The Adventurine Posts Levi Higgs’s Windows at the Winter Show

Levi Higgs working on his window installation at the Winter Show. Photo

Jewelry News

Levi Higgs’s Windows at the Winter Show

The jewelry expert takes us behind the scenes and explains his design process

by Levi Higgs

March 31, 2022—As the frigid ground thaws, and the slanted afternoon light grows a bit longer, one thing will always remain true during this wondrous seasonal shift: New Yorkers love antique shows. Poised as a time for reemergence, after a long winter of omicron and gloomy weather, the social scene of art, antiques, and jewelry is about to burgeon once again. After a few months of delay from its usual January slot, The Winter Show is breaking new ground at the old Barney’s Flagship location at 660 Madison Avenue, and will be open to the public from April 1-10.

            Walking through the dark and abandoned Barney’s was rather bleak, but knowing that within a few short days, the space would be transformed into a multi-floor gallery of some of the best art and antiques from around the world was heartening. I was prowling the floors and traversing the stationary escalators for one particular reason; I had been asked by The Winter Show to design and curate their jewelry windows, flanking the main entrance on Madison Avenue.

Levi Higgs working on his window installation at the Winter Show. Photo

I was told that a handful of renowned interior designers had been chosen to design the larger windows, styled as immersive rooms with mirrors, rugs, tapestries, chaise lounges, and objets of all sorts, but my windows were slim and square, mere shadow boxes for displaying some of my favorite jewels pulled from the exhibitor’s offerings. The overarching theme of the other windows had been decided to be “Rejuvenation,” and with The Winter Show renamed (In Spring!) I set off to hone my vision, without being too “Florals for Spring? Groundbreaking.”  

From the inside looking out at Levi’s eggs in his window display at The Winter Show. Photo Levi Higgs

Over the years I have collected quite a grouping of props that I frequently use for styling or photographs, that lend themselves well to jewelry. Looking around my apartment for inspiration, I came across the recurring theme of eggs that has somehow proliferated itself through all my antiques and display objects. My partner Mark and I have been diehard collectors for years, and our only rule for whether something may enter our home or not is always “is it beautifully crafted and worth acquiring?” One of the eggs we have in our collection is a faceted glass egg made of the most interesting teal blue glass, with a swirl of bubbles inside. We’ve had it nearly as long as our relationship, over eleven years, and it came home with us from a long forgotten antique shop in Washington State.

Reverse painted crystal with a bird set in a brooch from James Robinson. Photo Levi Higgs

A kindred spirit of egg collecting is Kostas Anagnopoulos, owner and proprietor of Pidgin, a beautiful antique and curiosity shop in Oak Hill, about two and a half hours north of the city. We are frequent visitors and customers there, and Kostas generously loaned the largest wooden egg and stand in the display window from his collection. Pidgin is one of those pure places that constantly refills itself with both the immaculate and profane, but you can always tell each object is chosen with the utmost care to be grouped amongst the glory of the whole vision of his shop that always feels completely preserved out of time.

            Other eggs featured in the window are painted wooden children’s toys, aluminum scent holders, a brass egg by Carl Auböck, and even a real speckled ostrich egg. Mixed in amongst the eggs is a small selection of our treenware collection, which is an antique form that consists of turned wood objects that become cups or pedestals in their own right. The oldest amongst these is from the 18th century.

Detail of a Victorian micro mosaic brooch from James Robinson. Photo Levi Higgs

Now, with the pillar of “eggs” confirmed for my windows, I began reaching out to the jewelry exhibitors for any and all jewelry that fit within my theme. I asked for birds, wings, feathers, nests, flight of any sort. I wanted the jewelry to be the life of the window, born forth from the eggs, and the jeweled birds flocked to me when I put out the call.

            James Robinson met me halfway with two of my favorite types of jewels. Reverse painted crystal, and micro mosaics. I’m in love with Victorian jewelry, and these pieces are rife with symbolism, with much the same vocabulary as the language of flowers. The circa 1885 crystalé brooch nestled in its nest of painted wooden eggs features a goldfinch on an oak branch, vibrant within its gold frame. The micro mosaic brooch depicts two swans-a-swimming, and lilies of peace picked out in multicolored tesserae of glass.

Reverse painted crystal with a bird set in a pendant necklace from James Robinson. Photo Levi Higgs

Kentshire offered a stunning and powerful gold Cartier cuff with falcon heads, Simon Teakle gave a fabulous 1964 yellow and white diamond feather brooch by Pierre Sterlé, Paris, and a small but sturdy golden Giacometti pendant from Didier Ltd., amongst a few other surprises. One of the most striking is the sterling silver and opal entwined peacock cloak clasp offered from Macklowe Gallery, an art nouveau masterpiece by Georges Fouquet.

            Other jewelry exhibitors include A La Vieille Russie, Koopman Rare Art, Les Enluminures, S.J. Shrubsole, and Véronique Bamps. The night to be at the show is absolutely Young Collectors Night, on April 7th, so make sure to reserve your tickets as soon as humanly possible!

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