In this new facet of my life, I’m going to be writing consistently about the real-ness of jewelry. Value. Meaning. Societal implications. Life-cycle. A one-off bit of perspective follows here. Let’s call it “Framing”.
It’s safe to say that nobody contemplates the gestalt of jewelry collecting quite like I do. Of the thousands of collectors of great jewelry in the world, each has their own story with a common passion and a unique life-cycle. This is mine. I am absolutely positive there is gold to be mined.
As a preface, my mental process or the “framing” of my jewelry collection can sound … invented, but is actually more “real life” to me and other independent women than almost every single jewelry promotion that ever launched. The industry standard of framing jewelry purchases as “the course of romance” is speaking baby talk to women and missing the most durable points… always. We are a deeper market than is thought, deliciously diverse and sometimes curiously touched.
The backdrop starts off in my early years with an out-of-left-field edification from my noble father one Sunday afternoon as I was puttering in the living room. “You understand that we’re only middle class”. The sound of me processing this statement is silence. Where did that come from? What is class? What does “middle” mean ? So…. I am to understand that there is a class above us…..me? As a tragically unassuming 11 year old, I hadn’t really thought about it but apparently it was important to him that I understand this profundity.
At the time my collecting history was impressive but limited to a gentle coterie of stuffed animals and all five colors of Sears Toughskins jeans. It didn’t matter to me that my game was lame and would be for years to come. There was certainly no indication that a “Killer Queen” collection of jewelry was in my future much less in my power.
The start was modest but real. From the end of my University days, I would take on additional jobs for the experience and the discretionary income that “better” jewelry requires. Alcohol was shunned. As far as I was concerned that was “Diamond Money” (a term I would not coin until decades later). Here and there a piece, but things did not get truly rolling until my good-thirties.
Let it be stated that from the first moments I absorbed (truly great) jewelry departments, estate jewelry and my first full-color auction house catalog, I became immune to nationally advertised jewelry and anything mass produced. The difference is obvious very quickly to anyone who takes any time to examine and feel. Suffer me being redundant here. It is worth the tactile and visual learning and it is an absolute pleasure….also impossible to un-know.
The payoff is this. From browsing the right media and displays, I learned to accrue jewelry that moves fluidly through every class or culture construct you could throw at me. And in the those times where you need to catch a rest (and the benefit of random judgments), to let your jewelry speak for you is an incremental luxury.
For a good number of years, I have had the privilege to self fund an extended education and then an exceptionally curated jewelry collection. Going hand in glove, together they have empowered me…given me an “all access pass” without class restrictions. Right or wrong, my thinking has made it so.
A well curated jewelry collection does not necessarily mean “large”. The benefit of a few very well made pieces, worn consistently, convey pretty much the same benefits. In any case, the “fewer, better things” philosophy of collecting is hitting all the right touch points in our society. Fiscal responsibility, self-empowerment, sustainability. (When are you ever going to find real gold populating a landfill by design?) Well made fine jewelry is the most consistently re-purposed and re-cycled consumer category that one can imagine. Furthermore, secondary market jewelry is going to be a much bigger part of consumerism going forward. It behooves you to know your stuff. Know HOW to trade before you NEED to trade. The aggregate of our assets over our lifetime will be important for all of us.
Which brings me to water-boarding. In 2011 Police charged two “caregivers” at a Jonesboro, Georgia facility with waterboarding an 89-year-old woman. The issue igniting the crime was the desire for ice cream. A Google search will bear this out. As much as the story was almost unbelievable then, it reinforced one my deepest apprehensions. How to fund elder care is going to be a real issue to tackle down the road for many of us who, like me, must consider compromises and have no children who will check on them.
I love donuts and I have no children. In the critical years the latter was “diamond money” among other larger considerations. Lest you pelt me with donuts in a foreshadowing of the consequences of unfortunate decisions, I understand that children are certainly one of life’s great “investments” ….for many. I say this from a safe distance. No regrets. Framing.
The need to manage my jewelry with re-sale value in mind has always been important. Not necessarily to turn for a profit, but to make sure that if bad times “came a callin’ ” my collection could be a real resource. And it has. Some truly magnificent small pieces were only mine “for a while”. In the few times when I specifically needed money, people with money specifically needed what I had. And, while I deeply desire to keep all of it…. I know I am fortunate to have any of it.
No matter how many (men) will challenge me on this, for some of us jewelry IS an investment. It’s a choice to put your discretionary funds in “this”, instead of “that”. That may be the stock market, travel adventures or real estate. Some of these things appreciate or retain partial value. Others become memories. Not all of these things can be liquidated if you need the funds. In the pursuit of a diversified portfolio, collectible jewelry is worth owning, especially if the concept of “having your cake and eating it too” is not repellent.
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That being said, over time, my jewelry collecting will reach its natural end. The best use of my funds toward the end a lifetime of varied financial decisions (seriously) is to afford an assisted home with new friends, a small dog on my lap, no jewelry. (yes, I’m planning for that) interacting with caregivers who are well vetted, fairly compensated and maybe…enjoy hearing me go on about the jewelry market.
Until then, I’m in the trenches with all of you.
My very best for you… Killer Queen.