Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jewelry Biz - The Windsor Jewels At Auction...Again

Thank God Tabitha reminded me that today is the Sotheby's auction for the Windsor jewels...
I hadn't been paying attention.
Here's the famous 1952 Cartier onyx and diamond panther bracelet
which has estimates of 1 million to 1.5 million pounds.

That is pretty pricey for a panther...even one with provenance
Here's another view
Not only is it a great bracelet, it is iconic Cartier
But there is something, to me at least, not fresh about this collection.
In addition to the fact that the collection is so famous
haven't we seen all these items at auction before?
And would it be catty of me to say that these pretty panther pieces get around?

And what do we have here?
Oh it's a past  Beladora homepage photo with a panther bracelet.

And we have another perching panther from the past gracing the homepage of Beladora?
This one, in sapphires and diamonds sitting on a huge sapphire, had serious provenance too.
Don't get excited people, it's sold.

Now if you want to know about a woman with a jewel collection that put the Windsor's to shame
Dash has a post about the amazing Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda

Now this Baroda babe not only had an incredible life, she had some serious bling.

OK, bear with me just a little longer please because I just have to brag.
All of the photography for Beladora is done in house by the very talented Elizabeth Kollar.
Here's a link to the past homepage cover art for Beladora.
It's a good as anything that would come out of a fancy pants Madison Avenue advertising agency,
Don't you agree?
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Timeless Style - Renée Pearl and 1930's French Modernism

Renée Pearl photographed by Jacques-Henri Lartigue in 1930

I found this fabulous photo and story about fashion model and muse of Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Renée Pearl, on the Bluetramontana Style blog, and I couldn't help but note how modern her look was.
The big ring, the bangle bracelets...
this is how I would rock this look in 2010 Beladora style.

For more on Renée Pearl and French Modernism

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Austria, Assimilation and Art - The Hare With The Amber Eyes

I have been super busy these last few days, as I'm sure that you gathered from my lack of posting and commenting on all of your blogs. 
It is the season, after all, and the Christmas crunch is on.

Do you read only one book at a time or do you have several books going simultaneously?
I generally have 3 entirely different types of books going at the same time; a downloaded audio book on my iPod, a downloaded book on my nook (like a kindle) and an actual physical book.

Last week while finishing 'The Hare with the Amber Eyes' on my nook and 'Marie Antoinette' on my iPod, I was struck with the similar theme that runs through both books, the concept of being 'The Other'. 

No matter how Francais the Austrian born Marie Antoinette became, including bearing the dauphin, she was never truly accepted as the Queen of France.  She was libeled and maligned in print in Paris.  She was accused of cuckolding the King and of having numerous lovers.  She was blamed for adding to the national debt, for hoarding wheat during the low harvest and for virtually everything else that was wrong in France.  No matter what she did  for France, she remained 'The Other', an easy target and scapegoat for all that was wrong.

Stepping into the next century we have the flourishing of the Ephrussi family, a highly successful Russian Jewish Family that expanded their grain trading business in Odessa into a European banking powerhouse that rivaled the Rothchilde's. With branches of the family in London, Paris, Lucerne and Vienna, the great wealth enabled the family to become patrons of the arts and of the cultures of their respective cities.

Note the man in the top hat in Renoir's The Boating Party.  That was Charles Ephrussi, art historian, owner of the Parisian art journal La Gazette and patron of the Impressionists. 
He was also the model of Proust's character Charles Swann of 'Rememberance of Things Past'.

Amongst his vast art collection was a group of 264 netsuke which he purchased at the onset of the French fascination with all things Japonnais in 19th Century Paris.
'The Hare With The Amber Eyes' traces the journey of these netsuke from Charles'  elegantly art filled Palais Ephrussi to his nephew and niece at the Ephrussi Palais on the Ringstrasse in Vienna, to post WW2 Japan and finally to the author, British artist and Eprhussi descendant, Edmund de Waal.

As with the great nouveau riche families of 19th Century Europe, the Viennese branch of the Ephrussi were highly educated. Vicktor read history as he reluctantly took over as the head of the bank.  His daughter Elisabeth Ephrussi was the first woman to graduate with a degree in Law from the University of Vienna. All members of the family spoke Russian, French, English and German fluently.  They were full citizens of the Hapsburg Empire and loyal supporters of the Emperor.  They were titled. 
They were completely assimilated.
Or so they though.

All this of course changed with Kristallnacht.
They were 'The Other'.
But unlike Marie Antoinette, they were able to leave everything behind and survive.

This week I've been thinking about Thanksgiving, and about all of the things that I am thankful for...and there many. On this most American of holidays, I am indeed thankful that America is perhaps the only country where immigrants can indeed assimilate and become truly American. 

'The Hare With The Amber Eyes' is the best book that I have read all year and if you like History and Art History I encourage you to read it.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If You've Got It Flaunt It - Or So They Tell Me

In the new issue of the edgy Flaunt Magazine, another gorgeous photo by Donna Trope with Beladora jewelry...or so they tell me. I can't tell anything from this photo so I'm off to buy the print edition.

Meanwhile, if you're not the type to flaunt it
please go see the beautiful pieces on the latest post of one of my favorite blogs, Amid Privilege
5 Pieces of Jewelry For A Wish List
Beladora has happily purchased a little ad on Privilege (our first blog ad!!)
and we feel privileged to be associated with one of the classiest blogs on the internet.

If you click through the Privilege blog and decide to purchase a little this or a little that
we will, with pleasure, send a modest referral fee to the Privilege blogstress...
as we would for anyone else who refers a client to our firm.

We have chosen not to sign up with the big affiliate marketing firms because the set up fees and monthly costs would have had to have been be incorporated into the prices of our jewelry. 

We would much rather work with bloggers, who we admire, on an individual basis, where we can compensate them in a way that will not affect our end prices to our clients.
For clarification, we don't work with the standard retail markup.  Our prices are based on what we had to pay to purchase an item.  If we bought an item particularly well, we will pass on that savings to our clients.

For example, take these earrings
They are being sold elsewhere for $18,000
Meanwhile, Beladora has the all white diamond version of the same Oscar Heyman earrings $9750.
They were purchased well, and can be sold at the right price.

So, go check out the Privilege wish list,
You might even be inspired to make your own...
you never know, with the holidays approaching fast
someone may want to know what you are wishing for.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Around Town - Sunday Afternoon Musicale

Really, this has been a weekend of music and WOW houses for me. 
Sunday afternoon I attended a small private afternoon musicale with a piano recital by Steve Hall
This lovely event was held at magnificent California Mediterranean home.
It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and the hostess was so gracious to open up her exceptionally beautiful and tastefully decorated home.
Since she shared it with us, I thought that I would share it with you.
Here it is.
The recital was held in the living room, which was great because it was appropriately sized for a small group and it had rather exceptional accoutiscs.
I sat in this hallway between the living room and the library where I could admire the Second Empire furniture and the Impressionist paintings.

After the recital was finished we wandered around a bit to see more of the house.
Here is the library.

Then we went downstairs for the reception with champagne and hors d'oeuvres in the more casual entertaining areas, decorated with less formal furniture and modern art.

With our coup de champagne in hand we admired the pool and the gardens.  Everything was so green and the roses were still in full bloom.
Like all major homes it had all the accoutrement's, like his and hers gyms. 
A spa complete with hair salon set up, jacuzzi, mani-pedi set up, etc.
 And indoor lap pool, yes, with double tv's.
 A screening room, naturally...this is LA after all.
And of course a full underground garage, which I didn't see, but I did wonder where all the cars were parked.

Now, if this house appeals to you, you are in luck.
It is on the market for $50 million.
Happy Monday!
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Around Town - LA Opera Lohengrin - Not Much To Love

I have to admit that I was really looking forward to the opening night of Lohengrin.
Wagnerian Score + LA Opera's Creativity + James Conlon's Conducting = Awesome Night Out
Well, not exactly.
Let's just start with set and costumes.
The classic German mythical tale of the god/knight Lohengrin arriving on a swan to champion Elsa, the noblewoman who has been wrongfully accused of fratricide, was set in a snowy field hospital in a ruined church at the eve of World War I.  The stage was dark, the costumes were dreary and we all got the reference to the Caspar David Freidrich painting of the Cloister Cemetery in the Snow.
The tale was a struggle over control, isn't it always?
Lohengrin a resurrected soldier saved Elsa, from her foes, then made it all the way to the marriage bed with her.  But in usual female fashion, she screwed everything up by her insecurity. She asked the fatal question as to his identity and after he sings the sad story he must get back on his swan and leave giving up his one chance to return to mortality. Naturally, Elsa collapses and dies.
In other words there was no ultimate redemption through love.

My problem with the opera wasn't the singing.  It was lovely.
The two sopranos sang exquisitely and the chorus was brilliant.

What I couldn't take was the lack of visual interest. 
No matter how beautiful the voices, the set was dark and visually boring after the first 20 minutes.....and the same set is a lot to have to look at for a 4 plus hour opera.  And worse, the lead characters were costumed so poorly, particularly Lohengrin, that it made it hard to accept them as hero and heroine.
It was impossible to recognize that this was the opera that inspired the Ludwig II to build Neuschwanstein.
At $250 per ticket the Los Angeles Opera needs to come up with better productions if it wants to attract a new generation of subscribers.  If the LA Opera doesn't provide more of a wow factor, the young culture vultures of LA will not fill the seats of the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion.
Soldier? Saint? Sorcerer? Savior?

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Night Dinner Chez Amis

For a while now I have been thinking that, except for large holiday parties, entertaining at home was a thing of the past.  Most people I know meet for dinner with their friends at restaurants instead of hosting dinner parties.  Who has time for all that organizing, decorating, cooking and serving anymore.
Well apparently a few still do, and thank god for that.

Reggie Darling recently hosted an Autumn black tie dinner party and posted about the planning and the execution of it here and here.  Note how elegantly his table is set. 
And Privilege hosted a virtual housewarming dinner party on the patio to celebrate the launch of her new blog.
A posts about holiday table settings showed up at Greige and A Gardner's Cottage.
Am I sensing a stay at home and entertaining trend here?

 Of course the recipe for successful home entertaining calls for delicious food and charming guests. 
An awesome home is not required, but certainly adds the special je ne sais quoi to the party.

Last night I attended just such a soiree, a sit down dinner party for 25.
The Thanksgiving inspired meal, prepared by a talented young private chef was delicious and healthy, a soup course to start, a salad, turkey roulade for the main course and cold lemon souffle sided by a brownie for dessert.
The guests, friends and neighbors of the hosts, were an eclectic mix from young couples in their 30's to couples in their late 60's, or maybe even early 70's, I didn't ask.  But the mix in age and backgrounds made for lively conversation.

And the house was perfect for entertaining. 
A 1960's California ranch house, up in the hills, remodeled and decorated with perfect 1960's style.
It was uber groovy.
From the city view to the sunken bar, to the open fireplace, to the step up dining room, to the earth colors and patterns of the fabrics and wall coverings, to the palos verdes stone, to the outdoor fire pit...
it was like stepping back in time to a house from my early Southern California childhood.
Classic California architecture.
I could have imagined my parents and their friends sipping cocktails, smoking cigarettes and partying it up in such a house...because that's what they did back in the day.
Am I inspired get out my china and crystal and start entertaining?
No not really. Not only do I not have the house for it, I don't have energy with my day job and all that. 
I will leave the sit down dinner parties to the ladies and gentlemen who can host them with the proper savoir faire. 
Hopefully though, I will remain on their guest lists, because I do so appreciate being invited.
Are you inspired to entertain at home this season?
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

While the Trainer's Away or Dinner At Ten

Last night I decided to take advantage of the fact that my trainer was getting ready to show off her magnificent muscularity at some major national competition and my 8:00 gym appointment was cancelled.
Oh yeah I know, I could have gone to the gym anyway and given my all to the treadmill, but I just said no.
Instead, I decided to cook.

Our favorite Aussi domestic goddess Faux Fuchsia has posted about how cooking can be a de-stresser after a long day at work.  And, of course she was correct.  There is something therapeutic in the act of chopping and cooking and serving and eating that makes you forget about your daily issues.
And cooking raises your serotonin and dopamine levels....or so I tell myself.

Of course all this took time, and after getting home late from the office, then deciding on what to make, then going to the market for last minute ingredients the actual cooking process didn't get started until 8:30 last night.

Maybe it was because of Jill's current Ina Garten obsession or maybe it was because I had leftover roasted chicken the fridge, I decided to cook chicken pot pie using Garten's vegetable pot pie recipe
...with slight alterations.
I used way less butter, I left out the saffron and instead of making pastry crust, I used bisquick for the topping.
The kicker in the recipe was the chopped fennel and the pastis.

Behold the magnificence!
Yes, maybe it was 10:00 before dinner was served but it was worth it.
...but tonight it's back to the gym...

And on a different topic altogether
Faux Fuchsia, who's been traveling around England, the Isle of Jersey and Brittany has been bragging on her blog about the cuteness of Jersey cows. Sorry FF, you may be a domestic goddess and you certainly know your bromeliads from your begonias, but in terms of animal appreciation, those Jersey cows have nothing on the beautiful bovines of Switzerland and Austria. 
Voila, Austrian heifers in their Alpine floral spender.

Pictures snagged from Paradis Express, a pretty blog by a gardener from the suburbs of Paris. 
If you like landscape and floral design, check out her blog
and don't worry, it's not about cows.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Rings and Things

Well, at long last Kate Middleton finally got her man.
Sadly for her, she also got Princess Diana's sapphire engagement ring...
a symbol of a royally unhappy marriage.
I suppose that Miss Middleton had no say in the matter.
They do look like a genuinely happy couple and I hope that their marriage is a happy one.

Larry Graff has been busy with buying
Lucky Larry bought the Harry Winston 24.78 carat diamond
aka the big pink
for $46 million at Sotheby's Geneva auction
It was a bargain in my opinion...compared to that silly imperial vase.

Now known as the Graff Diamond
Of course!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beladora Bling On The Red Carpet - Chelsea Traille - The New Beauty of Burlesque

Lots of busyness chez BHB these past few days and little time to post.
But it's all good, like lending out the bling for the red carpet to this young lady,
Chelsea Traille, a fresh faced beauty and an absolutely adorable young dancer/actress...who attended the premiere with her brother and her parents.  I am hoping that her dancing talent (she's trained in classical ballet) and her performing role in the film Burlesque, will lead her to a great career.
Here's the close up in the Beladora bling

 And in a scene with Stanley Tucci

I was going to skip the film.
But now that I've met the charming and bright Miss Traille, I want to see it, if only to watch her dance.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kenya - From Happy Valley Hijinks to Laid Back Lamu

I was chatting with a European client this week about alternative locations to raise a family, away from the high costs and social nonsense that permeates Los Angeles.  He suggested Kenya.

And I can understand why. 
White sand beaches, laid back lifestyle, and it's got to be cheaper than the Hollywood Hills. 
But as for social nonsense.  Kenya has had it's share of it with the Happy Valley Set.

And I'm guessing that even laid back, low key, Lamu Island has a certain amount of celebrity silliness.
I probably wouldn't want to live an expat life there, but it would be nice for a holiday.
If you were going to escape from your current life, where would you go?
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Estate Jewelry Look Of The Day - What to Wear For Casual Friday

You know that we like to keep things casual in the office on Fridays
So I thought that this necklace would work with my chunky sweater, skinny jeans and driving mocs.

Not bad...but a little Christmas-y with that big fat emerald, don't you think?
Here's the detail shot

I don't know about you but I would much rather have this necklace than that silly Chinese vase
and it would be something like, $69,340,000 cheaper too.
Happy Friday and Bon Weekend!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Showing Off The Goods

Well this is one way to show off your assets

Silly as this might seem,
there is a long tradition of attaching pearls and gemstones to clothing
from the pearls that were sewn into Queen Elizabeth's clothes
to the sapphires and other gemstones that were attached into Marie Antoinette's gowns.

So following in a great historical tradition
you too can show off your jewels for a mere $2,000,000
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All About Boldini

Giovanni BOLDINI Portrait of a lady, Mrs Lionel Phillips

For two great posts about Giovanni Boldini
aka 'The King of Swish' according to Dash
check out her posts here and here on her French Sampler blog
I too have a Boldini post in mind, but no time to write it....
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Amid Privilege - What A Place To Be

Things have been busy around here today but I wanted to make sure that all of you know about the launch of the new Privilege blog.
Beladora.com is proud to be associated with one of the most  well written, informative and elegant lifestyle blogs.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Miscellany and Confident Consumers

If you just happen to pick up the December issue of ELLE magazine and you happen to see the Beladora ad, let me know what you think about it.

Oh...and what else did I want to mention.
National Jeweler has posted an article stating that consumer confidence is increasing.
I'd have to agree with that statement given the prices on what I see being sold at auction.

Take these earrings, for example.

This pair is being sold on Beladora.com for $8750.
A pair of the same VCA Lion Doorknocker earrings
except with diamond eyes instead of emerald eyes
sold two weeks ago Christies New York sale for $18,750.

Obviously, there must be a lot of consumer confidence out there if estate jewelry buyers are willing to pay $10,000 (114%) more at Christie's auction for basically the same earrings.
( you know what I'm thinking don't you....ARBITRAGE!)

Also, at the same Christie's auction a gold and diamond evening bag, unsigned, sold for $20,000 while the Boucheron gold and diamond evening bag on Beladora was priced at $19,750.  Did I mention that the Beladora bag was Boucheron....and yes, it sold (with a discount) right after the auction.

At any rate, I don't know who was bidding at Christie's but it wouldn't surprise me if some very wealthy Chinese were doing the buying.  After some 80 years of pent up demand, everyone is expecting the Chinese to dominate high end luxury goods purchases, like the Russians did a few years ago, and the Middle Eastern Royals before that.

There are new fancy-schmancy stores being built now on Rodeo Drive, (Tom Ford, Stephen Webster, Badgley Mischka, etc...) that will open for the holidays, so high end businesses are investing in new stores.  Obviously these Luxe businesses are confident.

BTW, Gold Sets A Record Price ...again
Investors looking for safer places to stow their assets pushed gold to a record price above $1,400 an ounce Monday as they become more worried about the global economy.

A combination of issues have created fresh worry among investors: Ireland's debt difficulties and two key global summits where leaders of major industrial and developing nations are discussing currencies, free trade and ways to help the world economy.

Also in the back of investors' minds is the prospect of inflation stemming the Federal Reserve's multi-billion bond-buying program.
I'm wondering, do you think that consumer confidence is increasing?
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

RED - Cinematic Silliness On A Saturday Night

OK, I admit it.
This film was an onscreen comic for baby boomers.
Lots of weaponry, firepower yet no blood.
But just for Helen Mirren it was worth it.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bringing Back the Savoir Fair of the Airlines

David posted this video ad on his Savoir Faire blog a while ago and I thought it was so cleverly art directed that I'm posting it here.
I've never flown Virgin Atlantic, but now I want to.
Be sure not to miss the ending.
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Off Season Shopping - Shimmer, Sparkle and Shine For Summer

Since  we've just seen the runway shows for Spring 2011 and Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman are already sending email about their Resort Collections, I've got warmer weather on my mind.  Not to mention that we just a week of not warm but hot sunny days here in Los Angeles, a true Indian Summer.
Is it too early to start thinking about shopping for next Summer?
I don't think so, especially when there are benefits to off season shopping.
Look what I found ON SALE at Couture Allure Vintage
Naturally, I paired these vintage dresses with estate jewelry from Beladora.com.
Let's start with this shimmery little number, cute isn't it?

Yellow and White Diamond Ring $3850

Also on sale at Couture Allure is this sparkly lilac sequin dress 

Finally, Couture Allure has this slightly psychedelic beaded shiny gown in shades of green

Now...if I buy one (or all three) of these dresses I'll be appropriately outfitted if someone just happens invites me to a poolside cocktail party.
Just saying, it's good to be prepared because you never know what the future has in store for you.
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