Each year, for five days from the end of January to the beginning of February, about nine hundred antique, jewelry, and fine art dealers converge inside the Miami Beach Convention Center. The result is the largest indoor antique show in the world. The scale at this year’s event was overwhelming, especially since this was my first visit to the show. However, I wasn’t on the hunt for any acquisitions myself, and happily got to digest it all over the course of several days.
While there was a huge variety of objects for sale, 19th and 20th century Continental European antiques, silver, art glass, and jewelry were particularly well represented. There was very little furniture. Most booths focused on small, portable pieces. Individual dealers’ offerings ranged from the eclectic assortments, to the curated offerings of a honed eye, to the unbelievably specific: booths devoted entirely to bookends, silver plated napkin rings, or vintage eyeglass frames.
Perhaps surprisingly, price points also spanned the gamut. Small ceramic and glass pieces were going for under $100. The most expensive piece I noticed was an unmounted diamond with an asking price of over $2,000,000. I’d like to know if it sold.
Beyond the objects themselves, the show was a great place to people (and dog) watch. I saw chic Floridians trying on colossal cocktail rings alongside seasoned buyers hoping to fill the gaps in their collections. I was particularly interested in the dealers buying and selling to one another. Several pieces that started the show in one place had migrated across the hall by the third day.
Many of the dealers are extremely knowledgeable and eager to discuss their merchandise. I would recommend the show to anyone who loves the idea of browsing through high-end antiques all day.
If a trip to Florida isn’t in your plans, you can always find great antiques at an auction preview at Skinner. The next European Furniture & Decorative Arts auction will be April 6, 2013 in Boston.