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If you are interested in purchasing a piece of jewelry made by Haroldo Burle Marx, you've come to the right place. We are not only the foremost experts when it comes to Burle Marx Jewels, but have the largest collection in the world available for purchase today. If you own a piece of jewelry that's stamped "Burle Marx", there's a very good chance it was originally purchased from us.
Burle Marx jewels are completely made by hand. There was absolutely no pre-casting involved. The late Paul Desautels, the most influential American curator of the 20th century, and Curator of Gems and Minerals in the Department of Mineral Sciences of the U.S. National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution) in Washington, D.C., praised the jewelry saying, “ One advantage of handcrafting jewelry versus pre-casting, is the uniqueness of each piece. No two pieces are alike. Pre-casting considerably limits the artist, while freehand work lends itself toward better design and engineering of the jewelry, making a custom fit much easier.” - "I'm convinced, "says Desautels, "that many of Haroldo Burle Marx's jewels are going to end up in museums, because they are unquestionably of museum quality."
In 1981 World Renowned Brazilian Jewelry Designer, Haroldo Burle Marx began a partnership with Alta Leath, wife of Texas Congressman, the late Marvin Leath. While known in Brazil, and much of Europe, HBM was relatively unknown in the United States. That would soon change.
The ALTOMAR Collection at Watergate was opened by Alta Leath in 1982. It was located in the Watergate Hotel Lobby. The name was a combination of her name, her son’s name, Tom, and her late husband’s name, Congressman Marvin Leath. Alta spent 15 years studying gems and minerals as a hobby. The turning point in her life was when she traveled to Rio de Janeiro in 1981 and met Burle Marx. A planned meeting turned into an enduring, exclusive business partnership. For more than a quarter century Alta Leath and The Altomar collection were synonymous with incredibly rare, one-of-a-kind 18 karat gold gemstone creations made by Haroldo Burle Marx. This partnership in the United States was a first for Burle Marx and lasted for a decade until his death in 1991. Alta Leath’s boutique, The ALTOMAR Collection would be the only jewelry boutique in the world to primarily feature the pieces of Haroldo Burle Marx, and was the only place outside of Brazil you could purchase his one-of-a-kind pieces.
Alta Leath's Altomar Collection boutique captured her enthusiasm. Her love of gems and minerals began in college. In 1981 Alta was on a business trip with her late husband to Rio de Janeiro, where she sought out legendary jewelry designer, Haroldo Burle Marx. After they met, she bought all the gems he was cutting from a six pound opal, convinced the 75 year old artist to come out of retirement, and began to turn her love of gems and minerals into a profitable business. In 1982 she began selling and investing in Marx's work. After the first two years, the venture proved to be a financial success.
Haroldo Burle Marx referred to Alta as his "locomotive" and credited her for whisking him back into action. "I still feel like a youngster with a lollipop", he once remarked. "Today I get very much excited. I feel my things are art pieces. But all of my work is done with feeling, so it is hard for me to measure without my feelings getting in the way."
Marx, Alta, and his clients are not the only individuals who view his work as art. Paul Desautels, has remarked in a New York Times interview, that he thinks the gems are at the top of the market and are meticulously crafted.
Each Marx Creation is intricately detailed to scale through architectural blueprints. On one piece, craftsmen in Marx's studio spent six months making an emerald and diamond necklace. The process of setting the stones took an entire month. The necklace was sold the first day it was displayed in the boutique.
Classic, timeless lines characterize the jewelry. Marx has managed to draw from Incan, ancient Rome and other cultures for creative direction, and then blend them all with his own style.
In the last 20 years, many years after the death of Haroldo Burle Marx, a strong market has resurfaced for the truly timeless creations he began making over 70 years ago. Many of those pieces are much more valuable than they were when they were originally made. An impassioned ambassador himself of Burle Marx designs for many years, and co-owner of the Altomar Collection, Thomas Leath made the decision to strive to bring together buyers and sellers of Burle Marx pieces by creating a strong online presence that would ultimately give past, present, and future customers a place to go to find more information about Burle Marx. Thomas also set the pricing standard for Burle Marx pieces around the world. Today, prices are much more uniform, and reflect a much more accurate value of Burle Marx pieces. As we have have with hundreds of former, and new customers since the passing of Burle Marx, we will assist you in any way we can when it comes to acquiring, selling or valuing a piece. While there will be no more new Burle Marx creations, a select few will have the opportunity to own one of his pieces. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to purchase one.
Beautiful minerals and gems last forever, and only God can make them", Alta Leath says. "They're like flowers, only something that took millions of years to create."
Haroldo Burle Marx, Bio
Haroldo Burle Marx was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1911 to one of Brazil's richest and most distinguished families. Haroldo's grandfather was a cousin of Karl Marx. By 1945 he was designing jewelry, and in 1954 devoted himself full time to the gemstones that always fascinated him. He was educated at Colegio Rezende; Pitman’s College in London; Rackow’s Hochhandelschule in Berlin, and Rio de Janeiro National Law Faculty. His attraction to Brazil’s precious gems led him to study gemology and lapidary for four years in Idar-Oberstein, Germany where he earned a degree in gemology. He both spoke and wrote six languages fluently.
Burle Marx is without question one the greatest jewelry designers that ever lived. His customer list looks much like a social registry. Cicely Tyson, Madame Ferragamo, Placido Domingo, Natalie Wood, The Shah of Iran, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, and the Empress of Japan were just a few of his customers. In 1989 over half a million dollars worth of Burle Marx jewels were on display at The Houston Museum of Natural Science for a period of two years. Burle Marx was featured in publications like Connoisseur Magazine, Town and Country, Vogue, U.S. News & World Report, and The New York Times, and many others.
The handcrafted jewels of Haroldo Burle Marx are characterized by a timeless quality that reflects the era of Cleopatra and the concepts of tomorrow, yet they complement and enhance the fashions of today. Since long before they became fashionable Burle Marx was using beautiful, colored gemstones from Brazil, later accented with diamonds, as a mainstay of his designs. When foreign dignitaries visited Brazil, Burle Marx was commissioned by the Brazilian Government to make them a gift. He will without a doubt go down as one of the greatest jewelry designers to have ever lived.
If you come across a piece of jewelry that's stamped "Burle Marx", it was made by Haroldo Burle Marx.
Cross made for, but not presented to Pope John Paul II.