ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2015 - Issue 8 - Winter - Sandra Lee

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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Page 111 of 147

FROM MINE TO MARKET MINING & PROCESSING Emeralds are mined, often using hand tools, then cleaned, weighed, and sorted according to color and clarity. SALE OF ROUGH GEMS Rough emeralds are sold through invitation- only auctions to cutters, gem experts, and other professionals, or via private sales to individual buyers. CUTTING AND POLISHING Expert cutters inspect rough emeralds to determine the shape and size to be expected from each stone. After cutting, the emeralds are sent to polishers to be buffed and finished. SALE OF POLISHED GEMS Finished emeralds are offered for sale to jewelry houses, designers, and loose-stone suppliers. SETTING After evaluating the emeralds' color, cut, and size to determine the proper design, jewelers set the stones and create finished jewelry pieces. ASK THE EXPERTS What to look for when buying an emerald. The four C's—color, cut, clarity, and carat weight—have long been the standards for quality when it comes to diamonds, but how do they apply to emeralds? The experts weigh in. COLOR "Emeralds are unique in color and almost seem dimen- sional. You want green that you can dive right into—that mesmerizes you. That means a vivid, saturated, grassy- green color." —Melvyn Kirtley, Chief Gemologist, Tiffany & Co. CUT "Certain gems lend themselves to special cuts, but emeralds are always most beautiful in classic cuts, such as an emerald or cushion cut, which are faceted and extraordinary. But shape is a personal choice." —Henri Barguirdjian, President and CEO, Graff Diamonds USA CLARITY "Inclusions [variations in color] in an emerald are natural. They are there because of the very structure of the stone, like a fingerprint of nature. We call the inclusions 'gardens,' and a beautiful garden is what makes each emerald unique." —Douglas Hucker, CEO, American Gem Trade Association ORIGIN "The challenge is to explain why some localities are more important than others. Traditionally, [when certain] localities are favored over others, it is simply because the finest-color emeralds have traditionally come from there. But there is no guarantee that just because your emerald comes from a specific place that it's of the finest quality or color." —Gary Roskin, Executive Director, International Colored Gemstone Association Africa, we're seeing a little bit stronger production," says Henri Barguirdjian, president and CEO of Graff Diamonds USA. "That has helped spur the trend." He notes that the stone's rarity naturally elevates its status. While the industry's fragmented nature makes accurate statistics about colored gems difficult to come by, experts estimate that more than 20 percent of retail jewelry sales today involves colored stones, compared to less than 10 percent five years ago, with the price for emeralds increasing by 10 to 20 percent over the same period. GAR DEN OF STONES Due to their rarity and richness of color, emeralds have for centuries been valued as one of the "big three" colored gems, along with rubies and sapphires. "Emeralds have an extraordinary history," says Barg uirdjian. Cleopat ra was said to be enamored of them, and the Russian crown jewels included a number of remarkable specimens, in terms of both size and quality. "All of the best jew- elry collections, like Elizabeth Taylor's, have had spectacular emeralds in them," Barguirdjian adds. "For customers building a jewelry collection today, the emerald is a must." Many leading jewelry houses with a long history of using emeralds, such as Bulgari, Cartier, Graff Diamonds, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels, are answering consumers' growing demand for green by incorporating these vivid treasures into their collections in exciting new ways. Graff, for example, has introduced extraordinary pieces featuring carved emeralds. The art of carving an emerald (as opposed to cutting it in facets) is centuries old, with notable examples from antiquity fetching steep prices at auction today. Graff was fortunate enough to acquire some of these one-of-a-kind stones and has set them into captivating new jewelry pieces, including a brooch that can be separated into t wo smaller brooches or worn as a pendant. "These are exquisite pieces," says Barguirdjian, noting that they're "for the woman who is building a top-quality jewelry collec- tion. Those who really understand the beauty of the art will want these special pieces." "The beauty of a carved emerald is to enhance the color and hide the jardin," says Gary Roskin, executive director of the International Colored Gemstone Association, referring to irregularities in color, known as inclusions (or jardin), which are more common in emeralds than in other precious gems due to their composition. "Emerald is the only gemstone where inclusions are described in a way to make them more appealing: 'le jardin,' French for 'the garden.'" Indeed, inclusions can be con- sidered an aspect of an emerald's allure, as with the exotic trapiche emeralds that Tiffany & Co. recently featured in its Blue Book, which catalogues the brand's most spectacular jewels each year. Trapiche emeralds have inclusions that extend from the center in six lines, creating a starlike effect. "Each inclusion is different," says Kirtley. "They are part of the natural beauty of an emerald's being." While many of today's emeralds continue to appear in classic settings with diamonds, some design- ers are pushing boundaries, offering modern motifs not typically associated with the emerald, in order to attract edgier customers. Such is the case with Italian designer Roberto Coin, who is releasing dramatic new designs in 2016. "The emerald now can be considered a very fashionable stone, in addi- tion to its historical and natural high value," says Coin. "Green is the color of the year." MA PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADRIAN FISK (FIRST AND FOURTH IMAGES); ROBERTA NAAS (SECOND AND THIRD IMAGES) 110 MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM

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