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Sotheby’s Jewelry Expert Shares the Dos and Don’ts of Valentine’s Day Gifting

Sotheby’s Frank Everett talks brooches, right-hand rings, and how to find an exceptional gift for your valentine.

Sotheby's Valentine's Jewelry Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

Frank Everett has helped countless clients find the perfect piece of jewelry for their belovedand he understands the challenges. Questions and hesitations often abound—hearts or no hearts? Ring or bracelet? Diamond or ruby? Having worked previously for Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, and Harry Winston, Everett is no stranger to the dilemmas of gifting jewelry.

So today, just as the Jewels Online: Part 1 sale kicks off, we asked Everett which of the sale’s 50 lots could make great Valentine’s Day gifts, how to approach the hunt for the perfect jewel, and more.

What advice do you give someone looking for a great piece of jewelry to gift on Valentine Day?

My advice, especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day: Keep it personal.

Even clients that I’ve known who have the greatest collections—we’re talking major pieces of jewelry—tend to give something a bit smaller and more thoughtful for Valentine’s Day. It’s not about just giving another gift but about paying attention to her style. Don’t give her [jewelry with] a heart if she’s a modern-dressing girl that just wears Jil Sander. Maybe she’ll want a chunky silver bracelet or a chunky gold bracelet because that suits her style more.

What is your take on heart-shaped jewelry?

I’ve been working in jewelry for many years, and I’ve worked in the retail world for years, as well, so I can tell you there’s a percentage of the public that is only considering heart-shaped things and heart motifs—but there’s no reason to be limited to that. Lots of people steer completely clear of [hearts] because it’s not [the gift recipient’s] style; they might find it too precious or cutesy.


But, there are certain heart motifs and things that I just love. We had a wonderful early-20th-century Cartier pendent for sale through Sotheby’s last year that I thought was the ultimate Valentine’s Day jewel. It was from about 1900 and had hearts, arrows, rubies, and diamonds, and it’s a very, very special piece (shown below).

Sotheby's Cartier necklace

Necklace from the Collection of Frederica Vanderbilt Webb. Cartier platinum, gold, diamond and ruby pendant-necklace. Sold in April 2017 for $75,000.  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's


So if hearts aren’t the right look, what do you recommend?

If you’re not into hearts, consider red and pink stones, like coral. There are beautiful vintage coral pieces out there from all the great makers, especially from the ’60s and ’70s.

In the Jewels Online: Part 1 sale, we have a pair of carved coral brooches in a twisted gold cage by Seamen Schepps that would be a great Valentine’s Day gift (shown below). We’re always saying the brooch is back, so I’m always trying to encourage people to wear brooches. And these in particular are big, decorative, colorful, and could be worn anywhere—in the hair, on the lapel, on the waist of a dress, or on a bag. They’re versatile, cool, and a lot of fun.

Sotheby's coral brooches

Lot 36. A pair of carnelian brooches by Seaman Schepps, accented with gold rope work. (Estimate $1,800 -$2,200)  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

What’s another piece from this sale that says “valentine” to you?

There’s a beautiful vintage diamond ring with a little frame of tiny calibré cut rubies around it. That ring (shown below) would be my other go-to for a Valentine’s Day gift. It’s a great, classic-looking Valentine’s gift that isn’t heart-shaped, and it’s clearly not an engagement ring. It’s more of an early-20th-century dinner ring; it’s elongated, and it has that frame of calibrate cut rubies, so it’s more of a decorative fashion look that you would wear on the right hand.

Sotheby's diamond ring

Lot 28. Diamond and ruby ring set with an old mine-cut diamond within a diamond-shaped scalloped border of old European-cut diamonds, framed by a line of calibré-cut rubies, size 6½. (Estimate $5,000-$7,000)  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

 What do you think makes the best gift—necklaces, earrings, rings, or bracelets?

When it comes to necklaces or earrings, you only see them in the mirror in the morning when you put them on. But a bracelet is a great, thoughtful gift because you get to look at it all day long. When you’re working and when you’re on the phone, you can see your hand, and you’ll be reminded of the person that gave it to you. Honestly, the gold two-color bracelet (shown below) is probably my favorite pick of the whole Jewels Online: Part I sale.

Sotheby's gold bracelet

Lot 48. Two-color gold bracelet with yellow and rose gold chain links. Length 7½ inches, with Spanish assay mark. (Estimate $8,000-$12,000)  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

Is there a piece of jewelry from Sotheby’s Jewels Online: Part I online auction that you feel is a great Valentine’s Day gift?

Two things that come to mind—first, a beautiful little Van Cleef & Arpels lapel pendent, which has two little lovebirds in a diamond heart. It’s 18-karat gold and diamond and is absolutely precious. The little lovebirds are articulated and move on the pedestal, so you have them facing each other or apart. Even people that don’t like heart [jewelry] love this design. I’ve actually heard people around the department saying, “I’m not crazy about hearts, but, boy, this is really precious!”

Sotheby's Van Cleef & Arpels pendant

Lot 25, Diamond and emerald pendant by Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimate $5,000-$7,000  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

What do you advise gift givers who are overwhelmed by their choices?

Whenever I work with men, especially those that are trying to find the right gift and are torn between a couple of things, I always point out to them: “Tell her that you struggled with the choice. Tell her, ‘Oh gosh, I couldn’t decide. I was just so torn.’” Who wouldn’t like to hear that you took time out of your day and put effort into it? That’s thoughtful.

Sotheby's Tiffany bracelet

Lot 40. Gold and diamond bracelet, by Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co. Made of brushed gold leaf-shaped links and round diamonds.(Estimate $5,000-$7,000)  Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's

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