Classic carats catch the eye

At local antique show, vintage jewelry in demand for its uniqueness, quality

By Elisa Williams, Columbian staff writer

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As Norbert Anderson looks through the trays of vintage jewelry in his Vancouver shop, he stops and holds up a ring made in the 1920s.

“Look at the rubies they used to use,” Anderson says as he inspects the ring’s center stone. “The color and the clarity … you can’t find that today.”

Anderson’s Pacific Jewelers will be one of 20 or so dealers selling fine jewelry at the 2010 Clark County Antique & Collectible Show, which runs today and Sunday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. “Jewelry is very, very popular in collecting right now,” said show manager Chris Palmer. But she added that the large number of dealers at this year’s show, roughly double that of year’s past, was somewhat of a coincidence. The dealers with that specialty were available to participate.

Items in high demand include lavalieres from the late 1800s and early 1900s, jewelry made with seed pearls, filigree work, platinum and diamonds, Anderson said.

But the interest in jewelry is at all price points.

Designer and name-brand costume jewelry, such as pieces made by Eisenberg, Miriam Haskell and Hattie Carnegie, are also in vogue, said Colleen Seger, co-owner of Accent on Antiques and Collectibles in Vancouver, which will also have a booth at the show.

Vintage jewelry can be a bargain as well as an outfit maker.

Among the bargains are wrist watches. Customers can buy a gold Tiffany watch for about $700 to $1,000, Anderson said. A new, comparable Tiffany watch could cost $3,000 to $5,000.

Estate jewelry diamonds also represent a value, priced sometimes at about half what they cost new at retail, he explained.

Platinum dominates estate jewelry collections, because those settings are more durable and survived the test of time, said Anderson, whose store is on Main Street in Vancouver.

Anderson also sells some two-tone pieces. These designs, made with both white and yellow gold in the 1920s and 1930s, didn’t sell well at the time, explained Tim Murray, a manager at Pacific Jewelers. But today they are popular among estate jewelry buyers.

Palmer attributes the interest in vintage fine jewelry to people’s desire to have something unique.

Victorian earrings, for example, are “a little frilly.” she said. “You won’t find two that are the same because they’re all done by hand.”

In costume pieces, the quality of vintage pieces makes them stand out.

Stones are hand- and prong-set, which makes them more durable.

“The jewelry is still wearable and beautiful 100 years later and will be for another 100 years,” Seger said.

It’s also very much in fashion.

“A lot of young people are dressing in the vintage clothing,” Seger said. “They want the vintage jewelry to go with the vintage clothes.”