Dateline: Miami Beach

This year’s 45th edition of the Original Miami Beach Antique Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center hosted more than 1,000 national and international antiques dealers displaying paintings, furniture, Asian art, glass, china, some antique canes and pistols, and jewelry. The show took place Jan. 11–15.

The jewelry on offer ranged from 19th-century goods—with Victorian garnet, silver, micromosaics, and mourning pieces attracting particular attention—to big-name later pieces by Boucheron, Cartier, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels, and others.

As the final day drew to a close, the prevailing exhibitor opinion was that the show was “OK.” Show officials declined to provide attendance numbers, but many dealers felt that buying was light. They also wondered if timing was to blame. This year’s show ran eight days earlier—thus closer to Christmas—than last year’s.

Gene Enebo of Evergreen, Colo., was one of the dealers who experienced a quieter show. He and his wife, Christine, displayed a large amount of 19th-century jewelry items including a sizable collection of the delicate art-nouveau enamel and gold flower pins that were primarily manufactured in New Jersey at the turn of the century. Enebo noted that while the pieces had been enjoying a surge in popularity, he was beginning to see a dip in buyer interest.

Exhibitor Roy Rover of Easton, Pa., experimented with a new approach to the Miami show. He and his wife, Julia, booked two stands this year. That isn’t unusual, but the Rovers’ booths were located at opposite ends of the show floor and focused on two entirely different areas of their stock. Julia manned a booth that displayed a variety of antique jewelry, while Roy watched over the other, which consisted of tall cases filled with fashion jewelry.

Julia felt that her show was generally slow—she cited the early timing—but Roy was delighted with the sales at his booth. “There’s a lot of interest in fashion jewelry,” he said. “We brought over around 3,000 pieces and sold a lot. People are drawn to it—it’s different and fun.”

In general, his costume pieces were priced from $100 to $2,000 and ranged from simple hoop earrings all the way up to a $2,250 Marcel Boucher enamel jester brooch with movable arms and legs, Swarovski crystals, and faux sapphire.

Rover has found that the variety of midrange prices, along with wearability, make costume items hot sellers, particularly to female self-purchasers. “Women are buying these pieces to wear,” he said. “It’s all taste driven. If the piece suits their look and is affordable, there’s no guilt.”

Noteworthy jewelry was seen at the booth of Anshumita Jewels, of New Delhi, India. Here, large and opulent pieces of antique Indian jewelry—mostly 100 to 150 years old—sparkled in a rich blend of ruby, emerald, diamonds, and high-karat gold.

Large gold bracelets were plentiful and sought after, according to Penny Hurley of Bradford House Antiques, Litchfield, Conn. The Bradford booth displayed a number of heavy pieces, and Hurley spoke of one—which had already sold—that was so heavy a previous owner had drilled a hole into the back of it. “They wanted to make sure it wasn’t full of lead,” she said. Bradford House chose not to repair the piece, and ultimately that hole—visible proof of quality—served to sell the piece for them.

Bradford House also offered a large, ornate French necklace with an unusual history. Fully hallmarked and circa 1870–1880, the piece consisted of 18k gold with silver overlay and boasted more than 20.00 cts. t.w. diamonds and 10.00 cts. t.w. sapphires. It was originally owned by the Italian ballerina Iola Chaliapin (née Tornaghi), wife of the famous Russian opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin. Iola passed the piece down to her oldest son, Fyodor Chaliapin Jr., a film actor best known for his role as the dog-walking grandfather in 1987’s Moonstruck.

Silver was also well represented at the show. R & P Kassai, New York, displayed a full wall of silver goods alongside jewelry offerings, and Acanthus Antiques, Kensington, Md., featured a large, rectangular sterling brooch by William Spratling. McGee’s Antiques, Norman, Okla., featured another big name in silver: Georg Jensen. McGee’s displayed a collection of the Danish company’s silverware, including a large set of Jensen Acorn-pattern flatware.