In 2017, Stacey Solovey became the owner of Solovey Jewelers upon the retirement of her mother, and longtime store owner, Traci Solovey. Stacey has renamed the store Solovey Jewelers and Consignment Boutique, as she is now accepting fine jewelry and designer handbags to add to the already lovely jewelry collection for which we have been known for more than 45 years.
In this interview, Stacey offers her expert advice on antique and estate jewelry and how Solovey Jewelers came to be known as the renowned shop for one-of-a-kind antique and contemporary pieces.
Q: What is the best advice you can give customers on purchasing antique and estate jewelry?
A: The best advice that I can offer customers on purchasing antique and estate jewelry is to make sure the piece is not a reproduction. There are many designers making good reproduction jewelry. If people are looking for something antique, then they do not want a reproduction.
Some people think that a piece is antique if it is 50 years old. To be an antique, a piece must be 100 years old. We know at Solovey’s what to look for to identify the repros from the authentic. I suggest asking family and friends for referrals to reputable stores. Yelp is a good internet source to check whether a store is reputable.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about working at a jewelry store?
A: The most challenging aspect about working at a jewelry store is the turn-around time. Customers want pieces polished and sized immediately. It takes time to do the work correctly, and sometimes it can’t be done in a day. The watch repair business is very challenging. Old parts take time to make by hand and customers often want instant gratification. Patience is the key.
Q: How should one go about making a meaningful purchase, such as an engagement ring?
A: A meaningful piece of jewelry should be purchased wisely. An engagement ring should not be an emotional decision. Customers should educate themselves before stepping into a jewelry store. The buyer should look at their partner’s style of jewelry. If the person wears a round-faced watch, then an emerald or princess cut might not be the correct choice. Looking at the metals that the person wears is a good idea. I sell 99% white metals with the preference being platinum. Asking your mate a question about their opinion of a friend’s jewelry can be helpful when making a decision, and one can get a family member involved.
Q: What inspired your family to start the jewelry business?
A: My mother started the antique jewelry business almost 45 years ago. She loved collecting antique pieces. She collected a caseful and then did antique shows. Her taste is impeccable, and she has an eye for what people desire. About 40 years ago, she had a few cases of jewelry in the back of an antique shop in Old Town, Alexandria. She developed a good customer following, expanded her business to include antique and contemporary jewelry and moved to our present location in McLean, Virginia. Solovey Jewelers is a full-service jewelry store, specializing in all kinds of antique jewelry.
Q: What about working at a jewelry store do you enjoy the most?
A: I enjoy working with jittery engagement ring shoppers. I have a talent for calming their nerves! I am also very honest in my opinions, and they feel comfortable working with me. I have been invited to some weddings because the customers turn into friends.
Q: How does one go about getting jewelry appraised?
A: Getting jewelry appraised is a very important decision. If the jewelry is not kept locked up in a safety deposit box, then having the pieces appraised is a good idea. If the pieces are going to be appraised but not insured, then one might not want to go through the process at all. Many people appraise their expensive and sentimental jewelry, and they never insure it. This is not a good idea. All that they have is a piece of paper with important information on the pieces. The step taken to insure the jewelry is the most important step. Googling appraisers with a GIA certification or getting a referral is a must. Do not be turned off by the price of the appraisal. It takes a long time to do a good job, and if the appraisal is inexpensive and quick, it is not going to help if there is a loss. You get what you pay for!
Q: Do you have a favorite gem and why?
A: My favorite gem is tsavorite. It is a beautiful green stone. I love the color green. My bird is the exact same shade as the stone. I see tsavorite in some of the vintage pieces. It is quite rare and not easily found.
Q: Do you have a favorite antique piece that you hated to see sold?
A: I have a few favorite pieces that sold, and I regretted that I put them out in the case! There was a wedding band with very unusual cuts called bullets that went across the top of the platinum band. I also sold a charm that was an enamel house, and I did not realize that it opened and there was a family living inside. A pretend family, of course!
Q: What is the best way to take care of jewelry?
A: The best way to take care of jewelry is to have your stones cleaned and checked every six months. We do not charge for this service, and it is very important. I cannot stress the importance of taking off your jewelry when you bathe, swim, garden, work out or pick up heavy things. All metals can get damaged–even titanium. Never store pearls, coral or opals in a safety deposit box. They need to breathe. Also with these stones, apply perfume or hairspray before putting them on, not after. Wait about 10 minutes. Keep them out of water. I know this sounds strange, but the coating will discolor and wear off.
Q: What about your store stands out among the rest in the D.C. area?
A: Solovey Jewelers and Consignment Boutique stands out among other stores in the D.C. metropolitan area because we carry one-of-a-kind antique and contemporary pieces. We have loose diamonds and fancy cuts. We carry Art Deco mountings and gorgeous wedding bands with colored stones and without. Our excellent goldsmith and watchmaker is on the premises. He is outstanding with the antique pieces. We do pearl stringing. Our appraiser is a graduate GIA gemologist with more than 25 years of experience.
Q: What are the current trends in the jewelry market?
A: The current trends are platinum for engagement rings. The halo mounting with micro pave sides is extremely popular. We also have been selling unusual diamonds for engagement rings. Yellow and pink diamonds are becoming popular and yellow gold is starting to make a comeback but not so much for engagement rings. Pearls have always been popular, and we sell exquisite South Sea pearls and freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings.