Kavador, a new online marketplace that boasts an enviable collection of new, estate and vintage jewelry, is a site that should be on every fine jewelry lover's radar.
After its launch in November of 2015, Kavador is quickly garnering attention for its curated selection of unique jewelry pieces from brands like Tiffany's and Cartier. The Kavador team travels all over to hand-pick pieces from some of the world's top independent jewelry vaults, selecting pieces for up to 60 percent off of the traditional retail price.
We recently spoke with two of Kavador's founders, CEO Jennie Pastor and CMO Michelle Reeves, to get the scoop on the brand. The ladies even divulged some of their exclusive tips on how to select and wear the perfect piece of estate jewelry. Read on for our interview with the ladies of Kavador.
Fashion Times: What is Kavador?
Michelle Reeves: Kavador is a new way to shop for curated fine jewelry. The best way to think of this is that there are over 18,000 independent jewelry stores across the country and if you're someone who is looking for something that's not mass-produced, it's quite impossible to visit all of those stores. That's where we come in.
We like to think of ourselves as treasure hunters. Our Kavador team keeps busy searching the vaults of jewelry stores across the country -- ones that are filled with beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces. We are hand-selecting the best of those pieces: We inspect them, we authenticate them, we work to the industry's highest standards from the GIA. Then we list them online, ready to sell.
The pay-off is that we get the [pieces] up to 60 percent off retail price. We're kind of like the matchmakers of fine jewelry.
FT: What inspired the company's inception?
Jennie Pastor: My family, which actually has over 40 plus years of experience in fine jewelry, ran independent stores in the U.S.
This all really came about when Michelle and I were talking about two things: The issues that independent fine jewelers are facing as a small local store -- what is their best online strategy, how do they take advantage of the growth in online sales -- and we also looked at it from the consumer aspect of what the current options are for purchasing fine jewelry. That's when we came up with the concept of Kavador.
Simply put, Kavador is a new marketplace that makes finding beautiful and one-of-a-kind pieces easier, and we sell them at the best price.
FT: Who is the "Kavador Girl?"
Michelle: Whenever we talk about the "Kavador Girl" she is someone who is unafraid to speak her mind. She is unafraid to follow her own voice. She knows that trends come and go, but she believes in what looks good for her. It's really about tapping into that little part of all of us.
We like to experiment with all kinds of different ways that the Kavador Girl can enjoy fine jewelry. We really believe that it's not just about special occasions. Diamonds last a lifetime, as do rubies, sapphires and jade. Why not enjoy those everyday?
FT: Do you have a process or a criteria you use when you select the fine jewelry? Does it just depend on the pieces?
Jennie: We typically meet with retailers, talk through our process and then they'll send us information on the pieces they've got -- what precious metals they use, what stones -- and then they'll send us images.
If, at that point, we think it looks interesting, then they'll ship those pieces to us and we'll have our team of valuers assess each piece. Then [they] create a base evaluation report which details all the information about the piece so that when you do purchase through Kavador, you will receive that report that tells you everything about that piece -- the age, where it's made, it's hallmarks, the designer.
From there, we'll photograph it and put it on the site. It's very much a process of understanding what they have in their vault then deciding if we think it's going to be a piece that will fit in our collection.
FT: When it comes to investing in estate jewelry what's a good first piece to purchase?
Michelle: It really has to be a piece that you love. Because today, we have a lot of mass-produced jewelry. You see a lot of designers going after the same kind of style and shape and sometimes they're quite definable.
That's the great thing about estate pieces or vintage pieces -- you didn't have that mass-production back then. Typically, they're one-of-a-kind. If you find that one piece, you're never going to find it again.
FT: As a first-time fine jewelry shopper, are there things to be on the lookout for? Is there a certain decade you should be looking for?
Michelle: It truly is what speaks to you. We get asked this question so often. So out of all of the pieces we've curated, I've put together a jewelry capsule collection of what I would describe as the 'must-haves' for spring and summer. But it's certainly not meant to be the bible of what pieces to always get.
There are actually five things to look at if you're about to get started ...
Pearl earrings reinvented. These are not the standard, cliché "Stepford Wives" pearls. These are pearls that come in an interesting setting or with an accentuated detail. I like to think of them as the Ladies Who Lunch with a lot more edge. So we have a couple sets of pearls, the Barrymore or the Quincy earrings.
Second are stackable rings. I like to have a mix of metal, not just all gold or diamond stackables. So you've got gold and silver, then you choose a palate of gemstones.
I think the easiest to match to any wardrobe are citrine and diamonds. That way when you layer them all together you have a mix of golds, yellows and whites.
What I really love is that it looks like you traveled the world to find that perfect mix of stackables. Each one is unique, but together they're a beautiful collection. It has that understated, decadent look. And they're so practical. You can wear stackable rings all day everyday.
The third is big, big bold rings. You've gotta have you're one go-to pointer finger or middle finger ring that's your power punch, if you will. It's great with jeans and a tee but it's more about never leaving home without it. You walk out the door and it's the one piece you know everyone will notice. It can be a big blue and purple one, or it could be a huge black onyx.
That's a great one for across the ages. If you look at the early 1900s, you could make a really beautiful statement with a very interesting deco ring. Or you can look to the '70s and the '80s, where there were really simple designs but with powerful color. It's hard to pick one era over another because they're both very unique.
The fourth thing would be a brooch, but not as you would expect to wear it. Brooches are all for the hats. It's the easiest way to add luxury and to make your hat stand out. I feel like we live in a fashion era of the fedora wars. One little brooch can, all of a sudden, elevate what is a typical fedora.
The final thing: When it comes to necklaces, long necklaces never go out of style. Layering long necklaces always has a place in the wardrobe. You can wear them long and hanging in the front, or you can wrap them several different ways.
I love what Jennifer Lawrence is doing right now, she is bringing back the draped back necklace. You take a long necklace, or even some short necklaces, and wear them backwards. It looks so dramatic and yet very effortless.
I even saw someone wearing that with a turtleneck. You couldn't see anything in the front and it was all about the back. It looked spectacular.
FT: It can be daunting trying to incorporate fine estate jewelry pieces into your wardrobe. Are these still pieces you can wear on a day-to-day basis, or should they be regarded as family heirlooms and only worn for rare occasions?
Jennie: The thing with estate pieces are that while they do last a lifetime, you still have pieces that are over 100 years old. You don't want to wear a ring that is over 120 years old while you're washing the dishes. There is a fragility that does come with time. It's just the nature of how things are made.
But I don't want that to make people feel afraid of wearing those pieces. So while I would suggest you don't wash the dishes in them, go ahead and wear them everyday. Wear them when you're out at brunch or coffee, whatever it is that you're doing in you day-to-day life. You just need to be aware of the wear and tear on a daily basis.
Those deco pieces, frankly, some of them cost less than our very fancy designer handbags. You can get a lot of wear out of these jewels than some of our favorite designer bags.
And these pieces will be items that you can potentially turn into a family heirloom and hand down to future generations.
FT: What's one fine piece of jewelry every woman should own?
Jennie: If it had to be a specific piece it would be the big bold ring, because you see your hand all day. You see it while you're driving, you see it while you're texting. You can look down at any point and admire that piece of beauty that's on your hand. You can make it seen, and you can see it, throughout the day.
Michelle: I think every woman needs to own a "wow" factor. Look at your jewelry collection, and really assess it from the point of, "If I had to get rid of every single piece, which is my one 'wow' piece?"
If you can identify it, great. Take it out and wear it more often. If you can't identify it, go and indulge and get yourself one. You will not regret it. That "wow" piece, it could be earrings, it could be a ring, it could be a bracelet.
As women, we love shoes because it doesn't matter how much we eat at Thanksgiving. Our shoes are always going to fit. With jewelry, it's the same. It instantly picks you up, it makes you feel like a million dollars. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and you're having a tough day, you didn't get any sleep -- but you put on that "wow" piece and walk out the door -- you shine. I think women deserve to feel that way.