Gift Guide #11: Alice Kwartler on simply charming finds for our 12 Days of Holiday Gifts Series

This season we are lucky enough to have enlisted 12 expert modern designer retailers, antique dealers and shops for our holiday gift guide. For each installment, we have asked for suggestions from their brick and mortar or online stores. We have also asked what gift they would choose for themselves this holiday season

charmsWhen talking about gift giving and antique through vintage jewels and decorative items in the same sentence—Alice Kwartler immediately comes to mind. It’s the Manhattan destination for exceptional pieces that date back to the Victorian era through present day, with an emphasis on Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Retro and Mid-Century designs. In business for 40 years, Alice Kwartler specializes in the distinctive  and diverse. The glass shelves that surround the shop are chock full of all categories of gleaming silver ware from frames to candlesticks, bar ware to boxes. Within the well appointed cases of her jewelry displays, you will spot signed pieces from all of the renowned houses in jewelry as well as a historical tour of jewelry throughout the ages.

Alice has recently updated on her online shop and is a dealer on 1st Dibs so there is no way of missing out on her jaw dropping selection.

For our gift guide, Alice invites us to play in her overflowing treasure trove of charms-pedants and medallions which convey almost every sentiment and commemorate so many of life’s celebrations and momentous occasions. “From the tongue-in-cheek and witty to romantic, these tokens of friendship and love are perfect gifts for the holidays as well as year round,” says Alice, who chose the following to share with us:

“This circa 1940 ‘knock on wood charm’ is one of my favorites in the shop. I love that the gold surrounds authentic wood and the detailed shape of the charm. It represents the tradition and superstition of  touching or knocking on wood so as to avoid ‘tempting fate’ after saying something you hope will happen-or the reverse-something you might have said that you wish would not happen yet is beyond your control. By wearing this charm, you can actually knock wood to bring good fortune and  keep the evil or bad times away.”


“Many men have difficulty expressing their deepest emotions. The charms they buy as gifts can speak their to their emotions and allow them to let their loved ones know exactly how they feel. This charm is perfect for revealing  deep affection with the message You will always be in my heart.. This is also from the retro period and has a heart filled with pearls and a beautiful soft patina to the gold.”


“Some of the most unique charms offer a tongue-in-cheek way of speaking of passion and romance. The ‘Prisoner of Love’ Charm features an open heart behind bars with a  flower comprised of lapis and a diamond center. This is a distinctive charm that offers a a more playful message of love and is from  circa 1930s.”


What is Alice’s charm?

“This season I would be thrilled to add another piece to the charm necklace I have been building. I get very excited when I find unusual and meaningful charms for the store.  When I uncovered this acrostic heart charm from the ‘40s, I knew this was the one I would want as a gift for the holidays from my husband! Acrostic jewelry date back for centuries and became most popular during the Georgian and Victorian era in ornate designs for lockets, brooches and rings. The first letter of each gem spells out a term of endearment. I have always loved the concept of this but I have never owned a acrostic piece since I prefer the cleaner lines of the Deco through retro periods. Then recently, I found  this fluted heart spelling out the word ‘Dearest in gemstones from the 1940s, which is so well suited to the type of jewelry I would wear and to my personal style. Fingers crossed, he gets the hint.”



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Gift Guide #9: Metier San Francisco’s something old and something new for our 12 Days of Gifts For The Holidays Series

Gift Guide #8: Quadrum Gallery-modern artist expression for our 12 days of gifts for the holidays series

 Greenwich St. Jewelers picks  for Holidays Gifts

Macklowe Gallery’s picks for Holiday Gifts

Sofia Kaman’s picks for Holiday Gifts

Omar Vaja’s of Bentley & Skinner  picks for Holiday Gifts

Joanne Teichman’s of Ylang 23 picks for Holiday Gifts

Elizabeth Doyle’s of Doyle & Doyle picks for Holiday Gifts

How to Receive the Jewels You Want for The Holidays