This holiday season, if you're searching for a unique and beautiful piece that is sure to make a statement, look no further than our vintage and estate collection. Our buyers selected 6 designer pieces, each with a one-of-a-kind history, that you can't go wrong with this year. From bustling Paris and beautiful Rio to ancient Athens, this jewelry captures the lives, stories, and influences of its designers and will make the perfect addition to any collection. Read more to learn about the history behind some of our favorite pieces from Cartier, Chaumet, Elizabeth Locke, Burle Marx, Ilias Lalaounis, and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier, the Cartier brand has often been associated with royalty, both within France and beyond. Since the early 1900s, Cartier has supplied the courts of France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Egypt and more with tiaras and other jewelry. Even Kate Middleton has been seen wearing Cartier products. Despite its origins, Cartier has expanded its brand, drawing inspiration from other countries and eras. The Juste un Clou collection, created by Aldo Cipulto in 1970s New York, takes a minimalist and innovative approach to jewelry. Described as “a nail becomes jewelry,” this collection uses construction as its inspiration, making an ordinary object a beautiful bangle, ring, or even a pair of earrings. At Long’s, we currenly have a pair of rose gold hoop earrings from the Juste un Clou collection set with 28 round brilliant diamonds for some added sparkle.
Similar to Cartier, Chaumet has a rich history with French royals, including Napoleon and Empress Josephine. Chaumet’s founder, Marie-Etienne Nitot, began creating unique and luxurious jewelry in 1780 and the brand today continues to stay true to its original Parisian style while also bringing in influences from other areas of the world. Chaumet’s delicate designs often incorporate the grace and magic of nature as well as the femininity and beauty of royalty. The brand even created an entire collection dedicated to Empress Josephine. This 18k yellow gold ruby bracelet is a perfect example of Chaumet’s well-known, elegant style. The piece is especially radiant due to its 28 flush set oval cut rubies.
Inspired by her travels around the world, Elizabeth Locke created Elizabeth Locke Jewels in 1988 and uses jewelry to showcase the culture and history of places she’s been. One of Locke’s biggest influences stems from her love of the ancient styles of the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, which began when she traveled to Italy at age 11. Today, Locke herself selects every gemstone for her hand-made jewelry, and she often seeks out unique items at markets and antique shows. For example, Chinese gaming counters, like the one in this brooch, are common in Locke’s work. This mother of pearl gaming counter is set in an 18K yellow gold and pearl brooch.
Haroldo Burle Marx and his brothers, Roberto and Walter, were influential artists in Brazil throughout the 1900s. Walter was a talented composer and musician, Roberto was most well-known for his landscape architecture after designing the boardwalk at Copacabana beach in Rio, and Haroldo was exclusively focused on jewelry. Haroldo experienced such success that the Brazilian government even commissioned him to create pieces for visiting dignitaries from all over the world. His designs are famous for the “forma livre” or freeform style of Brazilian gemstones such as aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, or tourmaline. These unique architectural shapes were often designed by Roberto. Currently in our collection we have an 18K yellow gold green tourmaline ring that showcases the Forma Livre style.
In 1940, Ilias Lalaounis took over his uncle’s jewelry business, and, as a fourth generation Greek jeweler, soon became known worldwide as a jeweler and goldsmith. In the 1960's he began his own company with a unique blend of ancient and modern styles. His pieces are rooted in the history and symbolism of Greece and surrounding areas. Lalaounis found inspiration in everything from nature to science to even people like Helen of Troy or Hercules, and some of his first collections that debuted in the 1960's, such as ‘Classical & Hellenistic’ and ‘Minoan & Mycenaean,’ are still popular today. Here we have a chimera ring that shows, not only the influence of nature on Lalaounis’ designs, but also the attention to detail Lalalounis puts into his work. The ring is yellow gold (Lalaounis’ favorite and most frequently used metal), and is set with 15 round cut rubies and five rose cut diamonds.
Van Cleef and Arpels, founded in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef, has a more than 120 year history creating jewelry that captures the strength, beauty, and transformation within the surrounding world. Van Cleef’s detailed pieces tell stories and showcase movement, sometimes even with moveable hidden features. The designs draw inspiration from the physical world through flowers, animals, insects and oceans as well as the magical world through fairytales such as those from the Brothers Grimm. The popular naturalistic style of Van Cleef’s work can be seen with this mother of pearl and diamond Cosmos flower pendant created in a style dating back to the 1950's. The pendant is set with a round brilliant diamond in the center and 13 full cut diamonds on one of the petals. The unique design combines a four-leaf clover with a flower for a complete piece symbolic of protection, luck, beauty and grace.