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Q & A with Ava & Eva of Vale Jewelry


Delicate, layering fine jewelry was a rare thing to find about a decade ago, and twins sisters Ava & Eva wanted to fill that void. With no background in jewelry except for a burning passion and love for it, they dove right in and stuck with their designing instinct. Today, their "low-key luxe" jewelry line is worn by so many women everyday who never take their pieces off! I caught up with the duo to find out more about Vale Jewelry:



Each year, we work with Michael J. Fox, Team Fox and Bachmann-Strauss on a charity piece with all proceeds going towards finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Dystonia and Movement Disorders.

In addition, we also collaborate with local artists and this year we are working with a local NYC sculptor, Mel Kendrick, to create a small capsule collection inspired by his current body of work. His oeuvre centers primarily on sculptural work in wood, bronze and cast concrete, all of which play with the idea of space and geometry. We’re excited to see how the contrast between his medium and ours will materialize into a physical piece of jewelry.

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We never intended to start a jewelry company. The two of us simply loved working with our hands. As kids, we’d spent summers building everything from birdhouses to showers for our Barbies! We started the business with essentially no metalsmithing experience. We dabbled here and there with simple wire-wrapping and beadwork but then decided to dive right in with classes at FIT and hours at their open studio.

From the start, we really experimented with making delicate, fine jewelry because at the time, there were very few brands designing like that. We pushed the boundaries on traditional fine jewelry by using polki diamonds slices and rose cut diamonds a decade ago when they were incredibly hard to find. There were times when we were told “no one will want to wear this” but we stuck to our guns, ultimately making the pieces we wanted to wear ourselves.

Having some of those first clients tell us how much they loved the pieces gave us the confidence to launch a full line. And every time a client wears one of our pieces and tell us they never take it off, we feel the same excitement we did when we started. We never take their appreciation, joy and feedback for granted.

We consider ourselves lucky that we basically fell into a business we both love. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we both wake up every day excited to be doing what we do. And we want to make sure this passion always show through our work.

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We made an engagement ring last year for a wonderful couple. They decided to design her engagement ring together. She loved champagne diamonds so we sourced an amazing soft brown champagne diamond and along with her feedback, set the stone in a gorgeous halo of white diamonds with an accented band.

When it was almost done, her fiancé called us and told us that even though creating the ring was a collaborative process, he still wanted to surprise her. So he flew home early from a gig on the West Coast and picked up the ring without her knowing. When he saw the ring, he was so moved because he thought the ring incorporated every element that she loved and that it was exactly the embodiment of her style. We were all tearing up at the showroom.

The next morning, we received a photo of the two them after he proposed with the ring on her finger. There is nothing like sharing a moment as intimate as a proposal of two people so in love. After that, well, we were hooked!

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We started the line years ago because we saw a lack of modern, dainty and subtle gold jewelry in the market. We were looking for pieces that felt personal, understated but that still were luxurious without being ostentatious, something we term “low-key luxe”, jewelry that felt like second skin. And we hope that the Vale brand will become synonymous with this everyday jewelry for modern women looking for a little glamour.

In the last 2-3 years, we’ve really started to focus on bridal jewelry and bespoke jewelry. Many of clients from the last decade are now looking for us to create one-of-a-kind engagement rings and wedding bands that they feel are not necessarily available on the market. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an alternative bride, a traditional bride, or somewhere in between, you still want a piece that truly represents your personal taste.

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Choosing your favorite jewelry is like choosing your favorite child! Jewelry is so sentimental and we find that each piece (and many of our clients agree) has a self-contained memory or meaning attached to it. And however it was that this piece of jewelry came into your life, it is a small memento that carries that personal experience.

One of Eva’s favorite pieces that she has consistently been wearing for 8 years is our Rectangle Plate Necklace. This piece has the high polish modernism that truly represents Vale. Ava loves the classic Pavé Arc Ring paired back to the Open Rectangle Ring. Its play of negative space along with a bit of sparkle from the diamonds makes the perfect combo for every day.

A great piece of jewelry should make a woman feel effortlessly chic and we hope to continue to create jewelry that will achieve that.


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Shop barbedwire for Cool, Eclectic Jewelry!

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I came across barbedwire while on my endless jewelry searches online--for all those passionate about jewelry, you know how those go!  I was struck by the selection of designers I've never heard of before but found to be so, so cool!  Everything from the ear climbers to the stackable rings--the mix of designers is both edgy and trendy.  I love the pieces from Sehti Na, a designer new to me yet immediately on my wish list.  Blackbird and the Snow is another designer carried at barbedwire--I discovered them while attending JCK Luxury preview in NYC last year and was captivated.  I also like how Margery Hirschey is included in the designer lineup because, hey, everyone needs a bold opal solitaire or classic gem piece.

I felt a connection with the owner behind this online boutique and had to find out more!  Turns out Cynthia is just as cool as her shop and has had a passion for jewelry from a very early age.  She, along with many other passionate jewel-fanatics, started out by playing in her mother's jewelry chest.  To her, the art of layering is so much more than perfecting and coordinating jewelry--it is a form of self-expression and can transform any person or outfit!  With a background in art and painting, a few years of residing in England and a romance with all things grunge, Cynthia knew she could hone her craft into something special.  In September of 2014, barbedwire was born!

The designers featured in her online boutique barbedwire are a blend of her personal style and her influences of Rock and Roll, Mother Nature and Bohemian-vibes.  Cynthia prides herself on providing the best customer service one can imagine.  Things like complimentary 2nd day shipping and gorgeous wrapping help define her brand, leaving customers wanting to come back.  She also has generously given Gem Gossip readers a 20% off discount code, good for one month!

>> Use discount code GEM20 for 20% off your purchase from barbedwire from Tuesday, May 19th until Friday June 19th!!

Can't wait to follow her shop and see what is in store for her and the future!  She's currently obsessed with a custom piece from Renee Garvey that is in the works...she says, "It’s a black leather deerskin cuff with a giant boulder opal at its center, Renee Garvey is putting the finishing touches on it and I should have it in my hands in very soon!"  


Jewels at my Doorstep: Michelle Fantaci Jewelry

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A woman living in the 19th century would never leave the house without her folding fan.  These days, I don't think I would ever leave the house without Michelle Fantaci's modern version of a fan reimagined in jewelry form.  The sensuous arcs are brought to life through 14k & 18k gold, diamonds, and marquise shaped gemstones set East-West in her newest collection called Sensu.  The pieces take inspiration from the historic significance of folding fans and are applied to the woman of today, both modern and sophisticated. I couldn't help but notice the subtle sexiness within the shape and silhouette of a fan until seeing it in jewelry form.

Michelle explains, "The name of the collection is Sensu, which means folding fan in Japanese but also means sense of style. Both meanings are fitting since the design process was a reflection on how women dress, now and in the past.  My sources of inspiration were fans in Japanese art and also in European 19th century art and objet, a period in which fans were an essential part of a woman's ensemble, as fashion accessories and also as props, barriers and protectors."

I took in the meanings and purposes of a hand-held fan and formed my vision for the above photoshoot. Layering on Michelle Fantaci's jewels became my barrier and I had a sense of my own secret language fan's once held. The hot, humid climate of the deep south was emulated by a fog machine and newly moistened trees.  Luckily the weather wasn't too much of an exaggeration as the temperatures climbed to 90° during our time shooting photos. The jewelry did the rest!  Each ring stacked seductively together and the two necklaces draped ideally on top of one another.  I loved the Sensu fan necklace which featured a tassel drop, with the ends being little daggers of gold.  The rigid edge of the Sensu bracelet gave it such a cool, textured look. And the earrings spiced things up, giving my look a bold, sharp appeal.  

Are you just as obsessed as I am over these new pieces by Michelle Fantaci?!  If you can't get enough, check out the details below and one or more of these pieces can be a part of your jewelry box!  If you're headed to Couture, Michelle will be set up with all these and more in Las Vegas at booth 916.

Jewelry Details:

14k yellow gold Sensu fan edge bracelet set with diamonds and sapphire, Price: $3968 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold fan hoop earrings, Price: $1846 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold Sensu fan necklace with baguette diamonds and tassel drop, Price: $2290 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold triple diamond bar necklace, Price: $1536 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold Sensu fan ring with baguette diamonds, Price: $1986 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold Watchful Eye ring with turquoise, Price: $1040 available at Muse

18k yellow gold Watchful Eye ring with rose cut diamond, Price: $3900 available at Muse

14k yellow gold Bright Eye ring with blue sapphire, Price: $610 available at Stone & Strand

14k yellow gold Pavo ring with unheated sapphire, Price: $1055 available at Muse

14k yellow gold Eye of Stars ring with diamonds, Price: $1110 available at Muse



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Favorite Instagrams: May 2015

arrowandanchorantiques olsensanonymous 1stdibs hancocks_london saraweinstockjewerly theedencollective baileysestatejewelry lisajshuler wachler erstwhilejewelry ghazaleh07 bavierbrook margeryhirschey rgarrahan

arrowandanchorantiques has a lineup of unusual suspects, all with one thing in common, Old European cut diamonds

olsensanonymous nothing is cooler than an Olsen as a brunette with a bold lip

1stdibs posts this photo from emerging textile designer Zak Profera, love everything about this

hancocks_london showcasing this fabulous pieces by Elizabeth Gage

saraweinstockjewelry proves pairing leather with sneakers is fine as long as you have the right jewels

theedencollective spotted this Victorian woman with quite the jewelry style!

baileysestatejewelry has this incredible Victorian snake necklace as a part of their inventory

lisajshuler shares her collection of John Derian trays, they are reminiscent of Georgian and Victorian motifs

wachler captures this perfectly perfect Art Deco diamond elongated ring

erstwhilejewelry just recently relaunched their website and has an entire bespoke collection

ghazaleh07 some essentials including a Montblanc pen and three unique rings

bavierbrook displaying some new arrivals--which is your favorite?

margeryhirschey is getting lost in a hall of gems at the Museum of Natural History in NYC

rgarrahan is enjoying her visit to Broken English in NYC loving this real beetle antique necklace


Gem Gossip Wedding Date Set with a Special Ring


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Wanted to share some special news with my Gem Gossip readers, as this almost seven-year journey of creating, writing and sharing of my blog has somewhat created its own little community, people who have been with me since the beginning and others who just recently discovered my website.  Since it is somewhat like a family-unit we've assembled through our love for jewelry, both antique and new, I feel like you all should have some insight into my personal life as well--especially when it comes to important life events!

What better way to commemorate a life event than with jewelry!  We jewelry lovers know this!  So, with this announcement comes a piece of jewelry for the big reveal.  We are excited to say that we've set a wedding date (finally) which will take place on October 21, 2015.  This is a very special date because it is the same date my grandparents got married 59 years ago in Italy, so we will share the same wedding date.  Was so excited to get the date hand-stamped on a very special 14k gold cuff midi-ring made by Sarah Davida.  Shown above, I had the month spelled out, rather than the number "10" and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!  

Excited to share this news with everyone and will be even more happy to share more wedding details on Gem Gossip in the upcoming months!  Thanks for following and being a part of my Gem Gossip family!

>> To order your own hand-stamped cuff ring by Sarah Davida, click here.



Maker & Muse: Women & 20th Century Art Jewelry

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Learning is one of my most favorite things to do, so each year I try to partake in something educational that is jewelry-related.  This year, an exhibit held in conjunction with a jewelry conference made for an enticing trip to Chicago for ASJRA's Women & 20th Century Art Jewelry event.  The conference featured speakers with expertise in some pretty interesting jewelry topics related to Art Nouveau jewelry and Chicago Arts & Crafts jewelry. I was really excited to hear Elyse Zorn Karlin speak about her role curating the exhibit at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, located in Chicago, which is also the topic of a newly released (Feb. 2015) jewelry book, shown above.  A weekend of jewelry learning, visiting the exhibit to see the jewelry in person, and catching up with my jewelry BFF, Jenn of Bellflower Bay made for a perfect weekend!

After meeting up at the airport upon disembarking our planes, Jenn and I got off to a fun start with some jewelry treasure hunting in Chicago.  With a limited amount of time we headed over to Oak Park and visited Gem Jewelry Boutique and The Gold Hatpin. Chicago-style pizza was next on our menu of things-to-do and our room at the Dana Hotel & Spa was the perfect backdrop for our jewelry trip.  The next morning we headed to the carriage house of the Glessner House Museum, where the conference took place--ideally fitting since it was the former home of Mrs. Frances Glessner, an accomplished Chicago Arts & Crafts jeweler and member of a prominent family. The conference focused on Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts Jewelry, a topic that I find very interesting and a time period that I needed to build more knowledge on.  

The topics included:

Art Nouveau Jewelry; Yvonne Markowitz and Emily Banis Stoerher 

Arts & Crafts Jewelry in Chicago; Sharon Darling

Beyond Chicago: Midwestern Arts & Crafts Jewelry and Metalworkers; Darcy Evon

The Jewels of Louis Comfort Tiffany; Annamarie Sandecki

British Arts & Crafts Jewelry in the Richard H. Driehaus Collection; Elyse Zorn Karlin

Jugendstil Jewelry; Janis Staggs

Madeline Yale Wynne: I Hate Pretty Work; Suzanne Flynt

The collection of early 20th Century Art Nouveau jewelry that Mr. Driehaus has collected over the past 15 years and has carefully chosen to put on display for the world to see was entirely too fascinating for me! Being surrounded by stained glass and furniture of the same time period, in a restored mansion made the experience that much more special.  The unique tiled walls, marble upon marble everywhere, and art all corresponding, as if you stepped back in time. The book Maker & Muse takes you through each piece of jewelry on display, along with background information on the time period and remarks from curators and Mr. Driehaus himself.  The groundbreaking exhibit is the most extensive to date in terms of extent of a collection from jewelry of this particular time period.  The intention of the exhibit is to also highlight the role of women, both as inspiration and muse during this time, as well as designers and makers themselves.  I took several photos from my visit to the museum, which is awesome that they let you take photos since so many of the latest headlining jewelry exhibits ban photo-taking.  Featured are more than 250 pieces of jewelry, all created during this time where artisans were reacting to the industrialization of the world and forging new alternative designs with a bold artistic emphasis.  Every piece is detailed, handwrought and inspired by nature, flowing lines and women.  For the most part, the jewelry on display is a part of Mr. Driehaus' collection, but several pieces are pulled and displayed from prominent private collectors, including Neil Lane.  

>> To visit the Richard H. Driehaus jewelry exhibit, check out the museum's website; on exhibit from February 14, 2015-January 3, 2016.

>> To purchase a copy of Maker and Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry, click here. .




The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
40 East Erie Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611



Obsession: Jennie Kwon Designs Fall/Winter 2015 

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My Jennie Kwon jewelry collection continues to grow with each season she puts out new designs.  Her latest installment for this coming Fall/Winter 2015 has me lusting again, with designs inspired by a light and airy feel. Layering clothing during the cooler months is obvious, but jewelry too?!  YES.  I love the idea and Jennie's designs encourage layering and are made for just that!  Each piece complements one another, whether you are wanting to stack your rings, your earrings, bracelets...even necklaces. Her new designs always have me wanting to up my earring game--last time I added an ear cuff to my repertoire and instantly got hooked with earrings.  This time, a long curved bar diamond stud earring which goes the distance along your ear, creating a multiple-piercing look without the need of multiple holes.  It can be worn in several different ways, seen above I am wearing it in my third hole so it goes up my ear, with it pairing well with other fun earrings from my personal collection.  

I chose my top ten favorite pieces from Jennie Kwon's latest lookbook (shown above)...and speaking of lookbook, how incredible are the photos from the shoot?!  The model is stunning!  

Here are my favorites:

14k yellow gold white diamond long curved bar stud with black diamonds, Price: $369

14k yellow gold emerald deco point triangle stud earring, Price: $280

14k yellow gold diamond ball stud earring, Price: $375

14k yellow gold black diamond deco point long stud earring, Price: $335

14k yellow gold double band cuff bracelet, Price: $1,510

14k yellow gold emerald mini deco point ring, Price: $395

14k yellow gold diamond septum cuff, Price: $210

14k yellow gold hexagon diamond slice half cage ring, Price: $4,500

14k yellow gold sapphire long bar stud earring with white diamonds, Price: $350

14k yellow gold and sapphire cage cuff ring, Price: $875


My Jewel Box: Jelly Opals & Forget-me-nots

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Hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday!  Two very special rings recently were added to my personal collection, both from favorite sellers of mine that I had been longing to purchase something from, so I'm excited to finally have pieces from each.  It is crazy how much the world wide wide and even Instagram has been changing the way antique jewelry lovers collect.  As much as I travel and search out jewelry stores while doing so, there's still so many deals and finds readily available for collectors from all over the world in one place! I am thankful for technology, for it has brought me these two latest finds!

Forget-me-nots are a favorite antique jewelry motif for me.  I think it all started with a simple forget-me-not baby ring that Matt surprised me with which he found on eBay and gave it to me as a gift before heading on a trip.  Since then, they have always caught my eye.  Reliquary is a shop of curiosities and wonderfully curated jewelry, located in San Francisco.  I have been a fan of Reliquary for awhile now and keeping up-to-date with store owner Leah Bershad's finds through Instagram have made "virtual treasure hunting" a real thing. Although I've been to San Francisco before and long to go back, keeping in tune with my favorite stores online is a real life saver.  That's how this double-cluster turquoise forget-me-not ring came to be in my possession--a fun marketing ploy called a "secret 4/20 sale" where certain pieces went up for sale online at midnight of April 20th, and were hidden from view (you had to search 420 in the search box for it to display the secret sale items).  I thought this was such a cool idea on Reliquary's part!  I'm happy to have this ring a part of my collection and hope to get to visit Reliquary sometime in the future!

Jelly opals are fascinating gemstones, ever since my studies at the Gemological Institute of America, I've been wanting a jelly opal ring for my collection. Water opals, another name for jelly opals, are different from a regular opal because their background color is transparent or translucent, with typically a faint play-of-color being displayed.  I found this ring while browsing my Instagram feed--a newer antique jewelry seller called December Anchor had it pictured in all its glory and I was instantly in love. The jelly opals caught my eye, but it was also the bold cluster that got me too! Being located in Michigan, it is so cool to follow antique jewelry sellers located all across the United States, that way you almost have the whole country mapped out for the best finds of each locality!  Thanks Amanda of December Anchor for providing such a cool ring, I'm so happy with my purchase.


wartski1865 lovegrade_vintage scosha eatjewels lalamamamoonheartof_antique_gold selbydrummond arikkastan baliplatform

{from top to bottom:

Wartski knows how to mix Victorian classics with sparkly diamonds to perfection

LoveGrade Vintage shows off some lovely turquoise pieces, love it stacked with a modern ring

Scosha plays with her personal antique jewelry stash and makes us swoon

EatJewels proves pairing an intaglio with sparkle will automatically offset the girliness, for the win

@lalamamamoon has a love for snakes and claws, SAME!

@heartof_antique_gold plays up her colorful love stack and tops it all off with a moonstone pinky ring

Selby Drummond snaps a photo of Giovanna Battaglia's antique ring collection

Arik Kastan has created a mini-navette and we are obsessed

BaliPlatform goes big with architectural pieces and classic bands}


Sixteen Pieces You'll Go Nuts Over! Fellows Antique & Modern Sale, 5/14/15

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Around this time last year I was headed to London for a jewelry adventure!  Perusing antique shops, gazing into store windows and bargaining my way through Portobello Road was one heck of a trip!  And most importantly, an expensive one!  This year, taking a trip like that is out of the question, so what is a treasure hunting fiend like myself to do?!  Sit at home and bid online with Fellows Auctions!  Their selection is just as diverse, interesting and unique as the best antique haunts in London, and treasure hunting from your home allows you to make up for all those costly travel expenses in the form of more jewelry!  

This month's Antique & Modern Sale is scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2015 and features such a great selection I had to show everyone my top sixteen pieces!  Sixteen may be a large number in terms of playing favorites, but there were just too many good ones to leave out!  

>> Don't forget to sign up to bid!

Lot 8: A picture-perfect Georgian ring featuring a foiled-back emerald and rose cut diamonds set in silver, with a 15k gold band.  The detailing on this ring is beautiful and it is all-original!  Such great condition!

Lot 9: Flowing lines and enameled nature, paired with natural pearls are all definite motifs of the Art Nouveau period of jewelry--this is a nice example of the era.  The brooch features pearls, a diamond and green enameling.

Lot 43: Chunking and broad, a cluster ring from the Georgian period--although masculine in form--can be one of the most elegant pieces within one's collection!  This ring features rose cut diamonds which are foil-backed and its new owner will breathe some life into this piece!

Lot 45: I've always wanted a micromosaic piece of jewelry in my collection.  Most have typical motifs within the micromosaic, however this is the first for me to see a sort of sea creature being depicted.  Makes this brooch even more special!  I also am obsessed with the green coloring.

Lot 64: Talk about the sweetest sentimental piece of jewelry I've ever come across!  This REGARD locket is set with gemstones which spell out the word REGARD using the first letter of each gemstone name, and best yet the backside is beautifully hand-done using an Etruscan technique.  I also love the style of two chains extending from each side of the heart, attached to an ornate jump ring.

Lot 79: Victorian hearts and arrows are extremely symbolic and such treasures!  I love this brooch which is set with a carbuncle garnet and seed pearls. There's even a rose cut diamond set in the middle of the heart!

Lot 119: A Victorian snake necklace is a must for every collector!  This one is truly unique because it is set with a cabochon cut shape specially created for the necklace!  There are three pieces of garnet crafted to fit the necklace. The diamond eyes are a nice touch!

Lot 177: This precious black enamel 18k gold heart locket is so cute!  The front is set with a sapphire and diamonds, and the black enameling is in excellent condition!  The locket is currently empty and needs a keepsake photo stat!

Lot 192: Delicate dangles--these turquoise and pearl earrings are light and airy, just right for summer!  They are attached with ear wires for easy wear. Can you imagine these being worn with a pretty sundress?!

Lot 286: How insane is this carved jade Buddha ring?!  I love the uniqueness of this piece--I've never seen anything like it!  Even the diamonds on the crown are entirely fitting and make the piece that much more cool!

Lot 358: I can never do a "favorites" list without including a classic pearl and diamond cluster ring and I always fall for the Victorian ones.  This one is a happy medium between delicate and bold!

Lot 372: I gasped when I saw this ring!  Bright blue enamel is an ideal backdrop to a pattern of diamonds...and of course, I love the large elongated shape. This may potentially hurt my pocketbook!

Lot 384: A good snake ring is getting harder to come by nowadays...this one has all the neat features a collector looks for.  Scales, a double shank, a unique coil and gemset head/eyes...all factor in on making this a rare collectible!

Lot 471: I can't put into words why exactly I love this zircon pendant, but I do!  You ever fall in love with something and don't know why?!  This piece radiates that for me--just one bright zircon and some diamonds.  Maybe it is the shape...

Lot 485: A painted Alpine scene, often done during the mid-19th century as souvenir jewelry, is something I've been wanting to add to my collection. This one is extra special because of the blue enameling and the swirly frame.  Just stunning.

Lot 622: Last but not least, an antique watch ring.  And this is the kind that belong in a museum!!  Wow.  This one is platinum and set with diamonds and synthetic sapphires.  The age is 1920s, Art Deco.


This post was brought to you in collaboration with Fellows Auctions