Jewelry Collection Stories: Lindsey of @ParkAvenueAntiques

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I’ve followed Lindsey of Park Avenue Antiques for a very long time! My first interaction with her was sort of humorous–I remember being on my way out the door to go antiquing for the day with my mom and sister. I was waiting on a ring to go up on the auction block so I unpleasantly made them wait until it did, not realizing it wouldn’t be until another 45 minutes. I can’t remeber exactly why I lost out on the ring, but while in the car finally on our way, I took a screenshot of the ring and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “Who outbid me on this portrait ring?! Confess!!” Lindsey was sweet enough to message me to tell me she had been the final bidder on it and graciously offered it for sale. A story too good to be made up, I’ve treasured that ring ever since! Over the years, we’ve continued to follow each other–even one point I tried meeting up at an antique show, but kept missing her! Hopefully meeting will be in the cards for us in the future, but until then…let’s check out her amazing jewelry collection!

Like many of you, I have been attracted to sparkly things for as far back as I can remember. As a little girl, I collected rocks and minerals, little buttons and sea glass. My father was an antiques dealer and the two of us were always on an “antiquing adventure”. One of our favorite places to visit was Roycroft Antiques in East Aurora, NY. They had a wooden whisky barrel filled with buttons and beads and I would dig through that barrel until my hands were black! Who knows what I thought I’d find in there! It was all about the hunt….

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I share this silver filigree necklace with my daughter Cameron. The three Edwardian silver bears represent her and her two brothers.

Around the age of 5, we moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was a difficult transition. My parents both worked two jobs and I was home alone a lot. My mother always found ways to show me how much I was loved and that she was thinking of me. She came up with a hide and seek game we called “Rubber Legs” which involved hiding a yellow plastic figure. Before she left for work in the morning, she would hide Rubber Legs somewhere for me to find. Then I would hide him somewhere for her. I almost always hid him in her antique spool cabinet/jewelry box. It was a magical place where I wasn’t supposed to “dig around” but I couldn’t help myself! There were sparkly rings, beautiful strings of trade beads, flapper necklaces and cameos. She had all kinds of treasures but my favorite piece was a little gold acorn charm that rattled when shaken.

Once we moved to Hershey, adventures in antiquing with dad still continued. He opened an antique lighting shop in Adamstown, PA in the Black Angus Antiques Mall. Most Sundays I would tag along to help him but really spent most of my days with other dealers. I was fascinated with their knowledge in various fields and eager to hear their stories. This is where my love for jewelry and antiques really started.

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LEFT: Georgian sapphire and rose cut diamond bow brooch in silver topped gold, purchased at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

When collecting jewelry became a serious passion, I invested in books. Jewelry books on private collections, construction, symbolism, intaglios, various periods and markings. My jewelry library has helped me to educate myself and develop a true respect for the craftsmanship and symbolism that these pieces hold. I try to add one book to my collection every month. I would encourage any aspiring jewelry collector to do this as well.

RIGHT: Eight years ago, I was newly divorced and the only jewelry I had was my and my grandmothers wedding ring. I put some money aside and decided I’d like to create a piece of jewelry that would represent my family. I hoped to create a ring that could be passed on to one of my children. The first jeweler I went to was a rather unpleasant experience. I nearly gave up on my idea but decided to give it one more try. This is when I met Skip Colflesh, the owner of The Jeweler’s Bench in Hershey, PA. He helped me create the perfect ring. We used the diamonds in my grandmothers wedding ring, my engagement ring and each of the children’s birthstones. The first time I saw the ring it was an emotional experience. It was a perfect representation of my life’s journey. The diamonds no longer felt like the loss of a loved one or a failed marriage – they were now something beautiful and very personal. But more than that, I was so grateful for the friendship that had come out of designing the ring together. Skip has become one of my dearest friends and also my mentor. Friends make all the difference.

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I really don’t have a specific type of jewelry or period that I collect. I am mostly drawn to gemstones and figural pieces but my collection is quite varied. My most heavily worn pieces of jewelry are my watch chains. I love connecting them together for different looks and wearing them with various pendants.

Here are a few of my favorite necklaces:

LEFT: Painted enamel mourning locket depicting a young girl and her dog. It reads “Mary Rutherfurd Prime April 16, 1810 – Died September 9, 1835”

SECOND FROM LEFT: Opal pendant from Arts & Crafts Movement. This pendant reminds me of my favorite spring flower, lilac, and the opals are absolutely electric. I bought this in an antique store in England.

THIRD FROM LEFT: Not easy to pick a favorite, but if I had to, this would be it! Raj Era moonstone pendant from @saintespritofchelsea Beautifully crafted in silver and gold with huge shimmering moonstone cabochons.

CENTER: 19th c Kerosang with faceted white zircon.

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Here are a few of my favorite rings:

Victorian era amethyst and pearl serpent ring was purchased from David Ashville of Ashville Fine Arts.

The kunzite and diamond ring I bought from @blackamooruk. I believe this ring was originally an early 20th century brooch that was carefully converted. I love the size of the kunzite and it fits my finger perfectly.

The Victorian topaz ring was purchased from @ishyantiques.

The art deco moonstone ring is one of my favorites. It was purchased from Brad Wilson of Wilson’s Estate Jewelry in Philadelphia, PA.

The massive cameo ring I created using a 19th century cameo from @antiquestoreinwayne and a custom gold setting created by Skip Colflesh @thejewelersbenchofhershey.

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LEFT: Agate tree ring – This is one of my creations. I used an agate sourced from an old cufflink mounted in a setting made by @thejewelersbenchofherehey Victorian chrysoberyl and gold band @westandsonjewellery

RIGHT: This is my most recent purchase. My dear friend Will @martindaleasianarts recently took me on a day trip to a quaint town about an hour outside of London where I found it in an antiques shop.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I am honored to be a part of the Instagram jewelry community. Your posts have greatly enhanced my knowledge and appreciation for all types of jewelry and the friendships that have developed because of our shared passion for jewelry are priceless to me.

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? Check out the other Jewelry Collection Stories

You can follow Lindsey –> @ParkAvenueAntiques

Source: GossipGem.com

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Jewels at my Doorstep: Paige Novick

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If there’s one piece of jewelry you’ll always see me wearing, even if I’m in pajamas and have no other jewelry on whatsoever, it is my Paige Novick diamond ear cuff. Easily the most worn piece of jewelry that I own (yes, even surpasses my engagement ring) for many reasons, one being comfort, and the second without a doubt is its effortless way of making one look pulled together. That’s why when I found out Paige most recently launched a new collection called Powerful Pretty Things, I knew it was going to be great.

The inspiration on the new collection? Paige puts it best: “The more we disconnect as a culture through our myriad of devices, the more we will need to connect to something higher. Meditation has gone mainstream. We view this paradigm shift as an opportunity to bring the world of luxury and conscious living together. Hence, the genesis of Powerful Pretty Things—a highly-curated collection of modern relevant pieces with a focus on colored gemstones and their healing properties. By taking the concept of “crystals” out of its usual flower-child context into a luxurious space, we are redefining the category.” This adds a whole new dimension to wearing jewelry, and we’ve talked about the overwhelming popularity and intrigue of crystal healing powers just recently. With the help of some extensive research on Paige’s end, she has combined both worlds of jewelry and crystal healing into one, to enveil her new collection.

While mainstream consumers think “birthstone jewelry,” Powerful Pretty Things aims at going above and beyond this overly commercialized category and breathe new life into gemstone jewelry. Every piece in the collection is fun, easy-to-wear, sophisticated and on point! I was able to pick an entire look from the new collection and I kept in mind the cystal-healing properties while doing so. For me, I was drawn to pink tourmaline, opal, peridot and garnet–all four of those gemstone spoke to me and I absolutely love the combination of them.

I think you’ll love this new collection from Paige Novick. Take a look at the photos shot by Lauren Newman Photography against Nashville’s newest mural duo, completed respectively by one east-coast and one west-coast artist.

You can shop my entire look below:

N14071-PT N14019-PT N13927-PT E13984-GN E14536-PT E14038-OP R14444-PT R14443-PT R14442-PD R13943-OP R13943-AM R13943-AM-PT R14056-OP E14450-PT

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Paige Novick.

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Precious Stones: 1920s Gemstone Postcards from the British Museum

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Turquoise Spodumene Spinel Sapphire Rhombohedral Quartz-1 Hexagonal Euclase+etc. Entrance Emerald Diamonds Beryl

I sometimes get lost in Pala International’s “Gemformation” — a series of newsletters that comes out monthly and is compiled and backdated on their website. So much valuable information, much of it straight from the desk of the infamous Bill Larson, world-renowned gem and mineral expert. If you’re unfamiliar I highly recommend reading his story-book bio on his website, it is fascinating to say the least!

In the July 2016 edition, I was incredibly gaga over the collection of gemstone postcards created by the British Museum. The story goes, “According to a story by postcard-collector John Taylor in the Jan/Feb 2009 edition of Rocks & Minerals, these cards were printed in about the 1920s by Waterlow & Sons. The firm was an engraver of currency, postage stamps, and stock and bond certificates. James Waterlow’s son Sydney (1822–1906) eventually became Sheriff of the City of London, during which time he was knighted, and later became that city’s Lord Mayor.”

Each one is a piece of art and the colors are magnificient. Thanks to Bill Larson for digitizing these in the best way possible. There are forty cards total, all of which can be seen here. I’ve included quite a few favorites in this blog post–it was hard to narrow down my absolute favorites!

If you like information like this, feel free to sign up for the PalaGems’ Gemformation newsletter:

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Read This Before Buying Antique Jewelry Online or Through Instagram!

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Both Lauren and I have noticed a slightly frightening upsurge in the amount of overnight “antique jewelry dealers” these past few months. I’ve nominated Lauren to give her insight and take on this, along with some important tips we should all be aware of before buying any antique piece online or via Instagram. I’ll let Lauren take it away:

Selling fine second-hand jewelry is no simple task that just anyone can pick up by attending a few estate sales. Dealers must continually strive to expand their education and invest in their business so they can offer the best and most honest experience to their customers.

For me, selling antique jewelry was something I fell into by chance in late 2005. I learned my most basic knowledge by apprenticing under a few dealers that had been in the business for decades. This oral history only took me so far. I then conquered many books, took classes, and met with as many other dealers and jewelers as I could.

This happenstance quickly turned into a full on passion; perhaps it’s even my calling if there is such a thing. Over the next nine years, I evolved my business, Ageless Heirlooms until it took form as a brick and mortar shop on the busiest street in town. The lessons are countless and the experience over these years was immeasurably valuable.

Sometimes life takes you unexpected places, and the moment that I could no longer devote 100% of my time to selling antique jewelry was when I decided to take a huge step backward and regroup in late 2014. I closed my brick and mortar shop and continued writing about jewelry, in the hopes that one day I would get back into retail and help reconnect heirlooms with their next generation keepers.

During my almost three year departure from retail, the antique jewelry business changed a lot. The antique jewelry market, like most any business, has always been prone to scammers and dishonesty. But as this niche market keeps expanding, I’ve noticed that more and more dealers pop in and out of the scene — some legitimate and others that are trying to take advantage of the trend. It saddens me to think that there are dealers out there that are either intentionally or unknowingly misguiding their consumers. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and perpetuates the idea that buying fine second-hand jewelry is a shady practice. I assure you, it’s not.

Shopping for estate jewelry takes a certain degree of trust in the people you’re buying from, especially if you’re just learning all the ins and outs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you’re buying from someone who is worth supporting.

1. Are they GIA certified or have any other accreditations?

To have your GIA certification is arguably the most important feat in the fine jewelry world. This certification shows that the dealer has put a tremendous investment in their education and are much more competent at grading gemstones than someone that doesn’t have it. If you’re buying very high-end antique jewelry, this question should be high on your priority list. What schooling has this person gone through? If they haven’t, have they had someone else that is GIA certified look over the item in question?

2. How many years have they been in business?

Ask me in my first few years of selling antique jewelry if this question was important, and I would still agree that yes, it is. I was so fortunate that so many customers took a chance on me in my early years, but I had a full backing from other partners that had many years experience under their belts. It wasn’t until I had over five years experience that I considered going out on my own. Sometimes it’s worth it to take a chance on someone, but make sure you get to know them a little bit first.

3. Are their prices consistent with other dealers?

Antique jewelry isn’t always an apples to apples comparison. But, in the broad scope, prices for similar pieces should fall within a similar range. Anything that is way off the mark, whether priced too high or too low is a red flag for me.

However, sometimes antique jewelry businesses with lots of employees will have higher prices — they need this markup to survive. This higher price is worth it at times because many of these businesses have access to rare antique jewelry that smaller dealers don’t. Pay a higher price only if that item is rare and other reputable dealers don’t have anything similar for less.

Too cheap a price could indicate that the item is a reproduction, is in poor shape, the dealer is a fly by night, or maybe you just found a bargain. Either way, it’s worth looking into more thoroughly.

4. Do they have a brick & mortar shop or a website?

Any signs that this person has invested time, money and energy into their business is a good thing. Do they have a website, an Etsy shop or a brick and mortar that they keep updated? Are they active on social media? That is a good indicator that this business is their primary source of income, and they take pride in it. People who take pride in their online businesses are less likely to jeopardize it by acting shady.

5. How is their feedback/online reviews?

If the person is selling on Etsy or eBay, it is an absolute no brainer to read as much of their feedback as possible before you purchase. This won’t necessarily be a foolproof method, but it certainly helps when you’re buying on the internet.

6. Do you see any reproductions being passed off as old?

It might be hard to know what reproductions look like from a picture, but they are out there in full force! If you have browsed some sites that openly sell reproduction jewelry like Jan’s Jewells, you’ll have some idea which items are being remade. If you catch a reproduction being passed off as old, or the description is vague using terms like “antique-style Art Deco ring”, this is a red flag. Let me know if you’re interested in more ways you can spot reproductions online because there’s a lot that can be said here!

7. Do you notice that some items aren’t dated?

I’ve seen it where some antique jewelry dealers want to sell reproductions (they are easier to find and are cheaper), but they don’t want to be upfront about it for whatever reason. If you spot jewelry on a dealer’s site that has no mention of the item’s age at all, this is a red flag. Ask them openly if the item is new or old, and hopefully, if they passed a lot of these other questions, they’ll be honest and tell you.

Do you have any other ways you vet out antique jewelry sellers? Let me know in the comments and as always, happy hunting!


This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

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Q & A with Shelley Gibbs Sanders of The Last Line

The Last Line

Discovering new jewelry brands that are trailblazing in unique ways is my absolute favorite–that is why I jumped for joy after learning about The Last Line, a new project recently launched by jewelry veteran Shelley Gibbs Sanders. Bold colors, chic and iconic pieces…and, wait for it…AMAZING prices! You might scroll around the website and wonder, how can these prices be so good for REAL jewelry that is 14k gold and genuine gemstones?! The answer is their philosophy of being direct-to-consumer, never having a middle man, selling new pieces in batches called “drops.” Their latest drop is actually TODAY where they’ve added to all the incredible earring styles you always wished you could find. These ear stacks are what dreams are made of and that is exactly what Shelley set out to do when creating The Last Line. Can her goal of being “the last line” you will ever need hold true for many of you?! Let’s find out!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shelley and we encourage you to check out the website and find your perfect piece!

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The Last Line is a continued project, I have been designing this collection for pretty much my whole life and I’m so excited to finally share it with everyone. We just launched at the end of July with earrings and there is so much more to come: necklaces, rings, and bracelets! The inspiration behind the name of The Last Line is it is the last place you’ll have need to look for fine jewelry and trust me, I plan to live up to our name.

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I’ve had the rare opportunity of being on both the design and the production side of the process, which is so helpful and, in the end I am ultimately a consumer so basically it is the trifecta of intel! My career technically began in New York where I studied Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design before returning home to California to train with Master Jewelers in San Francisco. After learning the tricks of the trade, I returned to Los Angeles to begin my career as a jewelry designer. Over time (and companies!) my roles evolved and I became the head designer and creative director for dozens of celebrity jewelry brands and high-end jewelry houses, working with everything from gold, diamonds, and precious stones.

When we decided to officially launch The Last Line, it was almost four years ago. I have been designing jewelry for almost fifteen years and in every design job I had, I was always thinking if this was my line, how would I do this, what would I change, etc. I felt like I had seen it all, but really when I started to look there were definite holes in the market. It felt polarizing, there were two distinct buckets: reasonably priced, not-so-great design or great design and quality, outrageous price with nothing in the middle, which as a consumer I found so frustrating. Of course, after that I started to speak to my girlfriends, family, literally, everyone and anyone and I knew I wasn’t alone in that thought. Fast forward to today and voilà, introducing The Last Line.

The brand is two-fold: The Heart and The Soul, everything is designed in Los Angeles where I live with my family. The Heart pieces are the core of the brand and your jewelry box; they’re the staples that you never want to take off and that make you feel instantly put together. The Soul pieces are the jaw dropping, make your girlfriends ask, “where did you get that,” expertly crafted, special pieces you want to treat yourself to. Of course, I believe you need both!

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I did a lot of research before we decided to officially launch, I mean truly did research: price, design, size, color, the list goes on. The symbolism of our brand name The Last Line is that we want to be THE place for all of your fine jewelry wants (and needs!), the last place you’ll ever need to go.

There were a few things that were important for me when launching TLL, one of which was pricing. Fine jewelry shopping can be intimidating, a lot of which can be the result of pricing. Because we are direct to consumer, we can present amazing, quality pieces without the retail mark-up. It was also important for me to be (and stay) hands-on with the line; I think building a relationship from the beginning with your clients is key for any brand’s longevity. Being direct-to-consumer is not only a more personal approach, but it’s service driven, which is important when spending $2,000+ on a piece of jewelry online. All of our pieces focus on craftsmanship, much of the Soul collection being handmade in Los Angeles. Having a background in production (and as I jewelry shopper myself) it was important to use quality materials that look great and merit their cost.

One of the coolest things about the line for me, is the actual assortment of jewelry is personal, I wanted to present options, in each drop you will have classics with a twist and then some really fun special pieces. In the first drop, we have everything from a perfect gold sphere stud (in over 5 sizes!) to our signature flower earring in a variety of stones. In the second earring drop, there are solitaire studs in a variety of stones, lots (!) of diamonds, from line earrings, to ear cuffs, to a perfect tennis drop earring and of course this amazing doubles spiral hoop earring you may have seen Nicole Richie sporting. And in the third earring drop, well that’s a secret for now.

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I truly hope that I am working on The Last Line, forever. I love to design of all types of jewelry and I love to create. I can’t stop—it is my obsession. I want to continue to create pieces that connect with women all over the world, it is important for my pieces to speak to the woman who’s just starting her jewelry collection and also excites the existing jewelry client who has her go-to pieces but is looking for that perfect_______. I want our pieces to become heirlooms; they should feel current but not trendy. For me, it is how a woman mixes her jewelry collection that makes it cool. I wanted to create pieces that can be worn but not worried about. The earrings can all be purchased individually, so mixing it up is fully encouraged!

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My engagement ring was one of the first pieces of The Last Line. My husband actually designed it and worked with the jeweler for months. It’s was something we always talked about it and one day there he was with it and it all took off from there —our marriage, our line, everything.

From the line, my favorite piece right now that I own is a 3-way tie between the diamond teddy flower earring with the pave tsavorite stem from the Goldie earring, the medium rose gold diamond safety pin and a special bracelet inspired by childhood which will drop soon.

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with The Last Line.

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Jewelry Collection Stories: Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry

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This month’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from Kate of @LuxCharmJewelry and it is a good one! Kate is a full-time art teacher and part-time jewelry enthusiast and collector. You may already be following her on Instagram, but if not you must. Her collection is pretty amazing and her story may resonate with many of you. So without further ado, I give you Kate’s collection story:

I’ve always loved jewelry. I have early memories of playing “dress up” and “jewelry store” with my grandmother Louise. She kept her jewelry in the top dresser drawer. Oh how I loved looking inside those little boxes and seeing all the sparkly jewels inside! We would arrange her jewels on top of carefully arranged bits of pretty fabrics and embroidered handkerchiefs and take turns “shopping.” It was so much fun trying on her white dress gloves and high heels and playing with all those pretty things.

When I was around 10 years old, my dad started giving me jewelry every year for Christmas, mostly rings. One year, I received a topaz ring that had the most amazing shade of bright blue. I adored that ring! Another favorite ring given to me by my dad was a gold signet ring that he had monogramed with my initials. I think I was around 15 at the time. It’s a classic look that will never go out of style and one I wear often today.

One of my favorite early jewelry memories was when my family went out to dinner before my high school senior award night. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to win the top artist award in my class, and my parents bought me this beautiful southwestern sterling bracelet and turquoise ring to mark the occasion. For high school graduation, I received a large, modernist sterling and gold ring. At the time, I wasn’t into yellow gold, and these bold sterling pieces were among the most beautiful pieces I owned. Luckily, my parents have continued the tradition of gifting me jewelry for special occasions, and I cherish them all. These pieces help to serve as reminders of special times in my life. My sweet husband has also joined in on the tradition and I have received many beautiful pieces from him now over the years, including my very first (and favorite) Victorian bird bangle bracelet and my beloved antique turquoise and diamond halo ring.

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As a teenager, I was really into second-hand shops–mainly for vintage clothes and small decorative items, but eventually I started picking up inexpensive jewelry and odds-and-ends; like pendants, chokers, chains, etc. At about the same time, I started making beaded jewelry and even gifting and selling pieces to my friends.

Years later, I decided to try my hand at selling handmade jewelry on Etsy. It was a fun, challenging, and creative outlet. Those were the relative early days of Etsy, and I grew as it grew. I did this for a couple of years and slowly started incorporating more and more vintage jewelry components and findings into my pieces. Eventually, the competition increased and my enthusiasm waivered, so I put my shop on hold.

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My love affair with antique jewelry began about eight years ago when my mom and I were antiquing at one of my favorite stores in Richmond, IN. My mom fell head-over-heels for this old gold cameo ring. At first, I was like, “What? Cameos? Ugh, I don’t get it.” Then much to my surprise, my mom professed her life-long love affair with cameos, citing stories from her youth. The shop owner quoted her a low price and my mom quickly bought the ring. She wasn’t one to make fine jewelry purchases on our excursions together, so I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I couldn’t stop staring at this unusual reddish-orange cameo ring on our drive back home; I was fascinated by it. It didn’t look like the girly, pink cameos I was used to seeing. It was more masculine in style and the gold was a rich rose color. The shop owner estimated the ring to be about 120 years old.

To my knowledge, I had never seen a ring that old before and now I wanted one for myself! The more I researched, the more I realized what an amazing deal my mom got on that ring. Sure, it was more than I was used to spending on random antique mall purchases (about $85), but still affordable. This made antique jewelry seem obtainable to me for the first time ever. I started reading jewelry books, researching online, and educating myself on antique jewelry. I liked learning the history behind each piece. It’s a perfect fit for me– combining my love of history, research, sentiment, story, etc.

Inspired by my new passion and focus, I reopened my Etsy shop–selling only vintage and antique jewelry. I absolutely loved hunting for old jewelry, even cameos! Thinking back to that special trip to Richmond with my mom, I believe this was the critical moment that later turned this new interest into a full-blown hobby and part-time job for me.

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Today I have such a deep and sincere appreciation for antique jewelry; I tend to collect a little bit of everything. All in all, I tend to go more for Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco pieces. Rings are probably my favorite type of jewelry to wear and collect. I love everything from dainty to bold, statement rings. I also love antique bangles and Deco necklaces in all sorts of finishes, metals, and styles.

One of my favorite things to collect are watches. My favorite makers are Longines and Bucherer. I have everything from watch pins, watch rings, wristwatches, and pocket watches. And I really love long enamel watch necklaces. My love of watch necklaces probably began when I scored an amazing Bucherer red guilloche enamel watch ball necklace for $60 in a small, local antique shop. I later learned this was a remarkable deal for one with its original enamel chain in perfect condition. I’ve since added about 10 more to my collection over the years. I just can’t stop myself when I see a beautiful one for a good price. I have such a weakness for fine guilloche enamel-work.

In addition, I love bird-themed jewelry and have many bird bangles, lockets, etc. I tend to favor cool-color pieces in general (it must be the Pisces in me!). I am very fond of blue–sapphires, lapis, zircon, and turquoise to name a few. Pale lavender chalcedony, dreamy moonstones, and that particular shade of green commonly used in Art Deco pieces–are all personal favorites. I have a growing collection of snake rings, too.

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I enjoy shopping at small, local places best. The Midwest is a gold mine for antiques of all kinds. The big jewelry enthusiasts seem to live on either coast and being stuck in the middle has its advantages… lower prices and less pickers. But this seems to get harder every year. My favorite display cases and shops seem to be shutting down. The old dealers retire; some pass away. I think part of me has also wanted to open a brick and mortar shop, but the risks are scary.

Currently, I seem to have the most luck shopping at antique shows and online auctions. I’m always on the hunt for new pieces. I would love to own more niello jewelry, antique enamel bracelets, and gutta percha bangles inlaid with gold. I have a thing for portrait paintings but oddly, own no portrait jewelry. I interned at the National Portrait Gallery right after college and it’s a subject I’m really interested in. I would love to find the perfect emerald ring and more “name” or “initial” jewelry to represent the important people in my life.

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Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday (hello, 40!) and had been hunting for the perfect aquamarine birthstone piece of jewelry for months. Then it finally happened…a huge, honking, 14-carat, Victorian, pear-shaped aqua ring in 15K gold popped up on my Instagram feed. Its large size, unfussy setting, and perfect pale-blue color, stopped me dead in my tracks. A direct quote from the seller was, “a mesmerizing, dreamy, huge piece of magic.” Indeed it was. I sold three personal collection rings to make room for this special ring, the latest addition to my jewelry box.

Back when I started wearing, selling, and collecting antique jewelry, I was the only one I knew who did. I just bought what I liked and what I could afford at the time. It wasn’t until I joined IG a couple of years ago that I found other like-minded people who loved and appreciated old jewelry as much as I do. Like most sellers/collectors, I am searching for more high quality and unusual pieces nowadays. Lately, there seems to be more competition, more reproductions, and higher prices on the online auction sites, making it harder to “score” a deal. While I may not be selling forever, I know I will be wearing and enjoying my jewelry for the rest of my life. It brings me so much joy. Marking special occasions and making new memories with jewelry are so important to me. Jewelry has a way of keeping our memories alive…providing a tangible reminder… connecting us to the people, places, and significant moments we cherish in life. Happy hunting!

xoxoGemGossip

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Why is it so Hard to Find Peridot Jewelry I Like?

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All photos above provided by Market Square Jewelers

Peridot is the birthstone of August, and many of us have come to find that August babies either love it or they hate it. Perhaps the ones that hate peridot haven’t had the same exposure to the gem as myself.

The peridot I know and love is a vibrant yellowish green that pops against yellow gold in such a magnificent and esoteric way. In Ancient Egypt, peridot was known as the Gem of the Sun and rightfully so. A well-cut peridot rivals the beauty of emerald and demantoid garnet, for a fraction of the cost.

In theory, peridot is plentiful and affordable. But while peridot is prized for its lavish and distinct coloring, it can be a struggle finding peridot jewelry that’s worth obsessing over. Unfortunately, so many factors work against peridot becoming an inexpensive jewelry staple like amethyst.

Here are some reasons why it’s so hard to find peridot jewelry I like:

1. Commercial Grade Peridot is Undesirable At Times

As far as amethyst goes, even commercial gems have the ability to be beautiful depending on the cut and hue. In contrast, most commercial peridot on the market looks the same – like small bits of washed out baby food. Too harsh? Based on how many uninformed people hate peridot, maybe not. When the cut is shallow, most of that lovable, vibrant green shade fades to almost clear, and there’s not much left to get excited about.

2. The Lime Green Color Can be Limiting in Design

I can’t recall ever seeing peridot in a white gold design that I liked. Let’s face it, peridot looks best in yellow gold. Most stones have a metal that complements it best, but with peridot, setting the stone in white or rose gold can be absolutely detrimental to the design. If you happen to love peridot in white gold, don’t let me turn you away. But this is why we see less peridot designs on the market than we do more versatile green stones like emerald that happen to look amazing in platinum and rose gold.

3. Large Peridot Stones are Significantly More Expensive

Larger peridot stones tend to maintain their deep coloring better than smaller stones. However, the larger the peridot stone, the more expensive it becomes. I can find affordable amethyst stones that weigh more than 4 carats very easily. Trying to find that same size peridot stone will set me back significantly more money, which is very limiting when jewelry shopping. It’s easy to find smaller peridot stones in places like Arizona and China, but the larger sizes are much more scarce globally, thus impacting the market overall.

4. More Awareness = More Demand

As more people become acquainted with that peridot sweet spot – the stones that are vibrant and well-cut – the demand naturally increases. Supply for quality peridot designs doesn’t fully match this new-found demand, which causes an increase in price and scarcity. This means I’ll have to be hunting for peridot jewelry instead of simply browsing for it. Instead of 10 great options, I may only find 5, and even then, I’ll be competing with other buyers looking for the same item.

With all the reasons why I have so few peridot pieces in my collection, I figured it best to reiterate that it’s not impossible to find worthwhile peridot jewelry. In fact, one of our favorite shops Market Square Jewelers, we feel, has the best selection of peridot jewelry! The photos above are provided by Market Square Jewelers and all the pieces are available for purchase! You can check out their website for more peridot jewelry here.

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

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Q & A and Visit with Raquel Alonso Perez of Harvard’s Museum of Natural History

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My very last stop while in Boston, hours before my flight took off, I had planned the best parting gift–a visit to Harvard University’s Museum of Natural History! Sounds dreamy, right?! Well it is and then some. An entire room filled with thousands of minerals and gems is open to the public on Harvard’s campus, and Raquel Alonso Perez was there to give me a full tour, including some majorly fun behind-the-scenes stuff. I honestly think my one-on-one time with Raquel had taught me more in one hour than my entire Freshman year at college! I didn’t want to leave! I got to hold pieces of gold that came out of the ground looking like sculptures, play with rough diamonds, see some incredible gemstones, and the highlight of my day was getting to spend some time with the Hamlin Necklace–rare and notable because of its gigantic tourmalines it showcases, which are all from the same mine in Maine!

Raquel’s hospitality, warmth and passion to share with me what she does at the Mineralogical & Geological Museum was accepted with much gratitude and I had so much fun! Here’s some insight into what Raquel does, illustrated with photos from my visit! Enjoy!

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I serve as the Curator of the Mineralogical and Geological Museum (MGMH). Our collections date back to 1798! After 230 years of collecting, the MGMH is one of the oldest, largest and continuously operated mineralogical and geological museum, built for the nation and world-renowned for its fine quality collections, broad representation of species, unique occurrences and large number of type, described, and illustrated specimens. Our repository has become a true library of the earth with over 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks. My role as Curator is to provide access to the world-class Earth Science collections at Harvard University, encouraging its use for teaching, research and public education. The favorite part of my job is research and all teaching and academic related activities, in addition to working with the dedicated team of people at the MGMH, the Earth and Planetary Science Department and the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, HSMC, where our public gallery is located.

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In total, the museum has around 400,000 objects divided in 4 main collections: minerals, gems, meteorites and rocks and ore deposits. Only 3550 individual mineral specimens are on display at the Museum, 145 of these include a gemstone of the same variety. My favorite examples are in the wider variety of crystals and gemstones. For example, the beryls, we have a whole case of them displaying 40 specimens full of light and color. I also love the tourmalines, with all of the different kinds displayed with bi-color and watermelon elbaites from Maine, USA. As you can imagine, we have a strong collection of New England minerals, gems, and rare species. We receive a lot of donations, but we couldn’t display our entire collection, even if we wanted! Space is a major constraint, but not the only one. We also have to make hard choices about what to share in order to fulfill the Museum’s mission. Our museum is not only about highlighting aesthetics. We also need to prioritize the display of specimens that will also serve reference and research purposes.

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I am a geologist by training specialized in mineralogy, gemology, geochemistry and petrology. There are too many “logy’s” in there! These branches of Earth Sciences come together in a fascinating way, giving color and texture to the world we inhabit. In 2006 I completed my PhD at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, where I studied how the earth crust is formed, by comparing it with artificial rocks produced in the lab. After graduation, I took a short break to have my two children, Marco and Amaya, and returned in 2009 to professional life to work as a research assistant at the Earth and Planetary Science Department, Harvard University. A year later I was hired as Assistant Curator to take care of the rock collection at the MGMH and got appointed head Curator of the entire MGMH collections in 2011.

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I’ve always wondered why minerals acquire a color and not other colors. We know so little about the chemistry and the physics involved! My passion, stimulated by my daily encounter with Harvard’s amazing collections, is to uncover the story behind nature’s color choices! My work in the past 2 years has been focused in tourmalines and beryls. The most common color of elbaites from Main, USA is green but they also come in blue, yellow, pink, colorless and with many different hues and tones. With the use of non-destructive analytical techniques, I was able to determine the chemical distribution, trace element patterns and color correlation in a suite of elbaites from Maine, Hamlin Collection. In addition, this non-destructive dual-technique used in this study (Confocal Micro Raman Spectroscopy and LA- ICPMS, laser ablation-induced coupled plasma-mass spectrometry) has great potential to be applied to other gemmological materials to also distinguish provenance, natural versus synthetic materials and treatments. My current project aims to better understand the formation of emeralds, and is focused on the geology of the emerald deposit of Irondro, Madagascar. In fact, I mostly focus on rocks from Madagascar, which is a blessing, since the MGMH is quickly becoming the main repository of minerals, rocks and gemstones from this part of the world. I also benefit from the museum’s vast network. I sometimes end up requesting research material from friends, donors and supporters of the Museum from faraway lands! However, my main priority and where most of my work goes is into ensuring that the MGMH’s collections are curated according to the highest standards of museum best practices for their preservation in perpetuity and use by future generations. Digitization plays an important role to achieve these goals and our ambition to open them up to a wider audience, especially those concerning research, education and public outreach, which will result in an online database of our collections sometime in the fall of 2017.

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Every day, in the environment I am, could end up being a highlight and making you proud of the work you do, especially when it can impact other people life’s. I would like to share with you a portion of an e-mail I received from one of the female students attending my class at the Harvard Summer school as a beautiful example. “..Here again I want to say thank you for bringing me my best summer ever. I really enjoyed the lecture. Every time when listening to the lecture, I really feel I’m being educated and have more knowledge on mineralogy and gemology. The happiness of gaining knowledge is hard to express; it’s like seeing the moon coming out of the clouds and lighting up a street in the dark midnight. Also, I love the labs. I feel so good identifying minerals by myself, putting everything I learnt into use. I’m also fascinated by the gemstone experiments. I can’t wait to get a full set of tools and practice in the gem markets back in China. What I really want to appreciate is that for all your support for me to do more microscope experiments. I know that doing the experiment before class means you have to skip lunch, I’m really sorry. The experiment is so incredible, I never see those features before, and I couldn’t fully understand everything without doing the actual experiment. The image is fantastic. I gasp that people ever create those ways for examine stones. What I like most is the field trip. The behind the scene of the museum is awesome. I never thought that museum work would be so interesting. There are so many stories behind every collection! I also really really like the field trip to mine. You became my idol when you drove the van packed with all of us and fed us snacks. Working in the field is so different and I think I need more field work to really become a geology people. I sometimes feel so shame that I learned so much knowledge but still like a baby when put in the field. However, going to the field makes a lot of knowledge easier to understand. In the mine, when I saw you standing on the shiny mica mountain, I feel like you are one of the best women in the world—- a woman who could stand in the field with knowledge, and explore the earth, go right after the unknown, a kind of woman I really want to be. It is this summer that I, for the first time in forever, really willing to go to university; not because it is what everybody do, but because all the knowledge and skills I could get, all the resource I could access, and all the fantastic professors in the future I will meet to motivate my life..”

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My best piece of advice for anyone in general is to follow their passion, work hard, overcome challenges, focus and don’t give up! The combination of passion and perseverance will bring you where you want to be.

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The Ten Best Rings Currently For Sale at The Three Graces

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One of my most frequently asked questions I get is, “where do you find all these amazing vintage and antique jewels?!” And my answer may surprise you, as most would envision me scouring flea markets, old attics and the like to find things like these featured above. It might be easy for me to say ONLINE and it is totally true. Websites like The Three Graces do the hard work for you, scouting out the most unique, wearable and head-turning jewels out there and we should appreciate that! I like knowing that anytime I go on TheThreeGraces.com I can find a whole new batch of sparkly, rare, vintage and antique pieces that expert Lisa Stockhammer Mial has sourced, authenticated, cleaned up and ready for its next lifetime. They also have some pretty special perks like a “no questions asked, free return policy,” offer layaway, and most every ring can be sized to fit! And what is easier than simply logging on to a website and ogling over New Arrivals?!

I got to do just that when choosing my favorite top ten rings that are currently for sale at The Three Graces. A mix of pieces I would love to own, rings that remind me of some favorites from my personal collection, and some that I can’t believe are still available (quick, grab them before someone else does!). Let’s start from the top!

Emerald Art Deco Ring & Diamond Filigree Halo Ring

1. There’s something unique about an Art Deco ring shaped like this emerald and diamond one! Not only does it elongate the finger, but it surely gets people staring. I love how delicate yet statement-making this ring is. Set in platinum with a stunning emerald, currently a size 6.5 and ready for a finger to shine on! Price: $4,950

2. At first I thought this would make such a beautiful engagement ring but then I saw the photos created by The Three Graces with my picks and I am really loving how this ring also looks as a right hand ring! I love when rings are versatile like that and this one definitely doesn’t have a bad angle even if you tried. The center diamond is just over a half carat and has a gorgeous sparkle to it. Price: $3,650

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Deco Rock Crystal Ring & Large Moonstone Sapphire Cluster Ring

3. This ring is one of the best examples of rock crystal jewelry I’ve seen! I love the contrast of the blue sapphires along with the frostiness of the crystal and white diamond. This ring would be a perfect anniversary or birthday gift and I can almost guarantee this will get a lot of wear–it goes with everything! It is currently a size 7 1/4 and done in 14k white gold. Price: $1,350

4. If you know my personal collection as well as you know your own, you will understand why I HAD to choose this grand moonstone and sapphire ring! I have an almost identical one in my collection and the compliments that I get on it are nonstop. If you’ve been wanting to find something similar, this is it! Currently a size 5 1/2 with 2.88 carats of bright blue sapphires. Price: $4.450

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Antique Citrine Ring & Vintage Amethyst Halo Ring

5. A pop of yellow added to any outfit instantly brightens everything! That’s why I love this citrine ring so much–I quickly become happy as soon as I look at it. I think this would be an ideal ring to wear in the summer and it could easily transition to fall wardrobes and colors. This art deco ring is currently a size 4 1/2 and can be resized for its new owner. Price: $1,275

6. Purple was my favorite color for most of my childhood. Anyone lucky enough to have a February birthdate can call amethyst their birthstone and this particular ring would be perfect for you. Or if you’re like me and just love the color purple, then yes you deserve this ring too. Currently a size 8 1/4 and can be sized to your liking. Price: $1,350

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Bohemian Turquoise Ring & Bold Opal Cluster Ring

7. Turquoise is one of my most favorite gemstones–I can’t get enough of it! When most people think of turquoise, they think of Persian turquoise and although that is most desirable and valuable, I actually like when turquoise shows veining, different patterns and depth of color. This particular ring has great natural veining and I love the design–simple yet bold! The ring is done in 8k yellow gold and currently a size 6 3/4. Price: $650

8. So we all know my obsession with opals and if I didn’t have so many opal rings, THIS would be in my virtual shopping cart right now. Everything about it is amazing to me–the design (large oval cluster), the opals (a nice play-of-color that glows in the right light), and the size (big and bold). Don’t miss out on this vintage one-of-a-kind, done in 10k yellow gold. Price: $2,195

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Edwardian Diamond Heart Ring & “Four Corners” Sapphire, Diamond Ring

9. Never thought I’d be such a sucker for hearts, but I absolutely love them, especially the antique versions. This is an exceptional ring, dating back to the Edwardian period and set with rose cut diamonds in a silver topped setting. The band is done in 14k yellow gold and currently a size 5 1/2. If you love heart jewelry as much as I do, you won’t let this one slip away! Price: $3,850

10. Ok, this ring is one that will stop you dead in your tracks and I’m so in love with it! The design is really unique–The Three Graces describes it perfectly by saying, “modernist flavor with strong design elements.” The intensity of the blue sapphires is insane and it is one in a million. This ring deserves a good home that provides lots of love and care! 😉 Price: $4,450

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with The Three Graces.

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Q & A and Visit with Emily Stoehrer of MFA Boston

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After a long and exciting week in Boston, I had a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts set up to feed my jewelry history cravings. One of my favorite things about my love and passion for jewelry is learning! Museum exhibits are such a great way to see and learn, often producing a lifelong impact or memory–especially for me. Whenever there is a headlining jewelry exhibit, I like to try to schedule trips in hopes of catching it before it ends. Lucky for Boston, the MFA has quite an extensive jewelry department that is constantly researching, collaborating, and creating new exhibits. I got to have a private tour with Emily Stoehrer who is not only a wealth of knowledge, but highly dedicated and involved in what she does for the museum. I was fascinated in so many ways, as she brought me through the MFA’s current exhibit Past is Present: Revival Jewelry.

Learn more about Emily as she answers my questions below and make sure you stop by the exhibit before it ends in August of 2018. Can’t wait to visit again!

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I am the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry. It’s a unique role in an American fine art museum, which was established in 2006. I was appointed in 2014, and over the last three years have worked to develop the exhibition program; add extraordinary jewels to the collection; connect with jewelers, designers, and collectors; and collaborate with colleagues across the museum to plan programming and events

Spanning thousands of years of jewelry history, there are more than 20,000 objects in the jewelry collection. Highlights include our ancient collections and contemporary jewelry, but over the last decade have added to our holding of fine jewelry. A great example of this is a gift given by the Rothschild family a few years ago, which included an outstanding pearl and diamond necklace that dates to the late nineteenth century. With large, perfectly matched natural pearls, it’s an extraordinary treasure! Yvonne Markowitz (who is the Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry Emerita) and I have worked to establish a jewelry resource center for anyone interested in the study of jewelry, and as part of that we have also worked with the Curator of Design to acquire jewelry with related design drawings. Studying drawings from firms like Trabert & Hoeffer Mauboussin, the manufacturer-jeweler Louis Ferón, and the artist-craftsman Frank Gardner Hale, alongside the jewelry they made, has greatly informed our understanding of jewelry and how the industry operated historically.

We have also worked to add strength to strength by filling in gaps in our historical collection. For example, until recently we did not have anything by Carlo Giuliano. But, this year we added two amazingly naturalistic gold and enamel butterflies to the collection—a Duke of Burgundy and Bath White butterfly, to be specific. They are impossibly thin, and enameled on both sides to show every detail of the butterfly’s body and wings. They are a stunning example of the goldsmith’s art. Another historically important and spectacular ornament that I recently acquired is the Apparitions brooch which was designed by Eugene Grasset and made by Henri Vever for the 1900 Paris Exposition. It’s hauntingly beautiful art nouveau aesthetic won them the Grand Prix.

My favorite part of the job is the research and planning that goes into creating an exhibition—doing research in libraries and archives and taking a deep dive into historical documents, publications, and material culture. Unfortunately, as I run from meeting to meeting, I don’t get to spend as much time doing this as I would like. So, I rely on some a team of volunteers and interns to help with some of it. Once the research has been done, and the objects have been selected, the real fun begins. I have learned so much about the storytelling capabilities of jewelry from working with the MFA’s remarkable exhibition designers, mountmakers, and conservators as we discuss and mock-up how each object will be displayed in the gallery.

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As any lover of jewelry knows, the past has consistently inspired jewelers and designers. While interest in historicism was particularly strong during the nineteenth century, there were great revival jewels made before 1800 and after 1900. In the same way the Victorians struggled with the tension between mass-production and hand-craftsmanship, we grapple with digital design and the pace of modern life. So, I see this as a topic that is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago, and if you think about it that way you’ll notice many examples of twentieth and twenty-first century jewelry that engage with a historical narrative. I hope that visitors enjoy seeing traditional “revivalist” ornaments by outstanding jewelers like Castellani and Giuliano, Bapst and Falize and Boucheron, but also some unexpected surprises like a 9-foot titanium python necklace by Munich-based contemporary jeweler David Bielander, and that the juxtaposition makes them question their notion of revival jewelry.

The exhibition highlights four revival styles: Archeological, Classical, Renaissance, and Egyptian. Each case in the intimate space includes a choice group of jewelry aimed to tell a story – travel, nationalism, graduation, cameo, scarabs, and snakes are just a few of the themes explored. If you pay very close attention to the labels, visitors might also be delighted to learn how early some of these objects were added to the MFA collection. Like the Met, the MFA was founded in 1870, and some of these jewels were acquired in the subsequent decades, making them contemporary jewelry when they were donated. A neoclassical necklace and five brooches with mythological scenes in carved shell cameo, and a Castellani necklace, earrings, and brooch commissioned by the amber collector William Buffum are just two examples of the objects that have resided at the MFA for more than one hundred years. Newer acquisitions on view include: a tour-de-force bracelet by the Roman jeweler Ernesto Pierret that features a central bovine head, granulation, and two menacing faces that come together to form the clap; a spectacular early twentieth-century neck ornament by G. Paulding Farham for Tiffany & Co.; and a slithering silver snake belt/necklace, with sapphire eyes, that Elsa Peretti designed for the American fashion designer Halston in the 1970s.

While 80% of the works on view are from the MFA collection, there are also some noteworthy loans. From the collection of Susan B. Kaplan, a startlingly lifelike lion speaks to the genius of Castellani’s designers and craftsmen. Unlike other micromosaic workshops, Castellani left the surface of their work uneven to create a glittering effected. Wartski Ltd., of London, loaned a demi-parure (belt buckle, brooch, and bracelet) by Falize Frères. Enameled on both sides, the glorious ornaments use translucent enamel and foil to create a fantastical scene with birds, like those seen in illuminated manuscripts. Generously sponsored by Cartier, the exhibition includes four magnificent twentieth-century ornaments from the Cartier Collection. Made between 1906 and 1928, the garland style medusa necklace, winged scarab belt buckle, Eye of Horus bracelet (that once belonged to Linda Porter), and the diamond chimera bracelet are outstanding examples of French revival jewelry, and the depth of the MFAs ancient collection allows for these dazzling jewels to be exhibited alongside the ancient artifacts that inspired their design.

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My path to jewelry was a crooked one. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and had plans to attend law school. But a few years working in the District Attorney’s office, I changed my mind and I began researching graduate programs in fashion. In 2005 I moved to New York City and enrolled in the two-year Fashion & Textile Studies program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Thanks to FIT’s remarkable alumni network I ended up back in my hometown with an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. As an intern I worked with conservators in the Textile Conservation department to relocate the fashion collection.

My first full-time position at the MFA was as a Collections Care Specialist and my responsibilities included preparing more than 10,000 objects from the Asian costume and textile collection for photography – everything from kimono to dragon robes and textile fragments to temple hangings. When that project ended, I became the Curatorial Research Associate reporting to Yvonne Markowitz (then curator of jewelry). For two years I worked with her on the inaugural exhibition in the jewelry gallery, and the book Artful Adornment. Both the exhibition and the book focused on highlights from the MFA’s jewelry collection. Yvonne quickly became a very important part of my life, and has been an extraordinary mentor. She encouraged me to think about a future as a jewelry curator, bringing my knowledge of fashion history to the understanding of jewelry. She enthusiastically introduced me to her contacts and colleagues, took me to conferences, and supported my own research in the field. She also told me to consider a PhD.

During my time at the MFA, I had been teaching courses in textiles and fashion history, and in 2010 I left the Museum and took a position at a small college in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. As Program Director and Assistant Professor, I managed three robust fashion programs with more than 100 students. At the same time I took PhD courses and exams, and began work on my dissertation. My doctoral work focused on the intersection of fashion, jewelry, and media. I examined the vintage jewelry on the red carpet from 1995-2010 using Neil Lane’s collection as a case study.

After nearly 30 years at the MFA, Yvonne retired in 2014 and I was appointed to replace her. Over the last three years, I curated the exhibitions Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, Past is Present: Revival Jewelry, and smaller installations; planned jewelry related events and trips for the MFA’s Fashion Council; traveled extensively to lecture, visit art fairs and exhibitions, participated in educational opportunities organized by Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) and Art Jewelry Forum (AJF) trips, attend conferences, visited collectors, galleries, designers, and jewelers. It’s been a whirlwind. Recently I have taken on two leadership roles, joining the board of directors for the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and the Boston chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA).

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I am immersed in research for two forthcoming exhibitions, and a book related to my doctoral work.

Opening in September 2018, an exhibition of Boston arts and crafts jewelry and metalwork will replace Past is Present in the Stanley H. and Rita J. Kaplan Family Foundation Gallery. From the establishment of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts to the disastrous 1929 stock market crash that crippled many artist craftsmen, this exhibition will be the first to focus solely on Boston jewelers, and will include design drawings, jewelry, and hollowware by artists like Frank Gardner Hale, Josephine Hartwell Shaw, Margaret Rogers, and Edward Everett Oakes.

That exhibition will be followed by one on Elsa Peretti, who will be celebrating 50 years as a designer in 2020. Beginning her design career making jewelry and accessories for Giorgio Sant’ Angelo and Halston before joining Tiffany & Co., Peretti has created timeless designs that continue to resonate with modern consumers. Her refined taste has focused, primarily, on silver but the exhibition will feature a diverse sample of her work, as well as her inspirations, and—of course—include a fashion element. An esteemed arbiter of style, fashion icon, and friend of many twentieth century notables, this exhibition will celebrate Peretti’s life and career.

My work at the MFA keeps me very busy, but I am also in the midst of writing a book titled Jewelry in Celebrity Culture: Glamour and the Hollywood Spectacle. It will be published as part of I.B. Taurus’s Dress Culture series (edited by Reina Lewis and Elizabeth Wilson). From the tour-de-force necklace that the American firm Trabert & Hoeffer loaned Colette Colbert to wear in the 1935 film The Gilded Lily to the impact of The Representation Project’s #askhermore campaign, the book will examine how jewelry aids in Hollywood’s production of glamour.

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To be honest, the last three years have been a series of highlights. The people I have had the opportunity to meet have been the most memorable. The many conversations and meetings I had with Neil Lane as I conducted research on Hollywood jewelry and his private collection, having lunch with Elsa Peretti in Sant Marti Vell, Spain and discussing her incredible life and work, and spending two days in Wallace Chan’s Hong Kong atelier are at the top of the list!

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I look forward to seeing the field grow in new and exciting ways. There are so many M.A. programs that embrace the study of jewelry history, and there remain extensive subjects awaiting scholarly work. Coupled with a G.G. I think there is extraordinary potential for research and writing. I was lucky to have a great mentor, who guided my career path, and if you can find an experienced curator or historian to play that role for you, it’s priceless. This field is so welcoming. I encourage anyone interested in jewelry to find others that share their passion, social media is a great place for this.

Being a museum curator is much more multi-faceted than I realized after leaving graduate school. Even after years working at the Museum, it wasn’t until I was a curator that I realized the diverse requirements of the job—a natural curiosity, a mastery of your subject area and how it connects to other types of art, a vision and strong ideas that you can translate into exhibitions, excellence in building and maintaining relationships with artists and collectors, as well as strong research, writing, and public speaking skills.

I am very lucky that the MFA has such a vibrant jewelry program. My position, the gallery, and the prominence of jewelry at the MFA is all thanks to tremendous generosity Susan B. Kaplan. It is our hope that other American fine art museums will expand their collection, exhibition, and publication related to jewelry. And, that similar positions will emerge at other American museums.

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WANT MORE? You can follow Emily on Instagram —> @jewelcurator

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