Monthly Archives: June 2010

GOLD, also known as shining dawn…

From 13 June to 6 January 2011, the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht will show a spectacular and unique exhibition on gold. Also spectacular and unique is the guest curator for this exhibition: the famous Dutch fashion designer and performance artist Aziz Bekkaoui.

The aim of this exhibition is not to dazzle people with the glitter and glam of this coveted precious metal, the purpose is to intrigue and amaze the public. The museum has asked Bekkaoui to answer questions as; What is the meaning of gold? What qualities are attributed to it? And what is the real value of gold? What powers are derived from it? What is gold in the proportion of religion and the philosophy of life? Aziz shows surprising answers along the different aspects of gold: protection, decoration, power, immortality, value and worship.

Crowns, sceptres, icons, masks and jewellery are some of the objects that have been made from gold at all times, and for all reasons.  In the exhibition Gold, Aziz enhances the museum’s own collection of religious objects with remarkable, surprising, old and contemporary works on loan. Together they not only tell the story of the applications and functions of gold, but also show that gold is used in much the same ways today as it was centuries ago.

The beautiful liturgical objects from the depot of the Catharijneconvent comprise many stunning, gold-embellished paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, chalices and clothes. They illustrate the tradition that gold is the only material worthy of praising the Lord: only gold can contain the divine. Such as a silver gilded chalice in the Catholic doctrine. It does not simply contain red wine, but also the blood of Christ during Holy Communion.

The secular use of gold is nicely illustrated with a marvelous object loaned by the Dutch Royal House: the British Field-Marshall’s staff belonging to King Willem II. In 1845, the Dutch king was appointed Field Marshall of Great Britain in 1845 by the Duke of Wellington, under whose command he had fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The staff is executed in gold and velvet and radiates a sense of power – similar to a bishop’s crozier from the museum’s own collection.

The exhibition is set up in an interesting associative and artistic way. A gilded wooden crown of an Ashanti king is placed alongside a facsimile of a gilded Roman helmet. And as a modern equivalent, Aziz exhibits a face cream by La Prairie containing… gold! He comments: ‘Gold on crowns and helmets offers protection from external forces, in face creams it protects from the aging process’. And so it is.

On loan from the State Museum of History in Moscow a gilded evangelistary is shown in which the holy word is highlighted in gold. This tradition is also found in Islamic culture as shown in a juz (a section of the Koran) from the Museum of Ethnography in Leiden. The book dates from the sixteenth or seventeenth century and its cover is completely coated in gold. Opposite it, Aziz has placed today’s holy book: a gilded laptop. Interesting contradiction, similar radiation.

Gold will always be a valuable commodity. We have hundreds of every day examples: the golden Olympic medal, golden symbols on statues, golden fashion-logo’s and common gold jewelry. And even the golden Credit Card in your wallet…

Besides the exhibition, the museum organizes treasure hunting for children (the never ending search for gold) and a course in gilding. A special Gold magazine is published for the occasion and: all the Golden Calves awarded by the Dutch Film Festival are on display.

At the same time, the neighborly Geldmuseum will discuss the recently very relevant theme of the value of money where visitors are able to see a visualization of the complete but scarce gold stock of the world. More questions are asked: what is the worth of gold and what is it worth to you?

We are already looking forward to the exhibition! In the mean time we will have to provide ourselves with Kimpun Sake, Goldstrike or even a sip of Bruidstranen. Wonder what that will taste like…


Tobias Wong’s Dadaist jewels

Last month the artist Tobias Wong died. Wong suffered from insomnia and did extreme and crazy thing while sleepwalking all his life.  Sadly now he has killed himself in one of his sleepwalking escapades. We are very sorry.

Tobias Wong was the creator of a lot of humorous and provocative jewels and designs that question concepts like luxury and consumerism in the art world that promotes luxury. Even though I take adornments seriously and don’t find them superfluous often, artists like Wong give us the opportunity to look at jewellery in a different way. Here are some of those exceptions:

Ballistic Rose

Wong made a classical decorative corsage out of bulletproof fabric. A high-tech talisman that will protect your heart in an uncertain world.

The Diamond Project

This project entailed series of diamond-based concept art; a diamond screensaver, a rubber bouncing ball infused with 2 carats of micro diamonds and hidden diamond ring with the stone on the inside rather than on top of  it.  The ring challenges problem young lovers encounter when they have to buy big stones with their fiancees – in the US that is! In the Netherlands we don’t have this problem. Diamond wedding rings are given as engagement rings and engagement rocks are for later in life or for some too decadent to even look at. For this the hidden diamond ring is a common known and serious design in The Netherlands, where in the US it is a joke.

Killer Engagement Ring

Is the diamond in this engagement ring a Perfect Cut or not? Who cares, because there is no (need for) fire or brilliance in this killer ring. A one carat diamond ring with its pavilion up, so that the sharp culet can function as weapon, since diamond is the hardest stone on earth with which you can really hurt someone. Apart from a weapon Wong’s engagement ring could serve as a stylish and effective means of scratching your cheating ex-fiance’s car.

Indulgences collection


Wong created this collection with fashion designer Ken Courtney of Just Another Rich Kid. The project commented on todays consumer culture where everything is being turned into a luxury item. What do you give a person who already has everything? Instead of gilt toothbrushes, this collection featured the ultimate luxury and unnecessary goods: Cokespoons made out of everyday objects that can be used to scoop cocaine.. They made bronze replicas of Bic pen caps plated in 18K gold, gilt bronze replicas of McDonald’s coffee sticks commonly used as a coke spoon in the 1970s and eventually discontinued upon request from U.S. drug enforcement officials.

Gold Pills

Another indulgence were these 24K gold leaf capsule pills only intended to consume and digest.

“diamonds vs. black” for Colette Meets Comme des Garçons

In this Japanese and French collaborated exhibition, Wong showed diamond-embedded dimes, and Tiffany & Co. cultured pearl earings dipped in black rubber. One special edition of Comme des Garçons perfume featured diamonds floating within the fragrance.


On 19 June 2010 Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has married her former fitness trainer, Daniel Westling. He will be HRH Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland from now on. It was a lovely and extravagant ceremony. What a feast to see this marriage. I had no difficulty choosing between the soccer game and Victoria!

It is the first wedding of a female successor to the throne in the list of Swedish monarchs. The monarchy in Sweden dates back more than 1,000 years. The current Bernadotte family, with King Carl XVI Gustaf as king, originates from 1810 when French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was chosen successor to the Swedish throne by Parliament, but now for the tiara’s……

Cameo tiara

Victoria wore a cream-colored gown with short sleeves and an endless train designed by Pär Engsheden that looked like marzipan. And just like her mother Silvia at her wedding in 1976, she wore the Cameo tiara, made of gold, pearls and 7 large hard stone cameos depicting mythological figures. In the centre there’s the crowning of love (mother and child), flanked by portrait-cameos of a man and a woman aim their sight. On the backside portrait-cameo’s are interchanged with a godess who has a putti on her lap (caretaker) and a man with a staff  (guard).

Cameo tiara history & tradition

Amongst other jewels, this Empire cameo tiara which is part of a parure was brought into the family by Queen Josefine princess of Leuchtenberg when she married Crown Prince Oscar (the future King Oscar I) in 1823. Josefine was the granddaughter of Empress Josephine. The parure was made for Josephine around 1809 by Marie-Etienne Nitot, who was Napoleon’s jeweller and founder of the jewellery house Chaumet. With the next generation of the Bernadottes, the tiara was owned by Queen Josefina’s daughter Princess Eugénie, who in turn left the tiara to her nephew Prince Eugen. The prince gave the tiara to Princess Sibylla on her marriage to Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1932. The King was left the tiara by his mother.The King’s sister, Princess Birgitta, started the tradition when she chose Queen Josefina’s cameo tiara as her bridal crown for her wedding with Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern in 1961. Princess Désirée also wore it in 1964 and so did Queen Silvia in 1976. Read more on the King’s sisters jewels at Victoria’s wedding here.

Empress Josephine’s Emerald and diamond tiara

Queen Sonja of Norway wore a coral-colored dress along with the Empress Josephine of France emerald and diamond tiara that also came into the family through Queen Josefine of Sweden.

Braganca tiara

Queen Silvia of Sweden wore a bright pink dress to match the stunning Empire parure of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. All diamonds and Brazilian pink topazes made around 1804. Also she wore the diamond Braganca tiara. This is the biggest tiara of the Swedish royal family which once belonged to Empress Amalie of Brazil the sister of Queen Josefine of Sweden.

Maxima & Beatrix

Our Princess Maxima wore beautiful simple diamond rivière necklace and a diamond bandeau. Possibly the rivière necklace that the Dutch people gave Queen Emma as a wedding present in 1879.

Queen Beatrix wore the Mellerio ruby and diamond tiara which was a gift from King Willem III to his second wife, Queen Emma in 1889. It is part of a parure by Jeweler Mellerio dits Meller from Paris. It is the most complete parure in the Orange-Nassau collection. It consists of 7 jewels. Queen Juliana was very fond of this parure and has worn it often, so does Maxima today.

Enchanted Rings

Another travelling exhibition is that of the Enchanted Rings (De BetoveRING). These rings can be seen from June 27th 2010 to August 29th at the Museum of Enamel and Glass Art in Ravenstein, The Netherlands.

The Dutch Society of Gold- and Silver smiths (VGZ) and the Dutch Board for Craft Trades (HBA) have organized the 4th annual design contest for gold- and silversmiths, with Enchanted Rings (De BetoveRING) as its theme. 18 out of 78 designs were nominated. As the theme prescribes they all have to do with fairytales.

We see frogs, castles, dancing shoes, caleidoscopes, ponds, waterlillies, secret compartments, see troughs and wonderful craftmanship. Winner of the contest was Eva Theuerzeit of Brans Almelo BV. Theuerzeit’s ring features a highly detailed fantasy landscape surrounding an aquamarine pond.

Third runner up was Joeri Dijkman from Metal Art in Alkmaar. Joeri’s music ring is my personal favorite; a ring with a very industrial look to it that is part of a melody box. The ring is also the heart of the design because the positioning of the diamonds (up side down!) and the cabochon ruby defines the melody of the music box. Other materials used were black zirconium, steel, titanium and wood. The music box cost EUR 7000,- and up. The tune it plays was composed by harpist Klaartje Broers. Click below to see and hear Joeri demonstrate his ring!

Priceless jewellery

On Tuesday 1  June 2010 this beautiful 1960s Cartier bracelet was sold for USD 6,942,856 at Christie’s Hong Kong. Untreated Kashmir sapphires are extremely rare and this bracelet with all its matching natural stones is really perfect, so you could consider this as the perfect price. Still, this is the highest fee ever achieved for a bracelet. And coincidentally it was sold by Christie’s before in 1988 when it fetched USD 902,000. Not too bad if we calculate the representation of USD 1.7 million in today’s currency. This ‘priceless’ bracelet contains almost 50 carat cushion cut Kashmir sapphires alternated by marquise-cut diamond spacers with the biggest center stone measuring over 10 carats, all set in platinum.

Priceless trading happens in Hong Kong nowadays. This city is definitely the most important city in the world for the sale of fine gems such as Kashmir sapphires, jadeite and natural pearls. The Hong Kong auction was able to sell for over USD 60 million in total. Nice statistics: the most expensive jewelry sold at the auction was a ‘simple’ jadeite bead necklace at the price of USD 7,303,791. The necklace contains 51 jadeite beads of really a vivid emerald green colour and glassy translucency, all measuring circa 1 cm. with a star ruby clasp weighing 8.80 carats. They all are mounted in 18 carat rose gold. So far so good for priceless decoration….

Gold from Georgia: Jason’s golden fleece

From June until August 2010 the Drents Museum shows treasures form ancient Georgia.

Jason was a great Thessalian hero who led the Argonauts in the quest for the Golden Fleece of king Aietes in order to place Jason on the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly (the West of present Georgia). Jason succeeds with the help of Medea daughter of Aietes and his wife to be.

This classical Greek myth bears some truth. The golden fleece refers to a method of gold recovery from the streams in the Caucasus mountains. Sheep fleeces were submerged in the stream, and gold deposits would then stick to the fleece.

The beautiful treasures were made at the time of Jason quest. They are on a world tour and presently exhibited in Assen. Their home is the national Georgian Museum in Tbilisi. These 150 gold, silver and bronze objects from the Bronze age to the Roman era show high standard metal techniques. Especially the gold excavations from the temple city Vani (supposedly the city of Aietes in the 8th to 1th century BC) are made by extremely skilled goldsmiths; the tiniest granulations. This is an extremely difficult method by means of which tiny balls of solid gold are attached to a gold surface without soldering but rather through a chemical reaction between the gold and heated copper or malachite. In Greek, malachite is called chrysocolla; glue of gold.

Sex and the City 2: more, more, more…

Van Cleef & Arpels and Otazu jewellery on the big screen

Sex and the City 2 follows the ever famous Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte & Samantha as they this time jet off to Abu Dhabi. And guess what happened: while filming they had to flee to Morocco, since sheikh bin Zayed did not allow any further shooting of the scarcely dressed foursome. Scarcely dressed, though covered with interesting jewelry.

This fashion movie is definitely for fans. No gripping storyline, but fashion, product placement, vintage, new designer jewellery and: more fashion. For this movie SATC stylist Patricia Field choose to work together with the famous Argentinean jewelry designer Rodrigo Otazu. Otazu, who happens to be our former neighbour in Amsterdam is now a New York City based. He especially created costume jewelry for the actors. But off course all women of the world now are able to buy these earrings, bracelets and rings to experience their own 15 minutes of Sex and the City fame.

Exposure in Sex and the City 2 will do Otazu good, because we are convinced that he will be better understood in the US: the country that loves big and over the top, than he will ever be in Holland. Though for SATC2 Otazu created some great funky colorful costume jewellery that we would like to see on Dutch versions of Carrie & Samantha!

Polished and naïve Charlotte wears iconic vintage jewellery designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. Her Alhambra necklace is made of 18 carat white gold and mother of pearl. The Fleurette earrings are created with diamonds in 18 carat white gold.

The movie is interesting from the jewellery point of view.  Detailed style finishes off personality. We like the colors and styles shown in the movie. And as you see, every character in Sex and the City 2 is again accurately represented by the right jewellery. Like in real life we hope.