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Gem collector

GEMS and jewelry are one of the oldest trades in the world. It was the original trade in middle east during olden times. As a free trade, it kept people honest and was a great bridge in bringing different cultures and communities together.

For gem collector Kim Lloyd-George originally from New York (now based in Penang), to write about jewelry is to write about her entire life and travels, as all the people she met comes through collecting, studying, and trading.

Recently, Kim collaborated with Tamasha fashion house to set up a fashion show at G-Hotel in Penang on September 26, where she displayed a few giant retro cocktail rings on the models.

Kim. said: "Precious gems are beautiful and tell a story about where they were mined in the form of characteristic fingerprints. Some of this jewelry can be traced back to the history where the stone traveled from and where they ended up.

For example many pieces of the great Mugal Indian jewelry used Columbian emeralds, in the 16th century. That's how the "Atocha Hoard" shipwreck was found in the Caribbean by an amateur who was convinced there was a trade wreck containing emeralds from South America on its way to India.

Kim said the real backbone of this business are the stone dealers and the stories they tell. "The people I met through this connection is a real circus! Academics, scientists, artistes, society people, royalty and movie stars... many prefer to be left anonymous."

Those she has met include Richard Hughes, the Indiana Jones-esque figure who worked in Bangkok for many years, and set up the first ruby testing mine in Burma.

Another is Benjamin Zucker, a scholar and collector who wrote the poetic book Blue, naming after a 16th century 200-carat emerald he owned called The Taj Mahal.

"I have no idea how many collectors there are in the world, probably a lot more than we will ever know because they are good at hiding and popping out whenever something interesting comes out," said Kim, adding most collectors do other things for a living, so you find them in other businesses until their collecting bug takes over.

Kim's mother Marilyn Fishcher was a former stylist and fashion illustrator who bought the lovely Byzantine gold earrings, and her father Carl Fishcher was a famous photographer,

"My early influences were my parents: both collectors of Greek, Roman and Egyptian Art.

I think I got started in this business in New York. My mother was collecting all these ancient pieces: Greek, Roman and Byzantine jewelry. Everyone else was buying diamonds and she was buying Egyptian Pharoahs necklaces!,

"As a girl I followed her around the auction rooms and antique shops on Third Avenue. I liked pretty sparkly things."

Kim bought her first jewelry, a ring and took it to Sotheby's in New York, and found it was an 18th century "giardinetti" or "garden basket" ring, and all the coloured stones were sapphires. She was thrilled and became hooked.

By the time Kim was an adult, she was already buying and selling her own things and it paid her way.

She was married young and went to Brazil for two years - a place covered in amazing gems from the mines in Minas Gerais where you could buy all over the villages for nothing.

Later she moved to Hong Kong and got her gemology degree (British FGA, degree and then an American GG).

Fast forward to the 80s, Kim was living in Hong Kong, and had been trading gems and jewelry for over 10 years. In the mid-90's she ended as a stylist and buyer in Los Angeles where antique jewelry was coming into vogue. She had many good clients and sold some retro (1940's style) pieces to Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, and other well-heeled agents.

In this Q&A, we find out about her passion about antique jewelry.

Q: What is the allure of vintage jewelry, and why are you passionate about it?

The allure of vintage jewelry is mostly in the knowledge that some of the materials (like Kashmiri sapphires) are now depleted from the earth forever. Some of the techniques like platinum millegrain work (which looks like lace) is almost impossible to find these days, and getting very crude. I believe the old things are better, when you can find them. I think we are basically stuck in a bad design period for the last 50/60 years and you really have to go far back to find anything nice. How can you call it an antique really? We are still trying to catch up with this period, and have never surpassed it.

Q: How many pieces of jewelery are there in your collection?

I usually have a few dozen pieces at one time. Some I keep in New York, some I travel with. At the end of a trip, I am usually either half full, or half empty then I start over.

Q: What is the history behind this unique collection?

The history behind everything is like a log of where I have been: In the mid 90's I lived in Hollywood and did a lot of sourcing for industry people. We got them to start buying old diamonds, which were way out of fashion at the time. Now they are very hot. I also got into retro pieces (1940's) and I think that's the best look for movie people, following the golden era of films. I also found tons of things in pawn shops in the worst parts of town... recently I went back and its mostly gone. These things move around!

Q: What are the rare pieces of jewelry you would like to own?

I supposed I wouldn't mind owning something from the Russian Crown jewels, some Faberge. And I wouldn't mind owning one tiny piece from the Maharani of Jaipurs emeralds.

Q: What special features do you look for in a piece of jewelry that makes it valuable?

Rarity, quality, and provenance (where did it come from). There are other valuable criteria for a piece apart from its intrinsic value: I had a bronze pin in the shape of a lizard once, it turned out to be signed by one of the Secessionist artists (Austrian period around 1910). Finally sold it to a museum in New York which was creating a Secessionist collection.When I am buying, even if I know its to sell, I buy as if its for me and it has to really appeal to me first or I won't buy it.

Q: How do you plan to sell or auction these jewelry?

I am always happy to "source" for a serious client and I can find things through my connections almost anywhere in the world.

I would go on a new hunt every six months. It takes a little time and I usually have to put up the money, but I always find it in the end! The profit margin is not huge as a broker, and I still respect that tradition. It's a very old business.

I never look back at what I've sold because you can't keep everything.

For more information contact Kim Lloyd George at email: Kimllg88@, or visit her website at
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