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A curator’s guide to antique bridal jewelry – Jewelry Connoisseur

< h3>Where you’re located, how big your town is, what your customers have bought in the past, which styles have become popular again — all of these figure into how you curate your estate departments.

Bridal has tended to be the most sought-after category in estate departments over the past five to 10 years. The instant sustainability of a pre-owned ring and the growing desire to stand out from the crowd have created widespread appeal for late Edwardian/Belle Époque and Art Deco styles in platinum and diamonds, many of them featuring cushion, old mine or European cuts. In this category, the customer is skewing younger, and the couple often shops together so the woman can try on rings and find the perfect one, estate experts say.

Tiffany & Co. Art Deco bow brooch set with 1.95 carats of diamonds, which converts into a pendant to be worn on a platinum chain. (M. S. Rau)

“Eternity and engraved or [relief-patterned] bands in the bridal category are also doing quite well, [particularly] in platinum for the diamond and gemstone eternities, and yellow gold for the engraved styles,” says Elizabeth Doyle of Doyle & Doyle.

The estate market in general has opened up to include later time periods as well as the long-popular earlier ones. For the new casual lifestyle, both Doyle and Tiny Jewel Box’s Jim Rosenheim recommend buttery yellow gold chains from the Victorian era through the 1970s in different lengths and designs. 

“These are everyday pieces with which you can’t go wrong,” says Doyle. “They can be worn alone [or] layered, or you can create different stories by having a selection of meaningful, sentimental or symbolic charms in your case.”

Georgian necklace in 15-karat yellow gold with filigree clasp, set with four turquoise cabochons. (Doyle & Doyle)
Georgian necklace in 15-karat yellow gold with filigree clasp, set with four turquoise cabochons. (Doyle & Doyle)

Rosenheim sells diamond line or eternity bracelets from the Art Deco period through the rest of the 20th century. He also cites the type of small drop earrings known as dormeuse, featuring old mine, cushion or European cuts, as everyday-friendly pieces that fit the new casual mood. 

Mixing classic favorites with more unusual pieces is a good way to liven up your display. Bill Rau of M. S. Rau is selling 25% to 30% signed pieces, and the rest is an artfully chosen array of the best he can find. 

“Three-stone gypsy rings with old mine-, cushion- or European-cut diamonds or with side diamonds and a colored center, in 18-karat gold, from the Victorian through the Edwardian time periods, are sparkling examples of the type of sturdier, go-to rings to which customers are drawn,” adds Dana Kiyomura of Keyamour. “But I am also selling a range of authentic enamel snake bangles, intricate lockets, and a range of other collectibles that are quite rare and will create more of a presence around the more accessible pieces when curated in your case.”

Edwardian platinum and 18K gold diamond bracelet with rose-cut and round-cut diamonds. (M.S. Rau)
Edwardian platinum and 18-karat gold bracelet with rose-cut and round diamonds. (M.S. Rau)

Main image: Art Deco platinum engagement ring set with an Old European-cut diamond weighing 0.80 carats, and 18 single-cut diamonds. (Doyle & Doyle)

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