The History of Jewelry: Joseph Saidian & Sons

David Webb, objet d’art

Looking at beautiful jewels is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures and in the book, The History of Jewelry: Joseph Saidian & Sons, there is plenty to enjoy. Published by Tourbillon International in association with Rizzoli and authored by jewelry expert, Caroline Childers, The History of Jewelry takes you on a tour of jewelry as seen through the lens of Joseph Saidian & Sons and their 150-year family legacy in the business.

Packed with images depicting the detail in each piece of jewelry, the full-color photography showcases a selection of jewels from historical eras and the present day that highlight a range of materials and styles. Each chapter has a different theme from the jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier to Indian jewelry and modern jewelry. 

We visited Ariel Saidian, owner Joseph Saidian & Sons, in his New York City store to find out more about the inspiration behind the book.

What inspired you to write a book?

ARIEL SAIDIAN: We’re a multigenerational business and we have plenty of stories from over 150 years in the family business. We had so many amazing pieces of jewelry and so many stories; we wanted to tell those stories. The book was written as an introduction to people who come to see us for the first time. It’s a way to show them what we do and to introduce ourselves. Our history helps to build trust with customers.

How did you choose the pieces of jewelry that are in The History of Jewelry and what, if any, commonality is there between the pieces?

AS: The jewelry that made it into the book was a snapshot of what was in our inventory and what we were doing that day. There were pieces that should have been in the book but they aren’t because they were out with a client, or for example there was a piece that was with Van Cleef & Arpels in France for six months being authenticated. It was what the showcases looked like three years ago when we wrote the book. We have sections on Indian jewelry, objets d’art, Van Cleef & Arpels, the book was saying this is what we were into at this point in time. Not all of the pieces in the book are for sale.

What makes good jewelry design?

AS: If someone falls in love with a piece then it is good design. Stones, metals, period, none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that someone falls in love with a piece of jewelry. It’s a very personal art form.

How important is a story to a piece of jewelry and why is it important?

AS: Sometimes we have an amazing piece of jewelry and it has no story, no provenance, but we fall in love with it. The beauty of the piece speaks for itself. A lot of customers ask for provenance, my tongue in cheek answer: The provenance is that it’s beautiful.

The book includes jewelry never before seen by the public. Why were they never seen before and why include them in the book?

AS: Showing those jewelry pieces helps tell our story. The book is not limited to objects that people use to adorn themselves, it includes snuff boxes, gold clocks, desk objects and gem set swords. Many times when a man comes in to buy a present for his wife, he will end up buying something for himself as well. It shows the range of what we do.

How do you decide which pieces to keep in your private collection?

AS: The jewelry and objects that we keep in our personal collection are there not only because of rarity or value. A pieces is there because it is so beautiful that we fall in love with it and it can’t be replaced.

What should people look for when buying estate jewelry?

AS: First, you must fall in love with the jewel. Then ask, does it come from someone you trust? Can you wear it comfortably? You don’t want to get something home and find out it’s hard to wear — earrings that are too heavy or a ring that falls to the side. Check to see if the piece is in its original condition, does it have repairs? Find out if the piece is signed and authenticated.

When people read The History of Jewelry, what do you want them to take away?

AS: We want people to smile and enjoy the jewelry in the same way that we are lucky enough to enjoy it every day.

Authored by Amber Michelle

5 Reasons to Sell Vintage Jewelry in Your Store

Art Deco Brooch. Photo: JS Fearnley

The glamour and elegance of bygone eras is captured forever in precious gemstones and metals that were beautifully crafted and the height of fashionable jewelry when they first debuted. Fast forward to today and vintage jewelry is more desirable than ever, speaking to the contemporary jewelry aficionado in much the same way that it did to the original owners of these pieces.

If you’re looking for new ways to drive business — and who isn’t these days — estate jewelry may be exactly what you’re looking for. The Jewelers Circle offers the following five reasons to stock vintage jewelry in your store.

  • UNIQUE JEWELRY.  Many estate pieces are one-of-a-kind jewels. Each piece is unique simply because these jewels are no longer being made. Today’s consumers — especially Millennials and Gen Zer’s — are fiercely individualistic. They want to create their own fashion statement and express themselves in a way that is distinctive to their lifestyle. These shoppers will love a selection of jewels that convey their personal style and most importantly – no one else will have what they are wearing. The attention to detail and the high level of workmanship that went into vintage pieces is much different from jewelry that is commercially produced today. Strong design that stands the test of time makes some estate jewelry look as fresh and fashionable today as it did when it was first made.

  • VINTAGE JEWELRY IS SUSTAINABLE. Today’s consumers — especially younger shoppers — are environmentally conscious. Vintage jewelry is not only beautiful, but it fits into the circular economy as it is being reused and no new resources — metals or stones — need to be wrenched from the earth. That’s a big plus for today’s eco aware customers.

  • ESTATE JEWELRY IS COLLECTABLE. Collectors enjoy the thrill of the chase and tracking down that perfect piece to add to their treasure trove. Vintage jewels offer plenty of collecting opportunities. A collector may like a particular period, such as Edwardian, Art Deco, or 1970s. They may be wild for a certain gemstone, or motif such as florals, animals, bows or geometric forms. You can help your collector find that special item and build a relationship with that person that will last for years. As a retailer you can source a virtual vault of jewelry on Jewelers Circle to appeal to the specific tastes of your customer and the aesthetic of your jewelry store.

  • SET YOUR STORE APART FROM THE COMPETITION. Having a collection of estate jewelry that no one else has will set your store apart from the pack. Any jewelry store will have cases filled with sparkling diamond engagement rings, but how many jewelry retailers in your area have a case filled with one-of-a-kind engagement rings showcasing antique diamonds in beautifully detailed settings? Or, a fabulous cocktail ring from the 1950s that highlights an oversized colored gemstone? Bold gold link chain necklaces and bracelets are a fashion favorite today and you’ll find 1940s retro gold pieces that will fit in with this trend just as well as a piece that is made today.

  • DRAW IN NEW CUSTOMERS. Once word gets out that your store offers a different and interesting selection of jewelry that no one else has, you’ll find that new customers start seeking you out. You’ll attract a new range of customers that may not have had your store on their radar. Now they’ll have a reason to come in and view the vintage jewels.

Every piece of estate jewelry has a story to tell. Whether it is the story of the previous owner, a bit of history about the maker, or the style of the times, the story continues and grows as the next person makes the jewel a part of their life.

Authored by Amber Michelle