Omnēque is a new luxury online jewelry retailer and magazine designed for those who adore high-end second-hand jewelry. The site searches and meticulously examines beautiful unique pieces from houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Bulgari, as well as fine examples of fashionable costume jewelry from Tom Ford, Chanel and Dior, among others. All other weeks Omnic launches themed drops, and each one is unique and quick to sell. Jewelry experts Vivienne Becker and Joanna Hardy are on board curating the collections and talking to Forbes.com about this exciting project.
The secondary market is rather saturated with online sales, especially now that there are more jewelry auctions online. How is Omneca different?
Joanna Hardy: There may be a lot of second-hand jewelry online, but having pieces that have been reviewed and chosen by guest curators and curators with expertise in the jewelry industry will provide added assurance and a helpful guide so the public can buy with confidence. .
Vivienne Becker: Omnèque is more personal, more intimate and much more than just a marketplace. He specializes in antique and vintage jewelry, which already sets him apart, and then the offering is personally curated or invited by me and Joanna Hardy. We are both passionate about the history of jewelry, we know the trade well, and we want to open up the somewhat secret world of antique jewelry dealers and resale to a wider audience. Additionally, Joanna is an expert gemologist and she carefully checks each item for integrity, authenticity and quality of materials, gemstones and craftsmanship.
What have been the biggest challenges in sourcing parts?
Hardy: The only challenge is Covid. Without displacement, all items had to come from the few dealers who are still operating in London, as each piece must first be seen by the curators.
How do you approach curation? The first drop was gold – what can we expect from future drops?
Becker: We have a wonderful time selecting jewelry that we love, that has stories, style, great craftsmanship, often by interesting manufacturers or important Maisons, but not necessarily. We would like to encourage buyers to choose what they like, what they instinctively respond to, without having to rely on a signature. Over the past decade there has been a lot of emphasis on 20th century signed jewelry, or signed jewelry in general, but there are some great pieces of jewelry, from all eras, that are not signed – they often represent a very good value.
How do you see costume jewelry rubbing shoulders with high jewelry and fine jewelry?
Becker: Personally, I love costume jewelry and I wrote the first history of costume jewelry. However, this is a very different purchase from antique fine jewelry, a different customer, for the most part. Yet it’s always about jewellery, costume and fashion – so often wildly creative, quirky and so evocative of their moment. Omnēque is all about antique and vintage jewelry, style, craftsmanship, storytelling, and that applies to fashion and fine jewelry as well.
The platform has robust customization – what are customers looking for the most?
Hardy: Quite often people go for a style they may be familiar with, but there is a whole world of fabulous jewelry out there and proper curation will introduce people to styles and designs they may not be familiar with. As Diane Vreeland said, “You don’t give people what they want, you give people what they don’t yet know they need.” And that’s what Omnēque will deliver.
Becker: Well, we hope we can do all the legwork and verification work for the customer who likes to treasure hunt for antique jewelry. We hope they are looking for style, refinement and above all, I think, a jewel of intense individuality to express their personality and their values.
Which creators are creating the most buzz and fetching the highest secondary market prices?
Hardy: Usually, unique signed pieces will always sell for high prices. Why? Because they are well made, well designed and don’t remind you of anything similar.
Becker: Period jewelry from the great heritage houses is always desirable: Cartier, Boucheron, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, but also Mauboussin, Janesich, Lacloche; then the individual designer-jewelers of the 20th century – Suzanne Belperron is the name to be mentioned at the moment, Boivin too, since Belperron worked for Boivin; the Schlumberger original is sought after, and now 60s and 70s jewelry and jewelers – Andrew Grima leads the pack, and in recent years much attention has been drawn to Georges Lenfant’s impressive goldsmithing, l Parisian goldsmiths’ workshop, which made jewelry for the big houses, and triumphed in the 60s and 70s.
Which designers are the most underrated and/or overlooked?
Hardy: Today we are inundated with people calling themselves jewelry designers, especially now with the help of CAD. Call me old fashioned, but I still expect a designer and/or maker to know what makes good jewelry. So people who spend time learning their craft are usually people who don’t have the time or the resources to market themselves. Hopefully Omnēque will close this gap.
Becker: I feel like unsigned jewelry is the most underrated… Look for style, quality, craftsmanship and not just a signature.
Will the site focus on signed or unsigned pieces?
Becker: Definitely both – We just choose what we like, the strongest jewelry from each era and each style. Charm and charisma matter to me above all else.
Who is the ideal client at Omnèque?
Hardy: Anyone who values individuality, craftsmanship, good design and doesn’t follow trends.
Becker: A curious customer.
To see the collections, visit Omneca online.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.