing at all wrong with the performance, and I liked the stark set and modern costumes. But listening to countertenor Bejun Mehta just made me squirm a little. Not that his performance wasn't technically brilliant, it was. It's just that opera is pretty much all about the same thing....some guy wants to nail some girl...who is in love with some other guy, drama ensues, somebody dies and the girl gets the guy she wants. So like with all dramatic stories, there's a hero, a heroine and a heavy.

Well having a countertenor sing the part of the heavy, Tarter emperor Tamerlano, and then having a mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon sing the trouser role part of hero Andronico, was just out of my comfort zone. Just listen to Mehta in the clip that I posted. How can you take a heavy seriously when he sings with a soprano voice that is almost higher than the mezzo-soprano. People, that's just weird.

And then we had Placido Domingo singing the part of Bajazet, the Turkish Sultan who has been conquered by Tamerlano. For me Domingo is a romantic hero in the Verdi or Pucchini mold, with deep emotional range of a brooding latin lover, not a trilling baroque Sultan.

But soprano Sarah Coburn as Asteria sang beautifully and looked like a dream in her confection of wedding gown.

In spite of what the LA times review said, I didn't think that the modern costuming was cliche. The Italian fascist style guards seemed to suit the stark set.

Tamerlano in his chic double vented suit looked hot...I just couldn't find him menacing with his high voice.

Domingo, dressed in rich traditional garb looked appealingly royal. And I loved the maidservants in their little modern black suits, glasses and hair pulled back in tight buns...they could have been out of a Robert Palmer music video.

And so what was my costume?
Well I wore some cute shoes

Note the sparkles.
(oh and I don't have's just the angle of the photo)

And I wore my Autumn favorite, a chocolate cashmere sweater with a heavy silk peau de soie skirt, also in matching chocolate brown
As for the bling, I sported a Mexican fire opal and diamond bib style necklace with matching earrings

Here is the detail of the set
It's not enough for a company like the LA Opera just to rely on regular opera fans to fill the seats. It's absolutely necessary for it to attract new, and hopefully younger fans.
But it is frigging expensive.
Who would take someone on a date to the Opera and a late dinner when the Opera, with two drinks each during intermission and parking costs $568. Add dinner and the whole evening would be almost $1,000.
I don't think that this art form should be only for the wealthy patrons from Hancock Park, San Marino and Beverly Hills.
Don't you agree?
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving OC Style

How we celebrate Thanksgiving
Orange County style at my sister in law's home
when it is 90 degrees in the shade

The de Ville kids will be watching some football

It will be warm enough to sit outside

My parents will be relaxed

The dog will be in on the festivities

And the highlight will be seeing my nephew who is home
on break from his first year at Westpoint
Naturally he will be busy on the phone planning his surfing excursion tomorrow
So much to be thankful for...
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Happy Thanksgiving!

I have much to be thankful for
but I am particularly appreciative of the fact that you, my savvy and chic readers,
take time out of your busy lives to visit my blog.
Thank you.
I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Samantha Harris Brings The Bling To Dancing With The Stars Finale

Can you imagine how psyched we were last night when Samantha Harris wore Beladora jewelry on the finale show of Dancing With The Stars.
There we were at home watching the show and texting each other about how awesome she looked.
The Outfit
The Close Up

and the pièce de résistance

Fancy Yellow and White Diamond Earrings $35,550
Metal: 18K Yellow and White Gold
Yellow Diamonds = 13.89 carats
White Diamonds = 13.01 carats
Total Diamond Weight = 26.90 carats
Sam's stylist from ABC just dropped off the earrings
hmmm....maybe I should wear them to the Opera tonight....
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Demi Or Not Demi - That Is The Question

(photo from the Huffpo)

Another potential photoshop folly?
From New York Magazine
Now, cover conspiracy theorists on blogs Oh No They Didn't and Pop Culture Madness suggest W Photoshopped Demi's face onto the body of Anja Rubik, as shot on the runway in the spring 2010 Balmain show.

I don't know. It certainly looks possible from the photographic evidence
On the other hand, Demi Moore has a rocking hot body in her own right
What do you think?
And, does it even matter if fashion magazines use body doubles?
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dancing With The Stars With Diamonds

I know that I've mentioned before that for the last two seasons Beladora has been providing jewelry for Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba. Well this season Beladora has continued bejewelling Carrie Ann as well as for Samantha Harris.

Here's Samantha in some big bling from a couple of weeks ago looking every bit the goddess.
(damn, I want that silver sliver of a dress!)
And here is the detail photo with the serious emeralds and diamond earrings and ring and with Art Deco bracelets.
If you are happen to get a chance to see the season finale show tonight, check out Samantha's jewelry.
Oh, and lest you think that this sparkly stuff is just for show, let me say for the record that it is all for sale.
All offers will be seriously considered.
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Savvy Shopping - Boucheron Beasts

Fashion blogger Savvy Mode blogged today that she isn't a big fan of the new animal jewelry from the extravagant bestiary collection by Boucheron.

Which includes this diamond swan necklace interestingly worn as a hair ornament

and these charming carved gemstone turtle rings

I do like animal motif jewelry
when it is cleverly conceived and constructed
and I'm rather fond of Beladora's newest acquisition

OK, so I admit that it is a bit pricey at $13,000
but waaaay better priced than Boucheron retail price of $28,000
And god knows that I'd much rather have a jewelled iguana than a live one
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Friday, November 20, 2009

The Essence Of A Photo Shoot

Even after watching several magazine fashion shoots in progress, I'm still impressed with the the coordination it takes to put one of these things together.
Yesterday I was at Milk Studio in Hollywood for a cover and fashion shoot with a young movie star for the March issue of a major national magazine.

The studio was impressive with one huge room for the photography

and another huge room for hair, make-up, wardrobe

and a caterer who was making omelette's to order for breakfast and then who came back a couple of hours later with a huge spread for lunch for the talent and crew

Beladora brought some diamond necklaces, earrings and bracelets in platinum

and a couple of trays of Jean Mahie jewelry

Of course there was an additional two tables of jewelry and maybe 50 pairs of shoes and 20 linear feet of outfits hanging on rolling racks.
Since there are large quantities of clothes and accessories for a magazine fashion shoot you never know if your pieces are going to make it into the actual publication.
You just loan the goods and hope for the best.

The talent (who shall remain nameless because we don't want to jinx our chance of getting the cover photo) starred in a major sci fi movie last spring and is coming out in a mega movie next spring, was so very pretty.
And she had an adorable personality.
When you have lived in LA as long as I have you tend to be jaded when it comes to actors and the entire entertainment business
but even with my ho hum attitude, it was hard to take my eyes off of the talent because she was just so pretty.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

OMG! Giveaway on Radar Online!

OMG...giveaways all over the web!!!!

Yesterday I told you about the jewelry case at Privilege
and, silly me, my post reminded me that this week, there is a givaway at Radar Online too.

You may be asking why these two multi-gemstone necklaces from are being given away on Radar, instead of on BHB.
Well, Radar is a leading celebrity gossip and style website
with 4 million hits a month, can I repeat that, 4 million hits a month!
and BHB is only my personal blog with my silly little musings
and as much as I would like my traffic to be in the millions per month...sadly it isn't.
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NY Recap - The Shoppping there might have been a little shopping done while I was in NY. It was so cold outside that I just might have had to duck into Bloomingdales, Bergdorfs, and quite a few 5th Avenue boutiques, Fendi, Prada, etc., just to keep warm. (And to keep warm I just might have had to buy a pair of flat black boots and something warm and snugly that rhymes with "yearling"...)

But above all the shopping was for business, due diligence if you will, like visiting my estate jewelry dealer friends on 47th Street.
And no NY shopping is complete without a walk through of Bergdorfs, at least through the jewelry section on the 1st floor
Bergdorf's jewelry department didn't disappoint.
(yes, I was that odd woman taking photos of the jewelry cases with my iphone!)

I couldn't decide if I loved or hated the Lorraine Schwartz stuff

like this big fat bright green emerald ring
Is that the same one that Angelina Jolie wore on the red carpet
or does Lorraine Schwartz keep making these rings?
There were the usual high end lines, Verdura, Buccellati, De Grisogono, Van Cleef in it's own boutique and jewelry lines that I've never even heard of....I don't get out much.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of cases of jewelry by Carnet like these multi stone earrings with huge diamond dangles. Michelle Ong, who designs for Carnet, is in my opinion on the level of JAR in Paris and James de Givenchy at Taffin in New York. She is certainly one of the top three jewelry designers in the world in terms of creative use of fine gemstones.
She does really amazing work, like this elongated oval sapphire cabochon ring.
It is a work of art.
And note those black and white earrings in the corner of the photo.
They sell for $48,000 at Bergdorfs.

The Beladora price for the Carnet Diamond Fan Earrings is a just t'wee bit lower at $33,500
Yeah, Carnet jewelry is expensive, but it is truly stunning.
No matter the season the shopping scene in NY is always energized and fun. Here at home, from Neiman's to Barney's on Wilshire Boulevard, and up and down Rodeo Drive and the Beverly Hills side streets, I never feel that same kind energy as I do in NY, except maybe around the holidays.
Rodeo Drive is being dressed up for Christmas this week and maybe some of that NY shopping spirit will liven up the street.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It Would Be My Privilege

You know you want this...hell, I want this!
The Rowallan Jewelry "Keep" travel box.
Our favorite lady of Privilege is having a give away

I do like the nice simple design and the roomy interior to hold my vintage estate jewelry in the
manner to which it has become accustomed.
So by all means...go visit Ms. Privilege and follow her three simple steps to win this jewelry case
by classy Scottish leather goods company Rowallen, a maker to the Crown.
You may not travel by first class, but at least your jewelry can.
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Jewelry Biz- Kwiat Buys Fred Leighton

From JCK Online
Kwiat Buys, Will Run Fred Leighton
Kwiat, the diamond and jewelry company, recently purchased and plans to manage and operate Fred Leighton, the estate and antique jewelry retailer that was recently in Chapter 11.
Kwiat made the purchase together with Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and FOF Inventory Holding. It is valued at $25.8 million.
"Even through this bankruptcy, the core of the brand has remained exceptionally strong," Kwiat said. "The customer knows Fred Leighton. They know that Fred Leighton is all about fine estate and antique jewelry. They have a strong connection to the customer through their appearances on the red carpet."
In the near term, Kwiat will concentrate on its existing stores. But in the long run Kwiat says he plans to expand Leighton's wholesale business and well as its "retail footprint."
From a valuation of over $100 million to $25.8 million...what the hell happened to this company...Oh, I forgot, Ralph Esmerian was running the business.
So now there are a lot of smart people behind this brand, not just the Kwiat group but the FOF investors, so there should be a revitalization of this brand.
But having jewelry on the red carpet doesn't necessarily translate into sales
so we shall see how Fred Leighton fares in the future...
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No Pants For Parisiennes

George Sand (in trousers) listening to Chopin

From the telegraph

who knew?

The rule banning women from dressing like men – namely by wearing trousers - was first introduced in 1800 by Paris' police chief and has survived repeated attempts to repeal it.

The 1800 rule stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to dress like a man "must present herself to Paris' main police station to obtain authorisation".

Did anyone tell George Sand about this law?

In 1892 it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted "as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse".

Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were "on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars".
In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city's police chief to bin the decree. His response was: "It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore."
Can someone have really said that in 1969?
The latest attempt to remove the outmoded rule was in 2003, when a Right-wing MP from President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party wrote to the minister in charge of gender equality. The minister's response was: "Disuse is sometimes more efficient than (state) intervention in adapting the law to changing morays."

As Evelyne Pisier, a law professor whose book Le Droit des Femmes (The Rights of Women) unearthed the curious decree points out, given that trousers are compulsory for Parisian policewoman, they are all breaking the law.

Should arcane laws like this one be repealed or just stay on the books, but not be upheld, because of historical significance.
And isn't it just so French to have a law which everyone routinely ignores.
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