Doyle & Doyle, an intimate and charming boutique in New York Citys East Village, has long been the first stop for savvy young couples (really, young brides) who are looking for special, one-of-a-kind engagement ringsnot the run-of-the-mill pieces churned out by the big jewelers. Not that that bridal jewelry is all the store’s co-owners, Pam and Elizabeth Doyle, specialize in.
Since they opened their doors in 2000 , the sistersboth specialists in jewelry and gemshave been keeping their shop well stocked with unique estate and antique jewelry from eras that run the gamut from Edwardian to Art Deco.
The Inside Source: How did you get interested in jewelry? Specifically heirloom pieces?
Elizabeth Doyle: I have loved jewelry for as long as I can remember.My grandmother had beautiful jewelrysome pieces that she was able to take with her when she fled China during the late ’40s, and many pieces that my grandfather bought for her after they finally settled in the US. My grandfather was an avid amateur painter.Many of his paintings featured animals and these became the basis for jewelry that he would design and have made for my grandmother.I loved going through her jewelry box. She would tell me stories behind the different pieces.Through the jewelry I learned the history of our family and the times.
The Inside Source: Are you and Pamela drawn to different kinds of jewelry ?
Elizabeth Doyle: We have very different taste in jewelry. I gravitate towards older pieces with very intricate details. I appreciate amazing workmanshipthe type of workmanship that is not found today because of cost, lost techniques or lack of skill.My sister likes more glamorous, bold pieces. She tends to be drawn to exceptional stones, especially colored ones.
The Inside Source: What’s your favorite era for jewelry?
Elizabeth Doyle: Victorian.It was a very long era and particularly rich in design and production. Because of industrialization and the growing number of woman in the workforce, it was the first time there was mass production of jewelry for the working class.The jewelry was relatively inexpensive and so much of it has survived, being reworked into new jewels with changing fashions.As a result we have quite a bit of relatively affordable, wearable Victorian jewelry.
But that is not to say that there werent exquisite jewels made for the upper classes of the time as well.Less of this has survived, but I do come across amazing parures [sets] of Victorian jewels. One of my all time favorites was a tiara, necklace and earring set.It featured shell cameos depicting game animals. When Princess Victoria of Sweden was married last year and I saw her wearing her cameo tiara I couldnt help but think of our set.
The Inside Source: What’s your best advice to people interested in buying vintage/heirloom pieces?
Elizabeth Doyle: The golden rule when buying any jewelry is Is it aesthetically pleasing? Next, does it work with your lifestyle?There are certain pieces that were made at a time when life was very different.They may not be able to hold up to your modern lifestyle. For example, Georgian pieces with foil-backed stones should not get wet.So if you are not the type who can take your ring off every time you wash your hands or get caught in the rain, you should not get a foil-backed Georgian ring.
The Inside Source: Is there an era that’s generally always more valuable than others?
Elizabeth Doyle: There is not. With that said, I would say that classic Art Deco has the most universal appeal. Platinum and diamond were the materials of choice and the designs were bold while being clean.It is an era which appeals to many and offends very few.
The Inside Source: What are your favorite eBay searches?
Elizabeth Doyle: I search for out of print jewelry reference books. I recently purchased French Jewelry of the 19th Century by Henri Vever. It was originally published in 1906 in French as three volumes, but there is a one-volume English translation. It usually sells for $350-$500. I managed to get a copy from Germany for $200. I left my search active because I hope to one day score the original three-volume set at a reasonable price.
I also search for vintage prints.My son is very into race cars.I found a beautiful set of original race car prints of old Mercedes,with the stats.I am not really sure what they were originally used for, maybe a catalog.But they look beautiful as a framed series on his wall.The print quality and color is unlike anything you would see today.
I also buy hand-colored vintage prints.I have a bunch of hand-colored fish prints. I have searched for skeletons or skulls, but I dont think I have the search quite right because I have haven’t found what I want yet. The same with insects.
Meredith Barnett is the Editorial Director for The Inside Source, a digital style magazine presented by eBay. The Inside Source writer Nandini DSouza Wolfe authored this article in its original form. Click here to read it in full and to check out Krysas eBay wish list. (Images courtesy of Danielle Krysa.)