Jewelry: Out of the Vault

  • Jill Newman

In the insular world of high jewelry, a handful of international players trade the rarest and most exceptional stones, moving them from one country to another until the gems find the right buyer. Among industry insiders trading in these six- and seven-figure jewels, everyone knows Glenn Spiro, the London dealer who has vaults of extraordinary gems and finished pieces from a long strand of natural pearls to matching sets of Burmese rubies to a 50-carat, D-flawless, old-mine cut diamond. "At some stage, nearly every one of the world’s best jewelry houses has come through our doors to acquire our pieces and offer them to one of their most important clients," says Spiro, who for 25 years has voraciously bought gemstones for $1,000 to $10 million without a care about reselling them. "I buy what I love, and when I need some cash to buy more jewels, or the mood strikes, I design a piece, and it sells."

Spiro’s irreverent attitude toward business shuns the traditional route of building a brand name and opening stores, in favor of creating one unique piece at a time, usually for clients who never know his name. For most of his career, Spiro has sold only through high-end jewelry houses, which present his pieces under their own names and even frown on his mentioning who they are. Still, word got out, and in the past few years Spiro started seeing a few private clients in his London and Geneva offices. In October he at last took the leap and unveiled his first retail collection, at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Called G International, the collection starts at $50,000 and ranges upward to about $500,000. "I thought it would be fun to give it a try, but it took 25 years," Spiro says, "and I don’t expect to do another."

The line does not bear a signature style, beyond a modernism that emphasizes clean, stylish lines. As always, Spiro creates each piece as a stand-alone, designed to enhance the beauty of the stones. "Today less is more; women are generally more chic," he says. "We went through the Edwardian, Victorian, and Deco periods, and we just ended the bling period, when everyone loaded themselves up with as many big stones as they could. Today it is about subtle chic."

His pieces may be refined, but they still draw attention. An emerald about the size of a grape is set in a rose ring with hinged pavé-diamond petals that open to reveal the stone. Hoop earrings composed of lightweight blue titanium are flecked with tiny diamonds. A 20-carat pear-shaped blue diamond, worth several million dollars, dangles from a silk cord in a pendant made of industrial blue titanium dripping with white and blue briolette-cut diamonds—a treatment that is elegant, modern, and thoroughly unexpected, even if Spiro is reluctant to take credit.

"Most of our job is done for us," he says. "We didn’t make the stones, we just put them in the right places."

Bergdorf Goodman, 212.872.2518

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