I have two thoughts when it comes to big gifts this holiday season: First, what if you swapped something you have but hardly wear for something you’ve had your eye on? And second, what if you also choose something vintage instead of new? Both ideas are part of a modern approach to circular fashion (or really circular everything that is tangible). I was lucky enough to find this vintage Rolex that I’ve had my eye on since I first saw my friend Sara Beltran wear one (yes, I guess I copied her; she knows, she also has exquisite taste). The price? My twenty year Cartier gold Tank Francaise which I traded in and the Verdura curb link bracelet below (which is still, I believe, available for purchase). I had the bracelet almost as long as the watch and while it is an incredible piece of jewelry (that tripled in value because of gold prices), it is one I never wore. I don’t want a big wardrobe of jewelry pieces, I want ones that I can wear often if not everyday. And yes, I know how very lucky I am to have a husband who gets my love of beautiful things. If a major gift might be in your future (from yourself or someone else), here are my favorite vintage jewelry dealers and other “second hand” finds. I think it’s both chic and somewhat romantic to buy vintage, the piece you fall in love was loved by someone else before. (My watch is from Tourneau.)
“Older things give love back, it’s the story behind them” says Dana Kraus, of DK Farnum, who has been dealing with vintage jewelry for almost two decades (I’ve profiled her before). I asked her what someone who is searching for vintage or estate jewelry should keep in mind. “Jewelry is such an emotional investment, but today there is real intrinsic value in estate jewelry because there is value in diamonds and gold, plus some of the craftsmanship just can’t be replicated now.”
What to look for when buying a piece? “Signature, provenance and condition.” While signature pieces from Cartier, Van Cleef, Belperron, Flato and Verdura are highly sought after, Kraus also sells pieces just as Gypsy rings, which are often not signed, and at a lower price point (and I might need to save up for one next.)
Other estate and vintage jewelers to browse include FD Gallery, Manhaz Collection, Particulieres NYC, Eleutri (major Italian pieces and a fave of the Olsen ladies), and RK Jewels. And then…..Handbags….
The same ideas can apply here to, many older handbags are better made than new ones. (Read my interview with vintage expert Richard Ives on why a vintage Chanel bag is worth it here.) So with that in mind–where to look? Pilgrim NYC (Richard’s LES boutique–I would call him to see what he has), Resee (a Paris-based resale that has an extensive selection that includes rare pieces; the shipping is easy and there are free returns); The Real Real and What Goes Around Comes Around. Maybe this isn’t a big gift year for you, or maybe it can be by letting something else go. There is also always next year. Or the year after….or the year after. Some things are worth the wait.