A New York jewelry institution, Fred Leighton was originally opened in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in the late 1950’s by New York native, Murray Mondschein, before becoming the venerable dealer in fine and estate jewelry situated on the Upper East Side as it is today.
In the late ’50s, Mondschein purchased an imports boutique filled with diverse Mexican imports including crafts, silver jewelry, colorful clothing, and very beautiful all-white or all-beige, cotton wedding dresses. He named the store after its former owner, Fred Leighton.
Within a short time, Mondschein dropped the Mexican tchotchkes altogether and focused on fine jewels, moving the now very chic emporium uptown to a prestigious Madison Avenue corner.
From the Beladora Archives: Fred Leighton Diamond, Onyx and Seed Pearl Tassel Necklace in 18K
His clientele grew and so did the inventory. The establishment had some of the most stunning and unusual pieces, all under one roof, including important bijoux from the 18th and 19th centuries; the Edwardian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods; as well as Retro, Mid-20th Century, and even contemporary jewelry. Fred Leighton was the go-to source for elite estate jewelry buyers and also stylists eager to borrow jewelry for red carpet events, a practice that became ubiquitous. Mondschein legally changed his name to Fred Leighton in 1986, cementing the legacy of both his store and his life’s work. In 1998, Leighton opened an outpost in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
In 2006, Leighton sold his business and in 2009, the company was purchased by the New York jewelry firm, Kwiat Corporation, the current owners. The destination shop still maintains an eye-catching estate inventory, including some extraordinary, one-of-a-kind diamond and platinum engagement and wedding rings, many using stones appreciated for their old-world cuts.