So in our book there is vintage jewelry and then there is vintage jewelry. Erstwhile jewelry is the later. Exceptionally curated, beautiful pieces, and meticulously cared for. When we visit their website there is not a ring we pretty much don't want. Bonus, there is a love story behind theis beautifully curated shop run by Jared and Alisa Klusner a husband and wife team. This dynamic duo sources beautiful engagement rings, but also has a lovely curated line called By Erstwhile of jewelry that is made with antique gems and recycled metals - in short new jewelry with vintage materials. We would recommend this is a must stop shop if you are looking for a vintage engagement ring. We were lucky enough to get some time to ask Alisa of Erstwhile some of our favorite questions about her love of vintage jewelry and the love story between her and Jared.
We loved the reading the history part of your on the website. How did you and Jared meet?
Jared and I met in New York City. I liked him immediately. I was dazzled by his stories of travels to India and his secret profession as an antiques dealer. Which at the time was very intriguing, still is!
Why do you love vintage jewelry?
I spent most of my youth with my grandmother on my father’s side. She had collections of antique paintings, french porcelain figures, and plenty of estate jewelry. We spent weekends rummaging through consignments shops and flea markets. I think I’m nostalgic for those innocent earlier days but I always had a natural inclination towards granny chic and antique fineries. It isn’t uncommon to find period films and BBC series playing in the background while I work.
Do you have a favorite time period of vintage jewelry?
Currently my favorite era is Georgian. In particular Mourning jewelry. A combination of my nostalgic nature and my interest in death. Mourning jewelry always has messaging that reminds you to live for the day, since death can be knocking at any moment. That’s a truth that these days we take for granted. When mourning jewelry was made and worn in the 19th century death really was around the corner. I also love the gold, black jet and motifs like skulls and weeping willows.
50 years from now, how to do think people will look back on jewelry from our current era?
Fine jewelry will most definitely be valued (at least for raw materials like metals and diamonds) and if made well, will be appreciated. But a lot of jewelry made today is costume. Actually costume jewelry was made and worn 100 years ago as well, think paste and colored glass jewels in place of precious gems. Much of that jewelry hasn’t survived. I actually have a few costume pieces from my grandmother and I never wear them. The paste has worn poorly and many of the glass “gems” have fallen out. That’s the problem with costume, it usually doesn’t withstand wear and tear. And sometimes the styles aren’t timeless. It’s hard to say but you can be certain jewels made by the likes of JAR or Taffin using the finest gems and exquisite craftsmanship will be loved in 50 years, that I know. And of course jewels made by Erstwhile!
What is your favorite cut of diamond?
Absolutely with out a doubt an old mine cushion cut.
How do you feel about lab diamonds?
They’re not for me but I have the luxury of being married to a jeweler who has access to troves of diamonds. Not everyone does and not everyone can afford a two carat diamond ring. But the truth is that usually lab diamonds are made to perfection. A perfection that many real diamonds can’t and don’t have. That is why most of them look fake. They are too brilliant, too flawless, and well, just too fake. That’s what I love about vintage stones. They may not be pure white or be cut with flawless precision but they are unique, each and every one. And they always look real.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry you own?
My engagement ring, of course. I wear it every day. It’s has a very low profile, which means it lays very low on the finger. The center stone is bezel set which means there are no prongs. The entire circumference of the ring is set which keeps it very protected. I wear it to the beach, gym, anywhere. For everyday wear, bezel set is always the way to go. And it features a one carat old mine cushion cut diamond. My favorite cut for number of reasons. I think it is superior in shape, not quite a square and not quite round, somewhere in the middle. And the cut of the gem is so chic, to me, it’s just very elegant. And of course, it’s unusual. You rarely see someone with it and I like to have things that are unique.
What questions should people ask their jeweler before purchasing a piece of vintage jewelry?
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Interviews With Vintage Jewelers