Camilla Dietz Bergeron and her partner have run Camilla Dietz Bergeron, Ltd. in New York for 20 years, buying and selling antique, period and estate jewelry. She recently gave us her take on most current trends — what pieces are selling today, what won’t move out of the display cases, and what she asks her customers to consider even though their friends aren’t buying it.
- Yellow, yellow, yellow – Gold!
- Two- and three-stone antique and vintage rings
- Antique diamond rings, especially big stones in old mountings
- Anything Art Deco
- Any signed piece (See below)
- Couscous bracelets — Multicolored bracelets made of very small stones. Those with gold and diamonds sell the best.
- Van Cleef Alhambra necklaces. They often sell at auction for more than if you walk into VCA today and buy them new. “It’s nuts!”
- Old Seaman Schepp, prior to their purchase by Trianon
- Victorian stick-pins converted into brooches
- Small pins repurposed to decorate an onyx or rock crystal cuff
- Coin jewelry, e.g., earrings made out of antique coings
- Tiffany Schlumberger bracelets
- Long necklaces with pendants (Take any kind of pin or pendant and put it on a long necklace.)
- Angela Cummings, especially in the secondary market.
- Dangling earrings
- Men’s watches worn by women
- Hermes enamel bracelets
- The Cartier Love bracelet – could not give it away 10 years ago.
- Henry Dunay (in the south – not so much other parts of the country)
- Victorian sets of necklace and bracelet
- Seaman Schepps after its association with Trianon
- Women’s watches with small faces from the 1950s and 1960s
Women are dressing more casually, she says, and they want their jewelry to fit with their clothing. Gold pieces fit in better, and are usually more streamlined and less intricate.
Signed jewelry is wonderful, she says, because it is easier to resell, but she becomes frustrated with clients who won’t consider beautiful, well-made jewelry that happens to be unsigned.
“It’s going to differentiate you,” she explains to them. “You’re going to have a beautiful piece, very well made and you’re going to have a piece that nobody else has.” It makes her crazy!
What not to do
Do not convert clip earrings from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s onto a post. They will never sit right, so wear them as they were originally designed.
14K is OK
Although today’s gold is usually 18 karat, older jewelry especially from the 1940s, for example, is often 14K. That does not diminish its quality or wearability.
Guidance for dealers
The range for pricing is narrowing. Recognize that your potential clients have done their homework on online sites, and that they are also more willing to buy online than they have in the past. If you have online clients, it is critical to be able to provide high-quality photos.
Where dealers should look
Regional auction houses often offer good prices on pieces that can then even be resold at the large auction houses. Remember, it’s important to know you’re working with dealers who will stand behind their merchandise.
Who is collectible today?
She recommends Hemmerle, a Munich-based jeweler that isn’t well-known in the U.S.; and James de Givenchy whose New York store is called Taffin.
Never sell pearls to a woman that are whiter than the woman’s teeth.