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HIGHLIGHTS


A conversation with men of Antiques

A conversation with men of Antiques

27 June 2016

The 33rd Hong Kong International Jewellery show 2016 organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) was a treasure island for buyers and connoisseurs alike. Booths in the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Extraordinary were not to be missed, but it was the Antiques Hall that stood out. Not because of its extraordinary presentation, but rather because it was bustling with buyers and sellers. Quite clearly, a place of business. Our editor Jeta B conversed with antique dealers Roberto Capra and Gilles Zalulyan.

ROBERTO CAPRA
ROBERTO CAPRA
Precious Jewels, New York

Born and raised in Italy, Capra learned the business of dealing in antique and vintage jewellery in Hatton Garden, London’s famous jewellery district. Moving to New York in 1992, he founded his own business Precious Jewels. Today, he has built strong relationships with some of the biggest stores in the US and worldwide.

A busy booth in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is my best performing market. I have been coming here for fifteen years now, and I have a strong and devoted clientele as a result.

Do you trade online?

I would rather meet and see my clients face to face. I believe in personal relationships. I do very little online. We are selling unique pieces of jewellery, after all, not potatoes by the pound.

Is the Asian market slowing down?

Slowing down is relative. In Hong Kong, for example, it means the speed has been reduced from 300 miles an hour to 250 miles an hour.

What do you buy/sell?

Mostly one-of-a-kind signed branded pieces by Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bulgari etc. I mostly buy in the US, with 80% of my business coming from shops, dealers and auctions, and 20% from individual collectors.

You are a one-man band?

You don’t have to have a big operation, just know how to find the right pieces. The great thing with antique dealers is that we share knowledge, that’s why you see us popping in and out of each other’s booths.

A piece you kept for yourself?

An old papal ring, nothing of great value but I’m a Catholic so it is personal. I often ask my wife if she wants to keep something, but she tells me to sell it and bring back the money instead (laughs..).

GILLES ZALULYAN
GILLES ZALULYAN
Palais Royal, Paris

A native of Paris, Gilles is a third generation member of a family of jewellers and started working with antique jewellery at the age of thirteen. In 1996, together with Tom Korpershoel, a second-generation jeweller, they founded the Palais Royal Paris at the prestigious antique centre in Paris - Louvre des Antiquaires.

A busy booth in Hong Kong?

We are known and trusted here. In 2013 we opened the first store in Hong Kong to offer European high quality antique and signed vintage jewellery. We are probably the only antique jeweller based in New York, Paris, Hong Kong and soon Shanghai.

Do you trade online?

We don’t really put our new pieces online as we like our discovery to be a surprise.

Is the Asian market slowing down?

It is not slowing down anywhere in the world, if quality is what you are after. I see the medium quality market ending soon. Asian customers may have been taken for a ride in the past, but they are ripe now and want the right pieces from a knowledgeable dealer.

What do you buy/sell?

European and North-American pieces dating from the 19th century up to the 21st century made by the major jewellery houses, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron. Also museum pieces like René Lalique, Fabergé, and objets de vertu.

You work in partnership?

Yes, with my co-founder and friend Tom Korpershek we exchange expertise before purchasing a piece. We also have a special Cartier vintage department where we work with Olivier Bachet, an expert currently writing a book solely on Cartier pieces.

A piece you kept for yourself?

I wish I did, many of them... but they are in good hands now.

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