Some things are worth keeping for the long haul. Collectors know this.
Quality plays its part. Something well-made is worth hanging on to, no matter the fashion of the age.
A great custom suit, a pair of hand-crafted shoes, a tie made the old-fashioned way, with intention and a deliberate hand. These things are far from disposable. They endure and they remain.
But if you ask a collector, wherein lies the value of the things they collect?
It’s the story. The history and the lineage. The narrative thread.
Story is everything.
We talk a lot about heirloom pieces. A custom suit that you’ll pass along. Quality is important, but the reason it has heirloom status is quite different. Why did you choose that fabric? Why that pattern? Why those buttons? Where were you? What shape had your life taken when you first wore this jacket?
That’s part of your story and you can’t throw that away.
For that reason, we’re proud to partner with Turned Treasure Vintage. Curating a collection of antique jewelry and accent pieces, Turned Treasure carries the flame and knows the story. Every cufflink. Every tie-bar. Every ring. Everything came from somewhere.
Everything has a story.
In this interview with Lucas Kappler of Turned Treasure Vintage, we take a look at the passion behind collecting indisposable things … and the stories that drive us.
TC: First, tell us what Turned Treasure does…
Lucas: Turned Treasure Vintage searches for unique and interesting items that have a history. We mainly deal in jewelry however we have bought and sold everything from antique typewriters to a human skull from a doctor’s estate. Our goal is to connect people with their past and get them passionate about preserving and appreciating history through our finds.
TC: Where did you grow up?
Lucas: I grew up on the East Coast in South Jersey. The town next to where I grew up was founded in 1682 so there’s this great history to the area. You could go into the woods near my house and find overgrown foundations of incredibly old houses and even a rotting Model A Ford with a tree growing through it!
TC: How did you come to start collecting jewelry?
Lucas: I didn’t realize until much later that I had been collecting jewelry since I was two or three. Before moving out West I found one of my treasure boxes filled with coins and junk but in the bottom were a few of my Grandmothers rings my Mom thought she had lost years ago! I guess I’ve always had an affinity for jewels and didn’t even know it!
TC: Can you tell us the founding story for how you created Turned Treasure?
Lucas: That really starts with the name of the company. Turned Treasures was my Grandfather’s Nutcracker making business for many years. He would turn the bodies and parts on a lathe and then paint and decorate them by hand. He made wizards, leprechauns, chimney sweeps, and even West Point Cadet nutcrackers that would be given to graduates of the academy. My grandparents really inspired my love of things antique as their house was filled with objects from all over the world. My grandfather was an Army Engineer and they moved and traveled often. I thought the name worked perfectly for our company in a very different way that still honored where it all began.
TC: You personally wear a lot of jewelry. Do you see jewelry as an under-utilized fashion accessory for men and women?
Lucas: I do indeed! Typically 6 rings, a cuff, and a wristwatch. That has built up over time. I started out with just wearing one ring, then a watch, then a few more rings, and so on. It’s a much an accessory for me as it is free advertisement. I’m constantly stopped by people asking where I found my rings so I just hand them my card and say “Me!”.
I think that jewelry is under-utilized by both men especially however it is starting to have a comeback. This resurgence of an appreciation for mens fashion has quickly become more mainstream in these past few years and I see no sign of it slowing down. Men are really caring about the quality of what they wear again and with that are starting to appreciate those small touches and accessories that had fallen out of favor. Jewelry is a key factor in that. I think, for men especially, the reason jewelry is under utilized is because they don’t have access to it. There used to be entire floors of department stores dedicated to men’s accessories. Now you would be hard pressed to find more than a few pairs of cufflinks and tie bars on the shelves, other than in a bespoke suit shop. I would love to play a part in changing that and making all of those accessories available again. You can completely transform and elevate an entire outfit just by adding in a french cuff, collar stay, or lapel pin. Those are the things that ,to me, really bring an ensemble to a new level.
TC: What is the actual process to finding your jewelry?
Lucas: There is no one single way we find our pieces. However my favorite approach is to search at local estate sales on the weekends. When a family member has passed, or someone is downsizing a large home, people typically have a company come in a sell the contents. I have found some amazing things this way from a 1910s suit that fit perfectly to gentlemans entire collection of Masonic jewelry that included hundreds of cufflinks and tie bars. It is always a thrill no matter where we are hunting because you truly never know what you are going to find.
TC: Has there been a favorite moment from your curation and estate sale searches?
There was a family run estate sale a few years ago. The couple was in their 80s and moving into a small apartment from a big ranch style house. They house was filled with things from the 50s to the 80s so it felt like stepping into a time capsule. We pulled a huge pile of vintage clothes out of there. While we were packing up the guy, an old grizzled mechanic, noticed a photo that had gone into our pile. It was him and his brother in marching band back in the late 50s. He said had to keep that because his brother had recently passed away. I realized that in the pile of clothing I had found two awesome 1950s jackets with a marching band logo on the back. I pulled them out and gave them to him. He got really choked up because he and his brother had personalized them with their names and images drawn all over them. He had completely forgotten about them for 50 years. He was so happy to have that memory back and it meant more than anything I could have sold them for. That was definitely one of the most fulfilling moments for me.
TC: Do you have a favorite time period or era?
Lucas: Certainly. The 1920s-1940s. If consider that to be the peak of classic men’s style. The shape of the suits was very flattering to any body type and the use of tasteful but extravagant patterns and colors is something that I feel has been lost over time.
TC: How do ensure authenticity of pieces you collect?
Lucas: It takes a lot of research and time to develop an eye for the age of a piece. Aside from being marked with a company name or date the construction and style of jewelry has changed over time. Putting all these clues together helps me date and authenticate pieces.
TC: Has there ever been a piece you found that you just couldn’t sell?
I have a gold and synthetic ruby ring that was one of my first big finds. Even as my taste has changed it’s still my favorite piece. I’ll never sell it as a reminder of when I started doing this.
TC: What’s your “holy grail” of jewelry collecting and antiques? What are you most hoping to come across in your searches?
Lucas: There is an early 20th century company called Ostby Barton with a really neat history. They made some of my favorite rings including one in silver with solid gold snakes wrapped around a stone. It’s fantastic! Coming across new old stock pieces, things that were never worn or sold, is something that always excites me. The pieces are in perfect condition and look like they did sitting in a haberdashery a hundred years ago.
TC: What are some tips for beginning to incorporate jewelry into one’s wardrobe?
As with anything, start small. This way you can figure out what you like and what works for your style. Maybe a simple sterling silver tie bar now, and then a collar stay and art deco stick pin down the road. Always try new things and experiment to figure out what works best for you. The jewelry should enhance your look not overwhelm it!
TC: Finally, tell us about the collection you maintain at the Tailor Cooperative shop?
Lucas: For Tailor Cooperative we are focusing on incredibly unique and stylish pieces. The curated collection focuses on Art Deco, Southwest, Mid Century, and artisan jewelry all while trying to convey the history of the pieces. It’s showcasing my rarest jewelry finds that you’ll probably never see a duplicate of in your life. With that comes the exclusivity of owning a one of a kind piece that will really take an excellent suit from TC to the next level.
TC: Any last thoughts?
Lucas: I’m very excited that we can collaborate with such an amazing company. It’s always been one of my goals to work with like minded individuals to share the amazing history of the pieces I find. I can’t wait to see where it takes us!
We’re proud to have Turned Treasure’s collection on display at Tailor Cooperative, and we invite one and all to visit the shop.