Antique & Estate Jewelry / Industry

Story Flashback: Vintage Jewelers Are Going To Continue To Set Trends


Coming into 2022, jewelry-industry observers will have plenty of predictions about what will trend for the next 12 months. But at least one item that has been popular for a while now will continue to sell well into the new year: vintage jewelry.

Call it sentiment. Call it nostalgia. Tie it into the coronavirus pandemic, during which people generally want to feel close to those they love and have a physical reminder of the things that matter. Whatever the reason, prognosticators from across fashion and jewelry agree that vintage looks are going to be found on wrists, fingers, necks, and more for a long time to come.

For example, The Zoe Report recently noted that not only will classic pieces from the past be big in 2022, but also that “revived interpretations” will lead jewelry sales for everything from enamel to diamonds to gemstone jewelry. Earlier in the year, Vogue’s Chloe Schama wrote a feature on antique or antique-inspired jewelry “to buy now and keep forever.”

As 2021 closes and I complete my first months at JCK, I have to say that this trend is the one that I want to see continue. I have my grandmother’s pearls, my mother’s opal ring, and my mother-in-law’s gold necklaces all in my personal jewelry collection, and I hope to pass these items along to my children as they look to their family heritage for insights into who they are.

When I joined JCK in late August and began writing for the magazine in September, I prepped by reading books on the history of jewelry. I dived into long histories on some of the finest jewelers: Cartier, Tiffany, Swarovski, Bulgari. Each book taught me about what jewelry was then and why those major houses are still making drool-worthy pieces now.

One of the first interviews that drew me deeply into jewelry for its beauty and storytelling was that of MoAna Luu. She became fascinated with vintage photographs and her family’s history as she started thinking about making jewelry. The women in her family wear jewelry to go to the market—they never save something to wear only on special occasions. That’s because every day is a special occasion. Her cane-inspired rings, earrings, bracelets, and pendants still wow me.

ManLuu by MoAnA LUU Cane cuff bracelet
The ManLuu Cane cuff bracelet has a signature golden weave, and the Beads bracelet is symbolic of the beads Caribbean women collect and wear (photo courtesy of MoAnA Luu).

Lots of jewelers I interviewed in 2021 are picking up on this vibe—whether it is Erica Molinari and her beautiful enamel work, Vortic’s pocket watch remakes that cannot be kept in stock (see below), or Danny Goldsmith from Delray Beach’s Goldsmith & Complications giving watch collectors the vintage look that makes any accessory stand out from the pack.

Vortic Hamilton
Vortic put one of its Hamilton upcycled wristwatches up for sale on its website, and the Lancaster 103 sold out on the first day it was available at a cost of $2,495 (photo courtesy of Vortic).

Auctions with major collections from jewelers such as Art Smith also inspired me to do more research into how people made jewelry and how where they lived—such as Smith’s New York—affected their work. I also loved seeing dancer Ann Reinking’s jewelry and how she sought out pieces that could move with her catlike grace.

In Detroit, that vintage look is going stronger than ever. For example, Rebel Nell has been turning old Motown records into classic eye-catching bracelets, necklaces, and cufflinks.

Across town, the Peacock Room’s Rachel Lutz says that she recently started picking up vintage engagement rings to sell in her beloved stores. She was hoping these rare pieces might catch someone’s eye as she got more into selling fine jewelry—only to find that she could not keep these mementos in stock.

Lutz also says she is adding to her regular stock of estate jewelry at her locations, which are a blend of new and vintage in terms of clothing. That means a client can pick up a 1940s-inspired cocktail dress that is brand new and pair it with a brooch or pendant from a similar era.

“It’s been word of mouth,” Lutz says. “Call it pandemic stress or therapy buying.… We’re sold out.”

I have plenty more to learn in 2022—but I will do it with a continued eye on the past as well as a willingness to learn about what’s going on in this very exciting present.

Top: Jewelry that comes from people we love or vintage pieces we pick up are some of my favorite items to wear as well as write about for JCK. Detroit’s Rebel Nell and Louise Jones of Ouizi created these artistic necklaces in 2021 as a way to blend its graffiti work with Ouizi’s modern takes on flowers (photo courtesy of Rebel Nell).

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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