Ethiopia’s emerging art scene pits creativity against profits

July 28, 2014 Posted by admin

“If you want to sell there, the art has to be a particular type,” said 31-year-old Leikun Nahusenay, a graduate of Alle School of Fine Arts and Design in Addis Ababa. “I never felt it was the right place for my art.”

He experiments with various media, including photographs in which he overlays images from multiple exposures.

Artist Tamrat Gezahegn, 35, another Alle graduate, noted how paintings at Makush are limited to scenes — monks and churches, the Merkato market, women leaning over coffee pots — typically favored by tourists and other foreigners. There is little room for more alternative artwork like Gezahegn’s, which deconstructs stereotypical images of Ethiopia.

Establishing a fair price for paintings is always treacherous territory in the art world, but it has particular relevance in an immature market such as Ethiopia’s.

Paintings sold at Makush typically have a cap of 12,000 birr ($600), but this can frustrate artists who have exhibited in Europe and elsewhere.

“In Sweden I managed to sell a painting for 45,000 Ethiopian birr [$2,250],” said 35-year-old Zekiros Tekelehaimanot, who has sold paintings at Makush since 2004.

But even windfalls from overseas exhibitions pale in comparison to the 300,000 birr ($15,000) fees for paintings sold at the Art of Ethiopia exhibition held each year in the luxury confines of the Sheraton Hotel, inhabiting what can seem a parallel universe in the center of Addis Ababa.

“Such fees lead the artist to produce what the buyer wants, which kills creativity and experimentation,” Giorgis said. “Art does not grow in this sort of situation.”

Article source: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/28/ethiopia-emergingartists.html

Gold’s strong season starts

July 27, 2014 Posted by admin

Gold’s strong season is just getting underway, with this metal’s summer-doldrums seasonal low in place.  The past couple months’ stiff headwinds are starting to shift to fierce tailwinds, thanks to Asian demand ramping up heading into autumn.  Gold’s pronounced seasonality is very important for all investors and speculators to understand, as today’s inflection point is a very bullish omen for this still-unloved asset.

Gold seasonality is somewhat counterintuitive, with its mined supply essentially constant year-round.  Once a company spends over a decade and many hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a gold deposit into an operating mine, its future production profile is essentially fixed.  The gold supply is not like that of the soft commodities, where harvest floods the markets with a massive onslaught of new supplies.

But supply is only half the price equation, demand is equally important.  And rather fascinatingly, global gold demand varies dramatically as each calendar year marches forward.  There are specific times of the year where demand explodes and other times where it withers.  Gold’s ironclad demand-driven seasonality is the product of well-understood income-cycle and cultural phenomena from all around the world.

And today we happen to be right at the great ebb of this perpetual seasonal cycle, the end of July.  The summer is gold’s weakest season of the year, because there are no major recurring demand surges.  But starting now, that changes dramatically.  In the coming weeks Asians will once again start flooding into gold in droves, forcing its price higher.  So buying today ahead of that near gold’s seasonal lows is very prudent.

Soon gold will start powering higher in its initial strong-season rally straddling late summer and early autumn.  As gold rises, so will the entire precious-metals complex.  The gold tracking ETFs, led by the mighty American GLD gold ETF, will mirror gold’s advance.  And silver and the stocks of the precious-metals miners will leverage and amplify it.  The dawn of gold’s strong season is always an exciting time.

So this week I decided to celebrate 2014’s major seasonal low by furthering my long-running studies on gold’s seasonality.  This critical knowledge will greatly help if you invest in or speculate in anything precious-metals related.  The methodology is simple and easy to understand.  Every calendar year of gold’s secular bull since 2001 is individually indexed, and then each year’s indexes are averaged.

The results charted reveal gold’s seasonal tendencies over any calendar year.  Limiting this study to gold’s secular bull is important because prices behave very differently in secular bulls and bears.  And it is essential to index each year individually before averaging them to ensure percentage comparability.  With gold averaging $311 in 2002 and $1409 in 2013, its raw unindexed prices just aren’t equivalent.

Every calendar year’s gold prices are indexed off the final trading day’s close of the previous year, which is set to 100.  If gold is up 10% at any time during a year, its index will read 110.  These indexed percentage moves are always perfectly comparable regardless of gold’s absolute price level.  Every year’s since 2001 individual index is then averaged together, yielding this unique and indispensable gold-bull seasonality chart.

Gold has enjoyed a very strong seasonal uptrend since its secular bull was born in 2001.  On average over that span, gold ended each year an amazing 13.4% higher!  It’s just flabbergasting that gold is still so unloved by investors with such an awesome track record.  That trounces the universally-adored SP 500 stock index, which has gained a pitiful 1.9% annually at best over essentially the same secular timeframe.

The problem is traders’ short-term memories dangerously cloud their long-term perspectives.  All anyone remembers is 2013, the most anomalous market year seen in our lifetimes after 2008’s stock panic.  The Fed’s reckless jawboning and massive bond monetizations catapulted the SP 500 29.6% higher.  And that sucked vast amounts of capital out of alternative investments including gold, which plummeted by 27.9%.

But investing is about riding long-term trends, not betting crazy anomalies will magically last forever.  And gold’s secular-bull seasonals reinforce how incredibly profitable it has been.  Thanks to recurring gold demand surges that flare up around the world at various times of the calendar year, gold has enjoyed four major annual seasonal rallies on average.  And since we’re in late summer today, that’s a great place to start.

Gold’s weak season runs from late May to late July, the time of the year devoid of regular surges in gold demand.  I’ve long called these the summer doldrums.  Gold tends to drift sideways to lower on balance in June and July, spawning a dark sentiment wasteland where everyone either forgets about gold entirely or starts to loathe it.  Sound familiar?  While gold bottoms seasonally in early July, it still languishes until late July.

And then like Rip Van Winkle, gold awakens from its nightmarish slumber.  The initial catalyst is actually agricultural harvest season!  All of Asia is in the northern hemisphere, sharing the same growing season we do.  After an entire year of hard work and heavy capital investment, Asian farmers start to harvest the fruits of their long labors.  They sell their crops and finally learn how much surplus income they earned.

Some of this is deployed into physical gold, driving up demand consistently in August and September.  This is particularly true in rural India, where there isn’t much of a banking system and a deep centuries-old cultural affinity for gold abides.  This post-harvest gold buying may sound quaint, but actually we do something very similar in America.  Our income-cycle investing happens in late December and January.

Like Asian farmers, we don’t know how much surplus income our entire year of work generated until the end of the year.  Finally after bonuses are awarded and tax burdens are figured, we can invest any surplus we earned.  Thus the American stock markets tend to see major capital inflows in early January.  Investing can only come from surplus income beyond living expenses, no matter where in the world one lives.

This Asian post-harvest buying pushes gold higher in August and early September.  And as it starts petering out, Indian’s famous wedding season ramps up.  If you know any Indians, ask them about this fascinating cultural phenomenon.  Indian weddings are huge and elaborate productions that collectively demand a staggering amount of gold to pull off.  This buying accelerates gold’s strongest seasonal rally of the year.

Marriage is so important in India that most are arranged by families.  The timing of these weddings is critical, as Indians fervently believe that getting married during the autumn festival season increases couples’ odds for success, longevity, happiness, and good luck together.  Who wouldn’t want such great blessings in their marriage?  The autumn festivals including Diwali are the most auspicious times to tie the knot.

Indian families pay fortunes to outfit their brides with extensive gold dowries, most in the form of intricate and beautiful 22-karat jewelry.  Not only can the bride wear this gold on the most important day of her life, its value secures her financial independence within her husband’s family.  Like American parents, Indian parents spare no expense when marrying off their precious children.  They buy vast amounts of gold.

Something like 40% of India’s entire massive annual gold demand occurs during this autumn wedding season!  This helps drive gold’s biggest seasonal rally of the year, which averages 6.9% gains between early July and early October.  With such an important and one-off event as a child’s wedding, Indian parents buy gold aggressively regardless of price or artificial barriers like the current crazy-high import duties.

Gold takes a seasonal breather in early October, but then its price shoots higher again in November.  Why?  We start our own festival season here in the West, the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That period is dominated by a crazy spending frenzy.  Many Americans do the great majority of their entire year’s discretionary spending leading into Christmas, and that includes heavy gold jewelry buying.

Jewelry demand explodes as holiday dollars deluge into golden gifts for wives, girlfriends, daughters, and mothers.  Apparently many American jewelers do well over half their entire year’s sales between just before Thanksgiving and Christmas!  This Western festival season makes us happy too, just like Indians during their own festival season.  And happy people are far more likely to freely spend money on discretionary wants.

This Western holiday buying leads to another 5.0% gold surge on average between late October and early December.  That drives gold’s decisive seasonal breakout above its seasonal uptrend.  Much like July, that October seasonal ebb is a great time to buy gold, silver, and the stocks of their miners.  Gold tends to slump a bit in December, but soon awakens for another major 5.2% surge into late February.

The strong early-year gold buying starts in the West, and is income-cycle driven just like the Asian farmers’ buying.  That’s when we figure out how much surplus income we’ve earned and invest some of it in the financial markets.  Even with gold still out of favor, there were still enough smart contrarian investors over the course of its secular bull to propel this metal sharply higher on average in January.

And just as these big Western demand surges subside, the major Chinese festival season arrives.  The Chinese calendar is based on the moon as well, and its new year usually arrives in the first couple weeks of February.  The Chinese people celebrate this Lunar New Year by buying gold for gifts.  While these gifts are small, there are a lot of Chinese which means a lot of aggregate gold demand.  Income cycles play a part too.

Like American investors in late December and January, Chinese investors figure out how much surplus income their entire year of work generated in late January and February.  So the popular festival buying is augmented with serious investment buying.  Once this surge in Chinese gold demand peaks later in February, gold usually starts slumping into late March.  But note the chart above shows a mid-April low.

Why?  April 2013’s extremely anomalous gold panic was such a wildly-outlying event that it dragged down the entire secular bull’s averages a bit compared to my last seasonal read in late 2011.  And the subsequent extreme selling in 2013 significantly reduced gold’s average spring rally to merely a 3.0% gain.  I certainly suspect this will mean revert higher as normal gold-buying patterns resume in the coming years.

Unlike the rest of the strong season between late July and late May, gold’s spring rally has no clear income-cycle or cultural driver.  I suspect it is the result of the same psychology that leads to general-stock buying in the spring.  After a dark, cold winter, the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures of spring leave people happier.  And traders who feel better are much more likely to deploy capital.

Gold’s strong season is powerful and well worth riding for any investor or speculator.  All-in between early July and late May, gold has averaged a stellar annual seasonal gain of 15.4% in its entire secular bull between 2001 and today!  That is one monster of a seasonal rally.  If gold merely enjoys an average one between its recent mid-July low of $1294 and May, we are looking at $1493 gold by next spring!

And since last year was such an extremely anomalous down year that largely short-circuited gold’s usual seasonal tendencies, probabilities greatly favor the opposite this year.  We are likely to see far more upside than usual as gold continues to mean revert out of 2013’s extreme lows.  And once again the ETFs like GLD will mirror gold’s gains, but silver and the precious-metals miners’ stocks will amplify them.

This next chart uses the same indexing and averaging methodology but carves up gold’s secular-bull price action into calendar months instead of years.  Each calendar month is individually indexed off the final close of the preceding month set at 100, and then they are averaged.  This perspective gives a clearer view on how gold tends to perform in any given calendar month.  And the best of the year are approaching.

August, which is almost upon us, is actually gold’s second strongest month of the year on average with a 2.7% gain.  Then September is the third strongest, with a slightly lower (before rounding) 2.7% gain too.  And then after October’s seasonal slump, November is actually gold’s strongest month of the calendar year at +3.3% on average.  Now is a great time to buy precious metals with gold’s best months of the year nearing!

July is the best time of the year bar none to add new precious-metals long positions, with the whole string of major seasonal rallies still ahead.  Late October, late December, and mid-April are secondary buying points to add positions, but with much less seasonal rallying left after these points they aren’t as optimal as late summer.  Right now is the year’s most favorable time to deploy serious capital in precious metals.

As always, it’s very important to remember that seasonals are tendencies based on long-term averages.  They are secondary drivers, affecting prices like headwinds and tailwinds affect airplanes.  Gold can certainly still move counter to seasonal tendencies for a spell if that’s the way its primary drivers happen to be pushing.  Sentiment, technicals, and fundamentals can all easily offset and outweigh seasonals.

So don’t get discouraged or scoff at seasonals if gold moves the wrong way for a week or two during a seasonally-strong time.  That happens, as even strong tailwinds can be bucked with sufficient power.  But over time, these seasonal tendencies are very strong and will normalize.  Recurring major gold buying worldwide is the underlying source of seasonals, which is the most fundamental force possible.

In addition to the usual income-cycle and cultural gold buying, the coming months are likely to see additional very bullish big fundamental buying come into play.  2013’s extreme gold anomaly was driven by just two groups of traders dumping gold at epic record rates, American stock traders and American futures speculators.  And so far this year even before gold’s strong season they’ve actually been buying gold instead.

GLD’s gold-bullion holdings are actually rock-solid this year after plummeting last year.  As of this week, they were up 0.9% year-to-date.  That may not sound like much, but it is a vast improvement from the extreme 31.2% year-to-date plunge as of the same day in 2013!  As the overvalued and overextended US stock markets inevitably roll over, stock traders are going to remember the wisdom of portfolio diversification.

They will flood back into GLD shares faster than gold is rallying, forcing this ETF’s custodian to shunt that deluge of excess capital directly into gold-bullion buying.  This will combine with the Asian buying to force gold up faster.  And that will accelerate the massive buying in gold futures that has been underway this year.  American futures speculators still have lots of buying left to do to mean revert to normal years’ levels.

So when the fundamentally-driven tailwinds of the strong autumn seasonals combine with heavy buying of the GLD gold ETF by American stock traders and gold futures by American futures speculators, we are likely looking at one exceptional autumn gold rally!  It won’t be smooth, it won’t climb in a nice straight line, and there will be sharp setbacks.  But on balance gold is perfectly poised for a major new upleg.

We started adding new precious-metals-stock trades this week for the first time since April, we expect to continue this new deployment over the coming weeks as we position for this year’s gold strong season.  The best of the smaller gold and silver miners’ stocks could easily double or triple from here by next spring.

The bottom line is gold’s strong season is just getting underway.  While gold’s mined supply is constant, its global demand fluctuates dramatically throughout the calendar year.  Major income-cycle and cultural drivers from around the world lead to outsized gold demand surges.  And gold’s best months of the year are nearing as Asian harvest buying ramps up followed by the fabled Indian wedding season’s arrival.

The usual autumn gold seasonal strength this year coincides with extremely toppy global stock markets due to roll over any day.  And when they do, investors will flock back into neglected gold for prudent portfolio diversification.  This Western mean-reversion buying after last year’s extreme gold anomaly stacked on top of Asian seasonal buying ought to spawn one monster gold upleg.  Get deployed ahead of it.

Click on the links below to read other articles from this week’s newsletter

1. Can the top ten performing stocks continue to outperform?: For Australian investors 30 June marks two…

2. 18 Share Tips – 21 July: 18 Share Tips to BUY, SELL HOLD from…

3. 5 attractive REITS for income chasers: Sustained low interest rates paint a bright…

4. Are we still in a bear market, or the start of a new secular bull?: Record headline US indexes are mere illusions…

5. Time Warner would bolster News Corp – but internet giants lurk: While Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation US$80…

6. Financial system inquiry sets sights on super: experts react: Australia’s financial system is competitive and…

7. The B20 summit: where cashed-up lobbyists meet to write trade rules: International corporate lobbies are cashed-up…

8. Top 10 shorted stocks: Each day we feature the top 10 shorted stocks…

9. Stocks on a roll: ASX rolling 52-week highs for the previous…

10. Stocks on the slide: ASX rolling 52-week lows for the previous…

 

© Copyright 2000-2014, Zeal Research (www.zealllc.com). Zeal Research is a US-based investment research company – you can visit their website at http://www.zealllc.com/. Zeal’s principals are lifelong contrarian students of the markets who live for studying and trading them. They employ innovative cutting-edge technical analysis as well as deep fundamental analysis to inform and educate people on how to grow and protect their capital through all market conditions. All views expressed in this article are those of the author, not those of TheBull.com.au. Please seek advice relating to your personal circumstances before making any investment decisions.  

Gold’s Fundamentally-Driven Strong Season Getting Underway (GLD)

July 26, 2014 Posted by admin

Gold’s strong season is just getting underway, with this metal’s summer-doldrums seasonal low in place. The past couple months’ stiff headwinds are starting to shift to fierce tailwinds, thanks to Asian demand ramping up heading into autumn. Gold’s pronounced seasonality is very important for all investors and speculators to understand, as today’s inflection point is a very bullish omen for this still-unloved asset.

Gold seasonality is somewhat counterintuitive, with its mined supply essentially constant year-round. Once a company spends over a decade and many hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a gold deposit into an operating mine, its future production profile is essentially fixed. The gold supply is not like that of the soft commodities, where harvest floods the markets with a massive onslaught of new supplies.

But supply is only half the price equation, demand is equally important. And rather fascinatingly, global gold demand varies dramatically as each calendar year marches forward. There are specific times of the year where demand explodes and other times where it withers. Gold’s ironclad demand-driven seasonality is the product of well-understood income-cycle and cultural phenomena from all around the world.

And today we happen to be right at the great ebb of this perpetual seasonal cycle, the end of July. The summer is gold’s weakest season of the year, because there are no major recurring demand surges. But starting now, that changes dramatically. In the coming weeks Asians will once again start flooding into gold in droves, forcing its price higher. So buying today ahead of that near gold’s seasonal lows is very prudent.

Soon gold will start powering higher in its initial strong-season rally straddling late summer and early autumn. As gold rises, so will the entire precious-metals complex. The gold tracking ETFs, led by the mighty American (NYGLD) gold ETF, will mirror gold’s advance. And silver and the stocks of the precious-metals miners will leverage and amplify it. The dawn of gold’s strong season is always an exciting time.

So this week I decided to celebrate 2014′s major seasonal low by furthering my long-running studies on gold s seasonality. This critical knowledge will greatly help if you invest in or speculate in anything precious-metals related. The methodology is simple and easy to understand. Every calendar year of gold’s secular bull since 2001 is individually indexed, and then each year’s indexes are averaged.

The results charted reveal gold’s seasonal tendencies over any calendar year. Limiting this study to gold’s secular bull is important because prices behave very differently in secular bulls and bears. And it is essential to index each year individually before averaging them to ensure percentage comparability. With gold averaging $311 in 2002 and $1409 in 2013, its raw unindexed prices just aren’t equivalent.

Every calendar year’s gold prices are indexed off the final trading day’s close of the previous year, which is set to 100. If gold is up 10% at any time during a year, its index will read 110. These indexed percentage moves are always perfectly comparable regardless of gold’s absolute price level. Every year’s since 2001 individual index is then averaged together, yielding this unique and indispensable gold-bull seasonality chart.

Gold has enjoyed a very strong seasonal uptrend since its secular bull was born in 2001. On average over that span, gold ended each year an amazing 13.4% higher! It’s just flabbergasting that gold is still so unloved by investors with such an awesome track record. That trounces the universally-adored SP 500 stock index, which has gained a pitiful 1.9% annually at best over essentially the same secular timeframe.

The problem is traders’ short-term memories dangerously cloud their long-term perspectives. All anyone remembers is 2013, the most anomalous market year seen in our lifetimes after 2008′s stock panic. The Fed’s reckless jawboning and massive bond monetizations catapulted the SP 500 29.6% higher. And that sucked vast amounts of capital out of alternative investments including gold, which plummeted by 27.9%.

But investing is about riding long-term trends, not betting crazy anomalies will magically last forever. And gold’s secular-bull seasonals reinforce how incredibly profitable it has been. Thanks to recurring gold demand surges that flare up around the world at various times of the calendar year, gold has enjoyed four major annual seasonal rallies on average. And since we’re in late summer today, that’s a great place to start.

Gold’s weak season runs from late May to late July, the time of the year devoid of regular surges in gold demand. I’ve long called these the summer doldrums. Gold tends to drift sideways to lower on balance in June and July, spawning a dark sentiment wasteland where everyone either forgets about gold entirely or starts to loathe it. Sound familiar? While gold bottoms seasonally in early July, it still languishes until late July.

And then like Rip Van Winkle, gold awakens from its nightmarish slumber. The initial catalyst is actually agricultural harvest season! All of Asia is in the northern hemisphere, sharing the same growing season we do. After an entire year of hard work and heavy capital investment, Asian farmers start to harvest the fruits of their long labors. They sell their crops and finally learn how much surplus income they earned.

Some of this is deployed into physical gold, driving up demand consistently in August and September. This is particularly true in rural India, where there isn’t much of a banking system and a deep centuries-old cultural affinity for gold abides. This post-harvest gold buying may sound quaint, but actually we do something very similar in America. Our income-cycle investing happens in late December and January.

Like Asian farmers, we don’t know how much surplus income our entire year of work generated until the end of the year. Finally after bonuses are awarded and tax burdens are figured, we can invest any surplus we earned. Thus the American stock markets tend to see major capital inflows in early January. Investing can only come from surplus income beyond living expenses, no matter where in the world one lives.

This Asian post-harvest buying pushes gold higher in August and early September. And as it starts petering out, Indian’s famous wedding season ramps up. If you know any Indians, ask them about this fascinating cultural phenomenon. Indian weddings are huge and elaborate productions that collectively demand a staggering amount of gold to pull off. This buying accelerates gold’s strongest seasonal rally of the year.

Marriage is so important in India that most are arranged by families. The timing of these weddings is critical, as Indians fervently believe that getting married during the autumn festival season increases couples’ odds for success, longevity, happiness, and good luck together. Who wouldn’t want such great blessings in their marriage? The autumn festivals including Diwali are the most auspicious times to tie the knot.

Indian families pay fortunes to outfit their brides with extensive gold dowries, most in the form of intricate and beautiful 22-karat jewelry. Not only can the bride wear this gold on the most important day of her life, its value secures her financial independence within her husband’s family. Like American parents, Indian parents spare no expense when marrying off their precious children. They buy vast amounts of gold.

Something like 40% of India’s entire massive annual gold demand occurs during this autumn wedding season! This helps drive gold’s biggest seasonal rally of the year, which averages 6.9% gains between early July and early October. With such an important and one-off event as a child’s wedding, Indian parents buy gold aggressively regardless of price or artificial barriers like the current crazy-high import duties.

Gold takes a seasonal breather in early October, but then its price shoots higher again in November. Why? We start our own festival season here in the West, the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. That period is dominated by a crazy spending frenzy. Many Americans do the great majority of their entire year’s discretionary spending leading into Christmas, and that includes heavy gold jewelry buying.

Jewelry demand explodes as holiday dollars deluge into golden gifts for wives, girlfriends, daughters, and mothers. Apparently many American jewelers do well over half their entire year’s sales between just before Thanksgiving and Christmas! This Western festival season makes us happy too, just like Indians during their own festival season. And happy people are far more likely to freely spend money on discretionary wants.

This Western holiday buying leads to another 5.0% gold surge on average between late October and early December. That drives gold’s decisive seasonal breakout above its seasonal uptrend. Much like July, that October seasonal ebb is a great time to buy gold, silver, and the stocks of their miners. Gold tends to slump a bit in December, but soon awakens for another major 5.2% surge into late February.

The strong early-year gold buying starts in the West, and is income-cycle driven just like the Asian farmers’ buying. That’s when we figure out how much surplus income we’ve earned and invest some of it in the financial markets. Even with gold still out of favor, there were still enough smart contrarian investors over the course of its secular bull to propel this metal sharply higher on average in January.

And just as these big Western demand surges subside, the major Chinese festival season arrives. The Chinese calendar is based on the moon as well, and its new year usually arrives in the first couple weeks of February. The Chinese people celebrate this Lunar New Year by buying gold for gifts. While these gifts are small, there are a lot of Chinese which means a lot of aggregate gold demand. Income cycles play a part too.

Like American investors in late December and January, Chinese investors figure out how much surplus income their entire year of work generated in late January and February. So the popular festival buying is augmented with serious investment buying. Once this surge in Chinese gold demand peaks later in February, gold usually starts slumping into late March. But note the chart above shows a mid-April low.

Why? April 2013′s extremely anomalous gold panic was such a wildly-outlying event that it dragged down the entire secular bull’s averages a bit compared to my last seasonal read in late 2011. And the subsequent extreme selling in 2013 significantly reduced gold’s average spring rally to merely a 3.0% gain. I certainly suspect this will mean revert higher as normal gold-buying patterns resume in the coming years.

Unlike the rest of the strong season between late July and late May, gold’s spring rally has no clear income-cycle or cultural driver. I suspect it is the result of the same psychology that leads to general-stock buying in the spring. After a dark, cold winter, the longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures of spring leave people happier. And traders who feel better are much more likely to deploy capital.

Gold’s strong season is powerful and well worth riding for any investor or speculator. All-in between early July and late May, gold has averaged a stellar annual seasonal gain of 15.4% in its entire secular bull between 2001 and today! That is one monster of a seasonal rally. If gold merely enjoys an average one between its recent mid-July low of $1294 and May, we are looking at $1493 gold by next spring!

And since last year was such an extremely anomalous down year that largely short-circuited gold’s usual seasonal tendencies, probabilities greatly favor the opposite this year. We are likely to see far more upside than usual as gold continues to mean revert out of 2013′s extreme lows. And once again the ETFs like GLD will mirror gold’s gains, but silver and the precious-metals miners’ stocks will amplify them.

This next chart uses the same indexing and averaging methodology but carves up gold’s secular-bull price action into calendar months instead of years. Each calendar month is individually indexed off the final close of the preceding month set at 100, and then they are averaged. This perspective gives a clearer view on how gold tends to perform in any given calendar month. And the best of the year are approaching.

August, which is almost upon us, is actually gold’s second strongest month of the year on average with a 2.7% gain. Then September is the third strongest, with a slightly lower (before rounding) 2.7% gain too. And then after October’s seasonal slump, November is actually gold’s strongest month of the calendar year at +3.3% on average. Now is a great time to buy precious metals with gold’s best months of the year nearing!

July is the best time of the year bar none to add new precious-metals long positions, with the whole string of major seasonal rallies still ahead. Late October, late December, and mid-April are secondary buying points to add positions, but with much less seasonal rallying left after these points they aren’t as optimal as late summer. Right now is the year’s most favorable time to deploy serious capital in precious metals.

As always, it’s very important to remember that seasonals are tendencies based on long-term averages. They are secondary drivers, affecting prices like headwinds and tailwinds affect airplanes. Gold can certainly still move counter to seasonal tendencies for a spell if that’s the way its primary drivers happen to be pushing. Sentiment, technicals, and fundamentals can all easily offset and outweigh seasonals.

So don’t get discouraged or scoff at seasonals if gold moves the wrong way for a week or two during a seasonally-strong time. That happens, as even strong tailwinds can be bucked with sufficient power. But over time, these seasonal tendencies are very strong and will normalize. Recurring major gold buying worldwide is the underlying source of seasonals, which is the most fundamental force possible.

In addition to the usual income-cycle and cultural gold buying, the coming months are likely to see additional very bullish big fundamental buying come into play. 2013′s extreme gold anomaly was driven by just two groups of traders dumping gold at epic record rates, American stock traders and American futures speculators. And so far this year even before gold’s strong season they’ve actually been buying gold instead.

GLD’s gold-bullion holdings are actually rock-solid this year after plummeting last year. As of this week, they were up 0.9% year-to-date. That may not sound like much, but it is a vast improvement from the extreme 31.2% year-to-date plunge as of the same day in 2013! As the overvalued and overextended US stock markets inevitably roll over, stock traders are going to remember the wisdom of portfolio diversification.

They will flood back into GLD shares faster than gold is rallying, forcing this ETF’s custodian to shunt that deluge of excess capital directly into gold-bullion buying. This will combine with the Asian buying to force gold up faster. And that will accelerate the massive buying in gold futures that has been underway this year. American futures speculators still have lots of buying left to do to mean revert to normal years’ levels.

So when the fundamentally-driven tailwinds of the strong autumn seasonals combine with heavy buying of the GLD gold ETF by American stock traders and gold futures by American futures speculators, we are likely looking at one exceptional autumn gold rally! It won’t be smooth, it won’t climb in a nice straight line, and there will be sharp setbacks. But on balance gold is perfectly poised for a major new upleg.

The bottom line is gold’s strong season is just getting underway. While gold’s mined supply is constant, its global demand fluctuates dramatically throughout the calendar year. Major income-cycle and cultural drivers from around the world lead to outsized gold demand surges. And gold’s best months of the year are nearing as Asian harvest buying ramps up followed by the fabled Indian wedding season’s arrival.

The usual autumn gold seasonal strength this year coincides with extremely toppy global stock markets due to roll over any day. And when they do, investors will flock back into neglected gold for prudent portfolio diversification. This Western mean-reversion buying after last year’s extreme gold anomaly stacked on top of Asian seasonal buying ought to spawn one monster gold upleg. Get deployed ahead of it.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it. The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. I own extensive precious-metals-stock positions which have been recommended to our newsletter subscribers. (More…)

Article source: http://seekingalpha.com/article/2343765-golds-fundamentally-driven-strong-season-getting-underway

Amid global turmoil, the best ways to invest in gold

July 25, 2014 Posted by admin


Geopolitical shocks are affecting gold prices. If you want to invest in the safe-haven metal, there’s a range of options.

Article source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101853499

Amid global turmoil, the best ways to invest in gold

July 24, 2014 Posted by admin

Gold prices rose again last week on news of the downing of Malaysia Air Flight MH17, the latest in a series of geopolitical shocks that have sent the price of the precious metal up this year.

The price of gold rose 4 percent in the year preceding July 17. On news that the airliner had been shot down over Ukraine, it rose 1.2 percent, to $1,315 per ounce, according to Morningstar data based on the London Fix. (It’s since fallen a little as investors have started taking profits.)

The volatility is a sign of the most fundamental fact about gold. It is possibly the most emotionally-driven asset class: the refuge of apocalyptic worriers, as well as of serious traders who look at it as a portfolio diversifier and alternative to paper currency.

“You cannot discount the psychosis that exists around gold,” said Ben Johnson, Chicago-based Morningstar’s director of manager research for passive strategies. “We call it the oldest continuous 2,000-year-old investment bubble around here.”

Ray Olson Jr., a financial advisor in Midlothian, Virginia, said he fields regular inquiries about investing in gold and tries to dissuade his clients. “The problem is when they want to invest in gold is usually the worst time to invest in gold,” he said.

Read More Why Gartman likes gold, even in a bear market

The biggest knock against gold is that it is a nonproductive asset: There’s no productivity underlying its value, which is set by perceptions of its relative safety.

Olson said his clients tend to get worried about the value of paper currency and the banking system when there’s turmoil in the world. But if you’re worried, chances are others are too and have already driven the price up.

In the context of recent history, however, gold is at a low point. The price of the precious metal-historically a very volatile asset class-has tumbled in the past three years.

As the market for equities improved, the price of gold fell at an annualized average rate of 6.4 percent, according to Morningstar. Last year investors pulled $23 billion out of the largest gold ETF, SPDR Gold Shares Trust (GDL (NYSE Arca: GLD)).

“That’s a record for outflows from a single fund that I don’t think will ever be broken,” said Matt Hougan, president of San Francisco-based ETF.com, by email. “There’s been a massive bloodletting in gold-related assets over recent years,” he said, but he believes gold will rise in the next few years.

Read More Gold faces ‘punishment’ if US data are strong

If you want to invest in the safe-haven metal, for whatever reason, your options continue to grow. You can seek out investment products, jewelry or buy gold coins. Demand for the precious metal in all its forms was virtually unchanged between 2013 and 2014, at 1,074 tons, according to the World Gold Council.

Here are five ways to hold gold:

According to ETF.com, there are 33 ETFs that invest in gold, including GLD, the first and largest, with an expense ratio of .4 percent. DUST (NYSE Arca: DUST) and AGOL (NYSE Arca: AGOL) are two others. That’s up from 16 ETFs in 2010.

“There are a growing number of investors who use it in their portfolio,” said Johnson. The main advantage to holding gold through an investment product is liquidity.

Axel Merk, president and CIO of Palo Alto, California-based Merk Investments, said those who buy gold are usually using it as a substitute for currency. “They think the bigger risk is holding cash.”

Merk, whose firm has just introduced a new gold ETF, said he holds 40 percent of his non-real estate portfolio in gold.

There are closed-end funds that invest in gold. These funds typically trade at a discount or premium to the underlying asset, depending on the market. So if you find one trading at a discount and you believe the price of gold will go higher, this could be an option. But fees in closed-end funds typically are 1 percent to 2 percent higher than in mutual funds or ETFs.

If you are considering a closed-end fund, one of the prominent ones in the market is the Sprott Gold Bullion Fund (SPR216), said Morningstar’s Johnson. It has a three-year compounded return of -1.8 percent and a five-year return of 4.4 percent. As an illustration of the volatility typical of gold investments, consider the largest one-month gain, 14.8 percent; its largest one-month loss is -10.7 percent. It has a front load of 2 percent and a 1.09 percent expense ratio, according to the company’s website.

You can also invest in gold-mining companies (the small ones are known as junior gold stocks), but this strategy holds all the regular risks of single-stock investing, plus the added risk of investing in a highly volatile sector. As a rule of thumb, gold mining stocks can have as much as a 3-to-1 leverage to gold’s spot price to the upside up and down.

Picking these stocks takes smart due diligence. The best performers are companies with strong production and reserve growth. They must have good management and inventory supported by production.

If you want to bury the gold in your backyard or keep it in your safe, gold coins may be the way to go. So far this year, the U.S. Mint has sold more than 500,000 gold coins, known as American Eagle coins, down from last year. If you want to buy a gold coin, you have to purchase it through a network of authorized dealers that include wholesalers, brokerage companies, precious metal firms, coin dealers and participating banks.

The most popular and liquid 1-ounce coins are Krugerrands, Canadian Maples and American Eagles. The U.S. Mint provides a listing of authorized gold American Eagle bullion coin dealers. To get a snapshot of the vast market, you can browse the online marketplace APMEX.

Jewelry remains the most popular way to hold gold, accounting for nearly half of gold demand, according to the World Gold Council. The percentage of pure gold the item containsor karat number-ranges from 24K for pure gold to 10K, which means it contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts of one or more additional metals, making it 41.7 percent gold.

When buying jewelry as an investment, understand the karat amounts and how it affects the price and durability of each piece. Keep in mind: Gold jewelry is usually weighed in grams-the higher the gram weight, the more expensive the piece. Ask the retailer for certificate of authenticity to ensure you are buying a quality piece of solid gold jewelry.

Nevertheless, it’s best to buy jewelry with an eye to wearing it, not primarily as an investment. Because it is so illiquid, you run the risk of losing money on your gold jewelry if you need to sell at an inconvenient time. “You could take a major haircut on the price,” Johnson said.

Read More How to invest in gold (safely)

If you are motivated to buy gold, just be aware of what’s driving you-the desire for owning a precious commodity that can be a hedge against risk in a volatile marketplace. The good news is there are a multiple number of ways to diversify your portfolio in gold. The one you choose depends in part on how much liquidity you need.

-By Elizabeth MacBride, special to CNBC.com

Article source: https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/amid-global-turmoil-best-ways-120000521.html

POLICE BEAT

July 23, 2014 Posted by admin

police

slideshow

Compiled by Joseph Passantino 

Full of bull-ion; gold in sale not real

A New York man allegedly tried to pass off a substance as gold bullion in a sale to a local merchant, police said.

On July 14 at 2:07 p.m., police were called to a jewelry store on the 500 block of Broadway by the owner, allegedly the victim of an attempt by an individual to sell him bogus gold bullion, according to Police Capt. Walter Rogers.

The man was identified by Rogers as Behor Mushiev, 49, a resident of 71st Road in Flushing, N.Y.

“The victim stated Mushiev [allegedly] attempted to sell him three metal bullions he claimed to be pure gold,” Roger said. “He conducted a test and it proved negative as far as being pure gold.”

The jeweler had contacted another store in the area, and was apprised that an individual had also allegedly tried to sell them fake gold bullion and was similarly rejected, according to Rogers.

An officer asked Mushiev for identification, and he allegedly produced both New York and Florida driver’s licenses, bearing two different names, according to Rogers.

At that point, police requested that Mushiev return to Bayonne Police headquarters with them. An interview was conducted, and at the end of it detectives charged Mushiev with one count of theft by deception, one count of criminal attempt, and one count of false government document, the alleged fake Florida license he produced for the business owner, Rogers said.

Mushiev was released on a summons.

Light rail rider charged with assault on officer and fare evasion

A 17 year old was taken into custody following an incident at the 8th Street light rail station during which he allegedly struck a police officer, police said.

On July 17, at 11:37 p.m., officers working a light rail detail asked the Jersey City teenager if he had a valid ticket to be on the train, and he was allegedly unable to produce one, according to Capt. Walter Rogers.

“Officers advised the 17 year old that he’d be issued a summons for fare evasion,” Rogers said. “At this point, the train entered the station and officers asked him to step out onto the platform.”

At first he complied, but then he allegedly told the officers to write the ticket because he was in a hurry, according to Rogers, who said the youth allegedly stood in the train doorway and leaned on it, blocking the train from leaving station.

“Officers repeatedly asked him to step away from door,” Rogers said. “They attempted to guide him away from door. At that time, he [allegedly] cursed at an officer, swung his arm back, and struck the officer in the left shoulder with his elbow.”

The youth was then placed in handcuffs, taken into custody, and escorted to police headquarters without further incident, according to Rogers.

The 17 year old was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and fare evasion, Rogers said.

The Hudson County juvenile intake worker was notified, and she released the youth to his guardian.

Dash for basketball leads to injury from bus

A 13-year-old Jersey City boy was accidentally hit by a NJ Transit bus after he chased after a basketball he was dribbling that bounced into the street, police and witnesses said.

The incident occurred on July 16 at 5:51 p.m. in front of 20 East 53rd St.

The bus driver said she was traveling east on 53rd Street when she observed a basketball roll in front of the bus, at which time she immediately applied the brakes to her vehicle, according to Capt. Walter Rogers.

“She [allegedly] observed a pedestrian walk in front of the bus,” Rogers said. “However she was unable to completely stop before striking him.”

Another witness, seated in the back of the bus, said she allegedly observed the pedestrian bouncing the ball on the sidewalk, losing control of the ball, and following it into the street, at which point he was allegedly struck by the bus, according to a statement taken by police.

The child was transported to the Jersey City Medical Center to be treated for injuries. His father was on the scene at the hospital.

At the time of the report, medical personnel stated that the youngster had sustained several lacerations to his head and a possible broken right arm, Rogers said.

No summonses were issued to the bus driver.

 

 

Article source: http://hudsonreporter.com/bookmark/25476457-POLICE-BEAT

New Boothbay Harbor jewelry store features Maine tourmalines

July 22, 2014 Posted by admin

A new jewelry store in town is featuring hand-crafted artisan jewelry, much of it featuring Maine tourmaline. Gabriel Adams, who had a shop in Augusta for four years, recently opened Gabriel’s Jewelry Studio in Boothbay Harbor.

On Friday, July 18 Adams was working on getting his new hand-built cabinets finished in the space at 49 Commercial Street, across the street from Kaler’s.

“I specialize in handmade jewelry,” Adams said. “I do have a solid amount of tourmalines, but I can get about anything on planet Earth.”

He recently purchased a large amount of raw (unpolished) tourmalines that came from a mine in Newry. Discovered in 1972, the tourmaline mine on Plumbago Mountain was the biggest tourmaline discovery in the state’s history. “It’s what put the Maine tourmaline on the map,” Adams said.

A tray of the unpolished gems showed what looked like pretty pink and green stones with a white powdery exterior. Each stone takes around three hours to polish, and he polishes them one at a time.

According to Adams, there were a lot of big “watermelon” crystals discovered at the Newry mine. “When people think of Maine tourmaline those are the colors they think of — the pretty pastel pinks and greens.”

Unfortunately tourmalines in those colors are becoming rare, if not gone entirely.

“That color combination hasn’t been found in a long time. You can find tourmaline all over the globe,” Adams said. “But the tourmaline from Maine is well known for its bright pastels, and they’re not finding it. There is none. I can’t stress that enough.”

All of Adams’ hand wrought jewelry is one-of a-kind. At present Adams is working on a line of jewelry he calls “Twisted.” He shows a bi-color 12 karat tourmaline of blues and greens, with gold and silver curlicues twisted around the stone. “The design will keep changing, but what I’ve done here is completely envelop the stone in metal without using any prongs.”

Adams is originally from Prospect and has been a goldsmith since he was 17. He got his start in a jewelry store in East Orland.

His wife will be helping out, and his two daughters will be around some, too. “The two girls are hilarious,” Adams said.

Recently his three year-old daughter, Evonne, tried to jump-start her father’s business.

“When we got business cards, Evonne became infatuated with them.”

Adams gave her a handful. She approached him with a fistful of them. “Daddy, I have to give these cards to the people. It will make them so happy,” she said to Adams.

She took them outside the shop and held them out to passers-by, saying, “Would you like a card? Do you want to come in my daddy’s store?”

“If I tried to make her do that — not in a million years,” Adams said.

The work space at the rear of the store will be open for customers to see his work in progress, and there will be a case in the front window that will feature a TV screen. He’ll mount a GoPro camera in his work area. “So while I’m making jewelry people walking by will be able to see me torching jewelry together in real time.”

Adams said he will be moving away from making classic jewelry. “I still like being commissioned to do custom work like engagement rings, but I want to keep the jewelry fun. I want to have jewelry that’s out of the ordinary.”

Five years ago he helped run a shop down the street, Harbor Stones, and said that he missed the harbor while he was in Augusta. “The locals here are really fun, and the people from away are all here for the same reason — because it’s beautiful, and they want to have good times and some good food and drinks and shop. And I want to sell them pretty things.”

Adams plans to stay open through Christmas to see how it goes. “I don’t know if the town needs me to be here year-round, but I’ll certainly entertain the idea.”

Article source: http://www.boothbayregister.com/article/new-boothbay-harbor-jewelry-store-features-maine-tourmalines/37498

Hasbro to Collaborate With 3-D Printing Company to Sell Artwork

July 21, 2014 Posted by admin

c.2014 New York Times News Service

In the not too distant future, 3-D printers may provide the public with anything from a whole new wardrobe, to meat, to furniture — and even human organs.

We aren’t there yet. But a few major retailers and brands, eager to keep pace with a potentially game-changing technology, and generate a bit of marketing buzz, have begun to explore this 3-D world.

One of those early experimenters is Hasbro, which plans to announce Monday a partnership with a 3-D printing company, Shapeways, to sell fan art inspired by its long-lasting toy line My Little Pony.

“We have been investigating 3-D printing for quite a while, as have many people,” said John Frascotti, chief marketing officer at Hasbro. “What 3-D printing truly empowers is the creation of artwork that maybe wouldn’t make sense for mass production, but it makes sense for a unique item.”

For this project, which Frascotti described as “mass customization,” the company will start with five artists whose work will be available for order online and printed in a colorful plastic polymer that Shapeways executives describe as feeling similar to sandstone. The designs must be cleared with Hasbro to ensure they are not obscene, violent or hateful, but otherwise, the artists largely have free rein. Even the price for the figurines will be set by the artists.

One piece that will be available for sale beginning this week on the project’s website shows a perky, purple dragon named Spike standing on a pile of books in front of a tall table with a quill pen in his hand. (According to his official bio, Spike has an inexplicable ability to send and receive messages when he burps.) The piece is called “Spike, Take a Note.” Another piece is a blue and purple unicorn with a luxurious mane.

Hasbro hopes to expand the partnership to include more artists, more of its brands and other materials, given that Shapeways prints using everything from high-end plastics for iPhone cases, to gold for jewelry and ceramic for coffee cups.

The advent of 3-D printing has created enormous potential for sales, but it also creates a raft of new opportunity for theft, especially of intellectual property. Why go out and buy a doll if you can just print one yourself? But instead of snapping a tight lid over its characters, Hasbro’s collaboration with Shapeways may extend the reach of its trademarks while keeping control of what is associated with the brand.

“Instead of trying to prohibit it, they’re enabling it, and I think that’s awesome,” said Peter Weijmarshausen, chief executive of Shapeways. “By embracing this new technology, it’s good for everybody. The end-user is happy because he or she gets what they want, and we don’t get into a fight.”

While 3-D printers are largely new to the public, retailers and other companies have been using them behind the scenes for years. Target has a few at its headquarters in Minneapolis. They are about the size of a large refrigerator and are used by the company’s design team to make prototypes. Frascotti said Hasbro has some industrial 3-D printers for similar purposes.

Target does not sell 3-D printers, but a spokesman for the company said it was an area they were “actively monitoring.” Other retailers have recently decided to sell the printers to consumers.

Home Depot has been selling 3-D printers by MakerBot on its website for several months, and last week it announced it would begin selling them at stores in a few major cities like New York and Los Angeles. These printers, which use a plastic derived from corn, start at $1,375. When a MakerBot prints, it smells like waffles, according to the company’s chief executive, Bre Pettis.

These printers for the home are often about the size of a microwave oven and can be used to make items like fashion accessories, utensils and replacement parts for bicycles or musical instruments.

Wal-Mart has begun experimenting with a 3-D printer’s potential for producing excitement among shoppers.

At the opening of several Sam’s Club locations this year, 3-D printers will offer a treat to shoppers: after a face scan, they can put resin printouts of their head on the action figure-size body of one of three Marvel characters (Iron Man, Captain America or Black Widow). The traveling printer parade began this month at a store outside Fort Worth, Texas, and one in Montgomery, Illinois.

Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, said many of these retail forays into consumer 3-D printing are more about “novelty and excitement” than about a serious shift in business models.

Mulpuru said “3-D printers today are like the Apple IIe,” referring to an early Apple computer. “It had the green screen and was all DOS commands — not the interface we’re used to today.

“It’s Chapter 1, or the prologue, to the home 3-D printing world,” she continued, “but I do think it will transform our lives in the future.”

Article source: http://www.columbusceo.com/content/stories/apexchange/2014/07/20/hasbro-to-collaborate-with-3-d-printing-company-to-sell-artwork.html

Web of lies: Antiques dealer snared many in his con

July 20, 2014 Posted by admin

Museum story

For most of his life, 72-year-old Bob Willey collected and sold Civil War artifacts – buttons and belt buckles, firearms and swords.

Last fall, Willey heard about Cain’s antiques mall and decided to get one of his booths.

One day, while Willey was setting up his booth, Cain took one of his Confederate rifles out of the display case, took a photograph of it and said he was going to put the picture up on the Internet to help sell it.

“He told me he did that, and that was fine with me,” Willey said. “It seemed like he was working to make things sell for me.”

After that, Cain told him some guy down in Mobile, Alabama, wanted a bunch of Willey’s Confederate memorabilia, especially the rifle and a sword, to use in a museum he was opening.

Cain said he would drive the items down to Mobile himself, and while he was there, he would put together a gold deal, if only Willey would give him $63,000.

Willey did, along with some more guns and swords. Cain called him two days later, supposedly from the road. The gold is at the refiner, Cain claimed, and a cashier’s check would be headed to Fort Wayne in just a few days, as well as the money for the artifacts.

“Joe never went to Alabama. There is no museum,” Willey said. “Never was.”

Willey went to Florida on a previously scheduled trip, sending his wife over to the store to pick up a $139,700 personal check from Cain, which he would then hold for a few days. The check would be redeemed by Cain later in the week, he’d been promised.

“He tells me the money is in the bank, but it’s being held by the IRS,” Willey said.

Each visit to the store, there were more reasons why the money wasn’t available, Willey said.

Then, on one last visit, Willey arrived at the store to be told by Cain’s mother that his son had been kidnapped from his elementary school in southern Indiana and Cain wasn’t there.

Willey had enough.

“This time I was doubting his story,” he said.

Willey called the sheriff of the county in question. Nope, there was no kidnapping.

Around the first of December, Willey went to local detectives, and started meeting with other people in similar situations.

One woman, he said, lost $80,000 to Cain. A man lost $52,000.

“It is a mystery as to where the money went,” he said. “I’m sure the IRS would be happy to know.”

Article source: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20140720/LOCAL03/307209958

Old North End jeweler crafts magical backyard studio

July 19, 2014 Posted by admin

Sarah McRae drove to Burlington from Vershire Thursday,coming to the big city for wedding rings.

McRae, a nurse and horse farmer, didn’t come here to shop on Church Street. Her destination was a jewelery studio in the Old North End, a backyard art space created by goldsmith Jane Frank.

The studio is called Werkstatt, which is the German word for crafts workshop. Werkstatt opened in the spring at Frank’s Spring Street home. Frank, 41, is originally is from Hamburg, Germany, but moved to Burlington seven years ago. She came to marry and start her family.

Frank built the backyard workshop with her father during his visits from Europe. Her 3-year-old daughter, Ella, helped too.

They transformed a run-down garage into a workshop with a jewelery bench at which half a dozen people can work. This is where Frank crafts jewelery after she puts her daughter to sleep, and where she teaches the craft in classes or private instruction.

For McRae, it had been about 25 years since she last made jewelry, having done it a bit in high school. She found Frank online while investing places where she might give it a go again.

“I came with some ideas, and my fiance was really into the idea of me making the rings,” McRae said. “He’s not one who’s into diamond and glitz.”

Werkstatt, glitz-free, is a hidden gem in the heart of the city.

The transformation of Frank’s garage into a studio involved gutting the structure, putting up Drywall, building a new floor and installing a woodstove. Frank and her father put in cabinets and built a jewelry bench, with individual work spaces shaped in half circles. In a bold construction move, they cut a big hole in the back wall of the shop.

“We looked at the hole-in-the-wall and we were like, ‘Wow,’ ” Frank recalled.

The hole-in-the-wall, fitted now with a sliding glass door, opens into the garden. This is where Frank’s dog Charlie hangs out with roaming chickens. Flowers and vegetables grow along the garden wall and in raised beds. Berries and melons are ripening. A hammock hangs in the shade of trees.

If a student — or master jeweler — needs a break from sawing or soldering, they can walk outside to lie in the hammock, pick berries or drink iced tea at the picnic table.

“That’s what I like about the setup,” Frank said. “A huge motivation for (renovating) the garage was to make this environment.”

The home workshop complements another space where Frank works: She belongs to Alchemy Jewelry Arts, a collective on Howard Street with studio and retail space.

The construction of Werkstatt — turning what looks like a wreck into a beautiful and useful thing — suggests the method Frank employs designing and making her jewelry. Frank often uses objects she finds at yard sales — old buttons, ceramic shards, cast-off pendants — and transforms them into elegant pieces.

“I’m not a power person, but that is a nice way of having power,” Frank said. “I take something that’s abandoned, but it has so much beauty. I can make something else out of a thing you don’t want.”

She was a “hands-on” kid growing up near Hamburg. She loved building things — caves and castles — and knew she wanted to do something creative.

“I’m not a desk person,” Frank said. “I like flexibility.”

When she finished school, Frank traveled to Greece for a couple of months. She met street vendors, including a German couple “who had given up everything” to make jewelery and sell it on the street.

The couple was staying at a house with grapes growing on the roof, by a field of olives. “I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” Frank said.

One section of the U-shaped structure housed a jewelry workshop. Frank walked into shop and was instantly captivated and inspired by the space and its contents: a jewelry bench, tons of little drawers, small tools you might think are unusable — but which she imagined using.

The German man made an earring for Frank. She watched him craft the silver piece, and was mesmerized by the process.

Frank returned to Germany and got a job folding newspapers. She worked nights for four weeks, earning about $100 a week. With each $100, she imagined the tools she would purchase.

“I ordered a little pliers,” she said. “And a solder.”

As Frank began to make jewelry on her own, she set about the parallel effort of applying for an apprenticeship with a goldsmith. “I was very determined that this was what I want to do,” Frank said.

Five years later, at age 26, Frank was accepted by a goldsmith named Jan Bierschenk.

“I was very, very lucky to get along with a very good goldsmith,” she said.

He’s known for his ability to solve design problems for other jewelers, Frank said.

People would come to him and say, “I don’t think there’s a solution,” she said. “And he would go, ‘Duh, duh, duh!’”

Her own work method involves sitting on the floor, laying out her things before her — small found objects, a sketch book, maybe some tools — to see how the pieces work together.

“I love how you can focus on this little space that you have, you can develop what you have in your brain — just a thought — and it can be there exactly the way you want it,” Frank said. “Or not the way you want it. … I like the tools. I like the privacy you can create when you’re working.”

She is jeweler who made her own wedding earrings, a shimmery and loose set of chains that have developed into a line of glorious high-end chandelier earrings.

“I fell in love with the flow of the chains I made,” Frank said. “I stepped it up and the made the chandeliers.”

The three-tier disks of 18-carat gold include a piece with 24 tiny loops soldered on the disk.

Frank uses a soldering iron whose heat she controls by her breath. The precision and minutae of the work cost Frank some vision, she said only half jokingly. (The chandelier earrings sell for about $550 a pair in silver, and $3,500 in gold, she said.)

These days, the jeweler who doesn’t know which hand wears the wedding band, has a growing number of people coming to her workshop interested in crafting their own rings.

“When I moved here it was more, ‘Does he love me one carat? Does he love me two carats?” Frank said.

As people work on their wedding rings, the pieces become more meaningful to them, Frank said. Through the creative process, the jewelry comes to possess individual and personal characteristics, she said.

“Jewelry is considered such a luxurious item,” Frank said. “But being in contact with my students, I’m realizing how personal it can be. There’s actually more to that than I thought in the beginning.”

She has a piece with this kind of meaning and connection: a gold and garnet ring that belonged to her grandmother. It was the first ring her grandmother bought, and it was “super special for her,” Frank said.

She doesn’t wear it because she doesn’t want to lose it.

Contact Sally Pollak at spollak@burlingtonfreepress.com or 660-1859; www.twitter.com/vtpollak

Information: http://janefrankwerkstatt.wordpress.com; www.janefrank.net; email: info@jankfrank.de

Article source: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/2014/07/19/old-north-end-jeweler-crafts-magical-backyard-studio/12856307/