The 5 Building Blocks of a Perfect Jewelry Collection

Lot 302, Gold, chrysoprase and coral necklace,
Aldo Cipullo for Cartier, Sotheby's (June 10)

Just a few years ago, celebrities flaunted exquisite couture gowns on the red carpet, but with minimal bold jewels to complement them. But bold jewelry is making a comeback, says Sotheby’s New York Head of Fine Jewels, Kendall Reed. Stars have once again taken to adorning themselves in prominent necklaces and earrings.

“And it’s not just the stars that are wearing jewelry,” she adds. “More people are buying pieces that they can dress up or down.”

On June 10th, Sotheby’s will hold its first Fine Jewels sale in New York since 2007, featuring exactly these versatile, accessible types of jewelry. “Pieces in the sale can be worn on the red carpet or while casually picking up your child at school”, says Reed. With an average estimate of $15,000, estimates range from just $3,000 up to $300,000.

“When you think of Sotheby’s jewelry, you might think of giant, million dollar rocks. But we’re so much more than that. This particular sale is a great entry point for collectors and non-collectors alike, and it’s really fun,” says Reed. For those looking to browse and try on pieces in person, exhibitions are open to the public from June 7th through 9th. There, specialists like Reed can help with style tips or offer advice on starting a collection.

For those of you who need starter tips (or just a simple refresher), here are some sparkly examples of what Sotheby’s believes to be the 5 staple pieces for any jewelry collection: a favorite cocktail ring, a pair of diamond earrings, a statement necklace, a bold gold bracelet, and a modern brooch.

The Cocktail Ring

Lot 16, 18 karat gold, platinum & diamond ring,
Van Cleef & Arpels, Sotheby’s (June 10)

“The first piece I chose is lot 16, a Van Cleefs & Arpels platinum, gold, and diamond cocktail ring,” says Reed. “I love this ring because it’s a different interpretation of a cocktail ring. A lot of us think of cocktail rings as having one large stone, but I think of a ring that can both complement the other pieces you’re wearing, but also make a statement.”

“This is a piece could be worn beautifully on its own, but because it has both gold and platinum, it can complement an engagement ring or wedding band on the other hand. Made in 1969, this is the type of jewel that Van Cleef doesn’t make anymore. And when you’re wearing a piece of jewelry to a cocktail party, you want it to be a bit of a conversation piece. This would really attract a lot of attention, and it’s at a great price point at $6-8,000.”

The Diamond Earrings

Lot 141, Pair of 18 karat white gold & diamond earrings,
Graff, Sotheby’s (June 10)

“For the diamond earring category I chose lot 141, a pair of diamond hoops. They’re not what you’d expect to be a staple diamond earring – they’re not studs. I chose to go a little out of the box with these hoops because they’re a fun way to wear diamonds more casually. These are by Graff, another great jeweler, and they are also at a great price point. We have them estimated at $30-40,000; if you were to go into Graff and buy them they’d probably sell for around $100,000.”

“People might think that nobody wears jewelry anymore. That’s not the case. More and more of us are buying jewelry that we can dress up or down.” – Kendall Reed, Sotheby’s

The Statement Necklace

Lot 302, Gold, chrysoprase, & coral necklace,
Aldo Cipullo for Cartier, Sotheby’s (June 10)

“The next piece is lot 302, our statement necklace, which is a chrysoprase and coral necklace by Aldo Cipullo for Cartier. Cipullo designed for Cartier in the late ‘60s until the ‘70s. He’s the one who is responsible designing the Love bracelets that are so ubiquitous today. But he also was responsible for more innovative designs, playing with different material and influences. This necklace uses chrysoprase, a dark green translucent hardstone which not many people know about. I think it looks beautiful alongside the coral. It’s definitely a specific necklace and not everyone is going to love it, but I think it’s perfect for summer; it’s young, and a little funky. This is probably from the late 1960s or early ‘70s.”

“Yellow gold is making a huge comeback, so a lot of jewelry from the 1970s is trending. As recently as just 10 years ago, platinum was popular. But now yellow gold and substantial pieces of jewelry are coming back.”

The Bold Bracelet

Lot 367, 18 karat gold, platinum, & diamond cuff-bracelet,
David Webb, Sotheby’s (June 10)

“My next favorite piece is lot 367, a bold gold cuff-bracelet, also with a very ‘70s look. David Webb is one of our favorite jewelers here at Sotheby’s – we love his designs because they’re bold, and they bring to mind a strong woman. This cuff is something you can wear on its own,stack with other cuffs, or mix with our Graff diamond hoops. It’s one of those pieces that can go from day to night and be worn many different ways. It’s a more modern way to wear a bracelet, and nobody does cuffs better than David Webb.”

The Brooch

Lot 250, 18 karat gold, platinum, ruby, diamond, & enamel clip brooch,
Oscar Heyman & Brothers, Sotheby’s (June 10)

“The last building block of a jewelry collection is the brooch. When you think of brooches, you might typically think of your grandmother. But we’re always thinking of new, fun ways to wear brooches – whether it be in your hair, at the waist of your dress, or high up on the shoulder. There are many different ways to make a brooch look more modern. We love to say that the brooch is back!”

“Lot 250, by Oscar Heyman is is my favorite brooch in the sale. It’s the juiciest looking strawberry, so perfect for summer, and I love the juxtaposition of colors. It looks so realistic and it is beautifully made. I can see this brooch being worn with white jeans, or a black dress at night, or as a clip in the hair. It is definitely not your grandmother’s brooch!”