“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.” –Iris Apfel, Fashion Icon.
The 70s are back in fashion: velvet, florals, suede, and fringe are everywhere. Models strut down the runways in flowing, couture boho looks and collar necklaces, just like Ali McGraw. Fashion is cyclical, and there are similar movements in the jewelry consumers are buying these days.
“In times past, some people did not feel they could define themselves stylistically, so they would shop by brand,” explains Patti Geolat. “In the late 70s, buyers became much more brand conscious. It seems to be a generational thing. People now are setting their own standards and their own styles. There are certain periods of time where people tended to wear sets of jewelry; now not only do they not need the match, but they will go out of their way to make sure they don’t match. I will often wear fine jewelry with nice large gemstones that are reasonably expensive, right next to costume jewelry in the same outfit. Sometimes even in the same layers of necklaces.”
For the majority of the 20th century, jewelry was primarily hand finished or hand fabricated. While many of the component parts of jewelry from the 40s and 50s were mass produced, craftsmen would still assemble, hand finish, and hand polish the piece. As demand was driven by the availability of jewelry at lower prices, mass production exploded. “I can show two pieces of jewelry to a consumer, and they can see the difference in quality and craftsmanship,” says Geolat.
“Estate and vintage jewelry that was being produced in the mid-century, when the price of gold was around $200 per ounce, may be heavier relative to jewelry that is being produced today. For this reason, buying estate jewelry at this time, can be a tremendous value”.
While most estate dealers specialize in one era—promoting Victorian or all gold, for example—Geolat’s collection is the exact opposite. Dealing in everything from designer vintage to expensive contemporary jewelry, Geolat’s collection includes pieces that are under $200 to over $1,000,000.
Whether you are buying or selling, Patti Geolat is an expert in her field and can provide guidance to you. For those looking to acquire their first piece of estate jewelry, “I would suggest that the primary reason to buy something is because you like it and it speaks to you. Then, if you’re fortunate enough to own it for a long time and it has increased in value, that’s an added bonus.”