There has been lots of talk about Versace of late. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the iconic fashion designer’s death, prompting The Assassination of Gianni Versace limited series on FX and a tribute collection for the spring-summer 2018 Versace runway show, along with a companion limited-edition tribute watch.
Among jewelry collectors, this all adds up to one thing: OG Versace anything is about to become a hot commodity. As for dealers, there’s never been a better time to go on a vintage Versace jewelry treasure hunt.
Gianni Versace would have been 72 on Dec. 2, a date that may have Versace enthusiasts feeling nostalgic for the brand’s heyday. And prompt antique and estate jewelers such as M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans to open their vaults and start digging.
“Jewelry collectors especially love pieces that are no longer available,” says George Peralta, jewelry manager at M.S. Rau. “At times it has to do with a change in a company’s ownership or when the founder passes away. I have seen many different scenarios and levels of interest, and this is sure to be one of them for Versace.
“I love that Versace incorporates neoclassical and baroque aesthetics and that they go very bold in their designs. A trend I see among our clientele is wearing one unique statement piece or what we refer to as a ‘10 table’ piece, something that is noticed from 10 tables away. It is the driving force behind the pieces that we choose, we want them to be remarkable. I only see the bold jewelry trend continuing.”
Below, two jewels from a rare Versace high-jewelry suite recently acquired by the firm (the third piece is pictured at top). All pieces feature the iconic Versace Medusa emblem, which depicts the mythological creature in her pre-Gorgon state, a time when all who looked at her fell under the spell of her beauty, which is what Gianni Versace hoped for his brand.
We have written recently of jewelry’s permanence, of its being a material stand-in for that which is immaterial, and a way to preserve the flicker of life for eternity. What a fitting way to honor Versace’s memory and his legacy of opulent, authentically glamorous Italian fashion design.
Top: Medusa earrings, circa 1990s, with 6 cts. t.w. diamonds in 18k gold, $17,500
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