In the heart of South Street Seaport in New York, above the Pasanella & Son Vintners, Rebecca Roberston walked us through her expansive home—at least by urban standards. The space looked like a wonderland, complete with vibrant couches, gilded knickknacks and even a tent in the middle of the room. Considering that Roberstson is an interior designer and was the former decorating editor at “Martha Stewart Living,” it wasn’t surprising that her home would be remarkable. Indeed, it imparted an old-world sensibility, yet felt uncompromisingly modern.
The same sentiments could be applied to her incredible jewelry collection. Divided into four categories, the pieces are distinct per se, but they are also cohesive and meld together seamlessly. The way in which these baubles are expertly curated shows how Roberston knows more than most about antiques and great design. “I studied fine art at The Museum School in Boston and Interior Design at Parsons School of Design in NYC,” she tells us. “Both of my parents are antique dealers so I grew up going to flea markets, auctions, and antique stores.”
With all this experience and knowledge, Robertson wrote a book, “Collected: Living With The Things You Love,” for would-be collectors who, like her, are enthusiastic about assembling their own treasure trove.
How has working as a design editor and interior designer affected your passion for collecting?
I have gotten to see some of the most beautiful objects and met the people who collect them—and they have inspired me to live with collections of my own.
How did you begin your jewelry collection?
I have been obsessed with jewelry since I was old enough to wear it! I remember my Aunt giving me the pick of her jewelry when I was a young girl. Each piece had a story and each was beautiful. She let me choose as many pieces as I wanted—it was thrilling. I went on to study jewelry making and have always loved rummaging for vintage pieces. My collection has grown over the years. But I am always editing it. I read once: keep things that reflect the style you want to have.
What was the first special piece of jewelry you purchased for yourself?
It was a TK ring I bought after I signed the contract for our book. I found it at the Brimfield antique market after days of hunting and haven’t taken it off since!
For those looking to start collecting jewelry, what would you tell them to look out for? Where and how should they start?
Get inspired and do your research—online, books, and other collectors, dealers, Pinterest. That way you get a sense of what is out there, what speaks to you and, if you are interested, what it is worth.
How has collecting jewelry affected your personal style?
I like to change the mood of classic fashion pieces with my jewelry. A black dress worn with bangles piled up both arms looks dramatically different than one draped with a pearl necklace.
Who are your style icons? Have they affected the way you choose pieces for your collection?
Iris Apfel, a fashion icon and interior designer, is one of my favorites. I LOVE how she layers her jewelry. Recently, I had the opportunity to buy one of hers and now wear it along with a few of my own. I don’t have quite her courage but I am working up to it!
What led you to write your book, Collected: Living With The Things You Love?
We wanted to share the joy of collecting and inspire others to live with and display their collections—and what better way then to create a book.
Your book describes 15 types of collectors. Which one are you?
Oh boy, I’m a few. Definitely a Containerist—which may explain my handbag collection!!