Trading snowbanks for sand dunes, I left the post-blizzard Northeast for the sunny skies of Miami to work (and work at) the Original Miami Beach Antiques Show. Though the usual sunshine was eclipsed by torrential downpours and colder than usual temperatures, the outside conditions mattered little to the atmosphere inside the Miami Beach Convention Center.
My third time at the show, and second helping Excalibur, I realized how much I have learned since attending my first Miami antiques show (not to mention first antiques show ever) back in 2013. Though I have visited other US Antiques trade shows, Miami remains a personal favorite. Unlike the other jewelry trade shows, Miami hosts a number of antique dealers as well, whose booths brim with fine art, 17th-19th century furniture and collectible decorative objects. Perusing the endless aisles, you are just as likely to find a rare Art Deco Cartier clip as you are a pair of late 19th century barber chairs. The various dealers are intermixed throughout the show floor, rather than segmented by specialty, turning any visit into a veritable treasure hunt with surprises around every corner.
On my two days off, I walked the show in search for vintage pieces fresh on the market. As I’ve learned over time, those pieces will not be found in the cases for all to see but are tucked away in the safes behind them. Some dealers, when asked nicely, are willing to show their most tantalizing goods but on the grounds that these precious objects remain a secret, not to be shared to the world. Thus, that is all I can say about that…
As I visited dealers I knew as well as those I did not, I always asked their thoughts on the show: how has business been so far, have they seen anything interesting, what are their overall thoughts, and so on. The overwhelming consensus was that there was very little that was new or exciting, and that buyers have been noticeably cautious – keeping to a fixed budget and/or looking for very specific items. The latter is most likely attributed to the uneasiness and unpredictability pervading the global economy of late. In uncertain times, it is better to be conservative – even in the jewelry trade.
Behind the counters of Excalibur, I witnessed this caution firsthand. Last year, the opening day was packed with dealers from small vintage stores scattered throughout the country. I remember witnessing three layers of people waiting to be helped at Excalibur. This year was busy for sure, but not as crowded as last year.
While there may have been less new, exciting pieces than in years past, that is not to say there were none – just fewer. Here are the exciting pieces I came across during my weeklong visit to the Original Miami Beach Antiques Show:
The most liked piece that I posted on Instagram during my time at the show was this elegant pearl and diamond necklace by Boivin at Excalibur jewelry:
Finding a bit of jewelry history amongst all the glitter and gold is equally as thrilling. Below are two stock rings made by Oscar Heyman in the 1930s, the star sapphire ring was made for Cartier in 1935 while the sapphire ring was made for a Galt & Bros., Inc. in 1937. Thanks to a friend, I saw these at the booth of Pittsburg Coin & Jewelry Exchange.
The original stock cards are fascinating for they show not only the renderings but also the original costs for the rings (mounting, diamonds, colored stones, etc.) as well as the prices of each ring.
Another fantastic find was this exceedingly intricate scarecrow brooch at Keyamour’s booth. Given the exquisite quality of manufacture and innumerable fine details, it is believed this brooch might be the work of Raymond Yard – confirmation is still pending… Nevertheless, the workmanship and thoughtful design of this piece is remarkable.
I literally held my breath when I first saw the earrings below. The emeralds looked so unbelievable I quietly asked if they might be paste! They were not. The glowing green orbs were 30 total carats of cabochon cut emeralds in a pair of earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1950-60, from Ernst Färber.
Speaking of paste, this 18th century parure was a veritable rainbow of paste jewelry from Greens of Cheltenham.
Diamonds, of course, were in no short supply, but exceptional stones were few and far between. The diamonds in this Chaumet ring from Symbolic & Chase are case in point of the latter.
These elegantly articulated diamond chandeliers from Morelle Davidson were another high note for diamonds at the show. They moved with the same grace and fluidity as satin.
While note entirely diamonds, these bracelets from Ernst Färber have a very interesting story behind them. Originally composed of all diamonds, this pair of bracelets were originally purchased at Van Cleef & Arpels by a client of Suzanne Belperron. The client then brought the bracelets to Belperron and requested she make her a real piece of jewelry using the large diamonds in the bracelets, leaving the bracelet carcass – so to speak – for Belperron to do whatever she wanted with them. Not one to waste, Belperron popped in faceted rock crystals where the diamonds once were and gifted the bracelets to her close friend.
One of my absolute favorite pieces of the show was this Art Deco diamond brooch composed as a snail on a leaf from Palais Royal. The detailing of the leaf was extraordinary up close and in person.
A real showstopper, this antique catseye chrysoberyl and diamond fringe necklace at Jogani received plenty of attention throughout the show.
Another showstopper of a jewel was this outrageous diamond and gold eagle cuff by Lalaounis at Joseph Saidian & Sons.
A bird of a different feather and on a smaller scale, I cooed over this adorable penguin pin by Van Cleef & Arpels at Symbolic & Chase.
While La Galerie Parisienne has an impressive collection of jewelry by Boivin and Belperron, I was immediately drawn to this sweet flower brooch by Boivin, circa 1930s.
Last, but not least, this beautiful Italian bracelet, circa 1889, from Greens of Cheltenham had me dancing for joy every time I saw it.
For more jewelry from my trip to the Original Miami Beach Antiques Show, be sure to check out my Instagram.