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