Antique Jewelry & Gemology
Photos courtesy Attos Antique and Estate Jewelry
This month we view the antique jewelry market from the perspective of a jeweler and store owner, Attos Santana, and his company, Attos Antique and Estate Jewelry in Portland, Maine.
During the February storms that happened in Maine the week of Valentine’s Day (when traveling to Portland from the midcoast area was not an option), I visited the store via the website (www.attosestatejewelry.com) and found a wide variety of jewelry available for sale in the following categories: Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, retro, mid-century, and modern.
By the time you read this, spring will practically be arriving in the Northeast, and a visit to Portland, Maine, will be a wonderful idea. Though we don’t usually find ourselves saying, “Thank heavens for the Internet,” it did come in handy in this case. I e-mailed questions, and Santana and employee Nicole Souter answered them in a comprehensive way that lent itself to a question-and-answer format for this column.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of the jewelry business?
A: Our favorite aspect of the jewelry business has to be a tie between buying and working with our clients. Buying is great fun. Curating an estate jewelry store is creative and exciting work, and there’s nothing like seeing an unusual piece of antique jewelry for the first time. It’s like holding a beautiful piece of history in your hands.
But just as important and enjoyable to us is our relationships with our clients. As small, local estate jewelers, much of our business comes from repeat customers with whom we have built strong relationships over the years. We get to know folks in such a unique way, working with young couples looking for engagement rings and bridal jewelry, all the way up through 30th wedding anniversaries. It’s a truly unique view into someone else’s love story, and we feel honored to be a part of that.
This pair of 2" long Victorian 14k yellow gold and banded agate earrings is priced at $475.
This 14" long Victorian 14k yellow gold bead necklace, the gold beads measuring 5.5 mm wide, is priced at $295.
Q: How long have you been in Portland? Is there anything you’d like to say about your background?
A: Attos got his start in the jewelry business almost 30 years ago, and our shop has been in the same location in Portland for 17 years. Attos Estate Jewelry is a small family business, and Attos Santana holds it all together. He is owner, curator, and designer-by-request. The company exudes his vision, and his wealth of knowledge cannot be overstated. Nicole started working with Attos over ten years ago. As she learned more and more about estate jewelry, she found it especially fascinating how the history and culture of a time period was reflected in the jewelry. Soon she found herself reading every book she could find on the subject, and today she is certified in diamonds and diamond grading.
This 2" x 2" Art Nouveau ruby, pearl, and diamond gargoyle pendant with French hallmarks is set with an oval Burmese ruby measuring 6.75 x 5.5 mm. The pendant suspends from a fine cable chain measuring 19" long. The pendant necklace is priced at $15,000.
Q: How do you think the antique jewelry market is doing? Is there a specific period that is more popular with your clients? Are your customers a range of ages?
A: We feel blessed to work in the estate jewelry market. Though our pieces tend to be in a higher price range, they hold their value tremendously well in comparison to most modern jewelry. This means that even though it is a luxury item, folks know that estate jewelry is a sound investment. That makes our market a bit different than other luxury items.
As for popular time periods, Art Deco is a runaway favorite. It is delicate, geometric, and handcrafted, with both stunning minimalist and statement pieces. The popularity of that time period has endured for a long time, and we expect it will for years to come.
Our customers range in age just like our pieces do!
This 1900s French 18k yellow gold and seed pearl 16" long necklace with openwork links decorated with seed pearls centered by a large yellow gold leaf is priced at $2400.
Q: Are you noticing any new trends in the antique and vintage jewelry markets?
A: After years of white gold and platinum reigning supreme, yellow gold is on a major upswing. We’ve also been very happy to see folks get more and more creative with the engagement rings they select. Colored stones, especially sapphire, make a beautiful alternative to the classic diamond center stone, and we’ve seen a lot more clients happy to wear their wedding band on the right hand so that they can wear a bold engagement ring with an unusual shape on their left.
Q: Do you want to say anything about people coming to you to sell their jewelry or jewelry they’ve inherited?
A: Buying is one of our favorite things to do, and it’s important to us that sellers feel comfortable and like they are being treated fairly. Always make sure you feel respected during any transaction involving your valuables, and trust your gut if you don’t feel quite right about what someone is telling you. There’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion!
But most of all, when you meet with an estate jeweler to sell your pieces, bring EVERYTHING with you. Sometimes folks are shocked by what holds value.
This 1830s 14k yellow gold and amethyst 18" long necklace, with 13 graduated oval amethysts, measuring from 20 mm x 15 mm to 12 mm x 10 mm, set within an openwork twisted wire and granulated frame, is priced at $8750.
This Art Deco platinum, diamond, onyx, ruby, sapphire, and emerald brooch with a bird and a flower is set with 79 round diamonds weighing approximately 3.50 carats total. The brooch measures 1½" x 1½". It is priced at $6250.
Attos Estate and Antique Jewelry also offers jewelry repair, antique jewelry restoration, and professional appraisals. Contact Attos at (207) 613-9222 or e-mail through the contact page on the website (www.attosestatejewelry.com). The store is located at 50 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine.
This Art Deco platinum and diamond engagement ring is centered by a 2.18-carat old European-cut diamond and accented by two marquise- and 20 small single-cut diamonds weighing approximately .60 carat total. The ring is priced at $15,000.
This Art Deco platinum and diamond Lacloche brooch measuring 1" x 2" is set with one collet-set European-cut diamond weighing approximately 1.40 carats, surrounded by 104 round diamonds weighing approximately 7.00 carats total, and four baguette-cut diamonds weighing approximately .40 carat total. The brooch has French hallmarks and is stamped “La Cloche Paris.” It is priced at $21,000.
Originally published in the April 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest