written by Paul Holewa
Dori and Tuvia Paul, wife and husband co-owners of eFiligree Antique & Period Jewelry, encourage retail jewelers who haven’t dabbled in this jewelry category to make 2021 the year they “spread their wings” with estate and antique.
Since the 1970s, environmentalism has been a part of generational concerns, from conserving resources in the early years to recycling and sustainability in more recent decades. This is part of the true appeal of estate and antique jewelry, even more so for today’s defining consumer generations – Generation X (1965 to 1980), Millennials (1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (1997 to 2012). These three generations also greatly appreciate unique designs, quality materials and Old World craftsmanship.
“Because recycling and ‘being green’ is very popular, antique jewelry fits beautifully with that model,” says Dori. “The workmanship of antique jewelry is also of a much higher caliber than the popular styles that are quickly produced today and go in and out of style just as fast. And, 2020 was the year when everything we know turned upside down and I think people now want something unique to remember this time.”
As passionate as Dori is about being a third-generation family business now, the tasks she had to perform for her parent’s estate and antique jewelry business almost drove her toward other career pursuits. “I remember as a child I had to untangle and then card neck chains, sort various lots and do all the dirty work my father wanted me to do,” says Dori. “I was sure I would never go into the jewelry business.”
Children bring many blessings to parents, but for Dori and Tuvia the birth of their first child forced them to do some soul searching on their Plan A career choices. Dori went to college and earned a finance degree with the plans of going into business. Tuvia had a degree in early childhood education. When the couple was expecting their first child, the numbers to support a household weren’t adding up. Plan B was then executed.
“My parents offered to let us work with them,” says Dori. “Much to my surprise we both loved being in this business. I love purchasing and being the treasure hunter and Tuvia loves the sales aspect, working with our retail customers and traveling around the country to work with the most passionate people in the most beautiful and unique jewelry stores.”
Being a third generation jeweler (with a fourth “coming soon”) it’s safe to say the gem and jewelry industry is in Dori’s blood and in her DNA. For Dori, the family business started in the early 1900s when her grandfather David Kordansky began buying watch bands to sell for scrap in New York City. Eventually jewelry findings and other interesting pieces were added.
In 1945, Dori’s parents married. Her father traveled selling jewelry findings. By the time Dori entered the world, her father evolved the family business to exclusively selling antique jewelry. Dori has vivid memories of her father Jerry Kordansky’s early buys.
“When I was 6 or 7 years old, he purchased a literal barrel of sterling silver enamel puffy hearts,” says Dori. “Thousands of them.” The enamel hearts sold slowly over time with the last of them purchased when Dori entered college. She had filled a tennis ball can of the most beautiful ones with his permission but her father asked if he could have some of the enamel hearts she stashed away many years back.
Knowing what, when and how to buy is critical to being successful in the estate and antique jewelry business. Having a good grasp of history is important as estate and antique jewelry often has a story, especially with memorable, one-of-a-kind finds.
“One of the most moving and memorable pieces we sold was a Victorian pin that had two different colors of hair interwoven in an incredible design,” says Dori. “On the front it said ‘In Memory Of” and on the back it had two dates and two names. The first one was the husband of the person who must have owned it and it had his birth and his death and the other date was their child who passed away after just about a year. I always imagine this bereft woman wearing this brooch and remembering her two important family members.”
Timing in buying as well as selling is always of crucial importance in the estate and antique jewelry business. When Dori first entered the business there were certain gemstones that didn’t sell well. Turquoise and opals were two such groups of gemstones that “literally didn’t move,” says Dori. “In today’s market these are two of our most popular stones. We can’t keep enough of them in stock.”
Cameos were once a strong seller for Dori and Tuvia. “They were classic designs and we regularly sold them in our line,” says Dori. “Then as years have passed pins and brooches were not as popular and they seemed to have gone out of style. Today, however, as a follower of many Instagrammers who are influencers, I see cameos are booming and are being featured regularly from the most simple ones to the most unique designs and the prices they are commanding is way higher than we would have ever dreamed for such pieces.”
The stacking trend remains strong with a period piece twist. “Victorian rings which are very easily stackable seem to be gaining in tremendous popularity because the up and coming trends hark back from the styles of yesterday,” says Dori.
And, there are even some men’s jewelry estate and antique jewelry trends. “There is one Instagrammer I love to follow who features pins of all types being worn by him on his masculine clothing,” says Dori. “It is very defining to be able to express individuality with a one of a kind antique treasure worn at the neckline of a t-shirt, or on a lapel of a jacket or on a cuff of a sleeve.”
For retailers wanting to embrace these trends and the consumer enthusiasm and excitement for estate and antique jewelry, Tuvia says: “Every store should consider featuring antique and estate shows annually or biannually even if they don’t carry pieces in their store. Many people are interested in the unique and you can reach a customer market that you may not bring to your store with typical pieces. We are happy to work with stores all around the country to do events with you and can provide marketing and social media materials, personalized ads and video shorts as well as educating your staff if you would like.”
Dori & Tuvia Paul can be reached at their office at 888.345.4473 or by email at email@example.com.