Expert Advice: How To Gift Costume Jewelry
It’s approximately two weeks until Black Friday. Take a breath. There’s still time to consider the thoughtful gift, like a beautiful piece of vintage costume jewelry. Needless to say, that venture involves more effort than others, but according to jewelry collector and historian Deanna Farneti Cera, it’s entirely worth it. “It’s not something you can just buy. You have to choose it,” explains Farneti Cera, whose friends usually know what they’re getting come Christmas. “It’s totally unique. It’s extremely improbable that you’ll find someone with the same piece.” To ease the shopping path, Farneti Cera has been selling off parts of her sizable personal collection of vintage bijoux through Yoox.com. There’s another sale starting today featuring pieces from Coppola e Toppo (including the dégradé beaded necklace pictured here for $2,250), the influential Italian house that created pieces for Emilio Pucci and Valentino. But we asked Farneti Cera to give us some pointers on how to shop smart for the perfect vintage bauble this holiday season.
1. Know Thy Giftee This might seem obvious, but Farneti Cera stresses the point. “More than with contemporary jewelry, you give a gift of vintage jewelry to someone when you know how they think, how they dress,” she says. “It gives a very personal imprint.”
2. Buy Pre-2000 OK, 1999 might seem a stretch as vintage, but for Farneti Cera, the year 2000 is something of a jewelry watershed. “Anything made before then is higher quality,” she explains. “The whole global market hadn’t appeared then. What is stamped ‘Made In Italy’ was actually made in Italy.”
3. France Rules, Mostly Oh, the French. Le sigh. There are few areas of aesthetics they haven’t conquered. “Every time, the leadership is in France,” says Farneti Cera. “Chanel, Schiaparelli, Roger Jean-Pierre for Dior in the fifties, Cardin in the seventies.” She does, however, make exceptions for American pieces made in the forties and Italian ones from the eighties.
4. Trust Your Instincts (Well, Some of You) According to Farneti Cera, names matter, but so does your gut. “In my opinion, everything that has somehow a wonderful history behind it such as Gripoix for Chanel or Schlumberger for Schiaparelli is worth looking for,” she says. “But something is not necessarily beautiful because its trademark is Chanel or Dior. Follow your eyes, your taste, your heart. Or let yourself be guided by someone who knows what’s good.”
5. Clicks, Then Bricks “Nowadays the best place that gives you a precise idea of what’s out there is the Web,” she says. But if you’re not ultra-knowledgeable, Farneti Cera advises going to department stores with vintage sections or hitting good antique shows, like the Pier Antiques Show at Pier 94 coming up soon on November 14 and 15. “You can compare prices. You can ask for evidence of the information,” she says. “A good sign is whether a dealer is ready to guarantee his merchandise and let you make a return.”