Diane Richardson of The Gold Hatpin on looking chic in antiques



Since her teen years, Diane Richardson, owner of the Chicago-based antique treasure trove, Gold Hatpin, has been smitten with the stories and the search of the rare find. She attributes her affinity for 19th and early 20th century jewelry to her grandmother. “I believe she planted the seed when she showed me a worn signet ring in the shape of a heart and told me that her grandfather had had it made for her grandmother from a gold nugget from the 1849 California Gold Rush. I had just learned about the Gold Rush in school and thought it was incredibly cool to have something that was a part of history and so sentimental in the family.”

Soon after, Diane’s fascination grew and she frequented antique fairs and markets. Early on she had dreamed of a career in archeology and the thought of uncovering antique treasures intrigued her. Largely self taught, through trial and error, scouring books, working hands-on for two different dealers, and taking GIA classes, she decided it was time to go out on her own. The Gold Hatpin opened in 1986 and Diane has been in the business of buying and selling antiques that range from early Victorian through mid-century jewelry for the past 30 years.

We are thrilled to get Diane’s expert advice on how to wear and mix and match certain popular styles of various periods of jewelry:

“There are certain pieces you see and you just know you want to own them. Such is the case with this early Victorian inverted pear-shaped garnet necklace. The cut, and rich almandine color, shape and uniform size of the garnets in collet settings is a rare piece that is as timely today as it was when it was created. But it is also a choice collector’s item. This is one you won’t lock away in your safe; its versatility can lend itself to almost every occasion. We especially love it dressed down with a white T-shirt in summer or casual cozy cashmere sweater in winter. But of course you can wear it as easily for more dressed up events and it’s perfection with an LBD. You just can’t go wrong with this antique necklace.”

Victorian Garnet Necklace

“While we all love the rich buttery warmth of gold—there is character and presence in Victorian through turn-of-the-century gunmetal pieces. I recommend that you wear it layered with a touch of color such as turquoise, which brightens up and adds a light touch to the deep gray tones. Graduate your layers and add motifs into the mix with chains—such as this turquoise cabochon-set Victorian heart necklace and the delicate gunmetal envelope stamp holder with the turquoise round seal. I’ve mixed in an oxidized silver round open-link chain to illustrate how well modern pieces work in with the layering. This is a more casual look when worn with a heather gray sweater and jeans. It’s also perfect to perk up a ‘boyfriend’ white shirt with a camisole or tank underneath or a cardigan thrown over the shirt.

Gunmetal and silver jewelry popped with turquoise

“Brooches began making a comeback among antique jewelry dealers and collectors and now they are being shown in modern designer collections. I am excited about their return. If you have inherited some of your grandmother’s brooches and they are similar in size and seem to work well together, experiment with wearing them two, three or more at a time. I personally love the naturalistic enameled floral motifs of the Art Nouveau period worn in clusters of three or more. Varying the types of flowers and the amount of enameling will add a tactile feeling to the statement you are making. You can wear them together more traditionally on the lapel of a jacket or you can have fun with them and wear them on a pocket of your jeans, on the shoulder or hip of a simple black dress or in your hair. There are multiple options for how to style them—why not play and have fun?”


Art Nouveau cluster of brooches

“One of my favorite interchangeable pieces from the Art Deco period is the diamond clip brooch with its textural interest of multiple cuts of diamonds. It can be dramatic worn in its original state as one large brooch; it has fittings in the back that also allows it to be detached into two clips that can be worn in the hair, on certain collars of jackets, on two sides of the top of a sheath dress, on sleeve cuffs and on shoes (for only the most dressiest of occasions and if you have a date for the event that who will watch over your feet). One of the two parts can also be worn as a pendant or clipped onto a strand of pearls. There are myriad options for a piece you might have coveted but left behind because you felt it didn’t fit your lifestyle and you had nowhere to wear it. The next time you see one you are taken by, snap it up.”

Art Deco clip brooch in two detachable parts, full brooch featured at top

“Remember when you believed that if you wore more than one bracelet, you had to wear the same color metal from the same time period, with the same stylistic detailing? Those days are long gone. The current mood for wearing bracelets is anything goes— you can mix Art Deco with vintage 70s, modern designer pieces and Victorian styles all on one wrist. You can mix rose gold with yellow and platinum and flexible with hard bangles and cuffs. Be bold! The time is right for piling it on.”

mix of different periods of bracelets

In Collaboration with The Gold Hatpin