We are ringing in the New Year today with an inspiring and gorgeous Jewelry Collection Story from Angela, or what we may like to call her “Gemstone Gypsy.” I find her collection entirely intriguing and I love how sentimental and closely tied to her heritage many of the pieces are. Let’s get right into it:
“I’ve loved jewelry since I was a child. My maternal grandmother is a serious collector who worked for Tiffany and Hermes and taught me how to appreciate everything from major Victorian rings to beautiful Chanel costume pieces. She’s real, old New York – always in head to toe black, purple Chanel lipstick and Ferragamo shoes – and I idolized her as a child! I would sit with her in her apartment, riveted, while she showed me what things were made of and explained why they were valued. She really impressed upon me the importance of quality construction, too, and how to spot it. My paternal side is Brooklyn Italian, and they love their gold! So since an early age I had lots of adornment around me.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m hugely sentimental, so apart from the aesthetic aspect of jewelry, I love what it means in a personal sense. In the end, regardless of material, a piece’s value is truly in the story it carries, and what it becomes in the eye of the beholder. The simplest, most inexpensive thing can become hugely meaningful if it is loved or given with love, and I find that so magical.”
Above: My collection of vintage + antique yellow gold Italian/Catholic protection charms, shown on top of pictures of my grandmothers in Brooklyn in the early 1920s-30s. A Gold Rush-era gold nugget lock, American Victorian 10k carnelian cross, and Victorian goldfill locket.
“My personal jewelry collection is not enormous (though my husband would definitely disagree!) but it is pretty varied – everything from Georgian gold rings to Mexican silver pieces from the 70s. I’ve also built up a fair amount of contemporary, handmade pieces as well, many of them made by jewelers I know personally and count as friends. It makes the pieces that much more special! I do have certain themes I stick to – eras, styles and stones I love.
I’m drawn to sapphires because they are my husband’s birthstone. I love rubies, just because. Georgian, Victorian + Art Deco are my favorite eras to collect. I always go for big, statement rings over anything else. And, if given the choice, I’d pick any of what I call the “soft stones” – agates, turquoise, lapis, coral – over diamonds (though a few diamonds never hurt anyone ;)”
Above: My wedding jewelry: Bands – Vintage 18k split band, Art Deco 18k and french cut sapphire eternity band from @duvenay, Art Deco 14k-lined platinum engraved band from Metier SF; My engagement ring, a 1920s sapphire + mine cut diamond target ring from London, and my wedding gift, a Georgian rose/old cut diamond cluster ring, also from London.
“My solid gold safety pin earrings from my Jewels for Gypsies line are one piece I literally wear every single day and never take off. They’re like a great combo of a stud and a hoop – you can sleep in them comfortably, they look chic if you want to dress them up but also have just the right amount of rocker edge to lend to any outfit.”
Above: L-R: My Jewels for Gypsies 14k Safety Pin Earrings, Vintage 18k white gold and diamond safety pin pendant from @GoldAdore, 18k + Sapphire Indian Snake Hoops from @lisajshuler_apocketofrocks.
“Another favorite would be my necklace of Italian protection and religious charms – some I’ve had since childhood, some which my husband has given me or I’ve collected over the years. I wear them every day and rarely take them off, and all the women in my family do too – we’re very superstitious! If the necklace doesn’t match what I’m wearing (rare!) I’ll pin a few to my underwear, just in case.”
Above: My everyday neck game: Jewels for Gypsies large 14k feather pendant in yellow gold with pavé rubies, a french-cut ruby and gold cross I bought in London, my 1940s 18k ruby + diamond A. Augis “I Love You More Every Day” pendant (a gift from my husband), and a 14k + ruby dagger, which is probably the piece people most commonly try to buy off my neck (I say no every time)!
Above: Victorian sterling, 14k gold, diamond and mother of pearl Miraculous medal – my 30th birthday gift from my husband, purchased from @theoneilovenyc.
One of my favorite pairs of earrings – diamond + 14k talons by my hugely talented friend Noriko Sugawara (of N+A New York). She’s probably the best jeweler I know and she taught me how to make jewelry way back when.
Above: Assorted stick pin necklaces I made (l-r): a Georgian collet-set diamond, a 14k Tiffany & Co. Fishhook (formerly a tie tack of my dad’s), and a platinum + diamond “J” for my husband, from @ishyantiques. The Victorian garnet is from @theoneilovenyc.
“I have a Victorian Garnet cabochon ring with a halo of opals that my husband gave me one birthday early on in our relationship that’s really special to me. Garnet is my birthstone, and I love the symbolism of fidelity it carries with it. It’s the first antique, and the first ring he ever gave me, so it holds a lot of meaning for me. I even make a point to wear it to weddings and family occasions to lend love and positive symbolism to the event.”
Above: Symbols of Love: A Victorian garnet + opal halo ring, a 1930s band inscribed “Amor Vincit Omnia” (love conquers all, also from my husband), and a ring I made from a Georgian garnet lace pin I added a hand-carved 18k band and foil back aquamarine to.
Snakes! (l-r) A French Art Deco gold and diamond snake, Victorian garnet + opal snake from @heartofsolidgold, and a Victorian garnet snake scored from Ebay (!), which I wear every day.
“My antique ring collection is still growing – I have about 40 antique rings total, though to be honest I mostly just wear a few favorites daily. I’ve been collecting pieces my whole life, but really only seriously for about 3-4 years.”
Above: Turquoise dreams (l-r): An Art Deco 22k pinky ring, 18k + Persian turquoise Late Victorian band from @_butterlaneantiques, an American Victorian turquoise ring, and a ring I made from a Victorian square-cut turquoise + old-cut diamond horseshoe pin.
Love Gold! (l-r): 1920s 18k “William Tell” signet from @_butterlaneantiques, 14k gold + sapphire class ring circa 1917 (my grandmother’s birth year), a Victorian 18k + diamond Gypsy Ring, and a hand-sawn 1946 Half Penny pyramid ring made by my very dear + talented friend @racheleardleysomerset, whose work reminds me that you can still be a quality maker in today’s world.
“The best story I have about a personal piece would have to be the one behind this funny Edwardian Sapphire and Diamond ring I inherited. My friends and I refer to it as “The Cat Eye Mask” ring because that’s what it reminds us of. My mom found it in the bottom of a box full of trash in my grandfather’s apartment, right before he died. It almost got thrown away! She gave it to me a few years ago and I rarely wear it, but I would never sell it because I just think I was meant to own it. My cousin and best friend even wore it in her wedding as her “something blue,” just in case the good luck attached to it rubs off.”
Above: The infamous “Cat Eye Mask” Edwardian diamond + sapphire ring that was rescued from the trash, in its original box.
“My favorite places to treasure hunt are with special dealers I have met over the years and love to hang out with and buy things from here in New York City. I also try to make the trip to London when I can to visit friends and shop at Portobello road at least once a year. As far as non-secret spots, I love Etsy – there are beautiful, quality pieces there at all price points, and a lot of really cool new handmade stuff as well. The Pier Antique Shows in Manhattan are great, too, and open to the public – I recommend going with a friend or two for second opinions! I personally always try to shop with at least one of my girls: Jenn (@bellflowerbay) and Christy (@this_is_ferro) – they’re my posse, and I can barely make decisions without them! As far as brick-and-morter stores, my favorite is Metier in San Francisco – they’re tiny but perfectly stocked with old and new; I always try to pop in while I’m in town!”
Above: My collection of agates (l-r): A Victorian dendritic agate ring from @decemberanchor, an 18k bloodstone intaglio “A” ring I got years ago on Ebay, an amazing Victorian bloodstone statement ring from Metier SF, an Art Deco moss agate dinner ring from Ruby Lane, a 1920s banded agate stunner from @eriecanalcollectors, and my first Instagram purchase – a Victorian moss agate ring from my friend Lauren of @agelessheirlooms.
Above: Part of my collection of silver bracelets (top to bottom): a coin souvenir bracelet from all the countries my filmmaker grandfather visited, made for my mom when she was a child, a vintage sterling silver buckle bracelet, a vintage Taxco Mexican silver buckle bracelet, a Victorian sterling Albertina watch chain bracelet (each individual link is hallmarked!).
“My dream piece? This is tricky – I want so many antique gems, the list is a mile long! I guess if I had to settle on something, it would be the Hermes Boucle Sellier silver bracelet. They reissued a huge version of it three or four years ago, and I’m totally obsessed. I have a vintage Chain d’Ancre (one of the early, super heavy ones) that I inherited from my grandmother, and have since built a stack of beautiful Indian and Mexican sterling bracelets around it, that I wear constantly. My dream has always been to be one of those fabulous old ladies with bracelets up to my elbows, and that bracelet is definitely a piece that I feel like I really NEED to complete my collection. I was visiting the jeweler who apprenticed me not long ago, and he was polishing one for a private client. I was completely transfixed and could not stop staring until he finally let me try it on. All I could think was, “Could I make it out the door in time?” but that thing is so heavy, it would probably drag me down as I ran off with it!”
Above: The two prizes of my bracelet collection: A vintage Hermes sterling silver chaine d’ancre bracelet I inherited, and a vintage 14k + diamond curb chain I bought to celebrate an accomplishment.