What You Should Know About Buying Vintage Jewellery
A distant glint from a shop window can be enough to get Gilles Zalulyan’s attention. It takes mere minutes for him to determine whether he’s found something extraordinary. Zalulyan, who comes from a family of jewellers, joined forces with diamond dealer Tom Korpershoek in 1996 to open Palais Royal Paris, trading exclusively in high-end vintage and antique pieces. Two decades on, with offices in Amsterdam, Paris and New York, and a boutique in Hong Kong in 2013, the pair have become the go-to dealers for rare, unique jewellery and objets d’art. Their success is based on a preternatural capacity to unearth exceptional jewellery. And that’s no easy task—well-preserved pieces with historical significance are hard to come by. Zalulyan reveals his top tricks to finding stunning antique accessories.
"Look for the best dealer in your region. Go to someone you can trust and who can bring you the best pieces. If it’s beautiful, unusual—it could be something special. Check the weight, the quality of craftsmanship and the overall design. I always ask myself a series of questions: Are there visible repairs? Is the piece signed? Is it genuine or a really good fake?”
"Always buy wearable pieces. Earrings, rings and necklaces are easier to sell than a headpin. Learn the market, and sell what is working now: high-quality signed pieces.”
"Look out for jewellery from the 1980s. You can still buy important and highly creative pieces from this period for reasonable prices. For US$15,000 to US$20,000, you can buy an important piece by French houses such as Fred, Mauboussin, Boucheron and Chaumet.”
"Focus on signed, high-end jewellery. Pieces by Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, for example, are always a good investment. At the start of the 20th century, these brands had just a few stores worldwide. The quality of the jewellery sold back then, when each piece was unique and made by hand, was completely different. I really like the Van Cleef creations from the 1940s and ’50s—very elegant and chic. Objects by Cartier are also exceptional, the best ever made. Their vanity cases and clocks are very creative, colourful and of very high quality.”