The Trending Period in Estate Jewelry Is…

During Las Vegas market week in May, I snuck away from the LUXURY show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to attend the opening of the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show at the Paris hotel. That was the plan at least. When I arrived at the antiques show, I joined a long queue to pick up my press badge. After 20 minutes, I’d made it only halfway through, so I decided to bail. Forty minutes of queuing was more than I could afford in Vegas!

Given that experience, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the show reported a 25 percent increase in opening-day attendance, and 11 percent cumulatively, at its May 29–June 1 event.

A longtime lover of estate jewelry, I was determined to make it to one of the U.S. Antique Show events this year and on Friday, I got my chance. I went to the opening of the New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the heart of Chelsea. (The show closes today at 4 p.m., meaning there’s still time to check out the goods!)

I planned to meet my friends Randi Molofsky and Mark Davidovich at the show, and even though I arrived 15 minutes late, they hadn’t even made it past the first booth. Molofsky, our resident fashion plate, had spotted a pair of matching Victorian cuffs in solid 14k gold at the Excalibur booth. Tiny enough to fit her slight wrists, the cuffs were the ultimate Wonder Woman accessory. We put them on hold and moved through the rest of the show floor.

Cuff love! The 14k gold matching Victorian cuffs that my friend Randi coveted

Here’s what struck me about the event:

Everyone (but everyone!) was there. I recognized loads of people walking the aisles or perusing the booths including (but not limited to): Lynn Yaeger, the famous fashion writer with the ketchup-red hair and the kewpie-doll lipstick; the artist-jeweler Daniel Brush and his wife, Olivia; and my friend and downstairs neighbor, publicist Michelle Orman—not to mention loads of 47th Street dealers and Madison Avenue publicists. The show draws consumers and trade—as well as connoisseurs who know a good deal when they see one. An eccentric-looking woman I spotted at the Harvey Kessler Jewellery booth told me that vintage Hermès pieces—like the 1938 gold stickpin she was wearing on her left shoulder—were “the hardest to get.”

Deco continues to be strong. “And if it happens to be Cartier—wooooo-weeeee!” said Liza O’Keefe at Harvey Kessler. Of course, I didn’t need to go to the show to learn this. The perennially hot period always attracts attention—especially for its bounty of interesting engagement rings. Put it this way: If I were in any danger of getting engaged, I’d steer my guy to the Deco cases. Nothing says chic bride better than a unique ring with the classy lines of the Deco era. That said, another period is bubbling up and threatening to displace Deco in the trend arena…

The hottest period right now is the post-retro era, from the 1950s to the 1970s. “Mid-century is getting attention now—everyone has Deco,” said Edward Faber, whose Aaron Faber Gallery in Manhattan is a well-known showcase for some of the finest estate jewelry and watches on the market today. Faber elaborated: “I’m finding there’s a response to whimsy,” he said, citing jewels featuring animals—like a funny little gold duck brooch he showed me—as exemplifying the whimsical style associated most closely with the 1960s and 70s.

Whimsical jewelry, like this funky little duck pin, is having a moment, says estate dealer Edward Faber.

In vintage watches, keep your eyes peeled for Omegas from the early 1950s. Especially those with the cool “pie pan dials,” so called because they have the shape of inverted pie pans. Faber showed off a mint-condition 18k model that retails for $5,700, as well as a rose gold and steel version for the bargain price of $1,100.

Edward Faber points out the “pie pan dial” on a vintage Omega watch from the early 1950s.

Personally, I’m partial to Victorian jewels. One of the loveliest rings I tried on was at the booth of Family Jewels, an estate dealer based in Northampton, Mass. With its emerald center stone of about 1 ct. flanked by two diamonds totaling .38 ct. and .37 ct., respectively, the $1,500 gold ring had an appealing asymmetry that gave it a fresh and modern vibe, despite the fact that it was well over 100 years old. 

I fell for this sleek and unique emerald and diamond ring from the Victorian era.

Same goes for the cool-girl cuffs Randi ended up buying! 

Wonder Woman powers activated: Randi Molofsky in her cool-girl cuffs