Vintage and/or estate jewelers near New York City?
May 15, 2012 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Places to buy vintage and/or estate engagement rings local to New York City? Warnings and cautions?

From a previous AskMe question (someone else's question) I found Leigh Jay Nacht. With a ballpark $1200.00 budget (which seems like a lot of money to me even though it's not in the scheme of these things apparently) and a prefernce for the currently less fashionable yellow gold over white, it seems like there may be values to be found in looking for engagement rings that are vintage/estate items. Anyone have other specific recommendations for jewelers in New York City? (Local, because it seems that for this less generic sort of design, versus e.g. Blue Nile, one really needs to see things in person.)

Any warnings/cautions on going this route that I may not have thought of? Obviously, I've discussed this in generalities with my girlfriend and will probably discuss it with her in more specific terms proportional to the irrevocability of anything I choose to do (e.g. Leigh Jay Nacht has a good return policy, I wouldn't buy from a place that didn't without being very specific with her.)
posted by ThisIsNotMe to Shopping (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Feel free to flag (since this isn't a 'local' option per se) but we had luck searching for an second hand/vintage/estate engagement ring and wedding band via ebay and etsy. I'm just saying a local solution (via mail order) can work.

Basically what ended up happening was that we found a ring we liked by a store that had a brick and mortar presence as well*, vetted them as best we could, confirmed return policies, put the purchase on the credit card, and had the ring checked out as soon as we got it in hand. The band was a separate but similar purchase from another vendor.

Our style choices/desires were quite specific/non-mainstream and anything but generic and we ended up with a beautiful ring from just after the turn of the century that hasn't failed to elicit comment from anyone who has seen it. Detailed pictures and lots of research can substitute for seeing the ring in person, but make sure you can send it back if you don't end up liking it, which we could of course, no questions asked.

You may have better luck in a larger city like NYC but in our neck of the woods we would have either had to wait and wade into estate auctions or give up. We hit up the jewelry stores and pawn shops in town with VERY little success.

*The store in question. They were really nice and communicative.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2012

Friends of mine have had really good experiences with Erie Basin which is located in Brooklyn. Looks like they have at least one piece now on their site that might interest you.
posted by zara at 12:44 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife's vintage engagement ring - white gold with sapphire - was bought at Elleven (yelp) in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. (Although I actually proposed with this crazy cat ring I found on Etsy. Reader, she still married me!)

I also spent a good deal of time poking around a store in Chelsea, Pippin Vintage Jewelry, which had a good spread of rings as well. They also have a bewildering array of reasonably priced costume and old-timey pieces that I'll be raiding in the future...

Two small bits of bad news:
1) $1200 is on the low end of the range for anything vintage, pretty, and still engagementy. Pippin was the only store I found with nice rings around that price, and many of those were semi-precious stones. (As I was told, one of the reasons engagement rings are diamond or sapphire is that other stones won't survive daily wear for as long as she'll hopefully be wearing it...)

2) Yellow gold vintage rings seem to be virtually nonexistent. I found a number of online vendors selling vintage reproductions in yellow gold, but hardly anything to be seen in person in NY. I think the historical preference as just been white gold for these things.
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 1:35 PM on May 15, 2012

Doyle & Doyle are on the Lower East Side and are excellent estate jewelers. I have purchased from them and so have a bunch of engaged friends of mine. Very knowledgeable staff -and very nice too.
posted by blue_bicycle at 5:01 PM on May 15, 2012

Pippin is a good idea.
Doyle and Doyle is over your price range, for the most part, but has a few rings you might like on the cheaper end.
Love Adorned in Soho has a small but good selection of cheaper vintage rings.
In the UES Bloomingdales (or Barney's, sorry I forget which), there is an antique jewelry store on the bottom floorand they have a bunch of rings in a safe, so ask for more if you don't see one you like.
posted by rmless at 3:31 PM on May 16, 2012

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