Top 5 Famous Jewelers and Jewelry Stores in the World
By Devorah Isenberg , Thursday, January 12, 2012 6:34 AM
For most of us, buying an engagement ring is going to be a carefully considered purchase that we will make only after creating a budget, researching price comparisons, and probably saving up for some time. But imagine for a moment that money was no object, that you could buy the best engagement ring from the most famous jewelers in the world. Where would you go? Would you choose the over-the-top glamour of Bulgari or the refined traditionalism of Tiffany and Co? All of the world’s most famous jewelry stores have a few elements in common—superb customer service, incredible quality and design, and of course, sky-high prices. At the same time, each of these famous jewelers have a few unique characteristics that give them their distinctive place in the pantheon of great jewelry design.
1. Chances are, if you’ve ever seen that distinctive shade of powder blue, you immediately thought of famous jewelers Tiffany and Co. That’s no accident—the world-famous jewelry store, founded in 1837, has trademarked the particular shade of blue used in all their advertising and packaging. Tiffany and Company is known for their classic, clean-cut diamond jewelry designs, such as the classic tiffany-style setting popularized by the brand, and for it’s iconic stature in popular culture. From the days when all the prominent New York families from the Astors to the Vanderbilts wore Tiffany’s, to its status as the “best place on earth” in the Truman Capote novella and film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the iconic jewelry company continues to connote luxury and effortless class.
2. Founded by Louis-Francois Cartier in Paris in 1847, the Cartier jewelry and wristwatch company is one of the world’s most famous jewellers and the only one that can truly claim to the be “jeweler to the kings.” From the crown worn by King Edward VII at his 1904 coronation to the tiara worn by Kate Middleton at her 2010 wedding to Prince William, Cartier has outfitted literally dozens of royal family members from ten different countries. Although it is a jewelry company firmly rooted in tradition and the past, it has also moved boldly into the 21st century, with 200 stores currently operating worldwide, including flagship boutiques in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. Cartier is currently most famous for its popular and modernized LOVE collection, as well as its’ Tank collection of men’s watches.
3. Although the company has been around for three generations, the jewelry firm now known as Lorraine Schwartz Diamonds & Fine Jewelry only rose to prominence ten years ago, when actress Halle Berry wore pieces by the jewelry designer to the SAG Awards. Since taking over her family business in 1989, celebrity jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz has achieved international renown, through a brilliant combination of luxurious design, Hollywood aesthetics, and glamorous inaccessibility. Schwartz limits the sale of her collections to the jewelry department of Bergdorf Goodman’s, private appointments at her Fifth Avenue showroom, and private commissions from elite individuals. This inaccessibility has made wearing a jewelry item by Lorraine Schwartz a powerful symbol of celebrity, which helps explain why her jewelry is consistently popular among celebrities like Beyonce Knowles, Elizabeth Taylor, Heidi Klum, Barbra Streisand, and Blake Lively.
4. Of all the most famous jewelers in the world, the Harry Winston Jewelry Company is one the few whose fame and reputation was built by a single brilliant individual. Harry Winston, who lived from 1896 until 1978, was one of the finest jewelry designers and craftsmen the world has ever seen. His instinct for gem quality was said to be inborn—legend has it that at the age of 12, Winston recognized a two-carat emerald being sold as a faux gemstone, purchased it for 25 cents and resold it for $800 days later. Once he took over the family jewelry business, Winston established his place on the famous jewelers world scene by purchasing the famed but outdated Arabella Huntington jewelry collection and re-setting its stones into more modern pieces, which won him instant fame and recognition as one of the most talented jewelry designers ever known. He later developed a reputation for owning some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Hope Diamond, which he later donated to the Smithsonian Institute. Today, the Harry Winston Company lives on, carrying on his tradition with eight US locations and twelve international stores.
5. From its humble beginnings in a small Greek village, the Bulgari jewelry company has risen to become one of the most famous jewellers in the world. Founded in the 1870’s by Greek jeweler Sotirios Voulgaris, Bulgari opened its first Italian store in Rome in 1884. The company soon became known for its bold, distinctive designs, especially its architectural styles featuring heavy gold links and its creative use of colored stones such as sapphires. In the 1970’s, Voulgaris’ descendants diversified the brand to include timepieces, fragrances, and other luxury goods, and opened stores in Paris, New York, Geneva and Monte Carlo. However, they continued to spell Bulgari with the ‘V’ traditional of the Latin alphabet. Today, Bulgari operates almost 300 stores around the globe, and was sold in October of 2011 to the LVMH luxury goods conglomerate for a record-breaking $6.01 billion.
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