The Hottest Estate Jewelry Styles Right Now

Prime vintage: Which looks from the past are trending today? Four US dealers weigh in.

June 12, 2023  |  Phyllis Schiller

Kazanjian & Fogarty: Gems and Men’s

There is continuing interest in “signed, period and beautifully crafted pieces with fine-quality gemstones,” which are always in short supply, says Russell Fogarty (pictured), partner at both estate jeweler Kazanjian & Fogarty and e-commerce company Beladora in Beverly Hills, California.

“Most of our purchases come to us from private clients; we purchase everything, from very high value to low value, and then decide which pieces to keep (invest in) for inventory and which to sell through other channels. We also advertise that we purchase estate jewelry, which brings sellers to us from all across the country,” he relates. “A new source that is becoming more popular is chat platforms, where dealers buy and sell with each other between the various jewelry shows that happen during the year.”

While it may be just Los Angeles or red-carpet events, “we are selling a surprising number of brooches to men for their lapels,” he adds. On a broader note, “although we do not sell lab-grown diamonds, the subject comes up…more and more frequently.”

From left: Cartier Circles earrings in 18-karat gold and sapphires, designed by Aldo Cipullo circa 1974; David Webb bangle in 18-karat gold with turquoise, diamonds and enamel, circa 1970.

Croghan’s Jewel Box: Color, Pearls and Charms

“We’re always on the hunt for beautiful antique rings,” says Rhett Ramsay Outten, who co-owns Croghan’s Jewel Box in Charleston, South Carolina, with her sister Mariana Ramsay Hay.

Her store stocks pretty sapphire, ruby and emerald rings, as well as “European-cut diamonds for engagement rings. Turquoise and coral rings are a staple as well.” Classic emerald-cut aquamarines set with diamonds “are quickly scooped up.” Antique bracelets are another big category, and clients like to stack them.

Unusual estate pearls are newly popular, specifically “chunky multi-strand bracelets with platinum and diamond clasps, or dainty, beautiful multi-strand chokers. Weddings are a big business in our city, so pearls are a natural offshoot of that.” 

Vintage gold charms sell well. “We like to buy bracelets full of charms,” she explains. “If they do not sell, we clip the charms off and sell the bracelet and charms separately. It is hard to find heavy gold bracelets like the ones used in the 1950s and ’60s for charms, and our customers love them.”

As for sourcing, she says, “well-priced antique diamonds 2 carats and up are becoming hard to find.”

A selection of vintage and antique jewels curated by Croghan’s Jewel Box.

What’s Hot

  1. Three- and five-stone diamond
    rings, always hard to keep in stock.
  2. Bold yellow-gold bracelets, either
    to wear by themselves or to stack with a modern armful.
  3. Lockets and pendants with
    diamonds, which clients tend to
    prefer over larger, showier necklaces.

What’s Not

  1. Brooches, except for specialized themes or big-name designers.
  2. Delicate early designs with filigree, portraiture or subdued color, which are not as popular as bolder looks from the 1940s to ’80s.
  3. Matching sets of necklaces and earrings or brooches, since clients prefer creatively mixing collections.

Aaron Faber Gallery: Watches and Chains

“Birth year” Rolexes, “gifted to celebrate someone’s special birthday,” are among the hot sellers at vintage watch and jewelry dealer Aaron Faber Gallery in New York, says co-owner Patricia Faber. “Until recently, Rolex dated their production by serial numbers, so it is possible, for example, to find a Date just made in 1993 for a 30-year-old’s birthday gift.”

Long gold chains are especially in demand among boomer-generation clients, “who are not wearing chokers and want striking jewelry.” Many younger buyers are “interested now in watch collecting and estate jewelry in place of contemporary jewelry.”

Branded pieces like Cartier, David Webb and Tiffany & Co. are always solid sellers, she continues. Demand for colored-stone earrings and rings “has been surprisingly consistent and strong, with a preference for bright colors, especially peridot, tourmaline, aquamarine. Turquoise is very popular.” So are animal motifs: “Everybody loves animals, even when they are a brooch.”

Not surprisingly, all of those categories are getting harder to find. “We work almost exclusively with private clients to source these.”

From left: A selection of gold chains; Terrier brooch in 14-karat gold with garnets and diamonds, circa 1940s; vintage Rolex.

The Three Graces: Blingy Rings

The “absolutely best and hottest” sellers are all-diamond rings or those with colored gemstones and diamonds, says Lisa Stockhammer-Mial, owner and president of online retailer The Three Graces. Wearable rings turn over nearly twice as fast as other jewelry, with most clients opting for ones that sit low on the hand and are “suitable for active lifestyles.”

Unusual cuts of diamonds remain desirable, she continues. “Baguettes, Asschers, hexagonal, portrait-cut, or table-cut diamonds — any shapes that are out of the ordinary — are often sought-after.” She cites old mine and old European as two antique cuts with a “personality and distinctive fire” that appeal to a discerning client.

In the last year, vintage rings have risen in popularity and price. “Fewer are found in the marketplace for the eras that are the most desired, prior to the 1930s,” she explains. Sourcing authentic mountings from the Art Deco or Edwardian periods is increasingly a challenge, she reports, and colored-stone rings are scarce and expensive, since everyone wants them.

From left: Diamond cluster ring; sapphire and diamond ring.

This article is from the May-June 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

Main image: Vintage emerald and diamond ring from Croghan’s Jewel Box. (Croghan’s Jewel Box)


The Hottest Estate Jewelry Styles Right Now

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