Best Jewelry Line
Each of the Readers' Choice nominees for Best Jewelry Line is a leader in the industry. One is not only known for its signature jewelry, but also for the blue box that it comes in. Another is known for its handcrafted pieces, but it is also known for its many innovations. Another nominee is a newer designer on the scene who is inspired by Florentine jewelry-making, but also astronomy, celestial, mythological and astrological influences. Another nominee is synonymous with glamour and fame and has ties to some of the world's most famous jewels. Finally, there's a nominee known for the panache of its founder, as well as its vast collection of the world's finest diamonds.
Temple St. Clair
Tiffany & Co.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Best Watch Line
The Readers' Choice for the Best Watch Line nominees include a perennially favored brand among the watch-loving elite that is known for making the most complex wrist watch in the world. Another nominee is known for its functionally-themed luxury sport watches. The third nominee, while an historic brand with almost 200 years of heritage, is known for being a forward focused luxury watch maker of the future. A fourth nominee is perhaps the best-known luxury watch brand in the world, with a stellar reputation to match. Lastly, there's a watchmaker that epitomizes Swiss haute horology with its modern classics and technical innovation.
Best Leathergoods Line
The Readers' Choice for the Best Leathergoods Line for a Luxist Award include award-winning brands from France, Italy and London. One started out making equestrian equipment in 1837, and still makes its goods by hand; some of its handbags are so coveted, there's a two-year long wait list to buy one. Another was started in London by a former fashion editor who partnered with a couture shoe maker to create a company now synonymous with the "red carpet". The third nominee is known for its clean lines and simple classic color palettes while the fourth is a global force of tradition and innovation. And finally, the last nominee epitomizes luxury with its delectable designer bags and vaunted luggage--some of which command five figure prices.
Best Department Store/Boutique
Nominees for Readers' Choice for Best Department Store/Boutique include one based in London that has no fewer than 330 different departments, a staff of 5,000 from 50 different countries and is visited by as many as 300,000 people on a single day. Another, with roots in Texas, is known for its superior customer service, in addition to its luxury merchandise, including some of the world's most extravagant items. One New York-based store has a shoe department that is so large, it was given its own zip code. Another Manhattan-based store specializes in hard-to-find international designers, many of which it will help launch into fame. Lastly, there's an upstart from London that is so cutting-edge and up-to-date, it launches 300 new styles on a weekly basis.
Barneys New York
Saks Fifth Avenue
Best Clothing Designer
Readers' Choice nominees for Best Clothing Designer are award-winning fashion designers from Italy, England, France and the United States. One was started by a wunderkind who was named chief designer of one of the most respected fashion houses when he was still in his 20's. Another has been one of the leading names in fashion for nearly 100 years. A third nominee, known for its timeless style, has outfitted First Ladies on both sides of the aisle for decades while the fourth is famed for its understated elegance. The final nominee is synonymous with high fashion though its roots are in luggage and leather goods.
Oscar de la Renta
Best Jewelry Line
Laurence Graff, the British billionaire jeweler to the stars, has seen diamonds all the way from the rough to the ring for decades. Not since Harry Winston has a single man been so involved in every aspect of the world of diamonds. Graff's panache and success have earned himself and his company, Graff Diamonds, many accolades -- including a nomination for a Readers' Choice Award for Best Jewelry Line.
Things weren't always so peachy for the East London-raised Graff. He grew up in a single-room apartment with his mother, a Romanian immigrant; his father left to fight in World War II. The young Graff did so badly in school that his parents urged him to drop out and learn a trade at age 14, according to Forbes. He soon scored an internship with a London jeweler; Graff's duties included scrubbing toilets.
By the age of 24, Graff had made some inroads in the London jewelry scene, but he was getting restless. So in the early 1960s, he jetted off to the Far East, where he would gain expertise buying and selling diamonds out of his briefcase. Once ensconced, he made several connections that endure to this day, including a friendship with one of the princes of Brunei. When he returned to London to operate two small stores, his royal friends often visited him to schmooze -- and to buy his wares.
Today, Graff helms a vertically integrated diamond empire with two-dozen retail outlets in Monte Carlo, Dubai, New York and Moscow, to name a few. Graff's gems have adorned the necks of stars from Oprah Winfrey to Paris Hilton. He shows no signs of slowing down: on December 1, 2009, his five-carat Vivid Pink diamond set a world record for such a stone, fetching $10.8 million in a Hong Kong auction.
Cast your vote for the Readers' Choice Awards at http://www.luxist.com/awards-vote/accessories-awards.
Gallery: More from Graff Diamonds
Hong Kong's fall sales have been great for records, for Christie's in particular. After several were broken at the art auction this week, the gem scene was ignited. A pink diamond no larger than a chickpea went for $10.8 million, according to Bloomberg News. The stone had the second-highest rating available (potentially flawless) and a weight of 5 carats. It shattered the per-carat record set back in May. Back then, Hong Kong property investor Joseph Lau picked up a 7.03-carat blue diamond at an auction in Geneva for $10.5 million.
The pink diamond was sent under the gavel by Graff Diamonds, a London-based jeweler. The stone was sold to a phone bidder who beat out Liu Yiqian and his wife, Wang Wei. But, those two have bought enough already, right?
Overall, the 255 lots sold (an 89 percent sell rate) brought in HK$372 million, with the action pushed forward by mainland Chinese, a growing trend in the auction world this year. Donald May, a ruby and sapphire dealer based in Hong Kong, attended the auction and told Bloomberg, "There's a lot of mainland Chinese buying; either they didn't know what the items are worth or they wanted them so badly that price didn't matter." He believes that prices were pushed way out of control.Christie's]
Damien Hirst is again playing the role of philanthropist (so I have to be nice), along with Raqib Shaw and Marc Quinn. The artists have donated paintings to an auction that London jeweler Laurence Graff is holding for FACET (For Africa's Children Every Time). Graff wants to raise $1.26 million for the organization, which seeks to support the education, health and quality of life of children in Africa ... where Graff Diamonds picks up most of its raw material.
Graff's event follows several other charity auctions this year, all of which were pretty impressive in their results. Sotheby's raised ₤453,950 for two organizations that help orphans in Africa, and Christie's raised an astounding €342.5 million at its Yves Saint Laurent collection auction back in February – the money will be used to fund HIV research and fight the spread of AIDS.
The first lot donated was by Graff himself: diamond earrings estimated to be worth around ₤80,000. The other paintings (e.g., by Hirst) are pegged at around ₤100,000 each.
Filed under: Jewelry
Back in February I mentioned that Graff Diamonds had cut the the 603-carat Lesotho Promise diamond into 26 smaller diamonds varying in size from .52 carats to 76.41 carats each with a D Flawless grade (a total of 223.25 carats). Graff is in the process of turning the story of the 18 months of cutting and polishing the stones into a book and documentary. Now they have turned these those stones into one spectacular necklace, The Lesotho Promise Necklace.
The Lesotho Promise, mined at the Letseng mine in Lesotho, is the 15th largest rough diamond ever recovered and was sold to Graff and its partner polishing company Safdico for $12.36 million in October last year. The necklace is part of the company's display of magnificent jewels in Monte-Carlo and is available for viewing until August 10 at the Salle Empire, Hotel De Paris in Monte-Carlo along with rare gems from Graff's collection including The Flame, a 100-carat pear-shaped D-flawless diamond.
The stones are valued at $50 million but a value hasn't been given for the finished piece. Laurence Graff has vowed not to split up the set of diamonds and so this necklace has a small set of potential buyers, people in the world with the wherewithal to afford it. Monte Carlo seems the perfect place to display it to the wealthy.