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We're dedicating this week to the kind of fantastical shopping that most of us only get to experience in dreams. Taking a page from casino parlance, we'll be talking a lot about "whales," those big spenders who feel perfectly comfortable dropping tens of thousands of dollars every night on roulette, or, in our case, on Cartier, caviar facials, and Chanel. Welcome to Whale Week 2013.
- 1980s rare Cartier eyewear, featuring its signature screw detail
- Close up of 1980s 18k gold vintage Cartier
- 1940s frames featuring the "riding bow"
- 1940s frames
- 1940s frames
- Hand painted deco Dolce Vita glasses from Italy
- Vintage Moschino glasses
- Vintage Cazal eyewear from the 1980s
- Crystal detail from 1940s cat eye frames
- The original cat eye silhouette from the 1940s
Tucked away in the far reaches of Wellesley Optical, Newbury Street's eyewear specialist, are brag-worthy vintage collections, not even available for sale. Treasure hunting comes with the territory while perusing "the Rodeo Drive of Boston," and the sentiment of wanting what you can't have rings true in this shop. Never-before worn Cartier from the 1980s and jeweler-crafted glasses from the 1940s are among the items kept in the store vault—but don't expect the owner and resident optician, Gerald Kindess, to part ways with the mint-condition pieces.
Though the Wellesley Optical story began in the actual town of Wellesley back in the Fifties, its turning point was relocating to Newbury Street in the 1990s as part of the Euro wave that took over Boston's swankiest promenade, following suit with fellow retailers who carved that niche like Riccardi and Alan Bilzerian. You won't find any Ray Bans here, only the most exclusive designers from England, France, Japan, and Australia (especially popular are the French-made Henry Jullien frames, retailing around $800). The boutique is known for custom work utilizing Kindess's skill and expertise, which can clock in at $1000 or more depending on how much frames must be augmented and the lenses needed.
Current merchandise aside, the real hidden gem at Wellesley Optical is the aforementioned vintage collection. Twelve 18k gold Cartier styles from the 1980s are exceptional—particularly a pair featuring the signature screw motif at its bridge (shown in gallery)—and all of which come with original packaging, which any eBay fan knows ups the ante. Brandon Noel Sicard, the store's creative director, notes that the styles could run for up to $3000 if they were to sell, further proving the rarity of this eyewear.
In addition to the glitzy Cartier, Kindess has held on to a set of 1940s frames which were handmade and maintained by jewelers. The "riding bow" (curved arm) is interesting, as historically people only wore eyewear to read or ride horses, and with such fine production, losing glasses was out of the question. Sicard describes these pieces as "fashion artifacts," and we can't contest that they may be museum quality.
Speaking of museums, the Wellesley Optical duo dubs a cabinet as their "Eyewear Musem," which holds ornately hand painted specs from Italy, a jewelry-like red crystal Moschino pair, and several original cat eye styles from a 1940s brand called Victoria. Got money to burn and an appetite for collectibles? Try and see if you can name the right price for Kindess to sell this inventory.
· Wellesley Optical [Official Site]
· All Whale Week coverage [Racked Boston]