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.