The Best Jewels from the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show
Whether you are a serious collector of a certain time periods in jewelry or you are on the hunt for something rare and unique, we have combed the recent Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show to bring you various items we found to be swoon worthy, in excellent condition, work with modern wardrobes and are good investments—meaning they are authentic and will definitely hold their value or appreciate with time.
From Georgian earrings to Edwardian and Art Deco brooches to the perfect 60s curb link bracelet, the items I found are from the 18th through the late mid-20th century and are all pieces that feel as relevant for today and they did when they were designed.
Before I bring you the pieces I found, I thought that it might be informative to provide the correct terminology for starter collectors to help them in purchasing jewelry from the past, which is sometimes all categorized under one umbrella term such as estate, vintage or antique. But these references are not all the same. Estate refers to any piece pre-owned. Antique is for jewelry and/or any object that is 100 years or older. Vintage has a few different meanings depending on where you find your information but in jewelry it usually refers to pieces that are 20-50 years old. Retro applies to anything created after 1935 through 1950 while mid-century encompasses the 1950’s through 60’s. This gets broken down even more by styles and exact time period, which I will mention throughout the descriptions of the jewels.
There were quite a number of enticing earrings from the Georgian (1714-1830) and the early Victorian periods (the entire Victorian period ranged from 1837-1901).
Paste was a popular alternative to diamonds in Georgian times and currently it attracts collectors for the same reasons it did more than 200 years ago—it has all the charm and characteristics of the real gemstone pieces yet at more accessible prices points. To see two pair of dramatic pendeloque earrings in one collection was a pleasant surprise. I spotted both at Simon Teakle. The colorless paste versions are circa 1760, set in silver topped gold and cut down collet closed back settings with the center bows reflected the rococo styling of the time. Quite often colored paste either replicated gemstones or was a bit brighter like these vivid reddish floral and pear shape drop styles that are also closed back and set into silver over gold. This is a wonderful pair for those of you who want to spice up your jewelry wardrobe with a pop of color.
Speaking of color, the emeralds in the long drop earrings at Moira Fine Antique Jewelry are mesmerizing as is the gold cannetille work on these earrings of the early 19th century. These are in near perfect condition for earrings that are of this age. Lowther Antiques showed a charming pair of open back smaller feminine and petite versions of girandole earrings, which are usually larger, more dramatic and heavier. These are a size your can wear every day. They are set with cushion cut garnets, are priced right and light as a feather on the earlobe—the type of piece that should be snapped up the minute you see them. The Gold Hatpin’s closed foil backed pair of Georgian earrings in a silver topped gold setting with pear shaped drop surrounded by a large open pear shape with old mine cut diamonds are a classic style of the time and I have seen and purchased a similar version to this pair before. They are also a versatile size and length and a welcome addition to any jewelry wardrobe, which includes antique pieces.
An article featured in May (read here) in bejeweledmag.com on the most popular silhouettes in earrings in old and new versions, mentions how modern designers are being influenced by the styles of the past and it is interesting to note that I saw many of these same shapes and in contemporary interpretations during the same trip at the Couture Show.
Brooches and pins were out in a diverse range at this show. They have made a comeback among collectors and are being worn in clever and contemporary ways, which is breathing new life into this category that was for a long time, hidden away in safes, never seeing the light of day. Over the past several years, celebrities started wearing them to red carpet events in their hair, on the waist and backs of gowns and in various unexpected places that brought them into the spotlight again. At Platt Boutique, which has a awe inspiring range of brooches, I was taken by two silver top rose cut diamond styles – one jabot pin, which is in the shape of an arrow with bezel set moonstones, the other, a winged brooch. These both have sentimental meanings which makes them even more appealing –the arrow is based on the one that cupid carried and ‘shoots straight for a lover’s heart’ while the wings are a symbol of protection. These are both dramatic in proportion yet highly wearable.
Bernard Nacht/Under The Crown’s Edwardian/ Belle Époque period (1901-1915) horseshoe brooch is one of the most delicate and elegant horseshoe brooches I have seen. It is set with European cut diamonds and French cut rubies that change this motif from ordinary to extraordinary. J.A.B Distributor’s Art Deco (period from 1920-1935) rectangular pin is a complete work of art and a collector’s item—it resembles a small painting with hand cut stones of black onyx and lapis, which fit together, like a puzzle and diamond and rubies in the shape of an urn. In person, it is even more breathtaking.
I saw many Victorian tracery cuffs and Retro tread bracelets, which are pieces that I would normally recommend purchasing but they got trumped at this show by this pair of cut onyx and rose gold pair of Victorian bracelets from Fred Leighton. And with the comeback of bold statement gold, I thought this textured mid-century curb link chain bracelet s was one of the best I had seen in a long time at Keyamour. These are two extremely different styles, made approximately 100 years apart, yet both are extremely classic, versatile and relevant for today and well into the future.
Speaking of Keyamour, I saw some of my personal favorites there like this collection of jaw dropping Georgian cluster rings. I have never seen so many at one dealer before. They are all in silver and/or silver topped gold with cut down collet and foiled closed back settings and old diamonds. Every woman who has a hankering for antique jewelry should have at least one fabulous cluster ring in her jewelry collection. If you choose a Georgian one with a closed back, you need to wear it carefully, ensuring it doesn’t get wet, as the foil will then change color or fade which will leave you with stones that are less vibrant. You should never clean them in any sort of solution or disperse them in water. The age, patina and oxidization all add to their personality and character of the ring. Although today’s designers are using old cuts in their rings, there is nothing like an authentic Georgian style to show the handiwork of the jewelers back then and offer a bold diamond look with a subtle shimmer rather than all-out bling.
Signet rings continue to get a seal of approval. Every woman should have one of these is her collection as well and Maryanntique always carries a well rounded selection. Once used to sign important documents and to represent family crests, hobbies, professions and beliefs, these rings in hard stone and gold have been a resource for many modern designers who have taken the concept and run with it, creating a whole new generation of signet rings for the contemporary customer.
Many dealers carry memorial rings and I have seen some real beauties at different shows but this is one of the better priced and pretty memorial rings I found recently. It is in a closed foil backed setting with an amethyst surround –the center forms a tree designs made out of hair. I found it at Chris Enebo Antique Jewelry, where there is a range of early pieces at accessible prices.
As far as pendants and necklaces go, these are three styles that are collectible and all are different enough to round out your collection
-A Georgian acrostic vignette locket that spells out the first letter of the word Regard in gemstones. This one is so special in that it is has diamonds and beautiful gold work with leaves, granulation and canetille work in two colors of gold.
-A Georgian demi-suite of closed foil back pink topaz and seed pearl all around station necklace with matching drop earrings at Lowther Antiques.
-A drool worthy Art Deco sautoir in diamonds with amazing Burma ruby accents. So glamorous and chic and found at Spicer Warin.
And the two pieces I was sad to leave behind—those that I will always dream about and covert and hope that I don’t pine for them for too long:
-Edwardian Hair combs in their original fitted box that evoke my favorite story, O. Henry’s The Gift of The Magi from Keyamour
-My favorite of all at the show at Humphrey Butler, which made my heart skip a beat—a memorial pendant that is so rare and exceptional that, although I don’t wear memorial pieces, I would have made an exception for this one, if I were not on a spending freeze. It is a pendant of a bloodstone on the front, with a flaming double heart representing burning passion, encircled by a gold serpent, which symbolizes eternal love. The back is an enamel open book on a black background with an inscription inside the book that reads “Thy Love I knew Thy Loss Deplore”, encased in glass.