A Preview of the Past: The Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show

More choices and greater competition will create challenges and opportunities for sellers.

May 23, 2024  |  Beth Bernstein
Vintage watches image

Rare, authentic, original and museum-quality are some of the terms that five expert antique and vintage dealers are using to describe their offerings at this year’s Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show. While trends in this category traditionally follow cyclical patterns, specific periods aren’t as apparent this year. Still, the five dealers are reporting certain recurring themes — and they all agree on what is driving buyers’ choices.

“Antique and vintage jewels are consistently influenced by celebrities, fashion and marketing,” says Kerri Orlando, jewelry specialist at Wilson’s Estate Jewelry in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “These days, social media reigns supreme. Younger generations are actively seeking more unique, sustainable, meaningful pieces, and they control that narrative.”

Dana Kiyomura, owner of Keyamour in New York, concurs: “On Instagram and TikTok, jewelry enthusiasts show what they wear, from how they stack their rings to layering their necklaces. Jewels worn on the red carpet, particularly brooches in the hair, statement necklaces, stacks of bracelets, and the mix of time periods are all influencing the directions in antique and vintage jewelry.”

Riker Brothers Art Nouveau turtle brooch set with diamonds, demantoid garnets, pearls and rubies, from Wilson’s Estate Jewelry. (Wilson’s Estate Jewelry)
Riker Brothers Art Nouveau turtle brooch set with diamonds, demantoid garnets, pearls and rubies, from Wilson’s Estate Jewelry. (Wilson’s Estate Jewelry)

For Sandra Cronan and Diane Richardson — respectively the co-owner of Sandra Cronan in London, and owner of The Gold Hatpin in Oak Park, Illinois — the biggest challenge is finding quality merchandise.
Kiyomura has had a similar experience: “While sales are still steady, my clients seem to be more discerning when looking for collectible jewelry. Finding the right merchandise to stock continues to be more and more difficult. The demand for the best of the best is very high and commands higher prices.”
Today’s competitive market has “more players than ever before,” affirms Greg Kwiat, CEO of New York dealer Fred Leighton. “To be successful, it’s important to offer the client a level of jewelry curation — a world-class collection — and to deliver an exceptional experience.”

Kwiat expects “some robust buying and selling” at the 2024 show. All five dealers say having the fair in the same location as the Couture show helps with business.

“I am looking forward to building on the crossover interest that started last year,” remarks Kiyomura. “This show presents a great opportunity to meet quality retail stores around the country and sell to new clients who previously had never visited the show.”

A pair of Victorian Etruscan Revival gold earrings from Sandra Cronan. (Sandra Cronan)
A pair of Victorian Etruscan Revival gold earrings from Sandra Cronan. (Sandra Cronan)

Here are some of the expected highlights:

Late Victorian

“Late Victorian is witnessing a resurgence in Etruscan revival pieces with granulation and other intricate goldwork that isn’t flashy, [pieces that are] easy to wear yet still collectible,” says Cronan. She also cites rivière necklaces in colored gems and diamonds from the Victorian era.

Kiyomura highlights this period as well. “We continually do well with the more unusual and rare Victorian pieces in all categories of jewelry, and that hasn’t changed.”

Kwiat also mentions rivière necklaces, as well as collet-set diamond earrings from the 19th century.

Signed pieces

“Signed pieces by the great jewelry names continue to be in demand, with strong prices,” says Kwiat.
Orlando specifically points to Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels as houses that are popular for their pieces’ craftsmanship and historical significance.

Decidedly Deco

Art Deco is always desirable, and 2024 is seeing a focus on key items from this era.

“I continue to sell wonderful Deco pieces, particularly diamond line bracelets or more intricate bracelets from that period,” says Cronan.

Kiyomura also foresees line bracelets as a top seller from the era, while Orlando and Richardson report ongoing sales of Art Deco engagement rings.

Everyday wearable

“Charms, talismans and gold chains, particularly paperclip links and chunky curb styles, are favorites from different eras [and] continue to evolve,” says Richardson. “The layered necklaces have spilled over to layered bracelets in a plethora of styles.” At her store, “rings are perennial favorites. Vintage styles with lots of color that look like irresistible pieces of candy on the hand are having their day.”

For Cronan, items like ultra-long Victorian guard chains are selling, with customers styling them as body chains. Also popular are gypsy rings from 1880 to 1915, which have a contemporary feel but more character than today’s models.

French circular link bracelet from Fred Leighton image
French circular link bracelet from Fred Leighton, c. 1940s. (Fred Leighton)

Kiyomura mentions 1970s and ’80s jewelry: Bulgari’s signed Monete necklaces and anything Aldo Cipullo made for Cartier. “Even with the prices of gold going up, customers feel they can wear these pieces more easily than those from earlier periods,” she says.

Kwiat adds that he’s been “seeing a lot of interest in bold, yellow gold styles, including chunky bracelets
and earrings.”  

Main Image: Vintage watches at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show. (Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show)

This article is from the May-June 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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