NEW YORK — The annual Winter Antiques Show landed here this week — bringing heirlooms of yesteryear to the Park Avenue Armory.
Jewelry dealers, including Kentshire, S.J. Shrubsole, Macklowe Gallery and James Robinson, noted a growing trend amongst younger consumers: Women under the age of 40 are showing an appreciation for midpriced pieces from the Victorian era, which they often purchase for themselves. Dealers noted that the trend has been strengthening over the last five years.
Benjamin Macklowe of the Macklowe Gallery said pieces running up to $5,000 are popular amongst women in their late 20s to early 30s. “If they are going to spend that on a handbag, why not jewelry?” Macklowe said.
Pendants, earrings, and “intricate” pieces featuring engraving, pearl, opal or enamel embellishments have proven to be extra popular, he noted.
James Boening of James Robinson, another jewelry dealer at the fair, noted that the Victorian trend could be attributed to changing dress codes. “I feel like there are less black-tie events in New York and the way people dress for parties is different. They need something for everyday. What was considered dressy 10 years ago is not viable in the market anymore,” Boening said.
Victorian jewelry — notably delicate and intricate in composition — typically includes semiprecious stones or gilded details for effect, rather than large precious stones and excessive diamonds.
Boening has noticed an increased interest in antique pieces amongst young people who appreciate the “green, recycling aspect” of buying an older design. “I think status symbols change and people don’t want what their friends are wearing anymore, they want something different,” he said.
Carrie Imberman of Kentshire concurred, saying: “There has been a shifting focus toward wearable, beautiful design. People will say, ‘I have it all, but it just sits in the safe,’ they want something less conspicuous and formal, particularly since the recession.”
Imberman noted that as the spread of young wealth continues to err toward the tech sector, the antiques dealing industry must focus on educating this group on the joys of collecting. “It’s now thinking about how to get young tech money involved in collecting, even if they don’t come from a collecting background. People are wearing sweatshirts as professional attire, the sector is more casual. We have shifted our assortment to suit more casual interests,” she said.