The phrase they don't make 'em like they used to might apply to some things, but not jewelry.
Technology has improved radically in the last few decades, allowing
designers to achieve a fineness and crispness of design that simply
wouldn't have been possible 100 years ago.
Take, for instance, the Art Deco-inspired earrings created by
New York's Stephen Russell. The black onyx, diamond and aquamarine
drops have the vivid colour contrast and graphic lines of the Art Deco
However, today's powerful microscopes mean the earrings could be
crafted with less visible metal than they would have nearly a century
ago. And advances in high speed diamond tip drills now allow for such
accuracy that minute holes could be drilled into the briolettes and
then hidden under a diamond floret.
Things are built so much better today, marvels Russell Zelenetz, who
co-owns the Madison Ave. shop with Stephen Feuerman. But that doesn't
mean the pair have forsaken vintage jewelry. In fact, Zelenetz and
Feuerman have amassed a collection of Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco
and Retro jewels that has been called one of the best edited in the
Their pieces can be found in art books, luxury magazines and
international exhibitions. A rock crystal and diamond cuff by Suzanne
Belperron and once owned by Diana Vreelend is among the Stephen Russell
treasures on loan to Les Art Decoratifs in Paris for an Art Deco
exhibit running until July 12, 2009. The two also work closely with
clients to help them build and manage their collections.
Zelenetz and Feuerman complement their vintage offerings with
contemporary works that merge tradition and innovation. Spring designs
include dramatic 20-plus carat fire opal, black opal and tanzanite
But are New Yorkers still wearing their gems during these economically-sensitive times?
Zelenetz ensures. They are not necessarily buying that diamond
riviere, but they are wearing incredible rock crystal rings from the
'30s or beautiful crystal and diamond cuffs. People are putting more
emphasis on tasteful luxury vs. decadent luxury.