Amid the glossy facades of the jewellers in Paris’ Place Vendome is a workshop shrouded in mystery. Beyond its tinted black windows are wondrous jewels accessible only to a handful of elites. This is the atelier of JAR, named after its eponymous founder Joel Arthur Rosenthal. Known widely as the “Faberge of our time” by those in the know, Rosenthal was born in New York, and established his jewellery brand in 1977, 11 years after moving to Paris. Today, he has four workshops and makes only between 100 and 120 pieces a year (although reports vary). Famously reclusive, he rarely speaks to the press, and the only images of his works that you will find are from the rare exhibitions he has mounted at Somerset House in London, or at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 2013. No two jewels he creates are the same, and each piece is lauded as a work of art.
02 GOLCONDA DIAMOND
There’s something romantic about owning a diamond from the world’s first mine. The Golconda mines in India might be depleted but, once in a while, a diamond will come up for sale on auction or at a jeweller. Not only are the Golconda mines famed for producing legendary stones such as the Hope diamond and the Kohinoor, it also famously yielded pure diamonds of Type IIA quality – meaning that they are D colour, contain no nitrogen impurity and boast
a limpid, almost transparent brilliance.
03 PARAIBA TOURMALINE
There are more gemstone varieties in the world than there are colours, meaning that different stones can boast the same hue. Yet, nothing can compare to the electric blue brilliance of the Paraiba tourmaline, aka cuprian elbaite. The stone was discovered in the 1980s in Brazil’s Paraiba region, and has been attracting connoisseurs for its range of colours – from turquoise to blue-green, and even sometimes violet and purple – and its increasing rarity. Even though the same variety was found in mines in Nigeria and Mozambique in the early 2000s, these mines are relatively small, which means that demand might soon outstrip supply. These are tourmalines that are coloured by copper (which cause neon-like brilliance), and are mesmerising in their limpid clarity and luminescent hue.
04 VINTAGE BVLGARI SERPENTI
When buying vintage jewellery, experts often recommend authenticated pieces from the renowned houses of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari et al. True, but even within this rarefied world, there are jewels from certain eras that command a higher value for the exquisiteness of their craftsmanship, and relative scarcity. While the Art Deco aesthetic from the 1920s to 1950s is still highly coveted, jewels from the 1960s and 1980s have recently been gaining traction. It’s no surprise, for in the life cycle of aesthetic trends, it takes a good 20 to 30 years for a genre to come back and make the switch from “old-fashioned” to “retro” and “vintage”. An exemplar from that era is Bulgari’s Serpenti collection. The Italian house purportedly created fewer than 100 Serpenti pieces during the 1960s and
1970s, especially those distinguished by their realistic, engraved scales decorated with enamel.