Just like vintage gowns, estate jewellery has an allure all of its own: a patina and past that makes it not only more intriguing than new pieces, but often much more beautiful too. This is certainly the case with much of Dana Kraus’s carefully curated collection of hard-to-find “one-of-a-kind 20th-century pieces” by the likes of Verdura, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari and Schlumberger.
“We look for exceptional iconic design, provenance and signature,” says Kraus, who studied art history and decorative arts before embarking upon a career in publishing and later changing tack to become a vintage jewellery dealer. With 16 years’ experience at DK Farnum, she clearly has a well-honed eye for strong design and exquisite pieces that look as relevant now as the decade in which they were made. Exceptional gold chain or link bracelets are a current theme of the online business: an Hermès 18ct-gold Parade bracelet ($49,000) with links in the house’s iconic chaîne d’ancre shape, for example, is a rare custom piece made for a member of the Hermès family, while her latest Cartier finds – such as a 1960s version ($16,000) with a sapphire-studded padlock clasp – sold out immediately. “Vintage Cartier like this is tough to find and it flies when we get it,” she says. Still available, however, is a “fantastic design from Juliette Moutard for the House of Boivin” – a smooth and silky 4cm-wide Ecaille bracelet ($29,000) of 18ct-gold “scales”.
Kraus buys entire collections as well as single pieces and will work closely with buyers to source the right jewellery. “Our business model is that of a concierge service,” she says. “We personally connect with each client either at their home, in our office, online or all three.” As well as bracelets, necklaces, watches and rings, she has gathered together a fabulous collection of statement-making earrings, including a showstopping 1970s pair ($45,000) by Schlumberger for Tiffany in diamond, gold and platinum with detachable pearl drops, as well as Cartier’s retro-cool, diamond-accented 14ct-gold 1950s Sputnik earrings ($39,000), created to commemorate the launch of the space programme. These are jewels that err on the side of bold and eye-catching; they are often whimsical and witty, yet it’s easy to imagine them paired with a cool Céline dress, when they’d feel totally of the moment.