by Andi Teran
Any great stylist will tell you: The simplest of outfits can undergo a complete metamorphosis with the addition of one sensational accessory. Former 26th Street Flea Market vendors, Rachel and Steven Cooper of the shop Pippin (named for their King Charles Spaniel), get this idea completely. They stock their cozy Orchard Street address with an outstanding rotating collection of estate jewelry and new-old stock recovered from cluttered basements and attics as well as auctions up and down the New England coast. They happily divide their time between New York City and western Massachusetts, where they're based, and are forever on the hunt for one-off jewels with histories as vibrant as their gems.
Tiffany lamps inside the store cast a seductive glow over walls lined generously with beaded necklaces. Cabinets are stocked full of prim satin clutches and shelves showcasing every kind of precious pendant you can imagine. Among the treasures are pirate ship lockets and Marie Antoinette-inspired brooches mingling with silver skull earrings and Rat Pack money clips.
Steven adamantly abides by the motto "I will not buy new." And that's it. He doesn't. He demonstrates this by swiftly retrieving a collection of elegant 1950s studded collars from one of the Art Deco cabinets toward the back of the store. They are pristine, delicate, and still in their original packaging. "Old, but newÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦100% vintage," he says.
The couple are far from decade discriminate. They point out everything from feminine Victoriana necklaces to turn-of-the-century gentleman's pocket watches, "all in perfect working condition," Steven adds. "We offer repair service, too."
Sitting inconspicuously on a bead-strewn wall is a 1970s owl necklace—the accessory of every mass-market clothing store this fall. This silver pendant, however, with its etched owl resting beneath a gold moon, looks as if it could have been the original inspiration. Inscribed on the back is "Happy Birthday. 1975" and a price tag, shockingly, lower then its faux-gold, retail counterpart. Just like all of Pippin"s pieces, the cost of such a distinctive accessory with a good story to tell is, you guessed it, priceless.
Pippin is located at 72 Orchard Street, 212-505-5159, www.pippinvintagejewelry.com .
Photographs by Hamish Robertson
Whether it's a great auntie's cameo or grand-dad's cufflinks, adorning oneself in vintage or estate jewelry always adds a bit of oomph to the everyday dressing routine. Perhaps nobody knows this better than Pippin, a shop that specializes in all manner of sparkling baubles from the past, just right for the present.