Vintage clothing never really goes out of style— it simply fades in and out of vogue for decades at a time until certain styles are embraced by the public once again. Vintage jewelry, however, has always been sought after, but mostly by older, fine antique collectors and avid estate jewelry gleaners. Part of this divide is due in part to public perception that vintage jewelry belongs to another time and generation, and is usually too expensive to afford.
Enter Brooklyn Bleu, a vintage jewelry seller that has been slowly amassing a following for its inventive integration of classic gold and silver pieces into contemporary fashion for the modern gal (or guy!). Owned and operated by Tenisha Light-Caba, the New York-based vendor is bringing one of a kind, rare pieces from various eras to showcase how retro jewelry can accentuate any outfit and unlock one’s personal confidence. “Our theme and mantra is ‘fierce, fabulous and fun,’” Light-Caba says. “Every woman has a bit of those variables in her life and lifestyle.”
Having sold exclusively online and at Artist & Fleas market in Chelsea, New York before bringing a pop up to the Top Shop in New York, and their first retail store at the Oculus inside the One World Trade Center, Brooklyn Bleu will be doing a limited pop up at the Market @ Macy’s, at the Westminster Mall this month. The Market is a curated vendor boutique that brings products from well-established and up-and-coming brands in a unique marketplace setting.
Light-Caba’s own connection to vintage jewelry started as a child growing up in the Bay area, when her grandmother would give her some of her own clothing and jewelry to sell. Light-Caba’s other grandmother would enlist the sisters to polish and clean her jewelry with ammonia and a toothbrush. Both experiences were formative, as it instilled in Light-Caba an entrepreneurial drive early on, and taught her discipline and to secure perfection in whatever she did. An avid thrifter, Light-Caba and her sister would later start a vintage clothing collection in their teens that later evolved into a successful belt accessories brand, Girlfriendz.
Fast forward to her post-college life, when Light-Caba moved to New York to pursue her career in college advising and nonprofit management. On the weekends, however, she sold some vintage clothing and accessories from her own collection, but received tons of demand for her jewelry pieces, which she decided to start selling exclusively at flea markets. She eventually started the Brooklyn Bleu brand in 2010, with the first showcase at her very own brownstone apartment.
To find the most interesting, ornate pieces for BB, Light-Caba sources all of her items from collectors with whom she’s built close working relationships for years. Many of them bring original, rare, old stock and never-worn wholesale items still in precious condition. “Everything that comes into the brand is going to be in top condition,” Light-Caba says. “We aim for everything to be flawless— that’s what our customer has come to expect. Anything I’m looking for the store is what I want for myself.”
Shoppers who visit the Market @ Macy’s will see pieces from Brooklyn Bleu’s Dainty and Re.fresh collections, as well as some from the Gatsby and Statement collections. The Dainty series is themed around minimalist and feminine gold pieces; Re.fresh offers bracelets, earrings, and necklaces that has been dipped in either 14K gold, rose gold and rhodium plating for a fresh new look; the Gatsby’s pieces are shiny, jewel-encrusted ‘40s and ‘50s glamour jewelry that would fit in any old Hollywood look. The Statement’s pieces are bold, metallic chunky and geometric pieces that call attention to the wearer. The best part is that they’re all offered at relatively affordable price points, between $25 to $45.
For the fashion-conscious among us, vintage jewelry doesn’t just deliver a brand new addition to our wardrobes; it also tells a story and connects the wearer to memories of the matriarchs in their lives, giving them an added element of femininity. “When you see these pieces, you see history. People walk into the store and feel like they can see their aunt, mother and grandmother,” Light-Caba explains. There’s also the element of sustainability: buying older, recycled items made out of durable materials that will last for a lifetime helps reduce one’s carbon footprint.
This Saturday and Sunday, Light-Caba herself will be present at the Market @ Macys from noon to 3 p.m. to present styling demonstrations to help customers envision the best ways to wear them out. Otherwise, check out the pop-up in person at the Westminster Mall until November 3.
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers film and previously contributed to the OCW’s long-running fashion column, Trendzilla. Don’t ask her what her favorite movie is unless you want to hear her lengthy defense of Showgirls.