New York based Portero.com has raised $6.6 million in VC funding. The Series B round was led by LFE Capital. Portero.com provides a luxury marketplace and auction site for authenticated luxury items from hundreds of brands since 2004. Categories include jewelry, watches, accessories and fine housewares. Portero's emphasize is placed on the value-add provided by their authentication process and the all-inclusive consignment process including: research, pricing, professional photography, description write-up payment, shipping and finalizing the sale of your items. As an example, see below the most expensive jewelry currently listed with active bids: Oscar Heyman Platinum Emerald-Cut 10.54 ctw Diamond Clip EarringsEstimated retail value: $225,000 Current bid (as of Feb 19, 2009 1:11PM Pacific): $155,173 Auction ends: February 21, 2009 9:45PM ET Oscar Heyman Platinum Emerald Cut Diamond Earring
From the lot's note: "Founded in New York in 1912, Oscar Heyman is a family-owned jewelry manufacturer that still prides itself on producing pieces now as it did then, by hand fabrication. The founders of the company were skilled artisans trained from Faberge workshops in Russia, to the art of metal-working, and tool-making. This serendipitous combination of skill sets allowed the company to oversee and influence every step and process a piece of jewelry went through. Inventing innovative clasps and patented techniques utilized for creating their incredible jewelry, in some ways they became pioneers of the jewelry world. To this day they still make their own tools, alloy their own metals and create incredible pieces of iconic jewelry from fanciful floral motifs to Burma ruby heels created in collaboration with Stuart Weitzman. Romans believed that diamonds were the splinters of fallen stars, while ancient Greeks thought diamonds to be the tears of the gods. The succeeding centuries have not taken toll of the diamonds’ exalted status, in fact, now more than ever, the diamond continues to enrapture, captivate, and astound. Once in a lifetime your eyes fall on a piece of jewelry that absolutely takes your breath away - Portero is proud to present this gorgeous pair of earrings beautifully made by the famed jewelry atelier, Oscar Heyman. Simplicity is the focus of this incredible pair of earrings, allowing the diamonds themselves to truly take center stage. A precious platinum prong setting beautifully houses two radiant emerald-cut diamonds, totaling no less than 10.54 carats of brilliance. Words cannot describe what can only be seen in person, which is true, simplistic, raw beauty. These earrings exude a legendary elegance unseen in mass-produced jewelry, created by none other than Oscar Heyman. Earrings are in excellent condition, platinum portions exhibit faint scuffing but do not detract from the overall beauty of the diamonds. Includes two Diamond Grading Reports issued by the Gemological Institute of America on July 27, 2007."
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You still can't touch this, but you can now get really up close to the masterpieces of the Prado Museum with the new Google Earth layer. Yesterday, Google launched the Prado layer for Google Earth allowing you to explore high resolution images of 14 masterpieces exhibited at the Prado Museum in Spain.
The images have a stunning 14 gigapixel resolution, which is 14,000 times higher than the pictures you take with a 10 megapixel digital camera. The Google Earth layer also includes a 3D model of the museum and enables you to explore and navigate the building. The 14 masterpieces include The Three Graces (Las Tres Gracias), The Descent from the Cross (El Descendimiento) and The Garden of Earthly Delights (El Jardin de las Delicias) to name a few.
Paragon Lake Custom JewelryVistaPrint makes custom business cards and postcards easy, CafePress puts your message on your T-shirt, Blurb helps you publish and sell your own book and now Paragon Lake enables consumers and designers to create custom jewelry using online tools and lots of good old creativity. With their recent funding of $5.8M from Highland Capital Partners and Canaan Venture Partners, Paragon Lake aims to help independent jewelers deliver customized fine jewelry. Paragon Lake provides online design tools which makes the custom jewelry design process much easier for jewelers, consumers and designers. There is an opportunity here for the low-end and high-end jewelry market alike. We are eagerly waiting for the first million dollar custom jewelry to come out of this business model and technology.