Entries in antique jewelry (394)
Kate is no stranger to my blog, in fact she was one of the first collections I documented on here back in January of 2013! Since then we've gotten the opportunity to meetup and spend a few days together in London along with our jewelry bff Jenn (@bellflowerbay) and Kate has gotten married! Her jewelry collection has grown since then and she has not only added some wedding jewels, but a whole lot more! If you haven't read her interview/collection story from four years ago, I suggest you read that first, then check out her amazing collection:
I’ve been collecting jewellery for about eight years, although the passion for all things old and sparkly has been burning for much longer!
I think it all started with my Gran - she’s given me pieces from her jewellery collection over the years, as well as some things from my Great Aunt too. My Gran wasn’t really much of a collector, but the pieces she does have are sentimental and unique. When she was younger she had a real love for stopping and browsing the jewellers’ windows in our local town. She wasn’t able to splash out that much, so perusing these shop windows was often as good as it got. She often tells me the story of how she fell in love with a diamond solitaire ring around the time of her 21st birthday. She was given money by her family as a present which was enough to buy the ring, but she sensibly (she says!) decided on buying a good quality carpet for her living room instead. The carpet apparently lasted many, many years, but she does say to this day that she regrets not choosing the ring. What I’d give to know what it looked like!
(Left: all rings I’ve been given by my Gran. Right: my collection of Art Deco rings, some of the early additions to my collection, all presents from over the years from my parents and husband)
With her lovingly gifted antique pieces, little did my Gran know at the time that she would spark a real passion in me for collecting antique jewellery. As soon as I began working fulltime and had a little cash to spare, I moved quickly from buying sterling silver and vintage costume jewellery, and on to collecting gold and diamonds. It’s taken a few years to refine my knowledge and hunting skills, and my tastes do still vary week to week, but it’s a love affair that grows stronger for me every day – and one my husband has so lovingly accepted too.
I’m lucky that my mum also has a real love of antique jewellery – we often go shopping together for new pieces. We share similar tastes too, which means we pretty much have one large collection between us both.
My jewellery collection spans from early Georgian right through to modern pieces, I definitely like to collect a variety of styles, stones and metals.
One of my favourite eras has to be Georgian – the passion they had for creating such beautiful, detailed jewellery and with minimal tools, it’s something that I think is truly hard to recreate these days. As the years pass, Georgian pieces are harder and harder to find, which makes the hunt even more fun!
(Left: some of my favourite diamond rings although one is an imposter, (L-R) Georgian table cut diamond flower ring, antique Victorian rose cut diamond fox ring, Victorian rock crystal five-stone ring, Art Deco diamond evil eye ring. Right: one of my most treasured pieces, a Victorian rose cut diamond pendant)
People who know me and my jewellery collection know that I have a slight addiction to rose cut diamonds. I think it’s something about their irregularity and one-of-a-kind nature that really draws me to them.
I also have a real thing for antique animal jewellery too. I think it’s one of those loves you don’t really know you have, until you take stock of your collection and realise you can fill a whole ring case with creature-themed jewels!
(My animal themed rings – I think my love for this motif stems from my love of animals. One of the rings above is a close replica of my beloved German Shepherd, Cleo.)
Another love of mine has to be Georgian and Victorian mourning jewellery – the sentimentality behind each and every piece really moves me and I love the idea of having something beautiful made to represent your loved one. One of my most cherished pieces is a sepia mourning ring with a beautiful ruby halo. The words on the front read ‘Not lost but gone before’ and the reverse is engraved with the details of a precious 9 month old girl named Elizabeth who died in 1773 – I think this is actually one of the oldest pieces I own.
(Left: my collection of mourning rings. Right: I love to mix up eras, stones and metals – here I’m wearing an antique opal and diamond halo ring with a vintage silver and dendritic agate ring.)
I know it’s a predictable answer, but without a doubt my most precious piece in my collection is my engagement ring. It’s a Georgian sacred heart ring, made up of foil-back rose cut diamonds set in a beautifully soft rose gold. It was a surprise choice by husband and I was completely stunned when he showed me the ring – it was the day I finally realised that all the years I spent going on and on about antique jewellery, he was actually listening!
(Left: I managed to include my love of rose cuts in my wedding earlier this year - the earrings were a gift from my mum and the gun metal and diamond swallow cufflinks were my gift to my husband. Right: My husband’s antique rose gold wedding band with my floral engraved rose gold wedding band and my Georgian diamond flaming heart engagement ring.)
Since our wedding earlier this year, I’ve added to my most treasured and sentimental jewellery collection. I think when it came to deciding on what I’d wear for the big day, I spent more time picking my jewellery than I did my dress! My mum gave me the most beautiful rose cut diamond and pearl drop earrings to wear. I’m not really much of an earring person but I love how special these make me feel when I wear them.
I also didn’t want to leave my husband out when it came to our wedding day jewels. On the morning of our wedding, I made sure his best man gave him a little parcel from me, containing two antique gun metal and rose cut diamond swallow cufflinks. Swallows are often used in jewellery to symbolise the safe return of a loved one. I thought these would make the perfect gift to make sure he arrived at our ceremony safely and on time!
I collect pretty much all types of jewellery – including brooches, necklaces, bracelets, charms and stick pins. I’ve been trying to wear brooches recently on my coats and scarves – I’ve collected them for years and I think it’s such a shame when pieces aren’t really worn. I’m a big believer in getting enjoyment out of what I own, I hate to think of pieces never seeing the light of day. When I wear pieces, I often try and imagine the sort of lives they’ve had and the sights they’ve seen over the years.
(Left: a selection of antique and vintage brooches – I love the romantic symbolism some of these hold including the garnet witch’s heart and the eternal snakes. Right: my ever growing stick pin collection.)
If I don’t get wear out of items then I try and think of a new way I can make the most of them – I’ve converted several brooches into necklaces, and stick pins into rings. I love how repurposing these pieces gives them a new lease of life and it means they are pretty much unique pieces too!
(Left: some of my favourite necklaces – the arrow and evil eye necklaces are both antique brooch conversions. The middle turquoise necklace is one of my favourite finds from Portobello Antiques Market in London. I fell in love with it during a trip but decided to leave it behind. Luckily, when I visited again a few months later it was still there waiting for me. Right: my gold charm collection.)
I also love to collect antique jewellery boxes too – many of which I’ve picked up with antique jewellery purchased over the years. It’s a rarity now to find a piece and its box, sometimes the boxes are worth almost as much as what’s inside them, but there’s really special about finding a new piece of jewellery to add to your collection and having the antique box thrown in too.
I live in England so most of my favourite places to treasure hunt are in the UK. I’m lucky to live close by to York, a historic city full of quaint little antique shops lining picturesque cobbled streets. They also have the most incredible homemade fudge shop for when you need a sugar boost.
I also love to visit Portobello Antiques Market in London when I can – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wider variety of antique jewellery dealers in one placed anywhere else.
I’m also lucky to be surrounded by several antique auction houses and fairs – although I love to rummage through packed stalls, I think I love the thrill of bidding on an item and winning at auction the most. The first time my mum and I went to an auction, we were so excited by it all we didn’t even feel all that bad when we were outbid.
My best piece of jewellery hunting advice? Don’t dismiss the antique shops, stalls and auctions that don’t offer all that much in the way of jewellery – you never know what you might find, and sometimes these are the places that have the best bargains. I’ve found some of my most favourite pieces in the most unlikely of places!
You can follow Kate --> @heartofsolidgold
I easily gravitated toward Anya's Instagram feed when I first discovered "GemFever" and caught my own gemstone fever because of it. Her taste is truly refined and she has a great eye! So many of her sold archives are pieces I had wished I pounced on when they were first listed...and incidently her jewels she does sell often become "sold" faster than you can email her. It was a surprise to meet her in person at my GIA Alumni presentation in DC and let me just say, it was like talking to someone I had known my whole life! So happy that she is sharing her collection with us today:
Jewelry has always drawn me in, I love having wearable treasures and I’m addicted to gemstones. I chose the name “gem fever” to identify myself on various online platforms because that’s how gemstones make me feel – feverish, excited, passionate.
The pieces I currently have in my jewelry box I’ve collected over the last six years or so. I discovered Etsy in 2010 and loved finding shops with one of a kind handmade pieces that I’d never find in a local jewelry store. Though recently I’ve concentrated on fine vintage jewelry, I still wear a few pieces from Etsy artists that I really treasure (for example the pomegranate pendant from Winged Lion and the scrimshaw ring from Linda Layden).
Since I sell vintage jewelry, quite a few pieces have transitioned from my shop to my personal collection, and vice versa. I’ve noticed that the pieces that stick around tend to be the ones that sweep me off my feet unexpectedly. I may find them when I’m looking for something else and the jewels pick me to be their caretaker. This happened with my most beloved piece – my Old Mine Cut diamond earrings. I was browsing at Intergem, more or less looking for a vintage diamond ring. I stopped by the booth of the vendor Efim Gilin and asked to see a few things. Elena, who is a very friendly and talented seller, pulled out these earrings even though I hadn’t been asking about earrings at all. The moment I saw them, they took my breath away. I don’t think I’d ever felt such a rush from buying a piece of jewelry before, I just had to have them. They were above my budget so I put them on layaway, then worked and reworked my budget so I could pay them off as soon as possible. When the time came, my husband and I took a trip to New York to pick them up, and had a fantastic time. We’ve made quite a few trips together to check out jewels around the country, or to go to shows, and it’s always great fun.
I love going to antique shows to check out jewelry in person. But my absolute favorite place to look for vintage pieces is still eBay – I love the treasure hunt. Shopping on eBay is a skill, you have to get a feel for the condition of pieces, watch out for fakes and reproductions, avoid shady sellers with fake listings, and so on. If you’re willing to put in the time to search and take the risks, eBay can really pay off.
My personal collection is constantly evolving, and I like to keep it fairly small. I tend to wear a few favorites regularly, and go through phases of favorites (currently my emerald ring gets the most wear). My ongoing obsession is vintage diamonds, I’ve been on the hunt for the “perfect” old cut for years. I love that no two vintage diamonds are exactly alike. I’ve temporarily owned a few stunning stones, but ended up selling each one because the excitement of the search is addictive. One day, I’ll commit to a vintage diamond engagement ring, but for now I’m wearing a French cut diamond band that I had custom made using vintage diamonds from a cocktail ring I found on eBay, set into a platinum bezel band by the talented designer Caysie van Bebber from CvB Inspired Design. When it comes to metals, I enjoy both rich yellow gold and the coolness of platinum. Overall, I’d say I keep pieces in my personal collection when they fill me with joy.
In the future, I’d like to add more gemstones to my collection. There is an opal and spinel ring in the works. I am craving more emeralds, plus a blue sapphire that would draw me in like the vast starry sky (a girl can dream!). I would love a vintage diamond cocktail ring like Danielle’s incredible Edwardian pieces.
And of course, I’m excited to see which jewels will find me unexpectedly and change my collection in ways I can’t yet imagine.
Platinum pearl and diamond ring & plat. diamond band | Silver scrimshaw ring from Linda Layden on Etsy | Onyx and blue zircon ring in 14k yellow gold | Whimsical baroque pearl ring in yellow gold | Buckle ring from the wonderful @jewelleryhannah on Instagram
Victorian yellow gold locket | White gold, diamond, and White South Sea pearl earrings that are surprisingly versatile and wearable | Victorian miniature portrait brooch that looks great on anything | Yellow gold griffin that I fell in love with and named George | Silver and white topaz pendant, a present from my mom.
My Victorian bohemian garnet collection, I love the earrings especially.
(left) These vintage silver, marcasite, and etched glass earrings were an eBay find that I instantly fell in love with. I’ve never been able to wear long earrings until I tried on these beauties. I get compliments on them every single time I wear them!
(right) A few of my favorite rings :) Custom made French cut diamond band, vintage diamond eternity | Emerald and diamond ring won at auction on eBay (I held my breath for a week waiting for this auction to end!) | Old European cut diamond halo ring – the first diamond halo in my collection, the one that made me change my “no halos” mindset. I love jewelry that surprises me and makes me rethink previous notions.
(left) Jewels that make me feel beautiful and feminine – earrings and my Beautiful Lady brooch.
(right) My current favorite – vintage emerald ring.
(left) Both my husband and I fell in love with this piece from Winged Lion on Etsy and hubby gave it to me as a present. I treasure it.
(right) My beloved Old Mine Cut diamond earrings, and French cut diamond band. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to vintage diamonds and these two pieces are the stars of my collection.
You can follow Anya --> @gemfever
I was lucky enough to meet Heather before our Instagram community of collectors came into formation. It was during a time when she was in search of the perfect antique engagement ring and I was working full time at a local antique jewelry store in Nashville. We had been emailing back and forth and had a few contenders. What better way to seal the deal than a 12-hour road trip to Nashville?! I got to meet Heather and her future husband, help her try on some gorgeous jewels and it was a great day! Four years later she is sharing her jewelry collection here with us! Take it away Heather:
When and why did I start collecting jewelry? For weeks I couldn’t get my jewel story rolling because the answers were evading me. I cannot recall a time when I didn’t love jewelry and have memories as little girl sifting through any jewelry box or drawer I encountered, much to the chagrin of the women around me. I swear I’ve recovered from this behavior or at least ask permission before rifling. I thought it was my paternal grandma who sparked the collector in me since she was an avid one herself, but I was missing something or rather someone.
It should have been obvious since I worked for him for almost a decade - my Dad is the reason I am a collector. Classic cars, particularly Cadillacs of the 1950s and ‘60s, are his passion. He instilled in me an appreciation for the past and a desire to preserve relics of history. I often find there is an unspoken bond between those of us who collect vintage and antique no matter the category. The way he reflects on the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program through which many classic cars were destroyed echoes the horror we jewelry collectors feel when thinking about scrapping and melting. He understands why I collect antique and vintage jewelry and for Christmas a few years ago gifted me my first loupe with my initials engraved on the side – it is something I cherish. I hope one day I can pass along to my children the same tinkerer and antiquarian heart he has given me.
My Dad’s interest in and confusion of eBay is when I really started collecting. Years ago he was restoring a 1962 Cadillac Series 62 and it became part of my job to locate vintage chrome tail fins, hubcaps, hood ornaments, etc. etc. you name it. It was through hunting down his car parts I found the vintage and antique jewelry category. I came in at the tail end of the eBay glory days, but it was enough to give me the jump-start I needed.
I still cruise eBay from time to time, but many of my recent acquisitions are sourced directly from the wonderful collectors and sellers on Instagram. I also like to get out and actively hunt because it’s important to touch and interact – you never know what you’re going to find or who you’re going to meet. Travelling the US throughout the years has given me the opportunity to explore new hunting grounds and connect with collectors. i.e. In 2012, boyfriend/fiancé/cool dude (whoever he was to me at that time) and I set out on a roadtrip to Tennessee to pick up an engagement ring sourced through the expertise of Gem Gossip – cowboy boots, antique jewelry and partying in Music City? It was a fun way to get engaged.
I am also lucky to have a great store in my area– Sarah’s Vintage & Estate Jewelry – with a vast inventory of jewels and knowledgeable owner. One of my first fine antique pieces came from Sarah’s – an 18k white gold Art Deco garnet and diamond die-struck ring with floral details. It was a birthday present from my then boyfriend (now husband). It is something I’ll never sell and hope it passes down as an heirloom in our family. I’m passionate about antique and vintage jewelry because it connects us not only to the past, but the future. I often times wonder, especially when a ring has an inscription, who owned it before me and what was her life like? Where did she wear the ring and who gave it to her? Then I think about who will wear it after and hope he/she cares for it as much as I did.
I appreciate and covet pieces from all time periods, but Edwardian/Belle Époque and Art Deco are tops and not just because the style and craftsmanship are extraordinary (all the lacy, flowing, filigree, geometric, platinum detail work and diamonds?! I mean, come on!) It’s also the optimism, opulence, rebellious attitudes and glorious cocktails of these times that call to me– hey, my handle isn’t speakeasyewels for nothing. It’s no secret that one of my favorite pieces is an Edwardian c. 1910s elongated ring with OEC diamonds in a scrolly platinum setting. It’s just fun to wear and when I have it on I like to think about crafting and consuming classic cocktails with bitters or egg whites, but then I remember I’m not a mixologist. Happy hunting and holidays to you all. Cheers!
You can follow Heather --> @speakeasyjewels
Kate has a striking collection of antique jewelry--with lots of turquoise Victorian pieces, which perfectly matches her Instagram moniker @Turquoise_Row. She lives in Australia and although she may be on the other side of the world, her daily Instagram posts of her beautiful collection have me feeling as close as a stone's throw away. Happy to have Kate sharing her personal jewelry collection with Gem Gossip today; take it away Kate:
When I was young I never wore jewellery or really had any interest in it at all; what I loved was history. It was really my love of history more than a love for jewellery that got me interested in antique jewellery. I love thinking of what was happening in the world when jewellery was made, and who might have owned it originally. I guess this is what really draws me to antique jewellery – it tells us so much about the time in which it was made, but no matter how much time passes its purpose stays pretty much the same: it's just pretty. Unlike so many antiques that become obsolete, antique jewellery continues to be wearable and beautiful no matter how much time passes.
My jewellery story starts on my 18th birthday, when my parents gave me a beautiful late Victorian turquoise ring. I remember the first time I wore the ring thinking ‘I can't believe this is 100 years old and I get to wear it’ – it really blew my mind to think I was wearing a tiny piece of history. That was six years ago, and since then I’ve become a bit obsessed, and most of what I do now revolves around jewellery. I ended up being able to combine jewellery with ancient Egypt and wrote my undergrad thesis on 12th Dynasty Egyptian jewellery.
I don’t think I really have a theme to my collection, although I usually gravitate towards yellow gold Victorian pieces. Lately I have been adding a few vintage rings to my collection; I guess I’m thinking of jewellery less as a piece of history now, and thinking more about the beauty of a piece, or the craftsmanship and work that goes into handmade pieces.
(left) My favourite pieces aren't the rarest or most valuable in my collection, but the pieces that I have the fondest memories of. This black enamel and seed pearl mourning ring I bought after my grandfather passed away. I don't wear it so much now, but I wore it pretty much every day for two years after he passed. It's not in great condition, partly due to how much I've worn it, but I still absolutely love it.
(right) This diamond and sapphire ring was the first antique ring I bought for myself. There was an old cut ruby where the modern sapphire is (the ruby fell out) and the larger diamond is chipped, but it was the inscription that really attracted me to it. There are old Chinese symbols for ‘luck’ and ‘money’ inside the band.
This is my first ever antique ring, the row of turquoise cabochons (hence the name Turquoise Row) along with a diamond and sapphire ring I bought when I was in Russia. The turquoise ring I don't often wear now; it was badly damaged by a jeweller a few years ago. I eventually want to have it repaired and bring it back to its former glory.
Both of these rings are from @ishyantiques (the scarab ring was made by @jewelleryhannah) and they are two that I wear all the time. The rest of my favourite rings I don't necessarily wear that often, but I wear one of these nearly every day. I bought the scarab because of my love of ancient Egypt; I looked for a scarab ring for ages before I found this one. It wasn't what I pictured when I was looking, but when I saw it I loved it straight away. The anchor doesn’t really have any meaning behind it; I just think it’s beautiful.
I only have a small collection of charms, but they are some of my most sentimental pieces. The chain was my first ever piece of jewellery – a gift from my great Aunt on my 5th birthday (along with the Snoopy charm). It took me about 15 years to start wearing it, but now it's my go-to chain. The locket was a 21st gift from my parents and still has the original glass picture of a man inside (who I've named Percy). The lovely little birdie with a hanging diamond was hand made by @jewelleryhannah; it's one of my few modern pieces but has so much character! The bell is the most precious piece of jewellery I have; it was originally a stickpin given to my Nan by her father when she was a little girl. The pin part broke off and only the bell on a chain sat in her jewellery box until she gave it to me. It isn't my most valuable piece, but it's the one I would be most upset over if I lost it; there are always more beautiful antiques, but I could never replace the sentimental value of this piece.
You can follow Kate --> @turquoise_row
Market Square Jewelers is a family-owned business with four different locations across the Northeast. One store located in Maine, another in Massachusetts and two locations in New Hampshire. While I haven't gotten much time to spend in this part of the country, I can luckily log into their website and see so many amazing jewels from their inventory online! I love that they update it frequently with new arrivals.
If you want even more updates, following them on Instagram is fun and a definite must! Above are some of my favorite photos they've posted on their feed. Photos like this easily allow you to fall in love with pieces and "treasure hunt" virtually. If you like what you see, make sure you follow Market Square Jewelers on Instagram--I highly recommend!
WANT MORE? Check out my other favorite Instagrams