One of the reasons why I so enjoy living here: in early winter, this poster was taped to a phone pole just steps from my door.
It reads, "Tell me. Has something bizarre, curious, intriguing happened to you? Phone 514-819-0203 and leave your message anonymously."
Go ahead, call! Here's my story.
Several days before my W., my former husband, and I married, I gave him a small, 18k gold pin, a replica of Flash Gordon's rocket ship.
I'd found it in a boutique run by an exotic couple who wore wafty
semi-robes and seemed to have but fourteen exquisite
things for sale at any time: some jewelry, a few objets, silver, a painting. The place shuttered less than a year after opening, which wasn't surprising; with so little on offer, how could they
survive? W. wore the pin on his jacket lapel; when we parted, he left the pin behind.
I threw the piece in a jewelry box, where it lay for a good 15 years. One day, browsing an outdoor art show, I noticed that one of the artisans, Mr. S., had an identical pin on his vest. "Oh", I said, "is that one of your designs? I bought one many years ago, but in gold."
Mr. S. looked at me closely and said, "I only ever made one in gold; it won a prize, but then was stolen from my studio. Could you describe the person you bought it from?" I had no trouble remembering the sloe-eyed man in robes. "I knew it was him!" the artist said, "but I could never prove it."
I phoned Le Duc and asked if he would retrieve the pin from my jewelry box and join me at the show; within the hour, the stunned artist held, once again, his prizewinning piece. I wouldn't accept payment, but he insisted I choose a pair of his earrings.
I almost wish that I still had the pin, but returning it felt right. If I were buying a bijou curieux today, I might choose one of those below. Every jewelry collection, from modest to major, needs at least one unusual piece. Nearly always, I find they are antique or at least vintage.
Vintage German Art Deco ring; $388 from Etsy seller TheLovelyJumble
Vintage silver cat and mouse pendant by Joanna Lesley Thomson; now sold; from Etsy seller BeautyandtheBeadsUK
Antique Victorian diamond and enamel snake ring; $1, 450 from Beladora
Mark Davis vintage Bakelite and pink sapphire bracelet; $2, 390 from Twist
You might also find an idiosyncratic and charming treasure for much less.
A few months ago, I found a curieux, intrigant necklace when I strolled past a small consignment store. The proprietor said it had been bought in Geneva by a traveler, but because of the hieroglyph carved on the blue wooden bead and the characteristic materials (copal, carnelian, agate), I am guessing it is Middle Eastern.
Then there are the jumble sale or thrift scores; readers and friends have found striking silver and amber, turquoise or art glass pieces for a few dollars. I haven't shared their luck yet, but it's always such fun to hunt!
Every now and them though, I see a serious jewel of such originality that I just bow down before its idiosyncrasy. And so it is with this ca. 1950s diamond compass ring. What is the story here? Who made it? I'm swept into its spell. (Price, $25, 500 from Fourtuné, on First Dibs.)