Robust Business for Vintage Jewels at Winter Show

Seven days into the Winter Show antiques, art and design fair, there was still a steady flow of well-heeled collectors moving about the Park Avenue Armory on New York’s Upper East side. In its 70th year, the show, which ran from January 19 to 28, featured 76 exhibitors from seven countries including about nine exhibitors who specialize in collectible jewels. Several of the jewelry galleries and dealers have been longtime participants in the annual show, and nearly all were happy with business this year.

Each of the jewelry exhibitors holds a unique niche in antique and period jewels, and most say collectors were looking at a broad range of pieces that these dealers offered. As always, signed jewels were popular, but so were unsigned pieces. People were also looking for easily wearable and versatile pieces. Jewels and sketches by René Lalique were seen throughout the fair.

One of the exhibitors that had good results from pieces by the French jewelry artist was London-based Wartski, which focuses on Fabergé objects and historic European jewels, many with royal pedigree. The person behind the stand said attendees were looking for a variety of pieces from the firm’s vast collection of European and Russian jewels. Lalique was popular.

An Italian Renaissance Revival Bracelet. (Winter Show)

Benjamin Macklowe of Macklowe Gallery in New York also featured Lalique jewelry, displaying about a dozen items by the Art Nouveau jeweler at its booth this year.

“We sold across our product line. Bulgari, Cartier, Lalique and more,” he said. “Every time we sold something, regardless of the price, it was a great example of what it was.”

Macklowe’s firm handles Tiffany & Co. lamps and objects, furniture, and antique and period jewels. Among the highlights of its sales was a pair of Bulgari ruby cabochon earrings for $175,000.

A Bulgari Toi & Moi ring in platinum and yellow gold set with diamonds and a Burma ruby from Véronique Bamps. (Winter Show)

Veteran exhibitors reported feeling pleased with the outcome of the show.

This year’s installment drew “one of the best crowds” they’d ever seen, said Carrie Imberman and her brother Matthew Imberman, owners of Kentshire in New York, who have been working the Winter Show for 33 years. Like others, they say sales from the show continue after it’s over, based on the relationships they form.

Signed jewels were also popular. Among the company’s sales during the show was an Art Deco Boucheron diamond bracelet, a Hermès gold panel necklace and bombé diamond ring, and an Art Deco diamond bracelet by Cartier.

An Art Moderne gold and diamond bracelet in 18k and platinum by René Boivin. (Winter Show)

“We’ve had a good fair,” Matthew said. “We have jewels from different periods, designers and a variety of gem-set pieces. People are buying items that have a specific meaning to them.”

A La Vieille Russie has exhibited at the Winter Show almost since its inception. The company has expertise in Fabergé and other art objects of Russian origin, as well as European antique and vintage jewels. Peter Schaffer, one of the family members who lead the company, and specialist Adam Patrick were satisfied with the fair, saying they made some sales but just as importantly, they had the opportunity to meet new potential clients. For many, buying historic jewels isn’t an impulse purchase.

It’s the third time exhibiting at the Winter Show for Monaco-based dealer Véronique Bamps, who sells signed pieces from historic jewelry houses and designers. She plans to return, saying it attracts both well-cultured locals and an international crowd.

“I’ve spoken to people from a lot of countries and states,” she said. “[This show] attracts a very large crowd. And a lot of younger people who are buying pieces that they feel they could wear every day.”

Victorian ruby and diamond butterfly brooch, circa 1890. (ALVR)

For New York ladies, she added, the period is less significant. “The key is elegance when they buy jewelry,” she observed. “They fall in love, and they buy.”

Perhaps no one at the show was more pleased than Didier and Martine Haspeslagh, owners of Didier, a London-based firm that specializes in artist-designed jewels acquired on the secondary market. The couple sold several important pieces, including creations in the “five-figure” range by artists comprising Arnaldo Pomodoro, Franco Cannilla, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Sonia Delaunay, among others.

“We’ve had a very good show,” said Didier Haspeslagh. “We’ve had a number of new clients. This fair attracts people with taste, money and a need for artistic content.” People were most attracted to “big, spectacular pieces,” he continued.

18k yellow gold necklace with three abstract repoussé pendants with kinetic elements, and set with diamonds. Designed by Italian artist, Afro Basaldella, and made in the gold workshop of Mario Masenza, Rome. On offer by Didier.
(Winter Show)

Like others, Simon Teakle, whose eponymous firm is located in Greenwich, Connecticut, said that jewels by the European heritage brands were popular at the show. “There’s always a demand for signed jewels,” he noted.

Simon Teakle pair of cameo and diamond earrings by Hemmerle.
(Winter Show)

Another gallery owner who cited Art Deco jewels was James Boening, director of New York-based James Robinson, a New York-based gallery that spotlights vintage jewels, art objects, silver and flatware. He also sold items that can be worn in formal and casual surroundings. “Women are looking for jewels that are versatile,” he said. “Pieces that can be worn with jeans. Pieces that are more approachable.”  

American black opal and diamond cluster ring mounted in platinum and 14k gold, circa 1910, from James Robinson. (Winter Show)

Still, not everyone experienced successful jewelry sales at the show. Tim Martin, owner of New York-based S.J. Shrubsole specializes in vintage jewels, silver and art objects. While the other two categories did well, jewelry sales were slow, he said.

Source: Rapaport