That’s pretty much the story of how Lindsay and I met. It was NYC in the late 1990s, and she was my little sister’s college roommate. After many nights of crazy partying, (pre-cellphone!), we remained peripherally in each other’s lives until one day in 2006. She was working as a waitress at a Russian cafe, and I was bouncing between jobs as a theatrical costumer and an underpaid fashion stylist. Fed up with the fashion world’s BS, I had begun making necklaces using scraps of chain, vintage charms, and a pair of pliers. A buyer from Anthropologie found me selling those necklaces off a folding table at the then-brand-new Brooklyn Flea, and emailed me with a MASSIVE wholesale order. After using the brand-new google to figure out what “wholesale” meant, I took a 24-hour panic nap and then called Lindsay to come over and help me. “Bring a pair of pliers,” I said.
The next decade and a half was a blur of hiring, lease-signing, lessons in finance, lessons in failure, and wild successes. We made tens of thousands of pieces of brass and silver jewelry in various studios, all against the backdrop of the Lower East Side in the early 2000s. The soundtrack was excellent. The boyfriends were weird. Our clothes were weirder.
In 2010 I got engaged with a 1920s diamond ring from Doyle and Doyle, then our neighbors, and we fell in love with antique jewelry. The transition from mass-market handmade vibes to high-end fine jewelry had begun. Our collection grew organically as we followed our interests and shamelessly schmoozed with the dealers we most admired. We read everything we could and researched incessantly. No antique shop within 100 miles was safe from us and our endless questions. We started to book regular trips to London to hit the suburban antique show circuit, and visited the V & A Museum more times than we can count. Our art history and anthropology majors had finally come into use.
We love to translate the secret language that antique jewelry speaks. Context is important: what was happening in the world when your jewel was made? Who made it? For what purpose? The things we fall in love with aren’t always the prettiest, or the most precious, or the most immaculate. We love a story: give us an obscure reference, an esoteric symbol, a bad repair, a strange color combination, a “what the hell is that?” moment. Magic is preserved in these funny little objects.
Lindsay and I always look at jewelry as a lens through which we can view human history. Through particular — and sometimes peculiar — ways, it expresses universal human experience: hope, joy, grief, regret, lust, nostalgia. We feel these feelings so strongly, but it’s helpful to remember that people have felt the same things since the dawn of time. Humans 100 and 1000 years from now will still experience them. And they’ve adorned themselves, expressing their feelings through symbols, colors, and motifs that sometimes, after cultures change, need a little translation. Our history nerd selves will help you out with that part.
You know that feeling you get when you go into the Metropolitan Museum and you can see things that were made 2000 years ago, and you feel time collapse? That’s what we’re going for. We aim to broker a feeling of awe; through our jewels, you can feel a sense of perspective on survival and beauty. These tiny jewels have endured lifetimes of god-knows-what. And like DNA, we can pass them on after we’re gone.
If you need to escape into history, come see us.
xxx Erica and Lindsay