Chatting With Russell Fogarty of Vintage Jewelry Mecca Beladora

The Los Angeles retailer dishes on top sellers and red-carpet trends

It’s officially awards season in Hollywood, and Los Angeles’ fashion retailers and showrooms are buzzing with stylist assistants pulling gauzy gowns, punchy party frocks, towering stilettos, and buckets of fine jewelry for their high-profile clients.

Beladora, the e-commerce arm of Beverly Hills–based estate jewelry firm Kazanjian & Fogarty, is a longtime cult favorite of established stylists—including Jennifer Lawrence’s styling team, Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson, and stylist Kara Welch, who dresses It Girl Ruth Negga and actress Michelle Monaghan, among others.

We caught up with owner Russell Fogarty, an estate jewelry expert and former director for Christie’s New York jewelry department, to talk about how the estate jewelry business is transforming, and the enduring popularity of vintage looks on the red carpet:

Where do you think vintage jewelry is in terms of popularity these days?

Russell Fogarty: I don’t think estate jewelry has ever been as hot a topic as it is right now. The number of celebrities who are wearing vintage jewelry…look at Emma Stone [who wore a vintage Tiffany & Co. choker] at the Golden Globes and Nicole Kidman in a vintage Fred Leighton necklace. It’s really the go-to type of jewelry to have for special occasions.

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Russell Fogarty, co-owner of Kazanjian & Fogarty and Beladora (photo courtesy of Forbes)

What styles and eras are selling really well for you right now?

Fogarty: Because we cover all the bases, from Georgian-era jewelry to new, we sell in every single category. The stylists love antique jewelry, which is jewelry that’s over a hundred years old. Victorian, Georgian, and Edwardian are all now antique, and Art Deco will be soon, too.

Chokers are very big right now—everyone is asking for those. And I can tell you that there seems to be a great interest in individual old-cut stones—old-mine cuts, old-European cuts. The number of people now asking for old-cut stones—including movals and European cuts—has really grown. I think they like the idea that it’s a unique stone with a personality and charm. The old way of figuring the weight of an old-cut stone was estimating how much it would weigh if it were recut, and that no longer applies. Old-cut stones can trade as is.

How does your company work with stylists during awards season and beyond?

Fogarty: We have two people that work with stylists, and a lot of that business becomes about personal relationships. A lot of stylists shop from the website and tell us what they want from there—they will give us 10 to 20 pieces they’d like to see and then they come in and pull them. But we don’t have everything on the website, so we can show them other things, too.

Some of the stylists are so, so good—they do amazing things with the pieces! [Stylists Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson] recently converted the back of one of our tiaras to shape Jennifer Lawrence’s throat perfectly as a choker [see photo at top]. It was gorgeous. We had people calling for it and we had to say, “Sorry, that was a tiara.”

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Michelle Monaghan in vintage Cartier panther hoops and necklace from Beladora (photo courtesy of Instagram/@beladorajewelry)

You guys always seem so low-key about celebrity—how important is it to your business overall?

Fogarty:  I don’t think you can have anything that’s higher profile than a celebrity wearing your jewelry and having the press release ready to tell everyone about it. We don’t consider it a major component of our business, but it is a very nice part of marketing. And it’s a little bit on the fun side, too, right?

How has your business changed in the last few years, since online shopping has become a norm?

Fogarty: The old way of doing the estate jewelry business, where you have an office and you meet other dealers at shows, has changed quite a bit. Online changed things for everyone. You have lots of people who just use 1stdibs to sell now. It brings up a whole other way of thinking that’s more about client acquisition. We are always asking ourselves: Clients we’ve never met before, how do we make it easier and easier for those people to find us and develop trust and confidence in our company? That’s something we work on literally every day.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson in a dress set from Beladora at Sunday’s Golden Globes (courtesy of Instagram/@beladorajewelry)

(Photo at top of Jennifer Lawrence in a Beladora tiara-turned-necklace in December 2016 courtesy of Beladora/Getty Images/Allen Berezovsky)