Shop Vintage Jewelry Treasures at This Stunning Newbury Street Exhibition

What’s it like to wear a piece of history? Tiina Smith’s new vintage jewelry and fashion exhibit has the answer.

A deco-era Van Cleef & Arpels brooch featured in Smith’s new exhibition has timeless appeal. / Photo by Travis Rathbone

There’s never a wrong place or time for jewelry, but something about an afternoon spent in collector Tiina Smith’s elegant, light-filled Newbury Street salon makes her assemblage of vintage treasures shine that much brighter. Since opening her store last fall, Smith has offered an ongoing rotation of expert panels and talks aimed at educating her customers—and anyone who likes shiny things—about the finer points of fine jewelry. And as if we didn’t already have enough reason to linger, just last month Smith embarked on her largest endeavor to date: a full-fledged exhibition, “Jewelry as Fashion as Jewelry,” right in the store.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Smith has merely set up a few rings on velveteen pillows and called it a day, though—when she says “exhibition,” she means it. To oversee the project, which runs through the end of November, Smith enlisted fashion historian and former MFA curator Michelle Finamore—perhaps best known for putting together 2019’s smash-hit exhibition “Gender Bending Fashion”—who combed through Smith’s collection of 20th-century jewelry, pairing a number of key pieces with vintage clothing from her own network of archives.

Tiina Smith prepares for her new exhibition, “Jewelry as Fashion as Jewelry,” at her bright Newbury Street gallery. / Photo by Mona Miri

There are, however, profound differences between what you’ll see in a museum and what you’ll see here. For Finamore, it was a breath of fresh air to work in the “very immediate and approachable” gallery setting. “One of the issues you have in museums is that you can’t really put fine jewelry on display unless it’s secured or in the context of a glass case,” she says. “But here with Tiina, you don’t have those boundaries.”

Getting up close, after all, is half the fun with these pieces. A half-dozen mannequins outfitted in period dress and accented with Smith’s pieces showcase design synergies and crosscurrents that transcend decades. A Hammerman Brothers diamond lariat necklace from 1990, for instance, works seamlessly with a 1920s flapper dress, while a sculptural 1950s couture gown looks like a piece of jewelry itself when accented with a 1960s Tiffany & Co. aquamarine brooch. “One of the most enlightening things was seeing pieces in Tiina’s collection that relate to fashion but have never been displayed in a fashion context,” Finamore says.

The best part of this exhibition? Unlike at a museum, every last bauble can be brought home—for the right price, of course.

Things We Love 

Photo by Jeff Antkowiak

1 Chanel Fine Jewelry amethyst-and-tsavorite flower ring, $15,500.

Photo by Jeff Antkowiak

2 David Webb coral-and-emerald link necklace, $75,000.

Photo by Jeff Antkowiak

3 Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. pink tourmaline-and-diamond ear clips, $28,000.