Amy was featured in Dorset Magazine in December for an interview with antiques expert Ivan McQuisten for their Dealer of the Month feature.
Due to lack of space, not all of her answers were included so we thought you might like to know more about what you should consider when buying antique jewellery.
Here are the questions and Amy’s answers:
What should a buyer/collector look for when considering an antique or vintage piece of jewellery?
Definitely look for the condition of the piece, so make sure that there haven’t been any old repairs, things like dark grey patches of old lead solder, which was the old traditional way of repairing antique jewellery. Check that the patterns of decoration match and are symmetrical generally. Ensure there are no dents or bits that have broken off. Hallmarks should be visible and match with the period of the piece, as should the stones used – ask the person that you’re buying it from because they should know what they’re selling. Anything that is hallmarked is always going to be better than anything that isn’t, although do bear in mind that some pieces of antique jewellery aren’t ever marked and, therefore, it’s all about looking carefully. The most important thing is to buy from somebody reputable, who knows what they are selling. They can provide you with a guarantee and can talk to you about how to look after the piece. And choose something that you love!
What do you take into account when assessing or valuing a piece to acquire for stock?
The first thing I think about is ‘do I like it?’ I can only sell something if I believe in it, it’s genuine and I feel happy selling it. So, I need to make sure that it fits with the style of jewellery and periods of jewellery that we sell. Secondly, it’s all about quality, checking that there isn’t any damage to the piece, making sure that original stones aren’t chipped or so badly scratched that they can’t be restored. A lot of antique jewellery is sold in such poor condition and, because it’s old and people don’t know how to repair it sympathetically, they just leave it and it means that it’s not safe to wear. The most important thing for me is that the jewellery I sell is wearable – I want people to enjoy it.
Any tips on new trends or designers to look out for?
I would definitely say pearls are very on trend. They are probably the most traditional gemstone and, at one point in the 19th century, they were actually more valuable than diamonds because of the risks of diving for them etc. Pearls are now actually being used in a more contemporary way. For Instance, instead of things like rows of pearls, where they are individually strung in order of size, designers are thinking outside of the box and using things like different colored threads for threading so that the knots between the pearls actually become a feature, and muddling up the size and order of the pearls. We recently restrung some pearls with bright pink thread which looked fab. Also, designers are thinking about how they can present the jewellery in a different way such as threading a chain through the pearl instead of suspending the pearl from a bale or a row of pearls.They’re also using different colours of pearls like the gray, blue colour of Tahitian pearls that are just beautiful.
There’s quite a trend for vintage jewellery from the 1970s & 80s made by some of the key jewellery manufacturers like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Christian Dior & Chanel in terms of costume jewelry and which are quite fashionable at the moment. That’s what people are buying that’s really different and not run of the mill.
Which piece of jewellery do you most covet?
If money was no object, there would be two things that I would buy. I would buy a Cartier Panthere bracelet with diamonds and enamelling, so it’s like a panther that wraps around the wrist. I would also try and source a Van Cleef and Arpels ballerina brooch in diamonds with some pink rubies or sapphires. What I covet most in my shop at the moment is an exquisite Belle Epoque period, aquamarine and white gold drop necklace with a massive aquamarine in it, which is just lovely.