Elizabeth and Pamela Doyle of Doyle & Doyle
How did you get into jewelry?
P.D: When my grandmother came over from China, via Brazil, in 1954, she got jewelry into the country by hiding it in her cold-cream pots. When Elizabeth and I were little, we used to go digging around in those pots.
Where do you source your antique jewelry from today?
E.D: Auctions, trade shows, and a network of dealers across the U.S. and overseas.
Do you know the stories behind your jewels?
E.D: Most of the time we do not. But by examining engravings, style techniques, the cut and setting of the stone, we are able to put together a general story of what it has lived through. I love the history of each piece. I like knowing that it’s not mass-produced.
Are there some styles or eras that are more popular than others?
E.D: In terms of engagement rings, Deco and Edwardian are always popular. But rings from the forties seem to be really gaining in popularity. Edwardian is very romantic—lacy, platinum-filigree mountings— but they’re solitaires, so they still look like engagement rings. Deco is such a bold design. You can do anything with Deco—it’s glamorous with a lot of different cuts.
What’s the difference between antique and estate?
E.D: Antique must be 100 years old or older. Estate simply means pre-owned.
What should couples know when they’re buying antique or estate rings?
E.D: They have to be realistic about their lifestyle. People love opals as an engagement ring, but it’s such a soft stone. For some active women there’s no way they could wear one. But others can do it—they don’t do much with their hands, they’re extremely careful.
Do women ever buy engagement rings for men?
P.D: Less often, but it has happened. Usually it’s for a more fashion-y couple.
You meet so many couples—you must have a lot of funny, poignant engagement stories.
P.D: One of the sweetest was a couple where she celebrated Christmas, but he was Jewish. They got a tree, but they didn’t have ornaments, so they put things on it that they found around the house, like costume jewelry, and he put the ring on the tree.
Who needs tinsel when you have fake pearls and a diamond ring?
P.D: We thought it was normal. We have a tree trimming every year and we put up fake pearls.
Say I’ve drunk a lot of Champagne on my wedding day and I can’t get my engagement ring off …
P.D: Take a piece of dental floss or long thread and tuck the loose end under your ring, toward your palm. Take the long end and wrap it tightly around your finger, like coiling it, up toward your fingertip. Slide the ring off. You’re basically compressing your finger.
That sounds brutal.
P.D: It’s that or cut the ring off.
invest in pins “Buy Victorian lingerie pins—they are tiny and great for last-minute fixes like a broken strap or zipper. Or you can put them in your hair.”
Photograph of pins courtesy of Doyle & Doyle.