Written by Will Thompson 

Photos by Callie Broaddus 

“At its core it’s a business of memories and celebrations,” says Carolyn Cutshall, an owner and operator of The Cozy Fox Estate Jewelry. “Whether it’s a vintage piece or a piece that we’re making new, we’re celebrating people’s relationships, remembering loved ones, and celebrating new milestones.”

The Cozy Fox Estate Jewelry is a division of Hunt Country Jewelers, a 45-year-old family business that has been designing and hand-making jewelry since 1977. The welcoming storefront on Purcellville’s East Main Street prides itself on being a family jeweler and has helped countless couples find their perfect engagement ring. For many, the Cutshall family is a trusted partner that has done the same for their parents, and even their grandparents.

About three years ago, Cutshall recognized a need among clientele for a consignment estate division after fielding a steady line of questions about how to purchase antique and vintage pieces, as well as how to value and sell pieces that were part of estates and inheritances.

Today, unique vintage and antique pieces of varied time periods and styles sparkle from the locally designed and built display cases that line The Cozy Fox’s interior. Their impressive inventory includes all of the necklaces, watches, bracelets, and earrings that one might expect to find at a jeweler, as well as unique finds like antique purses, beaded and precious metal compacts, silver serving ware, and an entire collection of Russian black lacquer pins. For a couple searching for their dream engagement ring without the environmental impact of buying something newly mined or mass produced, The Cozy Fox offers a dazzling assortment of vintage and antique estate rings including diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and other gems.

Marking an engagement with an estate ring avoids fueling demand for mining new stones and metals, an industry that causes environmental degradation, including deforestation and industrial chemical pollution in some of the world’s most pristine ecosystems. Mining also raises ethical concerns around human rights transgressions and the devastating impacts on the natural resources of surrounding communities.

As Cutshall explains, many people may be surprised to learn how environmentally friendly Hunt Country Jeweler’s practice is. All of their pieces are individually handmade using recycled gold from previous pieces. Hunt Country resets stones that are family heirlooms and recuts gems that have been chipped. Even their new gemstones are sourced from mining operations that are well-known to this family-owned business as being ethical and as having as little environmental impact as possible.

Choosing estate jewelry from The Cozy Fox takes an already sustainable and ethical jewelry practice a step further by using no newly mined materials, opting instead to extend the life of a piece that is ready to commemorate one of the happiest memories of a couple’s life.

Vintage and antique rings come from an era of quality craftsmanship including hand fabricated or die struck methods. Many pieces may be finding new life 100 years after they were first made, and may have 100 years of life left to give. Because estate pieces were never — or are not currently — mass produced, the recipient can take pride in knowing that no one else will have an exact copy of their dream ring. The uniqueness of an estate piece extends to the stone itself. Many estate diamonds and gems are of antique cuts, and have a different kind of performance and sparkle than modern-cut jewels.

Estate rings offer potential savings too. Pricing estate rings takes into account that these pieces were previously loved and may show some wear to a trained eye. An estate ring priced appropriately may allow someone planning to pop the question to bring a gold or platinum ring into their life, set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires or emeralds, at a fraction of the cost of buying a new piece.

Considering all of the benefits, estate jewelry is an elegant option for those who hope to find an engagement ring that is unique, made to last a lifetime, economical, and above all, ethical and environmentally friendly.

Each estate and vintage piece tells its own story. Its stone and craftsmanship are unique to a distinct era in history. Its glitter reflects both the memory of its previous owner and the hopes and dreams of its new wearer. “Estate pieces tell the stories of our lives, our joyous events, and our memories… the things that we spend time and resources to commemorate. That speaks to who we are,” Cutshall says.

A couple searching for the perfect ring to commemorate their engagement may find that The Cozy Fox’s estate pieces hold value beyond the shine of gold and the sparkle of a diamond. They hold the promise of working toward a brighter future by giving new life to a piece of history.

The Cozy Fox is accepting new consignments and offers clients free consultations regarding their estate and previously owned pieces. ML

This article first appeared in the February 2022 Issue.