A Few Little Vintage Gems at Erstwhile Jewelry

Much has been made over the years about the shopping habits of millennials, specifically when it comes to how we buy engagement rings. Some are forgoing them all together, others have a checklist that must be met: Is it ethical? Is it unique? Is it a good value?

Erstwhile Jewelry checks all of those boxes. I found them on Instagram (another check on the millennial friendly list) and I became instantly mesmerized by their selection of vintage cocktail and engagement rings.

There is undeniable character in each piece in their collection. From sapphires, to emeralds, to turquoise and rubies, their colored stones are striking and dramatic, but the real magic is in their selection of diamond rings. Whether you’re a fan of Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco or a simple solitaire, a peruse through their collection is like falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.

The treasures of Erstwhile are sourced by Jared Klusner with the help of his wife Alisa, but its history goes back 5 generations in Jared’s family to Hirsch M. Klusner who started the Belle Epoque jewelry shop in Odessa in 1887.

After fleeing to Berlin during the Bolshevik revolution and then making their way to the US during the rise of the Third Reich, the family opened shop in New York’s jewelry district in 1940. Having grown up in the family business, Jared’s eye for the extraordinary has been well-trained. His talent for finding unique details and quality stones and settings truly comes through in Erstwhile’s collection.

This captivating collection, coupled with Erstwhile’s beautiful website that gives clients everything they need to know about the rings, makes it so easy to find that special piece. Add to that the sustainability friendly factor of giving new life to an existing stone rather than a newly mined one and it’s hard to go wrong at Erstwhile.

When my friends Mark and Chelsea came to me for direction on where to look for their engagement ring, I knew Erstwhile was the place (More on their story here).

Jared was gracious enough to tell me more about Erstwhile and the magic behind those stones. 

How does the rich family history in jewelry have an influence on the work of Erstwhile today?

Our family has worked in jewelry prior to the turn of the century. The trade is in my blood. I spent my youth watching my grandfather and father buy and sell antique jewelry. All of those moments have of course culminated in my own sense of what is collectable and unique. 

How and where do you source your vintage pieces? Do you ever feel inexplicably pulled in a certain direction and come upon some vintage treasures?

For the most part I keep those sources close to my vest, however the trifecta of vintage and antique jewelry shopping is New York, Paris, and London. For American jewelry there’s no place like New York. 

Some of my favorites have come unexpectedly. A few years ago, in a dusty little boutique in Prague, I purchased a lovely Art Deco engagement ring which held a brilliant three carat Columbian emerald. Another year in Lyon I found a Victorian turquoise navette ring which I could barely keep my hands on (it sold immediately). 

Your pieces are so special, unique and magical. What influences the styles and stones that you choose?

Experience. That’s really the long and short of it. On top of that, the rest is taste. 

What would you tell a client who is looking to start a vintage collection, but doesn’t know where to begin?

I see a lot of young jewelry lovers at shows who present a great deal of interest in the business and collecting, but lack any real experience. While it can be fun to look on your own, if you are serious about building a collection, you should seek expertise. Build a relationship with a jeweler you trust and work with them. All serious collectors work with dealers.

Are there any misconceptions about buying vintage/antique jewelry that you come across often?

That all “vintage” jewelry is in fact vintage.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of working with clients to help them find a special piece of jewelry?

We primarily work with people who are in love. They're about to get hitched. It’s unusual to work around that vibe all day. Lot of love!