Designers know a good thing when they see it, and Brazilian antiques are now leg-to-leg with some very exclusive company. "They’re so bold, graphic, and architectural-a nice counterpoint to sleek modern furniture and quiet antiques," says Elissa Cullman of Cullman & Kravis. "And the inlaid pieces mix well with American folk art," she adds. Compared to prices for its European cousins, Brazilian baroque scores again.
And there’s no need to play the name game. "The pieces aren’t signed," Hurrell reports. Instead, collectors learn about the three "noble" woods-cedro (cedar), vinhático (no English equivalent), and jacaranda (rosewood). Among the most prized woods in the world, jacaranda ranges in shades from dark-chocolate brown to violet black. "Even the drawer sides and bottoms are made of rosewood," marvels Hurrell.
But it’s what’s on the outside that appeals to nascent collectors. "The Brazilians were using hardwood 100 years before the English discovered mahogany," enthuses the British-born dealer. "Brazilian carvers had more time to practice."