Rapaport Magazine
Style & Design

Bold finger

Vintage cocktail rings offer a spirited style choice that demands to be noticed, says dealer Michael Magnotti.

By Phyllis Schiller

Images: EraGem

How do you define a cocktail ring?

We think of cocktail rings as conversation pieces. Rings that are so big and noticeable that there is little chance they will not spark a discussion.

We haven’t put a big emphasis on collecting notable designer pieces. We’ve found designer cocktail rings are more important to other dealers and inside the trade, but actually not that important to the majority of people who buy rings to wear. There are certainly some great Art Deco cocktail rings and Retro 1940s pieces, but the focus on much larger semiprecious stones started to pick up in the 1950s and really took off in the 1960s to 1970s. These seem to be what our customers are looking for.

What are the most popular types?

Our favorite has always been aquamarines, big emerald cuts. They are like a swimming pool without sides. Stones typically cut in large cabochons, like turquoise, coral and opal, are also quite desirable at this time. More subtle, earthy colors like smoky quartz and brownish citrines seem to sell immediately, if we can find them. Cocktail rings in yellow gold tend to have more metal, with the gold a greater part of the design. When cocktail rings are platinum, it is generally less about the metal and more about the gemstones.

What makes cocktail rings attractive to today’s clients?

Vintage cocktail rings are generally heavy in weight and chunky; it’s a commitment to wear one. But with that comes such a big, wonderful piece of jewelry, and often a big color as well, and having something unique and not readily available to others. Being vintage has the additional benefit of being eco-friendly, an important component in purchasing decisions now, thankfully.

What advice do you give customers when they’re choosing these rings?

Our main hope is that people wear what they buy. We have sold a few rings so large that we thought there was no way practically the ring could be enjoyed, but those have been our customers’ favorites. Many of the traditional birthstones are a great place to start. Then there are seasonal colors, like oranges and browns for fall and pastels for spring.

How difficult is it to stock these pieces?

It is challenging to find a steady flow of these rings to satisfy demand. We have to find them individually, take pictures and describe each piece, and once they’re sold, we have to start from scratch again. Add to that the severely reduced ability to travel [for sourcing] due to Covid-19. We have had to rely on partnerships with other vendors.

What criteria do you use in selecting cocktail rings?

When we select a ring, we first consider if someone is going to be happy with it. Based on the images and descriptions we provide, will it meet — and hopefully exceed — their expectations when they open the box and see it for the first time?

We offer a lifetime service warranty to assist in any maintenance or repairs. We take this into consideration with the items we select to sell: Were they constructed to stand up and be durable for the new owner? Since they have already been through a previous owner, or many, most hold up very well over time.

Who is Michael Magnotti?Michael Magnotti is a founding partner and the current CEO of EraGem. The company, which started in 2006, specializes in sourcing and selling fine estate jewelry and vintage diamond rings exclusively through its website.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - January 2022. To subscribe click here.

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