A Weekend chock full of interactive jewelry seminars for the novice and consummate collector

This is the first article In A Three Part Series on Jewelry Camp, which will be Hosted By Hofstra University. Long Island, NY, August 4 – 6, 2017. This story focuses on advice driven hands on sessions. Upcoming articles in the series will offer a preview into expert lectures on renowned jewelers and museum quality jewels by curators and connoisseurs on different time periods and topics.

When Edward Lewand talks about ‘camp’—he is not referring to roughing it in wooden bunks with first aid kits and bug spray. He is talking about two days jam-packed with jewelry seminars, interactive lectures and hands on sessions that offer both novice and consummate attendees the take-away of being able to shop, sell and understand today’s antique and vintage jewelry shows and fairs. The counselors Lewand has handpicked for what he quite simply calls Jewelry Camp, now in it’s 39th year are industry experts, jewelry historians, museum curators, leading dealers and antique and vintage store owners, authors and more.

For the starter antique/vintage jewelry collector or dealer, the advice driven seminars provide practical education, and offer a quick but comprehensive overview and the knowledge to peruse an auction preview, a gemstone fair or antique show.


Susan Abeles VP/Jewelry Director of Bonham’s US with her trusty loupe.

Enter Susan Abeles, Vice President, Director Jewelry US at Bonham’s, who has 30 years of experience in the auction world and the luxury sector of the jewelry industry. This is a woman who has also consulted with Bulgari, Cartier, The Musee of Decorative Arts, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Abeles has also represented private estates and individuals such as Gloria Swanson, Rock Hudson, Mae West, Irving Berlin, Rockefeller families, Diana Vreeland and the Duchess of Windsor. Who wouldn’t want to learn about both selling and buying at auction from her?

In speaking with Susan, she explains, “during part of my session, I hope to help attendees understand and feel comfortable with the process of an auction’s pros and cons.” Her straight-shooter personality and honesty allow me to ask her, what are the cons?

“Firstly, if you are looking for something specific and you want it immediately—it’s not likely it is going to be there waiting for you. And secondly, if you receive it as a gift and feel it isn’t you, it’s not exchangeable.”


From Bonham’s- An Important Diamond Ring: 17.97 carats. Emerald cut diamond. D color, VS1 clarity. Opening photo shows a Bonham’s diamond and ruby bracelet from Tiffany & Co.

“The pros,” explains Susan, “if you are looking for a specific time period or gemstone in jewelry, you are likely to find something from that time period or set with the stone you desire at the sale. The preview can also open you up to other styles. Say, you come in and you spot a vintage Van Cleef & Arpels’ necklace. You like the look of those you’ve seen before and it’s what you are coveting at the moment. But you see a Cartier from the same time period and you find that you actually like it more—and so you decide on your high bid, taking into consideration the 25% buyer premium and you go for it.”

“What about when people talk about bidding wars which will drive the price up?” I ask.

She explains, “If you are a consumer, you will most likely bid on pieces you can afford and that you will actually get a current and fair market value that you can compare.”

The second part of her lecture will focus more on selling to the auction houses. Susan explains, “How to identify, and value an item, what the houses are looking for, how they figure the value on the item, what is an estimate, a reserve and hammer prices. It will also cover what an IC is and how they affect you and what you are entitled to.”

For all interested in this end of the market, Susan’s  no-nonsense approach, always with a little side story and humor thrown in, will offer information and advice for both the beginner and the advanced individual.

Mona Miller

Mona Miller’s interactive The Bag of Tricks is another guidance driven seminar. Miller will literally give all attending a bag of tools that she will teach you how to use while you are scouring antique/vintage and flea markets. The principle/director of Pacific Gemological Laboratories in Portland, Oregon, which specializes in gem and jewelry appraisals, forensic reports, and consultation services. Mona has worked in the jewelry industry since 1981 as a buyer, retailer, appraiser, and educator.  She also has a lot of initials after her name: GG, FGA, FASA and ICGA which means she has graduated, been certified, holds fellowships and belongs to a number of jewelry associations. In addition, Mona is an adjunct professor at American University, which she developed and teaches Gem & Jewelry specialty classes. So what’s in Mona’s bag of tricks that she will be sharing with her attendees? “We are going to start with the basics,” she says, “A loupe for examining the piece or pieces you find, and to help to identify if there are hallmarks and what is the Karat gold.” She continues, “Depending on how advanced the group is, we will be passing around paste, gemstones, jewels that have been led soldered so as to see how to identify these things and more.” Mona will also supply tweezers for holding loose stones, a stone cloth and some other goodies that will be a surprise. “We are looking for clues in this class, as to time period, the materials and other more basic but essential bits of knowledge that everyone working in the jewelry industry should have.” Mona has prepared the bags for all of her attendees to use throughout the two days of camp.

If you are going to learn to sell and buy at auction, appraise what you can at everything from yard sales to high end antique jewelry fairs, then its also time to receive advice on colored gemstones.

The tools  Mona Miller uses most days.

Gary Ruskin

Gary Roskin, a graduate gemologist, author, journalist, and now the Executive Director for the International Colored Gemstone Association,  is just the expert to give you the counsel on Colored Gemstones: The Quest For The Right Value. With 40 years of professional laboratory diamond grading, supervising, training, monitoring, and reporting, Gary has provided jewelers and appraisers valuable diamond grading tips and techniques. In 2009, Gary took on the additional role of adjunct professor, teaching gemology at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Jewelry Design Department in New York City, as well as Practical Tutor for the Gemological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A).

He will be asking and answering the following questions, “What are the quality factors when evaluating colored gemstones? And once you have determined a gem’s quality, how do we arrive at the proper value?”

Gary also will talk about how to examine the fine details of evaluating colored gemstones: color, clarity, cutting, origin, treatments, and the market. He will give attendees insight into the new colored gemstone color grading systems, and discuss the laboratory’s role in providing consumer terminology, and if it is helpful or a hindrance in determining it’s actual value. He will also clue you in to the different color grading systems in the market and whether or not they are confusing or speaking the same color language.

Gary shows us a non-heat treated Burma Sapphire and Ruby

Jewelry Camp is chock full of myriad informational seminars and I am excited to be one of the interactive lecturers among  global industry leaders during the two-day event. My topic, The Modern Woman’s Guide to Buying and Wearing Antique Jewelry, will cover how to buy and wear 18th-19th century jewelry without looking like you, stepped out of a period film.  The discussion will focus primarily on how to choose Georgian and Victorian jewelry, and how to wear it with your contemporary wardrobe.  I will go over what to look for and offer purchasing suggestions, as well as tricks to styling your antique jewelry. This lecture will  be interactive so bring all of the jewelry you want to learn how to wear together.

Keep an eye out for the next three speakers who specialize in iconic and renowned jewelers of the 19th through mid 20th century.

In Partnership with Jewelry Camp 2017


See full calendar below (Look for updates in the next installments for any minor time/date  changes)