CRÈME de la GEM
Like any jewellery, period pieces display varying levels of quality. Some metalwork becomes too worn down after extensive ageing—and not all vintage pieces were made with exceptional quality standards. So how can you ensure that you’ll get the best piece when you make a period purchase?
“International auction houses possess not only the expertise but also a global sourcing network, which means access to extraordinary pieces. And international auctions offer a wide variety of styles, periods and brands,” advises Quek. “They also offer an abundance of information on the pieces such as certificates of the stones, cataloguing and condition reports, as well as experts on hand to give advice.”
If you’re up for a bit of travelling to find your gems, jewellery fairs can be a great source as well. The Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, the Paris Biennale, Masterpiece London, and Art Basel in Hong Kong and Miami Beach are ideal places to visit. Warren says, “If you find a valuable gemstone that you would like to buy, make sure it comes with a laboratory certificate from an internationally recognised company—such as GIA for diamonds, and SSEF and Gübelin for coloured stones and pearls.”
Repairs, too, play an important part in the determining the quality of a period jewel. A few minor repairs are naturally necessary for any piece of a certain age. But a jewel should be as close to original condition as possible. A jewellery expert will be able to help you judge how many updates a gem has undergone. But, as Warren says, “If it has an outstanding provenance, once belonged to royalty or a famous personality, you have all the ingredients together for a perfect piece of vintage or period jewellery.”