· Art · · T. Cristina Freire · P. Nuno Almendra

Manuel Portela – Bijoux Anciens

Talismans of Time 

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This is not a conventional antique shop, due to its location, inside one of the oldest and most prestigious luxury hotels in Lisbon. In the cosy confines of the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, there is a small shop where vintage jewellery tells stories of kings, queens, princesses and common folk. The pieces, painstakingly found by Manuel Portela don’t need much space to reveal their splendour and attract the attention of those who prefer to invest in jewellery, some from the 18th century, to wear informally or at a more ceremonial event. If the period of history to which they belong is of importance, the secrets to be unveiled further enhance the desire to buy them, as collector Manuel Portela tells us: «All the pieces that I have here bring together various attributes, they always have an intrinsic value that continues over time, they are always objects of desire and convey many feelings».
We know that years after the discovery of other lands, by brave navigators, Portuguese jewellery included stunning pieces manufactured with stones never seen before. «In the 18th century, we had some of the best jewellery in the world, designed and produced in Portugal. After the discovery of Brazil, many gems arrived in the mother country that had never been used before, both here and in Europe, so the Portuguese took on a major role in the history of jewellery», the store owner explains.
What leads to the purchase of these gems is not always an impulse or the desire to wear something from the past, as Manuel Portela reveals: «There are people who come to Bijoux Anciens because they like pieces with history or because they like to wear exclusive pieces, models that cannot be reproduced, such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels or Boucheron collection pieces, but there are also Rolex or Patek Philippe watches. All our pieces survive beyond time and, increasingly, vintage objects are being valued and sought after around the world. We export everywhere, through Instagram, we are reaching more and more collectors and people who like these kinds of pieces».
In the small space packed with memories, it’s not only jewellery that sparkles, there are also bags that in other times accompanied different moments, journeys, joys and sometimes farewells: «Chanel, Hermès and Gucci are big names in the world of handbags and, here, in the shop, I have some good specimens that are no longer manufactured but that people are looking for, especially women, because they like originality and know the value of a designer vintage piece,» explains Manuel Portela, before adding: «I can see a good investment in these pieces and in the jewellery. This market is growing fast, above all because the limitations of the shop no longer exist. Today, with the Internet, the market has changed and it is very easy to find customers in various places around the world. This market isn’t going through a crisis». 
Here, where each object is a talisman of time, and has certification, the period doesn’t exist, there’s just a passing on of use and the notion that it’s unique, even if two or three have been produced, the symbolic power of whoever wore it grants the piece an incomparable singularity.
Cristina Freire
T. Cristina Freire
P. Nuno Almendra
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