The Jewelry Starter Set

The Jewelry Starter Set

The five essential pieces of jewelry you can’t live without.
The five essential pieces of jewelry you can’t live without.

C lients often ask me, “Where do I start when building a collection?” Indeed, the auction calendar can be overwhelming. With our combined sales of Magnificent Jewels and Fine Jewels, Sotheby’s will offer nearly five hundred pieces in June. And that’s just in New York!

What you need is simply a bit of focus. These five key pieces are the building blocks for any great jewelry collection.

Statement Necklace

Look for something that stands out as a unique piece, while still expressing your own personal style. This does not need to be an everyday piece, but something that makes you feel really special. You may only wear this necklace several times a year, so make it count! Unmistakably David Webb, this fabulous necklace incorporates a number of classic Webb elements including carved jade, cabochon rubies, hammered gold and Pre-Colombian and Chinese motifs. 

View 1 of Lot 528: Gold, Jade and Ruby Necklace |  David Webb | 黃金配玉及紅寶石項鏈
David Webb
Gold, Jade and Ruby Necklace | David Webb | 黃金配玉及紅寶石項鏈
Estimate: 40,000 – 60,000 USD

Bold Gold Bracelet

Now this should be your everyday, go-to jewel. A chunky gold bracelet, whether a link bracelet or a cuff, not only goes with anything but elevates even the most casual outfit. And a gold bracelet is the perfect “signature” piece, since you get to look at it all the time, unlike earrings and necklaces. This beauty by Verdura has such a clever design: an all-gold interpretation of their traditional gem-set Maltese Cross cuff. Never take it off!

View 1 of Lot 493: Gold 'Midas' Bracelet |  Verdura | 黃金 'Midas' 手鐲
Gold 'Midas' Bracelet | Verdura | 黃金 'Midas' 手鐲
Estimate: 25,000 – 35,000 USD

Cocktail Ring

The concept of the “Cocktail Ring” came about in the 1920s, during Prohibition. Meant to be worn on the same hand that held your illicit cocktail, its whole point was to demand attention — perfect for today’s “look-at-me” culture of selfies and social media, and especially timely given the return of the speakeasy! A cocktail ring must be large, colorful and sparkly, and this example by Oscar Heyman ticks all the boxes: It's centered by a spectacular 22.53-carat yellow sapphire, and surrounded by a happy array of rubies, emeralds, sapphire and diamonds.

View 1 of Lot 180: Yellow Sapphire, Colored Stone and Diamond Ring
Oscar Heyman
Yellow Sapphire, Colored Stone and Diamond Ring
Estimate: 30,000 – 50,000 USD

Diamond Earrings

Yes, of course, you can wear your everyday diamond studs. But why not add something more exciting to your collection? A diamond drop or chandelier earring is the investment piece that stands on its own, bringing light and life to its wearer’s face. Nothing is more classic and elegant than slicked back hair, a little black dress and a dramatic diamond earring. Simple, but always sophisticated. This gorgeous pair by Harry Winston features briolette diamonds, adding their own particular brand of sparkle and movement.


The brooch is definitely back. The most versatile piece in your collection, a well-chosen brooch can be worn in your hair, at the waist, high on the shoulder or in the center of a low neckline. Think past the lapel of your jacket! I’d go for this emerald and diamond stunner by Cartier, from the 1920s. Imagine this treasure from the past worn as a buckle on a satin belt or tied with a ribbon for wear as a bracelet. A fantastic, versatile piece with endless possibilities. 

View 1 of Lot 472: Emerald and Diamond 'Harmony' Brooch, Paris |  卡地亞 |祖母綠配鑽石 'Harmony 胸針,巴黎
Emerald and Diamond 'Harmony' Brooch, Paris | 卡地亞 |祖母綠配鑽石 'Harmony 胸針,巴黎
Estimate: 150,000 – 200,000 USD

Jewelry Luxury Week Frank's Files

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