Rago Arts is an auction house which specializes in fine art, decorative arts, furnishings, ethnographic artifacts and my favorite--jewelry! Although they have a worldwide marketplace and global outreach, the personal service they provide is something Rago Arts is proud of. The big jewelry auction is every December, and this year's date is the 6th and is sure to be full of beautiful pieces. I recently got a chance to ask Rago Arts' Jewelry Specialist, Sarah Churgin, a few questions to get more details. She has also sent me a few "sneak peeks" of a few pieces that will be in December's sale. Enjoy reading and looking at the fine jewels!
GemGossip: How long has Rago Arts offered a selection of jewelry for auction?
Sarah Churgin: Rago Auctions had offered some jewelry since it's inception 28 years ago. The identity of the auction house is connected to " 20th Century Design". For two years prior to my arrival in 2001, Bakelite and Designer Costume Jewelry had been the direction of the jewelry department. We still love those collectibles but now we cover gems, fine jewelry and antique categories as well. A recent trend has been a growing market for late 20th century studio artisan jewelry.
GemGossip: Where do you get most of your pieces that get auctioned off?
Sarah Churgin: All of our pieces come from estate or inherited consignments. With very few exceptions we do not take anything from jewelry dealers.
Some of our best pieces come in during our weekly open appraisal event.
GemGossip: How many lots of jewelry are you expecting for this year’s December sale? More or less than last year?
Sarah Churgin: Now in it's 9th season, the December Great Estates Sale has a growing following, and the auction house is becoming recognized as a good place to sell estate jewelry. We have expanded our multi departmental semi-annual Discovery Sales to accommodate the increased number of consignment so the average lot in the upcoming sale is of higher quality than the average lot of any year to date. We estimate a 325 lot jewelry sale. Many of those lots consist of multiple pieces.
GemGossip: Have you ever acquired a piece of jewelry that ended up in your jewelry box rather than the bidding block? Have you come across a really interesting/unique piece of jewelry that you will never forget?
Sarah Churgin: I love jewelry. I wear it, study it, dream about it. Would I be happy to get some of the lots into my own jewelry box? ....Of course! .... Many of the consignments inspire lust. I am only human. But it would be unethical for me to offer a consignor a cash buy-out. The market sets the price. The pieces I really like always end up selling for way more than I could pay for them. Still I do get to try-on almost everything.
Innumerable important and memeorable pieces have come through. Some of then now reside at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every sale offers it's rare finds. this year's sale includes a Cartier Stars and Stripes brooch, c. 1927, unearthed from among a group of much lesser worth. The moment of discovery is such a thrill!
GemGossip: If someone is interested in bidding, what are the steps they would have to take?
Sarah Churgin: The auction preview will be on the website by mid-November. Anyone interested in bidding should contact us at "www.ragoarts.com" Read More
Our Designer Spotlight is being focused on a wonderful jewelry designer and intelligent woman--Ariel Gordon! Ariel Gordon's jewelry designs are fresh and simple--perfect for your everyday staple piece. Take a look as she answers some questions about how she began, how designing makes her proud, and where her designs will go in the future. Gem Gossip has also chosen our favorite pieces from her collection, which are featured together with her answers!
GemGossip: Which piece from your collection is the most popular/best-selling?
ArielGordon: My initial necklaces are pretty popular. They make great gifts for new moms, graduations, or for yourself. I'm fascinated by graphic design and typography and I was inspired to make the collection after watching the documentaryHelvetica. I created the font myself in wax by hand, letter by letter.
14k yellow gold initial pendant (with or without diamond) "14k yellow gold initial pendant (with or without diamond) $300-350"00-350
GemGossip: What was your experience like at Revere Academy? Would you recommend it to inspiring jewelry designers?
ArielGordon: Absolutely! Revere is a great place to fully immerse yourself in all things jewelry. The instructors are all working jewelers, stone setters, or gemologists and are extremely knowledgeable. I did an intensive program that had class 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for a few months. My hands got pretty tired and my neck was always stiff but I loved every minute of it! It covered casting, fabrication, metalsmithing, polishing, repairs, stone settings, drafting, trade practices, and gemology. Every class had a syllabus and it was very structured which I found helpful. It's like learning a language... the more you surround yourself and immerse yourself the faster you learn. Plus it was great to be in a creative environment with other people as passionate about jewelry as I was.
14k yellow and rose gold Large Washer rings, "14k yellow and rose gold Large Washer rings, $310"10
GemGossip: How has working with Maya Brenner affected your designs?
Ariel Gordon: So in addition to running the one-woman AGJ show, I also work full-time with Maya Brenner who is one of the most talented and kind people I know. When I decided I wanted to pursue jewelry as a career it was a really scary moment in my life. I didn't know anything about how to start a retail business. I didn't know how to source my materials, how to put together a collection, how to price my items, how to deal with buyers, how to use Quickbooks - nothing. I barely knew how to make jewelry! All I knew was that I felt a sense of satisfaction seeing people wear my jewelry that I had never felt before. I wanted the freedom of being my own boss and I wanted to be the one to reap the benefits of all my hard work. To help ease into being self-employed, I decided to send my resume out to every LA-based jewelry designer I could think of and ask if any of them needed an assistant. I got a bunch of responses but I hit it off with one in particular. It couldn't have been a better match... Almost 3 years later and we're still going strong!! Maya has taught me so much about how to run a jewelry business and she isn't at all territorial (an issue friends of mine have bumped into working with other designers). I'm so lucky that we found each other!
Iolite or Garnet ID Bracelet, 14k gold, [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption=85
GemGossip: What is your proudest moment in your jewelry career?
ArielGordon: It's a tie between winning ShopStyle's Emerging Desginer contest or the my first web order (to someone other than a family member or friend).
10k or 14k yellow gold Hour Glass Ring, "10k or 14k yellow gold Hour Glass Ring, $325-495"25-495
GemGossip: What is in store for the future of AGJ?
ArielGordon: Always more beautiful jewelry!! Ha ha... I'm actually going to try to expand into the wholesale business. There are so many great boutiques out there that are struggling in this economy and I'd love to be a part of what helps to keep things on the up and up. Read More