Choosing a piece of vintage jewelry is exhilarating but often overwhelming. To get some expert insight on today’s trends, we called Carrie and Matthew Imberman. A brother-and-sister duo, they are the third-generation curators of Kentshire Galleries, which launched in New York nearly 80 years ago. Kentshire is known for acquiring unique estate jewels and signed vintage pieces, from Van Cleef & Arpels’ gold link necklaces to dramatic enamel earrings by David Webb and convertible designs by London’s famed House of Garrard.
Here, Carrie and Matthew tell us about their favorite pieces, which vintage designs are popular right now, and the jewelry every woman should have.
First piece of jewelry you were given?
Carrie: When I was a baby, someone gave me a tiny gold ring. I had to wait to grow into it. Now it’s a pinky ring.
Matthew: When I turned 13, I had my bar mitzvah, and my mother gave me a platinum and gold signet ring. It was from the late 19th century and is just a really lovely example of Victorian men’s jewelry.
What are people looking for in vintage designs right now?
Matthew: People are drawn to things that are just a little bit unusual—not the everyday, contemporary, predictable jewelry. Many people are really putting value on unique pieces—designs that they’re not going to see on all their friends. We’ve recently sold everything from incredible reverse crystal earrings, which are not easy to find, to really interesting lockets.
What piece of jewelry should every woman own?
Carrie: A chunky gold bracelet. It’s a really easy way to pull an outfit together without looking too fancy. I would say bracelets and one stylish ring that isn’t necessarily an engagement ring are always in fashion.
Matthew: A really great pair of antique gold earrings. One of the things I hear from clients, more than anything else, is when they have found a great pair of antique earrings. There’s a real interest in having something that no one else has. And that’s the best calling card we can have—when somebody is walking around in something stylish and rare, and their friends say, “Oh, where did you get that?” It drives interest.
Most recent purchase?
Carrie: We just bought a 1955 Boucheron wheat jewelry suite with golden diamonds. The pieces are classics, very elegant looking—[the wheat motif is] like a stylized plume. In this set, every single piece can stand alone.
Favorite piece of jewelry?
Carrie: I can’t play favorites. It would be like choosing a kid—I just can’t! I change my jewelry every day. My go-tos are usually big, chunky rings. It is agonizing in the mornings figuring out which thing I’m going to end up wearing.
Matthew: Mine’s easy. My sister gave me a really beautiful Victorian gold serpent ring that has a lovely piece of bloodstone in it. And my mother gave me a pair of old Buccellati bloodstone cuff links. There’s something about [the bloodstone’s] mottled green and red color that I really like.