Recently I was asked, “Why old jewelry?”  At first, I was a little taken aback.  I mean, as a lover of antiques, artwork, books and red meat, some things are just better when they’ve aged so why not “old jewelry?!”  Then I realized that my view of the world is uniquely mine just as yours, Dear Reader, is uniquely yours.

So why old jewelry, indeed.  Antique (100+ yrs. old) and vintage (99- yrs. old) jewelry brings a sense of nostalgia and history even to the most modern wardrobe.  Classics are a classic for a reason after all.  And with the Slow Fashion movement, as well as the desire to cut back on one’s own carbon footprint, there is no better place to start then with “old jewelry.”  

The diamond bracelet in the midst of this stack is just barely 100 years old.  From the early Art Deco period, circa 1920s, it features a central plaque holding a half carat old mine cut diamond.  Single cut diamonds are peppered throughout the central plaque as well as the bracelet's shoulders.  In this stack is certainly does not get lost amongst the simple mixture of chains.

Older pieces were often not mass produced like many of today’s big box-type mall jewelers.  Surviving pieces were created with a nod to craftsmanship not typically seen in today’s mass-marketplace except by master jewelers and designers who take the time to hand-create each piece pouring their hearts and souls into it much like jewelers of old.  Think about it…For a piece to have survived relatively intact for hundreds of years through countless generations; it had to have been well-made!  Name something else in today's modern world that could hold up like that.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

One of my favorite ring stacks, this pearl (& mother of pearl) mixture features a wide historical span.  From left, the seed pearl ring is circa 1970s & brings a lot of visual texture to the party.  The center ring is from Argentina, circa 1880s and features flat-cut diamond in an interlocking design around 3 central pearls.  It has a sense of subtlety & understated historical wealth all its own.  The pinky ring is indicative of late 1930s design.  A plaque of mother of pearl is the perfect backdrop with its single cut diamond halo for the central diamond. 

However, life is a contradiction.  And, as a living breathing human being, so am I.  Not only do I love old jewelry but I also have my ‘go-to’ designers.  Many of whom I have purchased multiple pieces from over the years or who I have on my ‘Jewelry Bucket List’ to purchase from in the (hopefully) near future.  I tend to gravitate towards contemporary designers who possess a very modern aesthetic.  Their inspiration is the world around us and their designs feature clean lines and/or bold colors.

Diamonds & gold always go together!  Here, I've mixed a modern bezel-set pear necklace with an Edwardian watch chain & single-cut diamond-encrusted ladies watch.  A simple mix united by the sparkling of the diamonds, it's just one example of how you mix "old jewelry" with new pieces as a way to create a bold statement.  Don't be afraid to mix old & new.  Find a common theme between the grouping such as color (see below) or metal type to create maximum impact.

It is exactly this contradiction that appeals to me so.  I love mixing the intricate, delicate floral filigree and geometric pierced details seen in Art Deco, Art Nouveau or Edwardian designs with the simple, clean, streamlined (and sometimes industrial) designs of designers like Laurie Kaiser, Stacey Lorinczi, Marla Aaron, Grace Lee, Suzy Landa, Merva Afshar, Judi Powers, Debra Navarro, Sonja Wetzel, Lucy Martin, Eve Streicker, Shimell and Madden or Sophie Gardner – just to name a very small handful of the amazing designers whose pieces I covet.

I call this the "blue period" ring stack.  It features an antique chalcedony ring that I've paired with a pear-cut cabochon tanzanite ring from one of my favorite designers on Etsy, Marajoyce.  Although very different in hue & design, I love how the curve of the pear's bottom mixed with similar lines on the chalcedony seem to flow together regardless of their more than 100 year age difference.

Jewelry collecting and appreciation isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of passion.  It’s a learning process that evolves as your tastes change and your collection grows.  My personal philosophy is that limiting yourself to only collecting “old jewelry;” jewels from a certain design era or strictly designer pieces doesn’t allow for that evolution and growth.  Mix it up.  Experiment.  Expand your horizons.  Buy what speaks to you; be it that incredible Art Deco ring or that one-of-a-kind necklace from your favorite designer.  Then…wear them together.  Don’t be afraid.  Be bold.  Be fearless.  Don’t let convention or expectation limit your creativity! 

I call this simple pairing my 'Raging Bull' stack.  The top diamond ring was created in both white & yellow gold.  When it's viewed from the side, it appears as a the erect horns of a bull.  It is a vintage, custom piece from approximately the 1960-70s.  Here, I've paired it with a brushed, matte gold band, also from Marajoyce.  Mara's work has a very organic & textural feel that gives it an inherent sense of nostalgia.

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