Tuesday, March 31, 2009

German Engineering: A. Lange & Söhne

When it comes to high-end timepieces, Swiss-made is usually the standard to go by. Defying those odds is premiere German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne, a company founded in 1845 and still making some of the world's most innovative and costly timepieces today.

I read about A. Lange recently when the company won an award for its Cabaret Tourbillon timepiece, the reader-judged "Watch of the Year 2009" presented by newspaper Welt am Sonntag and Armbanduhren (Wristwatch) magazine. (See image above.) The readers were definitely wowed by a world's first in the realm of tourbillons: the inclusion of a 'hack seconds' (or 'stop seconds') feature. This basically means that when the crown is pulled out from the watch, the seconds stop running to allow for more accurate time setting.

Another relatively recent innovation from A. Lange (March '07) was the unveiling of the first wearable mechanical watch with a 31-day power reserve. In layman's terms, this means that the watch only has to be wound once a month, in this case, with a special key.

While we don't have the brand new Cabaret Tourbillon yet on Portero, we do have a gorgeous A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Platinum Men's Automatic 101.035 Watch (image above). If you're looking to start investing in top-of-the-line movements, this watch is the perfect way to go. Considered the most affordable watch made by the brand, the 1815 model is highly sought after by collector's beginning their quest into the world of A. Lange & Sohne.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jumbo Jewels

Last week I told you about the trend report I put together about the jewelry marketplace, and I shared some tips for shopping from the Diamond Information Center. Well, now I want to share some more insider information from Helena Krodel at the Jewelry Information Center (JIC), a total pro and fabulous trend forecaster.

According to Helena, one of the main trends for the upcoming year will be "Jumbo Jewels"--large-scale accessories that can make an outfit all on their own. She broke this down for me into four smaller groups: Statement necklaces (especially bibs and collars), Statement Cuffs, Gemstone cocktail rings and Hoop earrings.

I'm also really feeling this look for spring and beyond. If you want to shop some of these looks, just click below to check out some of my picks for Jumbo Jewels featured on Portero right now. (For variety, I chose one look for each category at the lower end of the price range and one at the high-end.)

Statement Necklaces:

--Yves Saint Laurent Golden Braided Collar Toggle Necklace. I am loving the bold yellow gold and '80s-vintage feel of this oversized collar.
--18k Yellow Gold 12.06 ctw Diamond Necklace. Totally stunning and will never go out of style.

Statement Cuffs:

--M+J Savitt Hammered Gold Plated Turquoise Cuff Bracelet. The cabochon gemstone, hammered metal and oversized profile are all perfect for the upcoming season.
--Sterling Silver 18k Yellow Gold Rose Cut Diamond Vintage-Inspired Hinged Bangle Bracelet. This Indian-inspired bracelet will go with anything--from jeans and a white t-shirt to a ball gown.

Gemstone cocktail rings:

--Jewel of Ocean 18k Yellow Gold Lapis Lazuli Cocktail Ring sz 5.25. As I mentioned before, Cabochons are right on target for 2009.
--Yossi Harari 24k Yellow Gold Large Opal Cocktail Ring sz 7. Opals are fantastic because no two are exactly alike--thus this ring feels totally custom.

Hoop Earrings:

--SOHO 18k Rose Gold Black Enamel Hoop Earrings. Rose gold looks perfect on every skin tone and the random enamel feels like a bit of modern art.
--JewelMak Hammered 18k Yellow Gold Aquamarine Hoop Earrings. JIC says that "gemmed" or "charmed" hoops will be big.

Image via Fashionverbatim.net

Friday, March 27, 2009


Today is definitely looking like the start of a great weekend--the sun is shining, it's Friday, and we're offering a surprise 10% off sale through next Tuesday. This means 10% off site-wide* and through all categories; so whether you're looking for a great hostess gift for the upcoming holidays or a pair of stilettos as a treat for yourself, you can start bidding at even lower prices.

Want the details?

Use Promo code: MARTEN
Expires on Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 11:59 PM ET.
*Birkins will be excluded.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buying Time

This week we're highlighting savvy shopping in the form of Investment Watches. These are timepieces that will hold their value for years to come--whether they are rare, created from precious materials or just a brand name that will always be collectible.

Portero has such a large selection, though, that we wanted to take our education one step further. So, we created a special guide called "How to Buy an Investment Watch" that will always be available on the site. Click over to learn the basics--from speciality watch terms to what brands and models will make the best future heirlooms.

Shop Portero's Men's and Women's Investment Watches:
$7,500 - $9,999
Over $10,000

Educate yourself on How to Buy an Investment Watch

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to Basics

I was recently putting together a trend report for one of my freelance clients, and I decided to interview all of the major jewelry industry organizations to get a feel for the marketplace. When I got to the Diamond Information Center (DIC), they definitely had some thoughts on how women were shopping and what pieces will be big for 2009.

Sally Morrison, the Executive Director of the DIC, had this to say:

"Women want quality items that they can wear all the time and will last forever. Never has it been more apparent that diamond jewelry is a smart buy. And diamond jewelry is meaningful - it is hard to say that about a new purse or pair of shoes. What we are seeing is that people are buying fewer but better things, so rather than buying lots of pieces, they are choosing to buy one great piece and are being more discerning about it. So, instead of buying a lots of things of a lesser quality, they are choosing to buy fewer things but of a better quality. There is also a return to the classics, to simple clean pieces such as diamond studs and diamond drop earrings, which we saw a lot of during the award season.”

This is definitely smart thinking. Investment pieces are those that won't lose their value and aren't dictated by trends. If I had my pick on Portero, I would go with jewels like these Custom Platinum 2.74 ctw Diamond Stud Earrings or this Tiffany & Co Platinum Diamond Hexagonal Band Ring sz 6.25.

Want a perfect example? Look at Penelope Cruz, above, in diamonds at the 2009 Oscars. She chose simple studs and a gorgeous diamond riviere necklace by Chopard. (Yes, of course these diamonds were worth millions, but the look was decidedly unfussy and certainly not risky.)

The point is that you don't want to spend your extra cash on jewels that won't last a lifetime. The smartest choices this season are classic, enduring pieces that will definitely be future heirlooms.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Going to the Chapel?

If you or someone you know is thinking about popping the question, there's no doubt that they should give Portero a look before buying any bling. Love and marriage continues even in a bad economy, so it makes perfect sense to get the best deal you can on a piece of jewelry that will be worn every day.

If you've never shopped for substantial diamonds before, you may need a place to start. You can always pick up a copy of my book, A Girl's Guide to Buying Diamonds (shameless plug!), if you need to brush up on the basics. It covers everything from the 4Cs (color, cut, clarity, carat weight) to choosing the style that's right for you.

If you're looking for an online tutorial, you can check out Platinum Guild's Buying Guide, and there's also quite a bit of information on the A Diamond Is Forever website, including information on insurance and diamond facts.

Be aware that an engagement ring doesn't need to be all white! The trend of using colored gemstones or colored diamonds is not just a passing fad; going with a stone you or your fiance loves will make the ring just that much more special. Even if you're not planning a wedding anytime soon, you probably know someone who is contemplating a proposal. Passing along our 50% savings (and more) will be a lifesaver for any future groom.

Shop Portero's selection of engagement rings

Monday, March 16, 2009

Officially Cartier

Michelle Obama sure knows how to bring modern to the White House. In her recently-released official portrait, she donned a black shift dress by Michael Kors, a simple double strand of pearls and a Cartier Tank Francaise watch. Yes, the look is simple, but the sleekness of the outfit is what feels so fresh. No bulky skirt suit; no overpowering makeup; no hairdo that looks as though it could stand up to a wind tunnel.

The Tank is an interesting Cartier model because it has had several evolutions since the original was released in 1917. The Tank Francaise is only 13 years old, and it is marked by a square dial held by a rectangular case. The bracelet itself was created to look like the tracks left by a military tank. Although retail prices for this model usually start at $3,875, Portero has a selection of Tank Francaise watches with opening bids as low as $2,520.

Obama also knows that you can't go wrong with pearls. I love the size of these pearls and the weight of the necklace. It's not over-the-top, but the stones are substantial enough to feel luxurious and stylish. If you're wondering how to pick pearls that aren't outdated, here are two wonderful suggestions available right now on Portero:

Rachelle Epstein Japanese Gray Cultured Pearl Aquamarine Rondelle Bead 9-Row Necklace. Yes, it's dramatic, but it's also terribly chic. Gray is the color of the moment and the aquamarine beads in-between each pearl are both playful and sophisticated.

M+J Savitt Gold Plated Sterling Silver Clear Crystal & Pearl Necklace. The affordability of this statement necklace is possible because there is more crystal than pearl; but the look is still totally luxe.

Want to copy Obama's style? Shop Cartier Tank Francaise right here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Green with Envy

Although St. Patrick's Day is known less for shopping and more for, well, cocktails; it's also a time to celebrate a bit of luck. And it sure seems lucky to find Portero prices on some of your favorite luxury brands. We've put together a really fun assortment of green items for you to look through--not just an expected mix of emerald and jade, but green leather goods and accessories, too, in a wide range of hues.

I personally love the Gucci crocodile checkbook/wallet featured on the homepage. The oversized logo feels very retro and the pop of color will make paying for things at least a bit more exciting. If green isn't your color, then click over to our selection of Lucky Charms. From four-leaf clover baubles to dainty pendants that could very well become your signature piece, these are little jewels with a lot of personality.

As an aside, if you're ever looking to shop by color on Portero, it's a snap. Just type in your preferred shade in the upper right-hand search box and a list of items in all categories will show up.

Click below to shop:

Green Jewelry
Green Accessories
Lucky Charms

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mini Masterpieces

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go meet with one of the most talented jewelry designers in the world yesterday--Sevan Bicakci (above, photo by me). Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Sevan has been creating jewelry since he was 11 years old. His jewelry often references the architecture and lore of his home country, but it's the precise stone setting and unbelievable gemstone carving that really sets him apart from the competition.

His newest collection, Ida, is based on the two mountains of Mount Ida--one which is found in Greece and the other in Turkey. These sacred locations are extremely important in Greek and Byzantine mythology; in fact, the Olympic Gods gathered there to watch the epic battle of Troy.

Sevan's work is part sculpture, part jewelry and part architecture. This new collection is made up of monuments containing hand-cut quartz, citrine, tourmaline and rock crystal that have been inversely carved and painted as mini-sculptures inside of the each ring (which stand up like Greek statues). Having seen them in person, I can tell you that each piece is truly spectacular. Although a language barrier doesn't always make it easy to talk with Sevan, the beauty of the work really shines through. He told me that he particularly likes the use of blue and green diamonds as accents in these pieces and that each one takes months of painstaking work to be completed.

Check out just a few of the pieces from the Ida collection below. There is a wide range of materials used in each of these rings, including 24-karat gold, silver, and MANY diamonds. (Prices hover around $50,000 each.) If you want to see his jewelry in person, head over to Barney's New York.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview: Ivanka Trump

I recently spoke to businesswoman/jewelry maven Ivanka Trump for a magazine article, and she had some interesting things to say about the category of contemporary jewelry and what women are looking for when they shop. If you didn't know that Ivanka had a jewelry line, check it out right here. It's definitely high-end (she partnered with a diamond company) and pricey, but it also manages to make a statement about fashion and style.

The newest pieces in the line focus on large pieces of rock crystal mixed with traditional diamonds. There's a sort of vintage/retro thing going on with the jewels, but the scale and simple silhouettes also feel very modern. If you want to try on the pieces in person, you can head to her Madison Avenue boutique. Here's just a bit of the interview that will run in TJF magazine next month:

Q: How has your career in real estate helped you with this jewelry line?
A: We're builders, so I'm used to wanting to achieve a certain look for the best price. Rock crystal doesn't pretend to be diamond, but it gives us a certain look. We never compromise on materials, but we can also spend a bit less to create a line that is all-encompassing.

Q: Why did you decide to use a mainly black and white palette for the line?
A: Black and white is chic, elegant and wearable. It can transcend the season and remain timeless.

Q: Why will women enjoy visiting your boutique?
A: We tried to create an environment that was really meant for the female buyer. It's a boudoir. People have responded very well to that--the time for stoic jewelry stores has passed. We serve chocolates and champagne and have fun.

Q: What style are women today particularly looking for?
A: Statement pieces that are timeless. Women want something very luxurious but be able to spend a bit less.

Rock Crystal Bib Necklace with diamonds

Rock Crystal Bracelet with diamond Pagoda clasp

Pave diamond and rock crystal door knock earrings

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rolex Sale--Right now!

If you haven't checked out our 4-hour Rolex sale, you're already an hour down! Head over to see a great selection of watches that are already marked down from retail, and then take an additional 15% off until 4pm.

You can score one of our coveted Submariners like the Oyster Perpetual Date Submariner timepiece, reference 16610, pictured above.

Click here to start shopping--use promo code RLX15 to purchase.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rolex Sale. For Real.

You heard right--we're reducing our Rolex prices even further for four hours only. Shop tomorrow starting at noon and receive an additional 15% off of selected styles.

Stay tuned to this space tomorrow to receive the promo code that will score you the big savings.

Daylight SAVINGS

I'm a summer person, so I get very excited as Daylight Saving time approaches in the spring (It's this Saturday night at 2 am, FYI). More sunlight into the evening makes me very happy and gives me the feeling that warmth is finally approaching. Daylight SAVINGS at Portero means something entirely different--but almost just as good. We're highlighting timepieces that will make the seasonal transition a snap, and with prices that won't break the bank, you're getting a deal that will see you through until winter weather returns.

When you click onto our Best Values highlighted on the main page, you'll see that good prices span all styles and brands. Whether you're looking for a ladies' bracelet style for an evening event or a rugged men's watch that will take you from land to sea, we have you covered. Just heading to our first page of Best Values (which means the deepest discounts we offer) will turn up watches from brands like Rolex, Cartier, IWC and Bulgari. We're talking auction starting prices at up to 71% off suggested retail prices.

Another way to look at value is longevity. Purchasing a timepiece that has intrinsic value, continually sells well and retains its price at auction means that you're buying an heirloom, not just a watch. A brand like Jaeger-LeCoultre has all this and more. Portero is proud to carry a wide selection of gorgeous Jaegers in both men's and women's styles. These coveted Swiss-made timepieces have been around since 1833, and their classic profile, complicated movements and unmatched craftsmanship will make you, as an owner, one of the elite.

Scoring one of these values means acting fast. Click below to see our Daylight SAVINGS and start shopping:

Best Values watches

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Indian Experience

I just got back from an amazing trip to Goa, India to attend the second annual IIJS Signature show. Organized by the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the show was created to build something of a "Brand India"--a destination for the best that Indian jewelry designers and manufacturers have to offer. Although it was a small show (just over 70 exhibitors), it was certainly not short on style.

A lot of what I saw was gorgeous, traditional Indian jewelry (like the set above). These pieces are laden with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, and are often made of high-karat yellow gold (which has a richer appearance and softer quality than lower-karat gold which is alloyed with other materials.) But, you'll also notice that a lot of celebrities are donning Indian-inspired jewels, like Kate Beckinsale's huge diamond earrings at the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party (below).

One of my favorites exhibitors was Balpalal Keshavlal, a Mumbai-based jeweler that has been around since 1939. Their stunning creations are fit for royalty, and it's always fun to see a set like the one below up close and personal.

I also fell for a collection of over-the-top bracelets by Seth Sunderdas & Sons (see below). These rainbow-colored bangles were made with stingray skin and then covered with pearls, diamonds and gemstones. Although the look is definitely "look at me", these bracelets could transform any plain outfit to wow in mere seconds. Kind of reminds me of the look Heidi Klum went for at the Oscars with her outrageous stack of Lorraine Schwartz (also below) baubles.

In case you are just as interested in the location as the jewelry, I'll post more pictures from gorgeous Goa later!