Last updateFri, 22 Sep 2017 12pm

Mia Katrin

The Pink Panther Heist

Four men - three disguised as long blond-haired women with sunglasses - requested entry last December 4 to Harry Winston's Jewelers on super-posh Avenue Montaigne in Paris. As they were buzzed in, they pulled out a hand grenade and a .357 Magnum and started smashing the glass display cases. Fifteen minutes later they made a clean getaway in a waiting car with sacks of huge diamonds, emeralds and rubies worth a cool $115 million.

In a bizarre life-imitating-art scenario, Interpol has dubbed the suspected thieves the "Pink Panthers," referencing the phantom bandit of movie fame pursued by the comically jinxed Inspector Clouseau. The Pink Panthers are believed to be an international group, about 200 strong, of highly professional, meticulous and daring thieves. Hailing from Serbia, they are said to be responsible for high-profile heists worth more than $132 million at luxury "soft" targets in Dubai, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Spain and Monaco since 2003. Dusko Poznan and Goran Drazic, purported members of the group, were arrested before the Dec. 4 robbery. Lloyds of London, Winston's insurers, have issued a $1 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the jewels.

This was not the Pink Panthers' first heist. In Dubai last year, members of the group allegedly rammed through Graff's in two Audis, grasping $3.4 million in diamonds and exiting in the same cars. The event, captured on video, became a YouTube favorite with over 200,000 hits. In Graff's Tokyo, the Pink Panthers hit previously in 2004. In three minutes, they made off with $38 million in rare yellow diamonds, including a 125 carat necklace, the Comtesse de Vendome, worth $31.5 million, also captured on video.

The modus operandi of the Pink Panthers is "brazen, very fast, very well-organized," according to police sources. They characteristically case the targeted venues for a week or more, even learning the salespersons' names.

The bane of jewelers, the jewel thief, at times may achieve a colorful notoriety, earning a "treasured" spot in the pantheon of scoundrels. Movies glorify their cunning, daring and high-profile glamorous targets. Combining danger, fabulous jewels and meticulous execution, their heists are the stuff of legend. In a Bonnie and Clyde scenario, the thieves may become celebrated, even glorified. Boban Stojkovic, a member of the Pink Panthers cadre sentenced before the December 4 robbery, is described by his attorney as a "gentleman bandit... extremely polite and nice."

"Because that's where the money is," Willy Sutton, the thief, famously replied to the query "Why do you rob banks?" Jewelry stores are similarly natural targets. Jewelers take note. You can never be too careful. Although the Pink Panthers target the highest echelon of international targets, stores profiling coveted luxury items are always at risk. Closer to home, in Palm Beach this January Lee Havens Fine Jewelry on Worth Avenue was victimized - the robber reportedly escaping with $4 million in merchandise.

The December Harry Winston theft was the second burglary at the Paris store in a year. The previous year's heist netted over $13 million in jewels. The beleaguered jeweler seems to have adopted a note of caution. Immediately after the current robbery, passers-by the celebrated shop, now closed with shutters, viewed in its famed display case, rather than jewels, a large photograph of the missing pieces.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer, specializing in one-of-a-kind and limited edition high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-24 karat gold and platinum. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website, http://jeweljewel.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (877) JEWEL-MY.

Jeweler’s Profile Part II: Passion and Poetry

Ron Ringsrud's World of Emeralds

Ron-book-feb"One must speak clearly about clear stones... about ancestral rock... about the emerald's green fire." Ron Ringsrud's passion for the beauty of emeralds is infectious as he quotes Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, one of his favorite poets. Ron's soon-to-be-released "Emeralds: A Passionate Guide" (available late March through amazon.com) is a labor of love reflecting this passion. It will offer gems of knowledge "known only to connoisseurs and gemologists" as well as "the human side of the emerald world... revealed with all its romance, history, secrets and joy."

Jeweler’s Profile

Colombia - Land of contrasts
Ron Ringsrud - Premier Emerald Dealer

Picture the scene - like something from the old Wild West. As you enter the rough and tumble gem mine in Colombia in the 1980s, "every gem mine owner had on his desk a bottle of whiskey, a gun, and a prostitute behind him," according to Ron Ringsrud, who started visiting during that era. "Today, the mine owner is most likely a young MBA, drinking yogurt, meekly nodding ‘Yes, dear' to his wife on the phone."

It’s the economy: The “R” word. Leveraging your options.

Quick. What's on your mind? With political rhetoric reaching election-day fever pitch, news headlines trumpeting Wall Street bailouts and mortgage market meltdowns and the peak-selling Holiday season just around the corner, it's pretty safe to say it's the economy. Will sales be strong this season? How are my clients being affected? Should I shift my sales strategy? Alter my inventory?

The Affair of the Necklace - Romance. Scandal. Intrigue.

There’s something magical about a necklace. Thirteen women in Ventura, CA recently embarked on an adventure that transformed their lives when they collectively purchased a $37,000 diamond necklace. Appearing on “Good Morning America,” they promoted their book “The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives.” Talks for a movie are in the works.

When the perfect strand of diamonds caught Jonell McLain’s eye at the window of Van Gundy’s Jewelers, a spark was ignited. Not one that would normally invest that amount on a luxury impulse buy, Jonell nevertheless couldn’t get the necklace out of her mind. She started thinking creatively. What if some friends were interested in sharing it? A plot was hatched. Thirteen women would share the necklace, each having it for one month - a time-share for jewelry - including Priscilla Van Gundy, the store owner’s wife.

“Jewelia,” the newly-named necklace, would be used for fundraising efforts to support charities. The thirteen women, ages 50-62, discovered a newfound fellowship that deeply touched and transformed each of their lives.

Jewelia re-ignited routine marriages. “It made me feel sexy again.” The necklace was worn for special occasions - “it made me feel like a movie star” - as well as boogie-boarding in Hawaii. It gave a sense of hope, of second chances, of a new life, of rebirth. “I felt alive.” It bonded the women together in unexpected ways. “What had been a symbol of exclusivity became a symbol of inclusivity.”

The story touches a nerve. It taps into the current trends of women buying their own jewelry, of jewelry being used to promote charities and of innovative techniques for people to own a piece of something spectacular - renting designer dresses, handbags and jewelry.

This is not the first story of the transformative value of a special necklace. De Maupassant’s classic “The Necklace” tells the story of a wife of modest means who, craving something more, borrows her neighbor’s diamond necklace for a special party. In a Cinderella moment, she metamorphoses into the belle of the ball. Every eye is upon her.

As she returns home, she is mortified to discover she has lost the necklace! Biting the bullet, she and her husband take out a massive loan, replace the necklace (they are too ashamed to reveal they have lost it), and spend the next decade of their lives working to repay the loan, sinking into a life of drudgery and near poverty. A chance meeting when the loan is finally repaid uncovers an ironic twist. The neighbor reveals the necklace was paste. The couple’s lives had been determined by the unnecessary repayment of a debt which was not due.

A necklace can not only transform the life of an individual or a group, it can even transform a society. “The Affair of the Necklace,” the 2001 movie starring Hilary Swank, reveals the real-life scandal involving Marie Antoinette that helped precipitate the French Revolution. It’s a colorful tale involving romance, scandal and intrigue that could hardly be imagined if it weren’t true!

In 1772 Louis XV commissions a spectacular necklace for his mistress, Mme. du Barry. The Crown Jewelers Broehmer and Bassenge take several years to assemble a world-class collection of large diamonds and fashion them into a magnificent elaborate design. Unfortunately, Louis XV’s untimely death almost bankrupts the jewelers who have not yet been paid for the piece.

Enter Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, an orphan who, fighting to restore her name and place in society, hatches a plot to sell the necklace to Marie Antoinette. Jeanne collaborates with Cardinal Prince Rohan, an out-of-favor courtier. The fascinating plot involves a famous mystic, Count Cagliostro, romantic intrigues - including Jeanne’s affair with the Cardinal - and secret meetings with mistaken identities.

Although Marie Antoinette ultimately refuses the necklace (perhaps she did not want a piece designed for another woman, and a mistress at that!), she becomes embroiled in the widely publicized trial which further tarnishes her reputation, already weakened by gossip and scandal. The resulting strain on the monarchy hastens its collapse... the French Revolution.

So the next time you put that special necklace in your display case, think for a moment. How will this transform someone’s life? The truth may be magic.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer, specializing in one-of-a-kind and limited edition high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-24 karat gold and platinum. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website, http://jeweljewel.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (877) JEWEL-MY.

The lore and lure of gems

Sparkling. Enticing. Enchanting. Do you secretly covet a large, flawless diamond? Are you mesmerized by the rich beauty of emeralds? Do you treasure tantalizing tanzanite?

Throughout the ages, gems have captivated us with their alluring magic. The ancient Egyptians revered midnight-blue lapis lazuli, pairing it with purest gold in striking ornaments for their royal pharaohs. In the India of antiquity, rubies were known as the "king of gems". Warriors, believing these precious gems to convey invincibility, wore them into battle for protection. The Chinese have venerated jade for millennia, considering it a celestial blessing, a harbinger of happiness and prosperity. Rich purple amethyst, included in the British Crown Jewels, has been favored by both royalty and clergy. According to lore, its influence helps prevent drunkenness! Shining turquoise, the color of the sky, was sacred to the American Indian, and is still widely used in Native American jewelry.