Jewelry Road Trip: Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry in Seattle, WA

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Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry has always been one of those places on my "Must-See" list since the beginning! The people of Seattle are extremely lucky to have such a high caliber antique and estate jewelry store right in their own local mall!  Imagine a day of shopping at Nordstrom picking up a new cute top and some jeans, head over to Ulta and replenish your beauty supplies, all while eating some Auntie Anne's pretzels...with your final stop being Alana Jewelry to try on their latest arrivals?!  That kind of sounds like heaven to me!  Not too many antique jewelry stores can provide this kind of experience!  As a child, going to the mall held so many memories I can't imagine if I grew up where a store like this was at my local mall--what an impact that could have had?!  

Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry all began with a woman named Alana who started her career without even knowing it by going to garage sales.  Her story is incredible and I think she tells it best. So without further ado, here is her story, in her own words:


In my twenties, I found myself with two pre-school children. I didn't want to put them in daycare and go to work, so I began practicing frugality in our household by going to garage sales for family purchases. At the same time, I made friends with another young mother whose own mother had owned an antique store. She taught me the ropes of buying and re-selling. Soon I saw an ad from a vintage clothing consignment store promising 50%. I found three old dresses from the 20's for 25 cents each!  I took them in, and they sold for $20 each, and I got $30. I was launched! With this mission, I soon filled her store, but started having trouble getting paid. Finally she told me, "You have more stuff in this store than I do. Come get your stuff." With a living room piled with clothes, I wondered what to do. I decided to rent space in a local flea market to sell. I constructed hanging props from water pipes, and started selling regularly at the flea market. Soon the organizers of antique shows invited me to participate. By then I had branched out to old fur coats and costume jewelry too. One day a visitor to my booth told me that he had a business buying gold off the street, and that I might find some of his stock interesting at the price of gold. Slowly my antique booth began to show more jewelry than clothing. One day a customer asked me, "How much for everything?"  I quoted him a price and sold it all!  Didn't have to pack up the booth that weekend. Starting over, I decided to focus on jewelry, as it was much lighter than the clothing and furniture I had sold.
Meanwhile, I had enlisted the back and forth banter of my then teenaged daughter, Heather. She cut her teeth on my customers, and we have made a great team ever since. I was able to watch her and give her a profession to which she is well-suited. I couldn't have done it without her. I was pretty happy schlepping my stuff to about 8 large antique shows a year.
Then I spied an empty storefront at Northgate Mall, close to my home. I proposed that the mall rent it to me for Oct-Dec. 1992. We agreed on a rent of $3K/month. I had hives the day we opened! When I made the rent the first day, the hives disappeared. In January the mall offered the space year round, but I couldn't imagine being able to pay the rent during the lean months of the year. I returned to my antique shows. The next fall the store was still vacant, so I proposed that they rent it to me again short term. They agreed. By then both my daughter and I were divorced and needed more income than the sporadic antique shows provided. I took a deep breath, signed over my paid-for house to Northgate Mall in case of default, borrowed $250K to remodel the space, and hired a contractor. Three months later, Alana Antique & Estate Jewelry was born. I married the contractor. We soon achieved #1 sales per square foot in the mall, a position we still hold 22 years later. We were named Coolest Small Jewelry Store by Instore Magazine in 2013. I am grateful for an incredibly wonderful staff, and to be able to make a good living doing something I so love. I still find it thrilling!


I hope I will get the chance to visit Seattle and the store soon! All of the pieces featured above are currently for sale in their inventory, which can be seen and purchased online!  Check out their website here!!




Gem Gossip Visits Heritage Auction Headquarters in Dallas, TX #LoveGold

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I knew if I were going to spend five days in Texas, where they say everything is bigger and better, I had to go big or go home! My jewel-filled trip involved visiting 14 different stores in Dallas and Houston. I knew my 15th had to be something different and special, so I changed things up by visiting Heritage Auctions, where their headquarters are located in Dallas right in the heart of Uptown. I was in for a real treat! Yes, an auction house is quite different from a jewelry store--people are bringing things in to be evaluated, catalogs are being put together, and auctions are held live, with paddles and a loud auctioneer matched with a big crowd!  This place was exciting even on a quiet day. Recently, the jewelry specialists are busy putting together their Spring Sale, with May coming up quick and lots of jewelry to be photographed, cataloged, and listed online where anyone can enjoy the full list of lots being auctioned off.  These pieces also get to be showcased in several auction previews, where the public can view and try-on some of the pieces within the upcoming auction.  I got to try on a pair of amazing Marina B Jewelry diamond and South Sea Pearl clip earrings in 18k yellow gold, as well as some Chanel Fine Jewelry. Two brooches that will be in the upcoming Signature Sale are a yellow gold ruby and diamond bee/fly and this gold horse and carriage, which were so neat to get to see.

Heritage Auctions is the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world!  Established in 1976, Heritage not only features jewelry and timepieces, but things like coins/currency, fine and decorative art, comic books, stamps, historical and political memorabilia, fine and rare wine...even URL domain names, and much more! Heritage's jewelry department has three Signature Auctions per year with higher value items (held in Dallas, Beverly Hills and NYC), and weekly internet auctions (which begin and end on Tuesdays) for lower value items. May 4th is their next Signature Auction, which will take place in NYC. For every sale, Heritage holds a preview of the jewelry in all three cities as well!  

Their Tuesday auctions are fun to keep up with each week--make sure to sign up to get their weekly emails! I get these in my inbox and make sure to check out the listings. I've seen some great scores throughout the years...and if you are looking for a particular watch, you're sure to come across it in one of their Tuesday sales...and you'll get a great deal!

Heritage Auctions was just one stop on my tour of Texas for LoveGold's Shopping Guides. Stay tuned for the full Shopping Guide!

This post was brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold


Incredible Egyptian Revival Jewelry Sale from Alex Cooper Auctions

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Taking place on February 5th, 2015 is an auction you don't want to miss! It features some incredible Egyptian Revivial Jewelry from Alex Cooper Auctions, a mid-Atlantic region auction house that has been a reputable company since 1924. They handle all types of auctions, from Art, to coins, oriental rugs, and everything in between!  With a jewelry department that has seen some pretty magnificent jewels over the years--like a 6.45 carat rectangular step cut diamond ring circa 1920s and a mourning ring with "G. Washington" inscribed on the front in black enamel (see photos on their website) you'll want to keep them on your radar!  Their auction gallery is located in Towson, Maryland and is a state-of-the-art facility where all the action goes down.  Not near that area of the US?  Don't worry...if you're like me, you'll be logging in online and bidding that way through Invaluable--an auction directory where you can go to log-in and bid on auctions throughout the world, all in one place!  If you don't already have an account through Invaluable, make sure to sign up!

The auction taking place on February 5th is special because all 180 lots come from the Estate of Barbara Mertz, a noted American writer and Egyptologist.  Ms. Mertz has a background/PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago and is best known for her suspense and mystery novels.  More on her fascinating life can be found on her website. This rare collection features some fine pieces that date back to the third century BC! Several pieces of highly-collectible Egyptian Revival jewelry, as well as antique rings and other neat finds.  I've picked out some of my favorite pieces above--and although I've never read any of her books, based on her jewelry, I can see she had great taste!

Lot 94: an Edwardian multi-gemstone necklace on a 14k gold rolo chain comprising of mostly quartz and topaz of various colors.  Circa 1900s.

Lot 28: Etruscan Revival gold and lapis demi-parure, featuring 14k yellow gold braided necklace with drops of lapis dangling, measuring 15 inches in length, with matching drop earrings. Circa 1880.

Lot 125: a trio of opal and gold rings, two are straight bands one with pearl accents, the other with diamond accents and the third ring is an opal navette ring.

Lot 129: a gold and rose cut diamond mourning ring with a shield motif and repousse flowers on the band, tests 22k gold with some wear to the enamel.

Lot 116: rare natural Alexandrite and diamond cluster ring with a certificate from the American Gemological Laboratories.

Lot 134: a Victorian 9k ring with an inside inscription that reads "From Mother" along with a gold-plated Lord of the Rings souvenir ring.

Lot 78: pair of Art Nouveau pearl dangle earrings set in 14k yellow gold.  Circa 1890s.

Lot 74: pair of red stone earrings set in 14k yellow gold.  Circa 19th century.

Lot 40: a Victorian and diamond bangle bracelet, with Etruscan granulation details and three Old Mine cut diamonds, all set in 22k & 14k yellow gold.  Circa 1880.

Lot 33: thick 14k yellow gold serpent bracelet set with one large garnet and two pink sapphire eyes. Circa mid-19th century.


This post was brought to you in collaboration with Alex Cooper Auctions. 



Favorite Instagram Pictures: January 2015

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misslibbydale visits the Smithsonian and the Napoleon diamond necklace--Incredible!

jessicamccormackdiamonds just wearing this little necklace to dinner, such a masterpiece

jacobandco has some really cool safety pin inspired cuff bracelets, which is your favorite?

craigevansmall sampling of some antique lockets from their amazing inventory

bellandbird a breath-taking store display from their gorgeous shop in Austin

lake_native went antiquing in France and found these antique sunburst mirrors

mjm_nyc modern chic sapphire earrings set in 18k yellow gold, perfection.

hajewelry found the perfect pair--Chanel clutch and a Chanel diamond flower bracelet

levi_higgs ventured to Hudson, NY and stumbled upon this beautiful micromosaic and Baker & Black

charmcony features a charm bracelet from one of their customers, what stories does it hold?!

minerlalien zooms in on a Brookite explosion in Quartz!

leolarevives antqiue ring shopping in Zagreb located in Croatia--finding some "secret stashes"

lizzie_krieg shows us her out-of-this-world trio of antique rings

trumpetandhorn mixture of bright colors and matching velvet dreams made possible by The Mrs. Box

Dreamy Antique Rings Found on 1stdibs

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These antique rings, all which can be found on 1stdibs, have me dreaming...


Museum quality amethyst and enamel mourning ring circa 1823 from Berganza London

14k yellow gold scrolled, entwined snake with Russian hallmarks from Bernardo Antichita

Georgian mourning ring with urn, blue, black and white enamel circa 1802 from Bentley & Skinner


Victorian rose cut diamond floral cluster ring from Craig Evan Small

Italian origin natural pearl cluster ring circa 1790 from Bernardo Antichita

Platinum and diamond floral cluster ring circa 1920s from Marta Alcolea


15k yellow gold unusual multi-sapphire ring circa 1935 from Sue Brown

18k yellow gold Man-on-the-moon ring circa 1995 from Helen Ringus Jewels

Five carat black opal ring set with baguette cut diamonds from Fourtane

The Best Valentine's Day Jewelry! #LoveGold


You either love or hate Valentine's Day, I've learned this over the years--but I am here to change your thinking with these Valentine's inspired jewels fit for anyone (no boyfriend necessary)! Jewelry design has often focused on love, being that jewelry is often given because of love.  Hearts, arrows, many love-related motifs used in jewelry for centuries are still popular today.  Sometimes heart jewelry can be tacky and there is a fine line between cool and not cute.  Need help telling the difference?! These ten pieces of jewelry, all inspired by love, will help--these are the best Valentine's Day jewels I could find! Some are brand new, created by current designers, with a few antique pieces in the group. Have others that you think are amazing--share with us by using the hashtag #ValentinesJewelry #LoveGold


18k yellow gold Love-Heart ring by Elisa Solomon

14k rose gold Lips ring by Kismet available at Jaimie Geller Jewelry

14k yellow gold Arrow ring set with diamonds by Phoenix Roze

18k yellow gold Skeleton Heart ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge

18k yellow gold Love Lock bracelet by Karen Karch

18k yellow gold diamond lapis inlay heart necklace by Jennifer Meyer available at Ylang23

18k yellow gold Aquamarine and diamond with enamel accents circa 1950s from Syosset Antiques via Ruby Lane

18k yellow gold Swinging Heart necklace by Jemma Wynne 

14k yellow gold sentimental birthstone Garland ring by Ariel Gordon Jewelry

14k yellow gold Arts & Crafts period amethyst heart ring from RMC Antiques via Ruby Lane



This post was brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold


My Jewel Box: Magical Vintage Rings

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I know just about everyone that collects antique jewelry has a list of pieces that are on their “Holy Grail” hit-list.  Maybe it was a ring that “got away” on eBay or something that you once saw at a shop and decided not buy, but you totally regret now.  Or it could just be a piece that you don’t know exists, but you want something that has a certain gemstone in it and you’re just searching for that perfect piece!  Sometimes as a collector, you don’t know until you see it!  And when you do—there is a very distinctive feeling that goes along with treasure hunting...this is what makes it fun!

For me, these two rings are perfect examples of both situations...

The enameled Gemini Twins ring is a ring I had been hunting for for the past three years!  It all started with an eBay auction I had missed out on, even though I had it saved and was trying to make sure I didn’t miss!  That always happens!  Since then, I have been on the lookout—between antique shops and eBay, with no luck.  I came across one before Christmas after an Instagram friend (@baviles240) pointed it out (she has an exact match and knew that I had been hunting).  Unfortunately after messaging the seller on eBay, the verdict was it couldn't be sized!  The enamel would not hold up against cutting and pulling the gold inwards to make smaller. Crazy to have finally found what I had been looking for, only to be disappointed!  Nevertheless, I had saved the listing in my eBay Watch List and enjoyed staring at it every now and then, seeing if it had sold.  One day I was surprised to see another one show up under the listing under "Similar Items" and the price also shocked me--more than half less the other ring, posted by someone just "cleaning out their closet for the New Year."  For that price, I didn't care what size it was, I was willing to take the chance of it breaking when trying to size it. I also lucked out because when I received the ring, it was a lot smaller than what the girl thought it was, so instead of going from a 7 down to a 4.5, it was actually a 5 3/4 in real life, so sizing was as bad--although still a risk!  Was so happy to have this ring a part of my collection, with a long/interesting story on how I found it!

The moonstone and sapphire ring is quickly becoming one of my most favorite rings I own. It was one of those where I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but I knew it when I saw it while looking through Lang Antiques' pages and pages of rings that it was the one!  I wanted a moonstone ring since I didn't have anything in moonstone, and I've always loved the combination of moonstone with sapphire--so that was the general idea of what I was looking for.  Suzanne, owner of Lang Antiques, told me that it reminded her of the exhibit that was at The Forbes Galleries in NYC in 2013 called Out of This World! Jewelry in the Space Age--and after receiving the ring, she is totally right!  Moonstone has such a magical feel, I know it has a lot to do with its adularescense, but I still can't get over that mother nature created it!

>> What are some pieces on your Treasure Hunting list?!


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{from top to bottom:

Doyle & Doyle meticulously stacks, using an awesome snake ring

Muse Showroom with a fistful of Xiao Wang and more

Monica Rich Kosann does modern heirlooms with these newer versions of antique baby rings

Carbon and Hyde captures this insane antique engagement ring set mixed with their Mikaela ring

Four perfect rings from Ila and I seen at Ylang23

Carrie Hoffman Jewelry proves that when I say stack, she says How High?

some warm hues from Arik Kastan using garnets and citrines

a funky bunch from Elisa Solomon Jewelry that I am totally digging

soft and idyllic stacks from Vale Jewelry and a monogram pinky}

My Jewel Box: Diamond Cage Ring by ChinChar Maloney


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I've never had a jewelry designer tell me that they were inspired by me and my style when designing a specific piece, until now!  Meet the Diamond Cage ring, a part of ChinChar Maloney's newly launched Diamond Deco Collection.  I pretty much think they nailed it on this one!  If you can see from the above photos, if you turn the ring, you get a different look each time.  I can come up with three different looks based on how it is worn--I love that!  I have it stacked with another ring of theirs as well, the Lock & Key ring, which warms my heart just glancing at it!

ChinChar Maloney is excited to launch this labor of love of theirs--the Diamond Deco Collection--which mixes simple elegance with an Art Deco feel.  Like their other collections, many of the pieces in the Diamond Deco line-up are able to mix and match, with stacking possibilities that are endless.  Lots of angles and contouring lines, with dashes of diamonds mixed in! Check out the entire collection here.

Another favorite is ChinChar Maloney's natural colored diamond engagement ring selection. For those that want something incredibly unique, a diamond that is natural and uncut is quite spectacular.  With engagement season in full-swing, and future brides wanting things to be more and more "one-of-a-kind," these are the perfect fit!  Check out the entire natural diamond engagement ring collection here.


Q & A with Jewelry Designer Sarah Swell #LoveGold

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If you combine ancient techniques with California cool, you'll get Sarah Swell's jewelry aesthetic! This jewelry artist recently opened up a showroom in Sausalito and has been creating more and more yellow gold designs than ever before!  Yellow gold, with 18k in particular, is her favorite metal to work with.  Sarah says, "I love the richer gold color.  For me, it evokes the feel of ancient jewelry. I often use a semi-matte finish on my work which makes the gold seem to glow and the diamonds really pop."  She has created a bridal line that is incredibly gorgeous and although it is available in any metal, she decided to make and feature it in all 18k yellow gold to convey a more "regal feel that is both ancient and modern at the same time."  

Her designs have fascinated me for a long time, and I'm glad to have finally gotten a chance to catch up with this busy designer and see what she's been up to:


I recently opened a showroom in Sausalito, CA which houses my studio and also showcases my work, so I've been refining my vision. I'm also preparing to launch a series of mens bands this Spring as well as continuously adding to my bridal and studio collections.

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It really all started when I was 16 and working in an American craft gallery on Cape Cod, MA after school and on weekends. I worked in the jewelry section which is where I initially fell in love with handcrafted jewelry. I was always artistic and really saw jewelry as tiny, wearable sculpture. After high school I began to pursue painting, attending college at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. During this time I also worked for a jewelry designer in sales. After a year of Art School I dropped out because I knew I wanted to create something more tangible and have a business that merged art and commerce somehow. I took a metalsmithing class for fun and something clicked. I was certain I wanted to pursue a career as a jewelry designer. I decided to approach it strategically, preparing myself as best as possible in order to have the most chance at success. At that point I began working for a local jeweler in sales and doing bench repairs, learning the ropes. Next, I moved to San Francisco to attend the Revere Academy, a jewelry trade school. After completing the program I went on to work for award winning designer Sarah Graham before launching my business in 2008.

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I started my business with a measly $2,000. It has been a long hard road filled with odd jobs along the way to help support myself while building the business slowly and methodically. I'd have to say being able to write myself that first paycheck was an unparalleled feeling!

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I hope to keep expanding the reach of the showroom and my brand. I want the showroom to become a mecca for jewelry lovers and plan to add more designers and antique jewelry into the mix creating a well curated museum-like experience. Further down the road I have dreams of expanding the types of metal goods we make to include home and personal accessories that fall in line with my natural-modern aesthetic.

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Such a tough question! It would have to be my Egyptian Revial Art Deco inspired engagement ring which I created. What makes it so near and dear to my heart is that it includes the diamond from my late grandmother's wedding ring. I treasure being able to carry it with me always.

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This post was brought to you in collaboration with LoveGold