Your Guide To Shopping Modern Day Vintage
Here at NMJ, we have always valued the story telling nature of jewellery. Unique in its ability to capture moments and mark milestones; jewellery is innately sentimental.
For our founder, Natalie, vintage jewellery has always played an important role as a deep source of inspiration and a personal passion. Natalie’s own vintage collection consists of treasures sourced on her travels, including an antique locket found in Sausalito, California and a petite sapphire and diamond vintage ring discovered in New York on her 30th birthday.
Perhaps most treasured of all is Natalie’s engagement ring, which was designed by her husband Dan to feature his grandmother’s heirloom, an old mine cut diamond. These vintage pieces hold historical grandeur and sentimental significance, and this growing passion has driven Natalie to share vintage and vintage inspired heirlooms as a part of the Natalie Marie offering.
With the global pandemic limiting our usual international sourcing process of antique pieces, we revelled in the chance to create our own vintage inspired collection. One which combined the charm of antique designs with the benefit of modern, premium craftsmanship.
Inspired by days gone by, Yesterday Today is a twenty-piece collection that draws inspiration from five distinct eras - the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. The romantic collection has been consciously conceptualised, with a focus on sustainability. Sourced and crafted in our studio in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the collection features vintage style one of a kind rings, earrings and necklaces that honour these distinct time periods.
We asked Natalie’s advice on how to go about selecting, acquiring and then caring for these vintage inspired pieces.
Buy what you love
Jewellery is deeply personal, I always encourage choosing pieces you are innately drawn to. So often clients will come to our showroom with an idea of what they’re looking for, only for their hearts to lead them in a completely different direction.
"Jewellery is a form of self-expression, and special pieces will become intrinsic to your everyday style. I believe jewellery should be chosen from the heart and on instinct, with guidance, education and consideration in parallel." - Natalie
The difference between antique, vintage and vintage-inspired jewellery
We are passionate about educating our clients and sharing our passion and knowledge about jewellery to ensure our clients feel empowered to make informed choices. In this case, It’s important to explain the difference between antique, vintage and vintage inspired jewellery; not only so you feel confident in what you are buying, but also as a guide to understanding the amount of aftercare involved in a particular piece. As a general guide:
- a piece of jewellery is considered ‘antique’ if it was crafted over 100 years ago,
- ‘vintage’ is a term used to describe pieces made between 50 and 100 years ago and
- ‘vintage inspired’ describes a newly made piece that has been inspired by antique and vintage designs, often using old stones and repurposed materials.
Our Yesterday Today collection is comprised of entirely vintage inspired pieces, designed in house and consciously handcrafted by our master jewellers.
Understand the inspiration
Jewellery has a profound history of holding great significance regardless of varying cultures, eras and time periods. When we conceptualised Yesterday Today, we explored the history of antique jewellery - journeying chronologically through the different style and aesthetic shifts and identifying the most prominent designs that featured within each iconic era. The resulting collection tells a compelling historical story, weaving rich traditions with modern craftsmanship to create meaningful pieces of integrity.
Understanding the inspiration, history and intention behind each piece and its place in our journey through time adds another layer to the story that each piece has to tell.
The Georgian era spanned the reign of five British kings and so personal style changed considerably over those 123 years. One of the overarching hallmarks of Georgian era jewellery was the ornate wirework and labour-intensive techniques that brought a sense of fluidity and romance to the pieces.
This particular technique can been seen in one of the standout pieces in the collection, the Georgian Ada Garnet Ring . Our master jeweller, Bronwyn, carefully handcrafted each piece of swirling wire to produce a ring that is quite remarkable.
Necklaces, earrings and rings of the Victorian era ranged from modest in design to decadent and elaborate, with Queen Victoria herself the influential fashion icon of the day. The acquisition of jewellery was directly related to societal status, and pieces often carried significant meaning.
As trade routes opened up between Europe and South Africa, diamonds became easily obtainable, propelling the popularity of the diamond solitaire. At the time, diamonds were meticulously cut by hand. Now known as ‘old mine cut’ diamonds, these stones hold unique attributes and possess a subtle warmth. An example of a Victorian style ring can be seen in the Rosalind Ring, which features a cushion cut diamond.
Edwardian style rings tended to be simpler in design, with an imperial influence. Driven by a desire to appear well-travelled, the preference was towards exotic-coloured gemstones paired with white diamonds in contrast.
It was during the Edwardian era that the technique of millgraining emerged, often used to border gemstones, adding a softer dimension to the piece. The Alexander Ring pays homage to this era, with intricate millgrain detailing around a halo of old mine cut diamonds.
Art Nouveau period
Art Nouveau was born in the late 1800s in Europe and looked to escape the strictures of the modern art movements of the time. The movement was an ode to the flowing lines and shapes of nature, and celebrated the female form. Our Cléo Filligree Necklace embraces the flowing forms and ornate wirework of the time. Handmade fine links are set with petite pink rubies to create a subtly luxurious necklace.
Art Deco period
Geometric motifs and symmetrical designs were a defining characteristic of Art Deco jewellery design, as were the use of vibrant colour and enamel. The 1920’s was a period of glamour, lavish parties and a shift in fashion, it saw the emergence of the ‘cocktail ring’, an adornment that was seen as a bold statement, worn at parties with the intention to be noticed. The Erté Onyx Ring is a favourite in the collection, and is inspired by the quintessential elements of Art Deco, featuring a dark onyx and geometric detailing.
Consider post-consumer recycled stones
Creating with conscience is at the heart of our approach. For this collection, we used post-consumer recycled stones - gemstones or diamonds that have been removed from existing pieces of jewellery, cleaned and re-polished or recut.
Working with PCR stones allows us to combine the romance of an old stone with the structural integrity and longevity of a new piece of jewellery. It also allows us to close the loop and work with a more sustainable option that not only negates the need for newly mined material, but gives new life to a piece that has often been overlooked.
Know old diamond cuts
We did a lot of research into the types of gemstones that were popular during the different eras, as well as the historically relevant and accurate diamond cuts. Learning that pre-20th century diamonds were cut only by hand encouraged us to ensure this high level of craftsmanship was carried across the collection to accurately reflect the jewellery produced during that time.
The term ‘old mine cut’ refers to diamonds cut by hand by skilled artisans. In a time which predated mechanised diamond cutting technology, diamonds were measured by eye and cut by hand, often by candlelight - resulting in a stone with a subtle, warm glow.
Alongside the unique, asymmetrical facets, you will find that old mine cut diamonds have a larger, flat culet (or base) which supposedly helped the stones glow by candlelight. To the eye, this larger culet appears as a small dark circle at the base of the stone. This is evident in our vintage style Rosalind Diamond Solitaire, which features an elegant cushion cut, old mined diamond.
Take extra care
The pieces within Yesterday Today combine antique stones with modern craftsmanship, which is beneficial to ensure longevity and durability. Even with this in mind, it’s vital that the pieces are cared for appropriately.
Consideration should be taken for situations in which your piece could be damaged, either through impact or contact with chemicals such as cleaning products. Exposure to such factors can cause degradation of the materials or stones and potential structural damage either as the result of a single incident, or as a slow process over time.
As with any fine jewellery piece, it is important that the NMJ Care Guide, which is provided in hard copy with each piece and is also available to read online, is strictly followed to ensure the longevity of these special pieces.