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Vintage Luxury from Susan Caplan

By Amanda Evans 7 Minute Read

Susan Caplan reveals how her passion for antiques and sustainability inspired her to create her globally renowned luxury vintage jewellery brand.

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As the leading curator of vintage jewellery, Susan Caplan celebrates faded grandeur. Alongside her passion for reinvigorating the past through the revival of vintage jewellery, is a determination to harness sustainability and encourage conversations about its importance, whilst presenting ways to elevate any look in a responsible manner.

We had the pleasure in catching up with Susan who shares her fascinating story of how Susan Caplan, the brand, came to fruition; her vision for the future, and why welcoming vintage into your jewellery wardrobe, and wearing a slice of history, is not only magical, but is also a step in the right direction to a more sustainable way of living.

We welcome our luxury brand partner, Susan Caplan.

It appears that your upbringing within a family of antique collectors has had direct influence on where you are today. Could you tell me a bit more about who, or what, has inspired you to continue with this family legacy?

My parents were avid antique collectors, my Mother dabbled in buying and selling at Bermondsey Antiques Market, while other family members had stores in London’s Camden Passage. Another Aunt had a store in Hatton Garden’s silver vaults, and my cousin Laurence Mitchell is one of the world’s leading authorities on Meissen porcelain.

I was brought up in an architecturally designed house in the 50s by the revolutionary architect, Walter Segal. With a kitchen personally designed by Terence Conran, the house was ahead of its time. Along with parquet floors throughout and floor to ceiling picture windows, it was adorned with an eclectic mix of antiques with contemporary furniture. Georgian Credenza’s and Arne Jacobson chairs, a range of eras beautifully blended.

Having all of those influences surrounding me gave me a taste for beautiful things to which I owe this passion to my Mother.

When we think of vintage, immediate thoughts are those that decorate the places in which we live, as opposed to the jewellery that adorns ourselves. What led you to narrow your focus to vintage jewellery and launch Susan Caplan as a brand?

After travelling the world at 21 whilst working on the QE2, I began selling antiques, including vintage jewellery, and found that I was especially drawn to the jewellery. I knew I loved the individuality of it so I wanted to offer this to others so they could enjoy wearing these slices of history. I never envisaged starting a brand at that stage but I saw a gap in the market and jewellery was an organic progression for me. My namesake brand then launched in 2008 as a selection of curated collections for luxury department stores that created synergy between vintage and contemporary style, confirming that vintage fashion could be luxury.

Since then, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such loyal support from the media and fashion industry which has contributed to our brand’s success. Our collections have graced the catwalks and covers of many publications with Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn wearing Susan Caplan on the runway and Claudia Schiffer, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa all seen wearing the brand. With Beyoncé and Adele separately gracing the cover of British Vogue in Susan Caplan to Rihanna being a loyal supporter since the outset.

I wanted to offer this to others so they could enjoy wearing these slices of history. Susan Caplan – Founder and Owner

Could you tell us a little more about your company vision?

When I started selling vintage jewellery I didn’t have a vision. It was simply a hobby that led me to start selling. I was bringing up a family so being business minded wasn’t something that entered my thoughts as I initially didn’t realize you can do both successfully.

As time went by my vision was to create a brand that was aspirational in order to highlight the synergy between vintage and contemporary. It also had to be synonymous with authenticity and above all be sustainable. All of these key points set the tone for the company vision today and I am proud to say that we are the leading curators of vintage jewellery in the UK.

Most people celebrate the ‘new’ – what is it about vintage jewellery that you find so fascinating?

Jewellery introduces you before you even speak, and it says a lot about someone’s personality. However, the craftsmanship, design, extraordinary detail and individuality of vintage jewellery is what makes it even more prized and significant. There is the social history too and as a culture we are fascinated by objects that have a past with so many stories behind each piece. There is something quite magical and mystical about a piece of jewellery from an era gone by, it always makes for a topic of conversation!

Jewellery introduces you before you even speak.

Reinvigorating the past through the revival of vintage jewellery makes sustainability a key component of your business. How important is this to you?

It means everything to me. It is impossible to ignore what is happening to our planet so creating a circular brand was key for me from the outset. To reuse the resources and materials that are already in existence goes a small but important way for our children and grandchildren. It is a key component of what drives my passion for vintage jewellery.

What key quality and condition criteria does the jewellery need to meet to be deemed as suitable for resale under the Susan Caplan brand?

We follow our 3 C’s - credibility, craftsmanship & condition.

‘Credibility’ is ensuring its authenticity by establishing if the piece is original. For example, ensuring that the markings bear the correct signature of the designer.

‘Craftsmanship’ is ensuring that the design was correctly executed for that period by reviewing key components for example, the weight. Crystals can be a sign of good craftsmanship too as they should be sparkling and highly faceted. Intricate detail and meticulous artistry is always distinctive with vintage designer jewellery.

‘Condition’ is understanding if the piece is in its original condition or if there have been any repairs. Reviewing the back of the piece is just as important as the front as it should be made to perfection too.

Do you have a favourite brand or piece of antique jewellery, and what is it about this piece that excites you?

Jewellery should bring you joy. I don’t have a favourite brand as each brand’s look varies between the different periods and each era has its own style. For example, Christian Dior’s 1960s pieces are free flowing, feminine and ethereal contrasting to the chic but bold designs of their 1980s collections.

However, one individual piece that stays in my mind was the Versace harness that we had in the collection. It was a standout runway piece. It was truly extravagant embodying the originality and luxury that is associated with vintage Versace. A piece not easy to wear yet it sold very quickly to a high-profile celebrity.

How do you find new pieces and are there trends within the vintage jewellery market that you seek synergy with?

From years in the industry I have built a brilliant team of buyers and contacts that I work with to ensure our collections are extraordinary. These relationships I have nurtured over the years and so they truly understand the vision for the brand and our aesthetic. For the brand, it’s crucial that all vintage collections represent impeccable quality to ensure our pieces tell the story of craftmanship from a previous period.

In terms of trends, we look around to see how our lifestyles are shifting but in parallel it’s about having an eye for a piece that encapsulates magic, craftmanship, and longevity to ensure our pieces carry you from one season to the next making it less about a one off trend and more about continuity and timelessness.

What are your aspirations for Susan Caplan - the brand - moving forwards?

By continuing to rethink how we do business, pushing conversations and pushing boundaries to drive more responsible choices whilst offering exceptional service and product to the customer.

We are currently stocked overseas but another part of our future strategy is to continue to grow globally.

For those with a jewellery wardrobe that lacks any vintage pieces, how would you inspire them to introduce vintage jewellery into their ‘new’ collections?

It’s important to educate where possible so I would encourage conversations about the importance of sustainability. I would also reiterate that vintage jewellery is the best way to elevate any look in a responsible manner and choosing key quality pieces that can be used season to season is key for every wardrobe. Aside from this, vintage jewellery tells a story as it’s had a previous life so hopefully this will encourage a new way of shopping.

Vintage jewellery is the best way to elevate any look in a responsible manner.

Discover more vintage luxury from Susan Caplan here at Goldsmiths online or visit us in store at one of our showrooms where our jewellery experts will be delighted to help you find the perfect piece.

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