When given one whole day to do whatever your heart desires in NYC, the first thing that came to my mind was the DIAMOND DISTRICT! I’ve always wanted to go and see first-hand what it was like. It was a dreary and foggy morning, which added to the aura of 47th street. I have been dying to visit Gray & Davis since they first sent me a SHOW ME YOUR RINGS submission a couple years ago! My chance finally came and after pausing a moment and eyeing their amazing window display, I stepped in their corner shop. Not only did I get to stack rings to my heart’s content, I got to learn a few interesting bits of history of the shop. I knew I had to know more, so their founder, Gray, graciously took the time to answer these questions. Special thanks to Anna and Laura!
When I was 5 years old my grandmother would allow me to sit on the floor and play with her jewelry collection if I had been good. So, I believe it is in my blood. As an adult, I took any chance I got to further my education in antique jewelry – going to libraries and exhibitions whenever possible. If you really have the bug like I do, you seek out these opportunities.
After a career in publishing magazines on antiques and the arts, I realized I wanted to focus on antique jewelry exclusively and slowly built the shop over 25 years. As in most things it was up and down- we had three fires in one location! – and after moving around quite a bit we settled into the great location we have now. I started out by traveling to all the big jewelry shows that are still around today to collect new pieces for my shop as well as to learn from and make friends with all the dealers showing their wares. I got to know curators, auctioneers and collectors all over the world. It is very important to forge strong relationships with others in the business. Many of these other dealers have turned into great friends as well as business associates.
I am very lucky to have a daughter living in England so when I first got on my feet in this business I would visit her and her family and would always go hunt for pieces at Hatton Garden and Portabello Road.
There was a ring that I acquired through an English Dealer, and after much research I was able to determine that originally it was most likely given to the court of Marie Antoinette. This was great fun and I wish I could find another piece with such historical significance. Sadly I sold it so long ago I no longer have a photo!
My favorite pieces of jewelry that I personally own are a pair of wide Victorian, American-made bracelets. One side of the bracelets is decorated in the style of the aesthetic movement (which was inspired by Japanese art) and the other side has very classic Victorian linear designs. To have influences from Asia and the UK on a piece that was made in America is very special. For nearly 25 years I have worn them almost every day.