Vintage jewelry is on display at Fred Leighton, a high-end jewelry store on Madison Avenue in New York, the United States, on Nov. 20, 2019. Held throughout this week, the New York City Jewelry Week (NYCJW) is the first local cultural event dedicated to celebrating jewelry, for its second year. It offers over 130 events of exhibitions, panel discussions, workshop visits and heritage-house tours across Manhattan and Brooklyn. (Xinhua/Miao Xiaojuan)
by Miao Xiaojuan
NEW YORK, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Fifty-seven-year-old Johnny Alvarez, a goldsmith from Dominican Republic, seemed flattered when surrounded by worldwide press at his workshop inside Reinstein Ross on Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
"I have loved making jewelry since I was very young. Jewelry simply bring me and other people happiness," Alvarez, who has worked for the high-end jewelry retailer for over 20 years, told reporters coming for a sneak peek into how he and his colleagues hand fabricate each piece.
Held throughout this week, the New York City Jewelry Week (NYCJW) is the first local cultural event dedicated to celebrating jewelry, for its second year. It provides the media and the public access to the multifaceted jewelry industry through over 130 events of exhibitions, panel discussions, workshop visits and heritage-house tours across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
"Of the many jewels in NYC's crown, its jewelry industry shines the brightest. We hope every spectrum of jewelry can be represented," said Bella Neyman, a co-founder of the NYCJW.
The jewelry industry in New York City produced over 30 billion U.S. dollars in annual economic impact last year and accounts for over a quarter of New York State's exports in dollar value.
Home to the city's largest collection of multi-generation vintage fine jewelry boutiques, the participating Madison Avenue introduced seven of these boutiques, as well as three jewelers designing and fabricating jewelry right in their stores.
"The stores welcome the public into their showrooms and workrooms to experience the alchemy of making jewelry firsthand," said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue business improvement district.
The themes of "Vintage Goes Modern" and "Made on Madison Avenue" were being celebrated this year to highlight the value and craftsmanship of both vintage and hand-crafted pieces, he added.
According to Russell Zelenetz, co-owner of Stephen Russell, vintage jewelry started to become fashionable about 25 years ago. "They will only be more popular, because there are fewer and fewer out there."
Stephen Russell offered a curated collection including fine examples from jewelry houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Boucheron, as well as the work of artists like Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso.
And Twain Time presented exquisite vintage jewelry and timepiece collections from Tiffany & Co., Patek Philippe and Harry Winston.
"It's something you will pass on to next generations and the value will only grow," said Twain Time's Ornella Volpatti. "A 1973 Rolex watch was purchased at 240 dollars in 1975, and now it is worth 32,000 dollars."
As the event gives a glimpse behind the bejeweled curtain of this dynamic industry, most jewelers interviewed by Xinhua agreed that vintage jewelry is an investment and its industry is hardly affected by economic uncertainties.
"Vintage jewelry are still being sought after. We are more similar to the art world than to the retail world," said third-generation jeweler Wagner Eleuteri.
His store is seeing an increasing number of customers from China, Russia and the Middle East, Eleuteri added.
Rebecca Selva, chief creative officer of Fred Leighton, said the appeal of vintage jewelry at her store has been on the rise, attracting an international client base and the younger generations.
"Vintage jewelry have no age. They are just beautiful and always relevant," Selva said.