You squint from the glare, and after a few blinks you start to make out a world of treasures unlike any you've seen before. Look left and see pieces that conjure images of Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn, and to the right are jewels fit for the neck and lobes of Cleopatra herself. Welcome to Neil Lane, a Beverly Hills institution whose namesake is synonymous with fine vintage jewelry adorned by Hollywood's A-Listers (Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Charlize Theron, to name a few). I had the pleasure of dining with Neil at the LoveGold Golden Globe Luncheon before going to visit his store with the LoveGold team. While there we caught up on his past, current inspirations and a rare gold piece he is longing to acquire.
All collectors and store owners rely heavily on their gut when finding a true vintage piece. It was one such experience that jumpstarted Neil's love affair with gold. At just 16-years-old, he moved to Paris to pursue his passion for jewelry. While there, he spent a modest $600 for his first vintage gold ring, the fascination of which inspired him to become further interested in filigree and Edwardian craftsmanship. This became the foundation for becoming one of the greatest collectors and designers of our time.
Upon meeting Lane, his intimate connection with his gold jewelry becomes immediately apparent. He suggests that the fundamental undertone to collecting is to choose pieces that draw you in and stir emotion. Neil says it's critical to find a gold piece that is "worthy of love and passing down," because it will carry an "intrinsic sparkle" to which men and women alike gravitate. "It's magical," says Lane. Before long, it becomes clear that it is in fact Lane's unique clarity with this emotion that fuels his one-of-kind taste.
Asking Lane what is next on his acquisition wish list is like asking the MET for its dream exhibition. The possibilities and dreams are endless. However, Neil has high-hopes of one day owning a special piece made by the Renaissance master Cellini and commissioned by the dynastic House of Medici, and possibly the Roman Goblet that Cleopatra may have used in the legendary "Pear Earring Banquet." The world is truly his oyster.
As you exit Lane's slice of heaven and history, your mind wanders in amazement between the stories, the knowledge, the emotions and the jewelry. Any would be noteworthy on its own, yet Lane weaves them all together to form an eye and, in turn, a collection for the ages.
Find out more about my discoveries and whereabouts with LoveGold this past week here as we unravel more experts, their hidden gems, and the best of the best pre-Golden Globes in Los Angeles!
Photo by: Donato Sardella/WireImage