Today’s Jewelry Collection Story comes from one half of the Erstwhile Jewelry duo, Alisa Klusner. Inheriting a love for gems and antiques from both her grandmother and mother, Alisa is now enchanted by gems and antiques found by her husband Jared. The married team have a great eye for beautiful, drool-worthy pieces–anything from a sapphire and diamond Art Deco ring, to a retro ruby and diamond piece, they have all the best. More recently the two collaborated on their own vintage-inspired line By Erstwhile, which features wedding bands, engagement rings, a really cool ear cuff, and some pendants. Excited to share Alisa’s story:
“I’ve been collecting my whole life. My grandmother and I would thrift and go to flea markets together every weekend. She had little boxes of gems found at flea markets and brought from the mother land, Russia. I loved how carefully she cared for these little treasures. I think, for me, the romance began there. My collecting began probably from my grandmother’s first few little gifts that were small but very sweet. My mother has always been a lover of fine jewels and over the years she’s also gifted me with jewels commemorating special occasions.”
“Now my husband, an antiques dealer, gifts me with gems. So my collection consists mostly of jewels he’s given me, little relics from my childhood, and pieces I “borrow” from Erstwhile.”
On her favorite motifs…
“Anything that brings about a feeling of nostalgia I love. My favorite motifs are found in Georgian and Victorian Mourning rings. They’re jewels made and worn to remember lost loved ones. Usually inscribed with the name of the deceased and date and place of death. These were worn to remind the wearer of mortality as in those days it was a constant threat. Many times you can find ‘memento mori’ inscribed on these jewels, a Latin expression meaning ‘remember death’. Typical motifs and looks were black jet (the stone in the ring below), black and white enamel on yellow gold, and painted weeping willows.”
“I am passionate about bringing back the concept of treasuring your possessions. Everything in our culture is so disposable now. I get caught up in it myself. But you get on that merry go round and forget to appreciate the things you have. Unlike my grandmother, who treasured those few bright little jewels. Many of the rings we find may have gotten scraped or melted and lost. When you see 100 rings at once, all thrown together, they can lose their individual luster. The work comes when you need to spot those special pieces and put them in a context/curate them in a way that let’s their light shine. And instead of someone buying a disposable trendy piece of jewelry, they can buy this special piece, hand made using precious metals and gems over 100 years ago. A piece that can and should be loved for a lifetime. That’s my passion, the possibility that these jewels will outlast all of us. And we’re just stewards of them for now.”
“I like to join Jared on shopping trips to London, Paris, and even Upstate NY. Antique jewelry shows are fun too! Treasure hunting for jewelry has massively changed in the last few years with the internet and Instagram. It used to be that you could find amazing jewels in pawn and antique shops in little towns around the US. But everything’s online now and the romance of the hunt has gone a bit.”
“My engagement ring is my most special and favorite piece. Jared just happened upon it and immediately knew it was for me. Surprisingly he didn’t agonize over dozens of rings. It was just this one from the start. And it’s perfect.”
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WANT MORE? Check out other jewelry collections I’ve featured, here.
Sonal Sahrawat July 18, 2016 at 10:36 am:
Alisa your jewellery collection is fabulous. I liked your collection and what I loved most is your earrings. Thank you Alisha for sharing this collection.
Rick August 2, 2016 at 1:40 am:
Hello Alisa, You definitely have a stunning jewelry collection. The part of your collection I admire mostly was Rings by Todd Reed, Atelier Zobel, Arman Lotus Shield ring, Arman wide hammered ring with black diamonds. To me they are very unique in style. I have never seen anything like them!