Rapaport Magazine

Bigger is Better

A return to yellow gold and big pieces were top trends at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show.

By Nancy Pier Sindt

Dioptase, Tahitian pearl, 18-karat gold and diamond necklace by Gilbert Albert. Courtesy Aaron Faber Gallery.
Retailers and dealers descended on the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show with enthusiasm and purpose. As in years past, exhibitors report that signed pieces and vintage diamond rings are top-sellers, but this year, standout items also included gems and jewelry with untreated rubies and sapphires and natural pearls. Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Tiffany & Co. pieces continue to be highly desirable, with a noted resurgence in demand for David Webb.
   Exhibitors agreed that clients were looking for quality first. As always, price was a factor, but if the item was right, the piece sold. “While the market for signed pieces is always strong, this year, there was more interest in nonsigned pieces — if they were good quality,” said Michael McTeigue, McTeigue Since 1895, New York City. “If it’s the right piece, and they see value, they buy it.”
   In gemstone jewelry, Burma rubies and untreated sapphires topped many buyers’ want lists. Assil New York, New York City, experienced great demand for natural, untreated gemstones, especially Burma rubies and Kashmir sapphires in larger stones. Estate jewelry bearing such gems was strong.
   “For us, Burma ruby has done really well. Untreated colored gemstones are very strong in general, including sapphires and emeralds,” noted John T. Haynes, Dallas, Texas. In a change from previous years, “Classic Deco line bracelets are not moving. Instead, bolder jewelry in yellow gold, particularly signed David Webb pieces, has been strong.”

Late-Victorian gold earrings with granulation. Courtesy D&E Singer.

That ’70s Show
   This year, a new fashion style has reared its head: the 1970s. Reporting a surge in sales of the decade’s bold yellow gold necklaces and cuffs, chunky gemstone rings and elaborate jeweled collars were Patricia Faber of Aaron Faber Gallery and Diana Singer, D&E Singer, both of New York City.
   “Right now, the 1970s is the hottest decade,” reported Faber. She said fashion editors have been calling to photograph 1970s-style gold jewelry with gemstones. One unexpected success for the gallery has been large, multicolored gemstone bibs designed by Gilbert Albert, a Brazilian designer popular in the 1970s. Some of these one-of-a-kind pieces can fetch as much as six figures. Designs by Aldo Cipullo for Cartier, such as the Love Bracelet and the “Nail” series, also are growing in popularity.
   Singer concurred. “Styles from the 1970s and 1960s are very strong right now. Signed pieces are strongest, but good-looking yellow gold jewelry, such as large braided gold necklaces and bracelets, is a popular category,” she said, adding that demand for white gold jewelry, except for solitaires, is weakening. Instead, large-scale antique gold pieces, including some dramatic drop earrings from the late Victorian period, are highly sought after.
   “But now, buyers are looking for the exception, including signed and/or great, really cool 1970s things,” commented Kris Charamonde, owner of Charamonde, Inc., Lake Worth, Florida.

Big is Better
   Overall, exhibitors noted a preference for larger-scale jewelry, with or without gemstones, and most often in yellow gold. “Bigger, not smaller; long chains, not short necklaces,” summed up Steven Neckman, of the company bearing his name in Miami. In brands, he said, “Van Cleef is the hottest name out there; it’s the best value and style.” At David & Co., Boston, Eric Bitz said David Webb and Buccellati were his company’s best-selling brands and the most-wanted styles were “chunkier, bolder, yellow gold jewelry.”
   “Bolder pieces in yellow gold” also were among the standouts for Haynes. Singer agreed. “Big-scale, antique gold pieces are very strong right now,” she said. Stylish women tend to choose a single, bold jewelry item to express their style and personality. “Jewelry is one of the clearest ways to show one’s individuality. Estate jewelry is not only beautiful and valuable, but a piece can become a woman’s trademark,” Singer said.
   Charamonde concluded that “Like art, jewelry has to withstand the test of time; every generation appreciates it.” 

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2013. To subscribe click here.

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