Of a Kind

Rose Gold Saros Studs by Carolyn A’Hearn for Of a Kind

BUY / 40 of a kind / $90

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Of a Kind

Ryann Topaz Ring by Tarin Thomas for Of a Kind

BUY / 50 of a kind / $104

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Of a Kind

Athena Bangle by Katie Diamond Jewelry for Of a Kind

BUY / 50 of a kind / $104

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So Major—Katie Diamond Teaches Us to Shop for Estate Jewelry

Six rules to run with.

Even before she launched her own straight-up stunning jewelry line in 2008, Katie Diamond was hitting up antique shows and estate sales to get her hands on standout, time-tested pieces. “They just don’t make them like that anymore! I look at my estate jewelry collection all the time for inspiration,” she says. Below, insider-y tips for landing the best scores yourself (with pics of some of Katie’s very-major finds). —olivia seely

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1) Know your stuff—especially if you’re serious about buying fine jewelry.
“Know what the price of gold is. Know the price of diamonds. Some important questions to ask are: What is the diamond weight? Is the piece solid gold? Where was the piece made? When was it made? Some good supplies to have: a scale (to get the gold weight), a loupe (to inspect the craftsmanship—even an untrained eye can see the difference between good and bad work), and a gold-testing kit.”

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2) Negotiate.
“Dealers want to sell their pieces as much as you want to buy them. Usually there is wiggle room in the price.”

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3) If you love it, buy it!
“I still think about the ones that got away. The thing with estate jewelry is that you probably won’t come across another piece like that ever again.”

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4) Don’t shy away from unfinished pieces.
“Sometimes I like pieces that are unfinished; I have a whole collection of engagement-ring mountings ranging from 1900 to the 1950s. I especially love the filigree detail they have. If you have a reliable jeweler, you can replace missing stones, make repairs, and resize most pieces. I’ve repurposed lots of jewelry.”

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5) Find an estate dealer…
“My go-to is Ellen of Elle Montgomery. She scours the tri-state area to find amazing pieces. One of my favorite things about working with her is that she knows my style and will keep an eye out for pieces she knows are me. She is super-knowledgeable about the history of jewelry and is great at finding a diamond-in-the-rough at a reasonable price. While it’s great to find jewelry on your own, sometimes it is worth the peace of mind to purchase through a dealer.”
(Ellen of Elle Montgomery: 201.488.5858 x311)

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6) …Or a shop you trust.
A few of Katie’s faves:

Bell and Bird in Austin
“Their collection of Victorian jewelry is second-to-none. I love how they curate the site—and that every piece has a detailed story. You can tell that they are experts in the field.”

Erie Basin in Brooklyn
“There is such a unique mix of product at this shop. I love a store where you can get an old treasure for a good price, and Erie Basin definitely has beautiful items at any price range. Their blog is also an endless source of inspiration for me!”

The Pier Antique Show in NYC
“I love a treasure hunt, and that’s exactly what the antique show is. You can find just about anything there, and I really like buying jewelry where you talk with the seller to get the story of the piece and negotiate the price. The whole experience of acquiring a piece of jewelry here adds to its story for me.”

Katie made us a pretty slick bangle for her edition—check it out.

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Of a Kind

Rose Gold Rounded Nasta Earrings by Fay Andrada for Of a Kind

BUY / 40 of a kind / $90

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Of a Kind

Turquoise Crescent Quill Earrings by Kyyote for Of a Kind

BUY / 55 of a kind / $88

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Of a Kind

Cut-Out Cuff by Winifred Grace for Of a Kind

BUY / 50 of a kind / $107

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Of a Kind

Eros Point Ring by Unearthen for Of a Kind

BUY / 45 of a kind / $136

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Of a Kind

Rose Gold Circle Slice Earrings by Carolyn A’Hearn for Of a Kind 

BUY / 45 of a kind / $150

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Carolyn A’Hearn Recycles Metal Like Magic

It’s the circle of (jewelry) life.

Carolyn A’Hearn never throws anything away—at least when it comes to jewelry-making. That scrap metal? It’s not garbage but rather raw material just itching to be made into a fly new cuff or a chic pair of earrings. It takes a bit of patience, a lot of heat, and, uh, a chopstick—see how Carolyn makes the most of her leftovers. —jane-claire quigley

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“Often in the studio, I melt and recycle metal to create new models and pieces. Because I work with precious metal, it’s important to let nothing go to waste. I even collect the dust from my bench—when I have enough, I will send it to a refiner to be recycled. This is a mix of 10 karat yellow gold from old castings, metal scraps, and bits of leftover wire. It gets mixed with a little boric acid and placed inside a carved charcoal brick for melting.”

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“Boric acid and a chopstick are a few of the tools I use to protect and manipulate the metal as it melts. The chopstick can be used to push stray pieces of melting metal back into the mold.”

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“As the metal melts, it forms into a ball and starts to move like mercury.“

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“Different metals and karats of gold look more or less yellow depending on the purity. The resulting lump of metal is called an ingot, which must be cooled and cleaned before being passed through the rolling mill.”

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“I use different channels in the rolling mill to slowly stretch the metal into wire. Often this is a process done over many hours. Ten karat gold can be especially hard, so I anneal, or gently heat, often and let the piece air cool as I work.”

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“The metal is annealed to maintain workability as it is rolled into shape. As the metal is rolled through the mill, it becomes work-hardened, and annealing prevents the metal from developing cracks or breaking.”

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“After the metal is rolled to the desired thickness, it can be made into something brand new!”

Photos by Ash Barhamand.

Carolyn’s got some shiny rose gold earrings that look like they slice through your ear lobe—yah, you’ve gotta check them out.

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