May Sinclair, 1956
May’s UK contacts sourced period European furniture, meaning inventory sometimes arrived in gigantic (to me, at least) shipping containers. I used to wander among the treasures as they were being cataloged and placed for display, enthralled by the dramatic histories they told my hyperactive imagination.
Prior owners left surprising things behind. May knew this and combed through every shipment, opening every drawer and shelf, finding hidden compartments and secret panels. Sometimes she let me join the treasure hunt and I was always astounded to see what was discovered. Coins of many origins, denominations, and ages. Stamps too. Watches, pistols, jewelry. Especially jewelry. A magical cornucopia of period jewelry.
My grandmother was a shrewd businesswoman. She drove a hard bargain but she was generous with me, and I quickly accumulated a small inventory of my own. She taught me to look for, recognize, and interpret the hallmarks that establish the age and provenance of the finer items.
Eventually, time did as time does and May was no longer capable of running the store. I was probably the most appropriate nominee to take over, but I was 19 and struck hard by wanderlust. I needed to be where all those fabulous items had come from, not arranging them in display cases.
Wanderlust won. I arrived in France when I was 20, where all my lofty expectations about the flea markets, auctions, and thrift shops were met. I was entranced. I collected my second trove of hallmarked silver coin purses, hat pins, watch chains, and fobs. What did I do with them? I packed everything up, sent it home to Canada, and took off for India with my new French boyfriend, of course.
I never stopped finding, wearing, and loving these marvelous bits of history. I discovered jewelry design in the late 1980s, pre-internet and on my own - just me and my endless trips to local bead stores. I acquired an entire inventory of antique Gablonz glass beads from 1920s Bohemia and I was inspired to craft a collection with a point of view.
In 1989, I got an appointment to show my necklaces to the jewelry manager at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. She instantly loved my work and booked my first trunk show. From that point I was in love with all things jewelry and focused on creating a business.
Back then, jewelry companies used order-writing reps and sold at trade shows. I was represented in Los Angeles and soon expanded the line to New York. Those two great showrooms put me on the map and my jewelry was sold in major department stores, boutiques, and catalogues across the US.
In the late 1990s, I started another jewelry company with a focus on spiritual pendants cast in sterling silver and 14k gold. I learned about building a website and used magazine ads to direct traffic to my online store. I sold that company in 2005.
I maintain my fabulous collection of antique fobs, watch chains, stick pins, and hat pins. Many are hallmarked with the date and place of their origin. As sustainability has gained momentum, I’ve been using these treasures for decades as source material for my work.
So whether you have your own collection of unique and fascinating jewelry or you’re looking to start one now, I invite you to explore our store. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve made for you.