What is UP? Aside from oodles and oodles of interesting auction news, this week was remarkably hot in jewelry news. We had The Duchess declaring her love for a NZ jeweler. Cartier snapped up an insanely gorgeous jadeite necklace of its own design – very eager to get it back into the archives, I assume. Would love to see this puppy on an oscar’s red carpet in the coming years! I made these as my afternoon snack (thought I’d eat the whole cooking sheet, but couldn’t fit more than 5 in my stomach. So rich, so delicious.) And speaking of rich and delicious: I have this meal on my Chicago restaurant checklist. Ridiculous? Yes, but worth it just to say I had it.
We are here today, to talk about the c-word. Clarity enhancement. Like that other c-word, it’s just as dirty when you’re not up front about it. Some women are fine with it, others appalled. But the importance lies in disclosing when you’re about to use it (you know, earmuffs, etc.)
Clarity enhancement is the jewelry industry’s dirty word. If you’re going to treat your stones, then fine, so be it. But you need to disclose up front that your customers should go into the conversation knowing that the c word is going to be used.
You would never roll up on your grandma and drop that into casual conversation! Nor should you roll up on Pinterest (your cool cousin) and (not) drop it. Because, unfortunately, the vast majority of diamond consumers and engagement ring coveters don’t know to look for it. RLJ doesn’t buy clarity-enhanced diamonds (or we try not to) because it’s confusing to consumers. We’d just rather avoid it altogether. If you’re well-versed in diamond treatments and your jeweler discloses up front that a ring has been treated, there’s nothing wrong with clarity enhancement. It’s a great way to get a great deal on a good looking diamond – but it most certainly affects a diamond’s value and you should always know what you’re paying for.
Clarity enhancement refers to several treatments a diamond might undergo to -you guessed it- enhance its clarity grade. Common treatments include laser drilling or fracture filling. To fill fractures, a tiny amount of glass material is introduced into super-thin crevices and fractures (aka feathers). Laser drilling is meant to zap away inclusions, much like unwanted body hair. It doesn’t affect the other characteristics of a diamond, like its carat weight or color. GIA has concluded that for normal wear, clarity enhanced diamonds are durable, but may be more susceptible to high heat, pressure or corrosive materials. So, you know, don’t stick your clarity enhanced diamond in a vat of acid (don’t do that with an untreated diamond either.)
So, the c-word makes a statement about a diamond A big one. Maybe you’re cool with it. Maybe it offends you to your core. Either way. You have the right to know that’s its use is imminent. So avert your eyes, your wallets, and your ears if you’re so inclined, but don’t fall for something that seems too good to be true. A $10k-plus “discount” on a diamond doesn’t suggest wholesale pricing. This particular dealer isn’t acting charitably by giving you access to trade price structure, they’re usually selling treated diamonds. It’s up to them, as reputable sellers, to let you know. but it’s up to you, the one parting with hard-earned cash, to be a savvy, well-versed customer. So if you feel violated by use of the c-word, tell that dealer to wash their mouth out with soap and turn heel away from their shop.
Happy April ya’ll! Besides my distaste for April Fool’s pranks, I was pretty into this week. The promise of spring is on the horizon, there are plenty of yellow diamonds in the showroom, and we picked up this amazing pair of vintage Van Cleef & Arpels earrings today. I got to share some of my favorite wedding tidbits, while simultaneously learning about the Pink Panther-style ring of European diamond thieves that are at large (hide yo diamonds!) Here’s what else I got up to…
Time to get nitpicky. A) This is not Duchess Catherine’s jewelry collection. The first slide was famously borrowed from THE QUEEN. B) A slideshow of her jewelry & not one designer is mentioned. Who wrote this, Ryan Seacrest? C) Droolworthy isn’t the most accurate adjective here people. Princess Kate is all strategy and pragmatism. She purposely wears understated, every-girl-could-own-it jewelry. You wanna talk drool-worthy jewel collections? Let me direct you here.
While March is slowly waning, its birthstone is just heating up. The gorgeous gem aquamarine is prized for its beauty. And it’s been safely guiding seafarers home and away from sirens for millenia if its lore to believe. Besides helping you avoid chance encounters with Ursula the sea witch, it looks like it might be valuable for yet another reason: its trendsetting properties. Not since emerald swept every color palette in late 2012 has a jewel tone reigned so supreme over everything from interior to design to fashion to fine jewelry. In fact, said emerald saturation earned the hue the title of 2013 Color of the Year. And if the way this year is headed bodes well for aquamarine (hint: it does) then Pantone would be out their MINDS to not name aquamarine or some variant the 2015 Color of the Year. Truth. When else have you seen your Pinterest feed so whipped into a frenzy? Everything is getting a cool, calming wash of pale blue, thanks to March’s beautiful birthstone (ok, and I guess Lupita and Prada had something to do with it.) Don’t believe me? Don’t take my drool-tinged ramblings as fact. While I like to think I know a thing or two about jewelry, I can’t pretend to be some sort of color guru; that being said, the signs are all around you! Don’t be blue, let’s go shopping.
Talk about look for less! This bright cocktail ring is also Deco-style, also bright, captivating blue, but it’s beryl. And thus is less than 1/20th of the price (not sure if that match checks out) of the aquamarine ring in lower right.
It’s uncommon when a dessert that costs 15 Euros (roughly $20) is thought to be priced extremely reasonably, almost unfairly low. However, French chefs Mathieu Robillard and Brian Esposito of Le Pinxo at the Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel have created a dessert that is, quite honestly, a masterpiece.
The culinary Rembrandt these two world-class chefs created is an unparalleled esthetic achievement, a beautiful pastry made of exquisite ingredients that offer the pallet a luxurious sensation of flavor and the eyes an organic representation of the art that is the L’Oeuvre Noire.
Influence and Inspiration
While the germane influence that lead to this dessert was the chefs’ combined gastronomic heritage from southwestern France — which has a tradition of cultivating some of the most renowned chefs in the world over, — but the inspiration behind the pastry is the famous Mauboussin L’Oeuvre Noire Jewelry Collection, in particular, the ring.
The Mauboussin L’Oeuvre Noire Ring features a white gold band with a black enamel inlay and a white diamond pave surrounding a stunning black diamond. It is the form of the L’Oeuvre Noire that shaped the Le Pinxo chefs’ creativity, but it is fair to say that only the kitchen of world renowned Head Chef Alian Dutournier could create a dessert that reflects the symbolic wonder of the L’Oeuvre Noire.
The Robillard and Esposito dessert is as simple as it is remarkable. The three primary ingredients are black currents, pralines and chocolate. The black current is placed on a chocolate truffle ring covered in pink black current sugar and top the current rests a silver sugar diamond. The ring rests upon a two-layer, chocolate square foundation and has a single red rose pedal for a backdrop.
A wave of chocolate string connects the rose pedal with the ring and spills off onto the plate. Beside the ring and chocolate square rests a soft-chocolate-covered praline crisp in which a dark chocolate disk with the Mauboussin Star is seated vertically. The final touches include silver sugar diamonds imbedded around the chocolate square and a black Mauboussin ribbon with white lettering resting on top of it below the ring.
While the price for such a dessert is more than fair even by the most frugal standards, partaking of the pastry is a different matter all together. Le Pinxo is a 5-Star restaurant considered one of the premier in the world. An invitation to taste the dessert is as rare as the pastry itself.
Le Pinxo will feature the L’Oeuvre Noire dessert from February 15 to April 15 and is sure to make both the 5-Star hotel and the restaurant the talk of the Paris service industry for the entire month and undoubtedly beyond.
While Renaissance Hotels can be found in over 35 countries — there are 155 hotels — only Le Pinxo will feature the L’Oeuvre Noire Dessert. The hotel is already fully booked for the month and the restaurant is currently sending out RSVP invitations to the fortunate crown that is lucky enough to be considered for the honor of enjoying this culinary masterpiece.