J.Grahl, "The Celebrity Collection" Vintage Jewelry

This is the beginning of a series of “Celebrity” owned , vintage jewelry pieces.
The Celebrity Collection is owned by Michael Kazanjian of the Kazanjian Brothers fine estate and jewelry fame.
The collection will rotate on display in the GIA Museum starting October 2017.
Michael has been collecting the pieces you will see here since the late 1950’s. When an estate was bought, certain pieces with provenance were kept aside, at first for the appreciation, then the commitment to save and document the pieces for posterity.
I have the privilege of bringing these to you for your enjoyment, curiosity and also to look and query the build techniques. This also will give a sense of styling and time, allowing a look at what was popular, as well as the taste of the owners.
This is part of a two pronged series, starting with this collection, and soon, photos of vintage jewelry pieces that show a particular look or build trait that is designed to have a better sense of the skills of previous generations of jewelry makers.
Thank you for looking.
Jim Grahl

Having an office on Rodeo drive is a set up for a certain clientele… Maybe less so today, though the gobs of money still ply the streets,. But in the 1960’s and 70’s, Rodeo Drive was just “Downtown” for the residents of Beverly hills and it’s neighboring residential areas, like Hollywood.
It certainly helps to have developed decades of connections, and having family members in the movie industry, but Michael Kazanjian’s interest in the jewelry owned by celebrities helped hone his innate sense of looking forward to a time when items of this craftsmanship would become rare.
As the pieces get posted, note that some cause wonder as to the construction method, yet, not all are remarkable, and in their own time , some had just become dated, old jewelry. We are in an industry that is very short sighted, if a piece comes in that is dated, out of style, it often becomes scrap. “Melt it down & move on” could be our mantra.
So thanks Michael, for saving these particles of the past and sharing them, and their owners with us.

(for me), Having shots of vintage pieces with a bit of the background story is a reminder of the era of craftsmanship and personalization that was common in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s.
In the 60’s the jewelry unions were fading away, apprenticeships (in the US) were fading as well. As you look at these pieces, keep in mind that there was a system in place that had one specialize in an area. Thusly a Setter… set stones, that the person that did Prep (Preparation) would have readied. The Designer, would have sent the sketch to the Benchman, that would have done the principal metalwork.
After the setter had finished the pice would have moved on to the Polisher… a skill set as highly respected as the setter. There were more specialties, but that, in essence, is how a shop was run. Today, for the most part, we’re “Generalists” of a sort. We need to have honed skill sets in a variety of areas to turn out a finished piece.
Below are a few more photos,

A few more to entertain and wonder a bit about.
As these pieces are viewed, It reminds me of my own years in business, how many special pieces have been created as a “Thank You”, an acknowledgement of an event or special moment in time.
Our culture is in the midst of a change,
Less jewelry being bought for a spouse as a gift, and more direct design work for the end user. Women buying for themselves is a much greater segment of today’s world.
I don’t disparage this, in many ways it’s easier as a designer to work directly with the client, but some of the mystery is lost too. The design thought of a grateful husband wanting to surprise his wife is less prominent.
I feel these pieces shown here are a cultural marker as well as a design statement. These were gifts from the heart.

The “Celebrity” aspect of Mike Kazanjian’s collection is certainly reflected in Madonna’s wedding tiara.
It also reflects generational perspectives on beauty and popularity.
There are a number of Tiara’s around looking for homes. It’s not a commonly sold item these days. But the detail work on these pieces deserve a close look.
Ols stones are rarely round, or even geometric in the sense of a repeatable ovoid shape.
Setting these is a chore at best. Each seat must be cut for a specific stone.
I’ll show another pair in an upcoming post some the nuances can be seen.

On another note, forgeries are out there.
Armand Hammer was deeply involved with the early soviets, buying most of the remainder of Fabrege’s workshop and , in particular, the “Fabrege” stamps along with those of the royal family. He then commissioned a number of (mostly) true to form pieces, stamped with the Fabrege hallmark as well as the Romanoff royal seal.
Pieces like the egg shown here are so close to the originals that many have been fooled. Thankfully , there are a few experts (like Mike) that can spot them.
Most of these pieces were made in the 1930’s, and the workmanship is truly remarkable, a few notches below Fabrege, but still well above most makers abilities.
So as decorative pieces they have merit and value, though far less than a piece with true Fabrege provenance.

Cary Grant’s gift of this diamond collar also has value, that of a human being saying Thank You, just for listening.

, sometimes within a s

Thank you so much for sharing. Reading your passion inspires me in my new venture. Most my family wears my creations. My friends buy the good stuff before I give it away. For now I cut my own gemstones and am practicing silversmith for setting and polishing. I have been feeling that everything I am making will last longer than long and represents me and my mind to hand. Thank you again for sharing these awesome pieces of history and art.

Thanks for the great note, I’m happy these have value for you.
As I look through these and share the posts, I am always humbled by the time and craftsmanship represented.
The intention’s very, from nostalgic, to thoughts of contemporary twists on vintage design patterns.
The stories behind them add flavor and a sense of humanity as well.
Best wishes, keep on making things that give happiness to others.


Memories fade, I’ve just had that brought to my attention in a somewhat embarrassing manner.
To that end, my memories of Buddy Epson and Buddy jacket crosswired,while I never knew Buddy Hacket, I did Buddy Epson. The name Buddy triggered sharing a thought about him . I guess that somewhat gives context to these posts. It could be the memory attributed to the piece, or, a fond memory of the era they represent. For whatever reason you find yourself engaged in these I hope it’s enjoyable .

Buddy Ebsen was in The Beverly Hillbillies, not Buddy Hackett.

Lesson , Don’t write when you’re tired,
I’ll revise.
Thanks, Jim

Here are a couple more to enjoy.
These have a variety of processes involved, the chain mesh in the evening bag is machine woven, then integrated with hand fabricated elements (clasp, Bow to contain chain etc. Vert delicate soldering and clamping involved + keeping the alignment of the weave straight.
The Lipstick slide is “Boxwork” hand fabricated and engraved… imagine the lips this was prepared for…

Here are a couple of interest.
The first is an Opera bag, 18K gold mesh again with incredible seam work, fabricated emerald /diamond set top bow…(oh to be a Rothschild…)
The pearl broach is a good reference to early, mid- fifty’s styling. Platinum, Akoya cultured pearls and round diamonds.