Six Pieces Every Jewelry Collector Needs

by | Apr 9, 2020

What constitutes a “serious” jewelry collection? Do you have to spend a certain amount of money? Do you need to incorporate specific brands or signed pieces? What pieces are needed to establish the foundation for someone who wants to become a true collector of jewelry?

We spoke with Elizabeth Anne (Beth Anne) Bonanno to get some practical tips on some key pieces that every collection needs. Beth Anne is the Founder and President of The EAB Project, a luxury brand development agency that works with contemporary designers. Prior to launching The EAB Project, she “cut her teeth” in the jewelry industry working with Siegleson, a third-generation estate jewelry house that specializes in rare and collectable jewelry. For the past century, Siegelson has bought and sold some of the greatest examples of jewelry, and has loaned more than one hundred works to more than twenty-five exhibitions across the globe. In order to advance the success of the house, and effectively represent jewelry and collectables of this caliber, Beth Anne needed to develop in depth knowledge of the history of important jewelry houses, as well as a comprehensive understanding of historically relevant pieces, collections and collectors.

Diamond Earrings

Selections in this category are incredibly diverse, satisfying a wide variety of style sensibilities. Classic studs or diamond encrusted hoops can be perfect for every day wear, while diamond clusters or natural colored diamonds are suitable for a more eccentric style. Diamonds are timeless and captivating, which make them a key component of any serious jewelry collection.

Diamond/Cocktail Ring

Separate and apart from one’s engagement ring, a diamond-centric cocktail ring is an important staple that offers a lot of freedom to express one’s personal style. Gemstones are also a great way to add flair with a pop of color, and one’s choice of color is an intensely personal decision. Whether you’re repurposing a family heirloom, or investing in a new (to you!) contemporary or estate piece, make sure to focus on a piece that speaks to you. According to Bonanno, “Rene Boivin or Suzanne Belperron are wonderful choices for a unique ring that will say something powerful about who you are as a woman and why you collect.”


Every collection needs a great timepiece. Depending on your aesthetic, Patek Phillipe is a great option, while Cartier and Rolex are classics that will always be valuable and collectible. For those looking outside the brand box, an enamel 1920’s bracelet watch is so chic and always a great conversation starter! Bonanno advises that, when selecting a watch, choose something that you can see yourself wearing every day.

Alternative Earring

A non-hoop, not stud earring such as a “Bubble” or “Turbo Shell” earring from Seamen Schepps, button earrings or classic gold Bamboo from Cartier, or something similar, is another great staple. An earring like this can be paired with a plain t-shirt and jeans for an instantly chic look, or can be dressed up for any evening occasion.

Long Necklace

Because of the limitless ways you can style an opera length necklace (30” or longer, depending on one’s body shape), this is a must-have piece in any serious collection. You can wear a lengthy necklace doubled up, alone, layered, or add a pendant to create a personalized style statement. Diamonds-by-the-yard, a string of beads or pearls or a lengthy link chain are all fabulous options within this category. Says Bonanno, “Hermes, Verdura and Seaman Schepps are fabulous choices for that classic link, and anything vintage Italian for the bigger link. But also look for a house that isn’t as well-known but speaks to its time. As an example, Mellerio dits Meller is a Paris-based house that is 400 years old and has created some very coveted pieces.”

A Bold Statement Piece

Think unique and a great conversation piece like a brooch (which can be worn in the traditional way, pinned to the lapel of a jean jacket, or worn in your hair), an interesting cuff bracelet, an interesting cigar band ring, or a collar necklace. Beth Anne adores Van Clef & Arpels’ vintage zodiac pendants, but she’s quick to point out that pieces do not need to be signed, “I’m a fan of antique gold matching bracelets. Something micro-mosaic from Castellani could take you down one road, or an Egyptian revival piece can take you down another road.” Whether new (to you!) or a family heirloom that has been passed down for generations, a statement piece creates opportunities for a serious collector to talk about one of her favorite subjects….jewelry!


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