As many of you know, last week’s JA New York show overlapped with one of our “sister” shows. The New York Antique Jewelry and Watch Show was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion July 21-24th, and as always, it was an amazing, treasure-hunting experience! One of the things that’s so exciting about the Antique Shows, is that you realize there is so much to learn, and the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know!
Thankfully for us, author, historian, journalist and founder of Bejeweled Magazine, Beth Bernstein, graciously donated her time to provide a guided tour of the show to 20 antique enthusiasts who were lucky enough to snag a spot on this sold out experience! It was an amazing opportunity to establish a general framework of the jewelry periods, with specific anecdotes and examples to help solidify that information (at least in my mind!).
After a quick meet-n-greet, the whole gang dutifully followed Beth from stand to stand throughout the show floor. Beth had done her homework well in advance. A member of the American Society of Jewelry Historians, with decades of experience working in this market, she knows most of the players and their sometimes highly specialized areas of expertise. So after being in touch with select vendors in advance, she spent several hours at the show during Friday’s opening day, scouting out specific pieces and mapping out an easy route for the tour.
If you’ve ever been to the Metropolitan Pavilion (or “MetPav” in industry parlance), you know that its crowded aisles are often tough to navigate, and the wooden floors and high ceilings make the acoustics less than ideal for something like this. But all my fears of having to carry a stick with a “tour guide” flag attached to it, continually wrangling tour stragglers, quickly dissipated due to the rapt attention and eagerness of Beth’s charges! They were hanging on her every word, and the enthusiasm of each of the vendors Beth brought them to was, indeed, contagious!
When Beth and I first discussed the tour, we figured 45 minutes would be ample time, and would leave us with 15 minutes for a little Q&A. In actuality, we took a full hour visiting the various vendors (I’ll list the vendors and their specialties below)! And while we didn’t have time, technically, several from the group stayed behind to pick Beth’s brain further and share their mutual excitement about everything they’d seen.
Given that it was the collective enthusiasm of Beth, the vendors and the “tourists” that had us running behind schedule, there is no doubt that we’ll be doing these tours at future events, including our upcoming Original Miami Beach Antique Jewelry and Watch Show in February! Look out for your invitation to join a tour—the spots go fast!
Pat gave us a comprehensive rundown of Berlin Iron, paste and memorial jewelry from the Georgian period. Some of the stories she told us about specific pieces of memorial jewelry sent a collective dose of goose bumps to the audience!
Beth showed us examples of well known collectibles from the mid-century, as well as some iconic pieces from Cartier, examples of the Van Cleef and Arpels mystery setting (invented in 1933!) and enamel Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co bracelets worn by famous women such as Jackie Kennedy.
Dana Keyamour walked us through all three Victorian periods, showing stunning examples of all!
Richard Spicer spoke about Georgian and acrostic jewelry, and then touched on Victorian jewelry, with a brief introduction into Art Deco.
Edward Faber spoke passionately about the Art Nouveau Period (anyone who’s met Edward knows he’s nothing if not passionate!).
Simon Teakle, who was the jewelry specialist at Christie’s before he opened his current business, showed us great examples from Georgian and Art Deco periods, as well as some later signed jewelry.
Humphrey Butler spoke about the retro period and also showed examples of the Edwardian/Belle Epoque period.
Pat Saling spoke about signed jewelry throughout the 20th century, and showed us amazing examples from the 1920s through the 60s, including some outstanding Belperron from the 30’s.
We ended at Ye Old Time Keepers, where Jason showed us iconic pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels, including a VCA “Zip” necklace in the Maharaja style!