VAIL – When it comes to jewelry, everything old is new again. Vintage-inspired designs are at the forefront of every fashion magazine, from the large wooden bead necklaces of the 70s to classic pearl pieces reminiscent of the roaring 20s.Gotthelf’s, My Jeweler, which has operated for 25 years in Vail and Beaver Creek and recently opened a store in Edwards, has merged with Betteridge Jewelers of Greenwich, Conn. The collaboration means more buying power for the small, family-run Gotthelf’s. For jewelry lovers, the merger means access to a large collection of estate pieces. Unlike the designs featured in Vogue and Instyle, which are only inspired by past eras, Betteridge at Gotthelf’s offers the Real McCoy – jewelry that has been worn before and is attached to a story that is almost as romantic and beautiful as the piece itself.Betteridge’s antique jewelry buyer Simon Teakle, who is better described as a treasure hunter, sold the famous Agra Diamond for $7.5 million in 1990. He’s worked in the estate jewelry business for more than 20 years, buying for Christie’s of London before Betteridge.
To make a long story short, the tale of the Agra Diamond begins in 1526 when Babur, son of Omar Sheik (king of Ferghana which is now Turkestan), defeated the Rajah of Gwailor in battle. After his success, Babur sent his son to occupy the defeated land of Agra. His son spared the lives of the slain Raja family, and as an expression of their gratitude, gave him the Agra Diamond, a 32 karat pink stone. The gem then landed in the hands of the Duke of Brunswick to be sold to jeweler Edwin Streeter at an auction house in London. Streeter sold it to an American who was married to a Scottish girl. When the American died, the Agra Diamond was left to the Scottish side of the family. During World War II, frightened by the German invasion of the United Kingdom, the family buried the diamond under an apple tree. At the end of the war, it was dug up and eventually found and acquired by Teakle.”It’s a very romantic and exciting field,” Teakle said, who also handled the exhibition of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection. “It’s the stories surrounding the pieces. It’s somebody giving a gift, which is an extension of the love affair.”Estate jewelry’s popularity is growing, and the reason people love it, Teakle said, is because of its inherent beauty and scarcity. Teakle’s favorite jewelry era is 18th Century English. Teakle said he likes the way stones were cut during that period, not brash, but feminine and delicate.”I like the rarity of it,” Teakle said. “When jewelry was made in this period, you didn’t have diamond minds in South Africa. You didn’t have the degree of wealth around the world you have today.”
Jewelry is an extension of someone’s personality, Teakle said, some people may be understated while others flamboyant. Teakle takes this into consideration when buying around the world from private individuals, estates and auction houses, and he chooses a broad range of styles. The price has to be right, too, Teakle said. A certain piece of jewelry could be a steal at $1 million and others could be priced too high at $1,000. But Betteridge, Teakle said, isn’t about the high-priced items. It’s about the beauty and rarity of jewelry, Teakle said. For Betteridge at Gotthelf’s, Teakle is filling the store with jewelry as diverse as the set of personalities living and traveling to the mountains.”We’re excited about being in Colorado. Many of the clients in Vail and Beaver Creek are clients we already know,” Teakle said. “Sophisticated people go there. It seems to be a natural fit.”Paul Gotthelf, owner of Gotthelf’s and who, with the merger, will be shifting gears to the public relation side of business, said the collaboration was about taking his jewelry store to the next level.
“Vail is changing in such a dramatic way,” Gotthelf said. “Vail Village will look completely different in the next five years. If your not proactive, you’re the second guy in line. With the bigger guys coming in, it would be tough to stay on top.”Gotthelf said Betteridge affords him to bring bigger and better lines of jewelry into the store, but he’s most excited about expanding into the estate jewelry market.”It’s not just beautiful pieces of jewelry, it’s pieces of history,” Gotthelf said.
Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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