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Last week I attended “Jewelry Camp” – the nickname for the annual Antique Jewelry and Art Conference – for the first time.  Held from July 30-August 1st, Jewelry Camp began with tours of the Macklowe Gallery and Van Cleef and Arpels in New York City and continued in Westchester, about an hour north of the City, with two days of seminars on a variety of topics about antique jewelry.

I was lucky enough to attend the optional tour of the Macklowe Gallery where Ben Macklowe showed us around his gallery.  The Macklowe Gallery specializes in decorative arts of the Art Nouveau period and, among their riches, they have the largest collection of Tiffany light fixtures for sale in the world.  But our focus was on the jewelry, and Ben let us choose pieces and examine them while he answered our questions about the pieces.  Among my favorites were a large Marcus and Company boulder opal brooch/pendant and an Art Nouveau horn necklace.

Macklowe Gallery held an exhibit of horn jewelry in 2012 and published a book about it called “Nature Transformed – French Art Nouveau Horn Jewelry” that is a worthy addition to a jewelry book library.

From there we headed north to jewelry camp and an evening lecture by renowned contemporary jewelry designer Kevin Friedman.  The next two days were filled with a mix of keynote speakers and smaller sessions, with two keynote lectures each morning followed by three 1-1/2 hour seminars each afternoon.  The seminars were a mix of hands-on workshops and slide lectures.

Among my favorites were a hands-on workshop titled “Fakes and Fauxberge: an Introduction to Forged Hallmarks” by Bill Whetstone and Danusia Niklewicz of the Hallmark Research Institute; a lecture by Jan Krulick-Belin on “Pelicans Posies and Pearls:  Portraits from the Age of Elizabeth 1”; “Antique Diamonds A to Z” by Michael Goldstein; and the opening keynote by Ulysses Dietz, curator of decorative arts and the Newark Museum, titled “Human Plumage from Platinum to Plastic”.

But the value of jewelry camp extended beyond the information I learned in the lectures and workshops, it was in the people I met.  Starting with my new friend Debbie, who offered me a ride from the Macklowe Gallery to the conference hotel, everyone I met was delightful, enthusiastic, and generous.  I brought several pieces of jewelry with me about which I had questions and  Danusia Niklewicz was immediately able to identify a mark on a pair of earrings as an Austrian import mark, the type of obscure mark that I had been unable to identify.  Of course I’ve now added her book “World Hallmarks” to my library.  I also met fellow Ruby Lane Dealer Jacquelyn Babush of Aesthetic Engineering Fine Jewels and Antiques, an expert on Georgian and early Victorian jewelry, who provided me with information about some portrait miniatures while we enjoyed cocktails at the hotel bar.

For a jewelry geek and dealer like myself Jewelry Camp was an invaluable experience.  I’d highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in antique jewelry whether they are a dealer or collector.