Published: April 10, 2012
The Diamond District may be a dozen blocks away on West 47th Street, but two weekends a year the conference center at Lighthouse International on East 59th Street becomes a veritable jewelry boutique as it plays host to the East Side Jewelry and Decorative Arts Fair.
At its spring edition March 23′5, dazzling displays of diamond jewelry, gold and gemstones vied for attention along with silver accessories, vintage handbags, watches and exquisite pieces of china, to name but a few of the luxury decorative arts one finds here. The show is small †usually around two dozen dealers †but highly select. The bulk of the dealers hail from such tony locations as Hollywood/Los Angeles and Miami Beach, with a sprinkling of high-end dealers from other areas, including New York and Georgia.
The spring and fall East Side shows are ably run by the team at Art International/OSAT, which produces several fairs in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. This show also has a charitable component, making buyers feel extra good about their purchases as the show benefits Lighthouse International, which works to fight vision loss through prevention, treatment and empowerment.
The show usually is held in April, but this year was held during Asia Week when crowds of buyers were already in town and in a spending mood.
The dealers from Benchmark of Palm Beach, Blue Ridge, Ga., praised show promoter Marty Ellis’s efforts, saying, “Marty did a great job promoting a show for a terrific cause. It is great to see so many people interested in fine art, antiques and jewelry.”
Jacob Gipsman of Jacob’s Diamond & Estate Jewelry, Los Angeles, said the show was a resounding success. “The show was great. There were more people this time, it seems to get busier each time,” he said. “Customers told us how pleasantly surprised [they were] with the quality of jewelry and dealers at the show. We sold a variety of nice pieces from the early 1900s to the 1970s.”
The dealer’s sales included a beautiful 1950s gold tulip-designed necklace that sparked a lot of interest, as well as a number of diamond pendants.
Jacqueline Smelkinson of Moylan-Smelkinson/The Spare Room Antiques, Baltimore, Md., reported a steady stream of showgoers into her booth and said, “As usual in New York City, they were knowledgeable and knew what they were looking for.” Sales were strong and included several Victorian and Georgian chains; the dealer’s inventory of Regency period ceramics was noticeably lighter by the show’s end, as well, saving packing time.
Jill Fenichell of the Curator’s Eye, Brooklyn N.Y., displayed a variety of decorative arts with fine pieces of pottery and china especially appealing. A fetching Japanese Art Deco tea set with a striking geometric pattern was pure eye candy and was quickly snapped up by a new client. Fenichell noted the set blended Eastern and Western design styles and was designed for Japanese manufacturer Nippon by its New York atelier, but manufactured in Japan. Pointing out how thin and translucent the tea cups are, she said, “The fact that they survived is remarkable.”
“Traffic was slow, but everyone who came was a qualified buyer,” Fenichell said, noting she is being cautious but optimistic, and plans to exhibit here at the fall edition of the show.
Scottsdale, Ariz., jewelry dealer Joyce Groussman, a veteran of this show, said the event was extremely busy with a lot of good response from shoppers and she thought this a perfect venue. “The pieces that were sold at the show were jewelry from every period, including many contemporary pieces,” she said,
R&A International Design Ltd, Miami Beach, Fla., sold a gorgeous platinum, diamond and sapphire ring, circa 1950, and its South Seas pearl necklace attracted many customers,
Jon Goldfarb of Second Time Around Watch Company, West Hollywood, Calif., did not fare as well with his sales, having more lookers than buyers in his booth, but was hopeful that post-show sales would raise his tally. A number of buyers indicated they might order online from his shop, perhaps in a bid to avoid paying sales tax.
“We had a lot of activity, but in the end we only sold two watches. We have many more potential sales though, with being approached by buyers for stores and by customers who stated they would be calling us later this week,” he said.
Directly across the aisle, Only Authentics, New York City, had the opposite problem moments after the show opened. Women swarmed into the booth, nearly overwhelming the dealers, to look at, feel and try on the vintage handbags offered here that, as the name says, are not reproductions but 100 percent authentic. Proof positive: some of the Hermes bags were shown with the iconic orange boxes for which the French maker is known. Those orange boxes popped up throughout the show, visible holding a lady’s Hermes watch as well as Hermes jewelry in other booths.
The show will return to Lighthouse International October 19′1. For information, www.artinternationalfair.com or 310-287-1896.
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