smart spending

Insuring celebrity red-carpet jewelry

If the underwriter doesn't like the plan, the company may require adjustments.

"Sometimes it's all done by a security guard; they take them to get the jewelry, and they take them to bring it back," says White. "I've even seen security be assigned to the event, depending on how big it is."

White admits she's a little more nervous underwriting the Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards than the Emmys or Oscars. "It's a different crowd coming to see them," she says.

The underwriting decision often boils down to the celebrity.

"In the end, is this somebody who is established, mature, who can tell me the chain of command, and I can trust that that is exactly what they're going to do?" she says.

The risk

So what's the risk that a half-million-dollar Neil Lane broche will mysteriously "disappear" during an after-party celebration, and a claim will need to be filed? Slim, says White.

"Claims on something 'borrowed'? The answer is no, knock on wood," she says. "But I have seen claims for big, stellar events where our customers did lose jewelry. It's usually an earring or a bracelet, things that catch on things and fall out."

White catalogs the types of losses this way:

"The biggest cause of loss for us is 'mysterious disappearance.' That's when something falls off, and you can't find it. Another is 'unknown theft,' where you thought you left it in the hotel room, and it's gone. And there's the 'inside job,' where you have housekeeping and other people in the house, and things walk away. The 'stick-up robbery' does occur, but it doesn't happen as often with high-net-worth clients because they're not normally on the subway or the bus," she says.

As for the risk that a star will simply fail to return a borrowed piece?

"That's the individual you don't want to (under)write," she says. "That's somebody who is not mature and ethical. I would not want to insure somebody who is unethical."

The knockoffs

Within hours of a red-carpet event, the knockoffs appear, finding their way to the shopping networks and costume jewelry sites practically before the seats have cooled.

They're of little concern to Adeler, whose unique designs defy imitation.

"Because my pieces are one-of-a-kind, using stones that are quite unique, they're going to have a very hard time," he says. "For instance, I made a ring with a fragment of a meteorite that fell in Russia in 1947. How can you copy a meteorite ring? Or a pair of earrings with two 30-million-year-old fossilized ammonites from Morocco. Jeez, that's going to be tough to make in mass production."

Although he's only met a handful of the 100-plus celebrities who've worn his creations, Adeler has fond memories of designing a custom line of jewelry for "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere, who supports the Save the Whales Again campaign.

"She wore my pieces in Congress and used her website to raise money to help whales and dolphins that I love very much," he says.

Adeler says custom jewelry remains his first love.

"My edge is that everybody wants to wear something that is unique," he says. "I think that is the key to my success."

Priceless tips
Want to keep your own jewelry red-carpet ready? Chubb spokesman Dave Hilgen offers these suggestions:
  • Diamonds: When cleaning diamonds, use mild detergent or a sudsy ammonia bath. Never let diamonds touch chlorine bleach, as it can pit and discolor the mounting. Have prongs and mountings checked annually. Store diamonds separately, as they can scratch all other jewelry.
  • Pearls: Wipe pearls with a soft cloth after each wearing because perfume, cosmetics, hairsprays and skin oils can erode the quality over time. Have pearls restrung regularly to prevent breakage. Store your pearls in a soft cloth pouch to prevent scratching.
  • Gemstones: Remove gemstone jewelry when under intense sunlight or tanning lamps because these can fade the stones. Guard against loose settings by having prongs and mountings checked annually.
  • Storage: Don't keep your most valuable pieces in your bedroom; it's the first place a burglar will look. Instead, consider a home safe with the appropriate jewelry rating or keep valuable items in a bank vault.
  • Travel: When traveling, keep expensive items with you at all times or use a hotel safe. Don't pack jewelry in your luggage or wear valuables to the pool or beach.

 

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