It’s no secret to my friends and family that I’m a ‘vintage’ kind of gal. I love rediscovering the stylings of a bygone era and figuring out how to incorporate those designs with today’s trends. Often, I like to imagine the life and experiences of the previous owner. (What was her life like? What was her favorite moment wearing this piece? Did she know my grandmother?) Beckett will add that I also have a tendency to anthropomorphize my favorite objects, and it’s true that sometimes I dialogue with my accessories: “You haven’t been outside in a while, suede vintage Parisian boots – how about we go for a walk?”
Above all that, though, I also feel it’s important to actively challenge the assumption that new is always better than old. So often, our world is defined by intense, targeted marketing: nearly every interaction we have with advertising is designed to rewire our brains into thinking that what we have – or don’t have – is not good enough. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good shopping trip as much as the next gal – but time and again, I’ve also found great joy in reinvesting in old objects. Not only can a pre-loved piece satisfy our desire for ‘something new’, it can also confer a special sense of pride as you clean it up and steward it into another generation. (There’s nothing like freeing a classic 1980s Dooney & Bourke bag from stray ballpoint pen marks with a little saddle soap and elbow grease!) Of course, the great thing about all of this is that more and more ‘trendy’ resale shops are popping up, so we can have the ‘something new’ we want while also supporting a local business and preventing items from other fates.
With all this in mind, it was very important to me to find a vintage engagement ring and wedding band that represented these beliefs. Last summer, we searched Chicago high and low for antique shops with art deco engagement rings, only to find that the best ‘finds’ were out of the city, in the small shops away from the urban hustle. We found my engagement ring at a wonderful store called Huntley Antiques and Jewelry Mall owned by a great guy named John and his sweet, knowledgeable mother Dolores. They took the time to tutor us on antique jewelry buying, and even let us loose on the magnifying stand to look at the fine detail of the diamonds and setting in my ring. (It was so cool!) We were thrilled to find exactly what we were looking for – an art deco ring with an interesting design from honest-to-goodness Illinoisans. :)
This weekend we went back to Huntley to look at antique wedding bands; we hoped to find a simple dual-tone band to go along with my engagement ring. Unfortunately, Dolores told us that antique gold bands have become increasingly harder to find because people are melting them down for the gold, which is priced very high right now. All was not lost, though: we got pricing for a simple white gold band for Beckett and took detailed measurements for my engagement ring so that we could search on Etsy for an alternative. With great luck, one of my favorite Etsy shops, GoldAdore, had just the right piece: an antique 14k dual-tone band with simple styling and a few small diamonds. In conversing with the shop owner, Gillian, I learned that this piece is likely from the 1930s-40s, and was made by a well known brand called Keepsake. I found several excellent advertisements on eBay for Keepsake; my favorite of them is from 1954 – just look at the wily smile on that bride!
Here’s a sneak peek at the band – due to arrive in the mail soon! :)