I've often been asked where I find my pieces to sell and often times why are the less expensive than other places.
We started this business as an accident in a way. At first my sales came from selling inventory from a store front business selling rubber stamps, scraping booking supplies that also had classes and we had gift baskets and candles - it was a real chick shop. The husbands liked it because they sat at the cafe tables, drank coffee or smoothies and watched the world go by as they waited.
Then, unfortunately as the elders in the family thin their possessions or pass on, we are left with things that we just can't keep. I ended up with my grandmother's jewelry, and mother-in-law's jewelry, and an aunt who purchased a friend's costume jewelry to help the family, etc. gave me that jewelry to sell too. The jewelry was from the 1920's on. I started selling that and it turned out that was selling better than the larger items which were a pain to mail.... and a business came to life.
99% of what I sell now comes from estates/auctions. I do not like to buy from individuals as you never know where they got it. Did they innocently buy stolen jewelry and are reselling that to me? I have gotten quite a few questions from all over the country over the years asking about certain items I was selling - where I got it - because they had one just like it and it was stolen from Boston, or wherever. Fortunately none of what I have sold has ever turned out to be stolen. I hear it is quite a hassle if it ever happens that it is - even when it is innocently purchased for resale.
I started going to local auctions for costume jewelry. It was sort of hit and miss. I learned that you had to be careful how they stored it. Rhinestones do not like moisture and will gray if they are subjected to cold and warming up where condensation enters the picture. You have to look at the pieces when you can and see if there are signs of exposure to moisture. You want to steer clear of those pieces.
I found that some of the local places I went to either had jewelry that was too worn or the pieces seemed to develop rust quickly which means they were likely stored not in a moisture or temperature controlled area and after a month of having them, when I went back to photograph them for selling - I'd see the beginning of rust or clear stones suddenly turning gray. I decided to try auction.zip and started looking around. I found a place about 100 miles away that seemed to have a decent stream of costume and even some fine jewelry - though at the time, I wasn't really buying much gold or silver other than what would show up in a costume lot.
Every week new photos are posted showing what is coming up in that week's auction. Some times the photos aren't great and sometimes they are - but you start to get a 'Spidey" sense for something good. If I couldn't go to the auction, I would call in bids and they just pay and pick up later. A great relationship developed and now I get most of my pieces from that auction. However, I do like Southwestern pieces too and sometimes in Pennsylvania they are not that easy to find or what you find are knock-offs. So I also found a few places out west where I do the same thing - watch their posts, call in prices, pay, and then it is mailed to me. You have to pay attention however as to their shipping and handling fees as that can put the price over the ability to make a profit. It is fine if you want it for yourself but if you are a business, you must watch that.
With auction houses there is always a premium you pay - a percentage over the price of the item. If you pay 10.00 - chances are there is at least a 10% premium over that making the price $11.00 and - some places charge more or even a little more - like 3% if a credit or bank card is used. You need to keep these numbers in mind to when buying for resale.
The next blog will be things to remember to look at when attending an auction... things I've learned over the years.
It is hard to believe but finally, here in the East, we are having a sunny dry day. The beautiful weather doesn't remind us of what is approaching, but it is time to start thinking about the gift giving season and also accessorizing our fall wardrobe and get ready for those holiday parties with blingy jewelry. I will be running a special sale from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to Friday at midnight (after Thanksgiving). I'm not sure what the sale will be, but it will be store-wide. However, in general I welcome people to notify me if they want to make offers on items - I can't always accommodate the offer but I will if I can. I base my prices on what I pay and most times that is less than market value.
I have over 5,000 pieces in Ebay (under the sellername stampshopgirl or store name Maria's - the one with vintage jewelry. There are several Maria's but when you see vintage you know it's me); Etsy is mariasvintage2.com; and of course this store, mariasvintage.com.
I am stocking all these stores with as many items as I can to prepare for the season and will combine shipping across all of them. there will be true vintage items, fine jewelry and gemstones, as well as some newer items. Never hesitate to get in touch with me. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may get a return from a different email (email@example.com as all my email filters through that.
Happy end-of-summer and early Autumn. Maria
Dragon's breath stones are little beauties - they look like a gemstone - like a Mexican Fire Opal - but they are manmade. It resembles amber that has a fire burning inside. When you move it the orange has a swirled color that looks red and then hints of purple/blue appear like a fire breathing dragon spitting out flames. This is an artisan glass that is used in jewelry but still quite appealing and a gem of a stone in beauty and appeal. I have a ring with three of these stones in the Boho and Sterling Silver ring department of the store. Once you see them, you will always remember them.
There is a 10% discount for every 100. There will be a surprise discount refunded post sale on every sale made during this time - even if it is not $100.00 and for every amount over $100.00 but not up to the next $100.00, there will be an additional surprise post-payment refund.
Floral brooches and themes were really popular in the 1940's. Because of the War, sterling silver became more popular because the base metals were reserved for the war effort. Sterling was often not marked and you therefore have to test it. If you didn't know about the base metals being in demand and sterling being substituted, you wouldn't realize to check for sterling because would would ever think that a plastic blossom on a brooch would be made with sterling. Fabrics were also used in place of rhinestones during this time. Plastics became more popular as well because the European markets were blocked and trade was not possible in many instances. Coro, Napier, Trifari, Carnegie are a sample of who popular makers were back then - and many others too - but once you date a Coro 1940's piece you sort of pick up on a trend. I find that Coro then used a wider metal many times - almost ribbon like and bigger and bolder floral brooches. There is just a look that they had and that you can see when researching Coro (and also that others imitated).
This website: http://www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/2014/12/08/vintage-costume-jewelry-tools-dating/ lays out a lot of information on dating jewelry - not just the 1940's but points you in the right direction for learning more, and more, and more. Studying vintage jewelry is a lot like being a gemologist - the learning never ends. The one thing that remains constant for both gemstones and vintage jewelry is the more you handle, the better your instincts are.
One example is flea markets and online sales that have China and Thailand sterling - while you can get nice clean shiny pieces - if you take one home and test it - you will find that it is not sterling - not even plated. Despite a convincing description of gemstones, they are glass. China and Thailand can put out quality pieces however you will find many sellers inflating the description and the price on stuff that is truly costume and not precious metals or real gemstones.
Other little tips about 1940's jewelry is they do not include lobster clasps unless someone replaced a clasp in repair. You certainly may see pat. pend. or patent pending or even a patent number. Aurora borealis stones also were not around in the 20's , 30's, and 40's so you can rule out those decades as having that type of stone. As was noted before in a blog - that finish on stones did not appear until the mid 1950's. Even when you find a piece that you believe is real - for instance, Miriam Haskell - check the tag and research it online - you will be able to find the authentic versus fake tags and maker's mark - it's no different than the fake Tiffany, Dior, etc. Just because it is vintage, it doesn't mean it is truly the maker it is claimed to be. It takes the time to learn all of these things.
If you are really interested in learning about the jewelry decades the site above has a lot of great references. I have purchased a few coffee table type books that are great research tools as well as fun to look at. You can review old advertising materials found on the internet as well. The pictures are often mixed with great fashion photos and I just think it helps you with creating a memory of what you have read and able to locate in photos - or lucky enough to touch and feel as well. Weight and feel of the piece is integral to developing the instinct of what to look for to authenticate a piece. However, just like gemology - there are many deceptive imitations out there created out of inferior materials at a later time but created with the intent to separate a buyer from their money at a premium price for an inferior product.
First Swarovski created the crystals that were popular in jewelry at the beginning of the 1900's. Swarovski had the cutting and polishing of crystals perfected with his skills and expertise (and equipment) to create these little faux gemstones that took over Paris couture.... and then all fashion houses.
Then, to make things even better - the aurora borealis (AB) finish was applied to rhinestones in approximately the mid-1950's . It got it's name from the northern skies with their shimmering rainbow skies. Christian Dior was, as designers do, looking for something even better and more dynamic than the cut crystals and the other stones that had been used prior to that - the cut beads were the new thing and they needed a new look. A blue coating for lenses had been invented and Swarovski began to apply that to his stones. It took some experimentation with coloring the stones on the bottom with a thin metallic color and then the aurora borealis stone was perfected. This is of course a Reader's Digest versions but roughly it hits the timelines.
These little beauties were then used by designers of jewelry like Coro/Corocraft, Vendome, Juliana and more. These stones were quality stones at quality prices. As time passed, more and more jewelry makers appeared and then, in the 1960's, plastics and other glass stones began to take over and the Swarovski crystal stones faded. The Swarovski crystals are still made the Swarovski way and not the cheaper way of other rhinestone suppliers and you can see the difference when you go to any craft store and look at rhinestones and hold them up to the Swarovski pieces that are sold. There is a clearer brilliance and sharper cut (in my opinion). You can take a new rhinestone piece and compare it to a 1950's or older piece and still see the difference between random glass stones and Swarovski - they have held up over the years.
The purpose of this little blog is that when you are shopping for jewelry with crystals/rhinestones - if you see an old piece that has A.B. stones and it is listed as 1920's - you know you can eliminate it as being that age. The 1950's would more be the age. It can happen that someone takes an older piece and replaces stones with A.B. but that means the piece itself was not created in the 1920's with these stones, it was redesigned with them and the piece still dates to the 1920 but "not original."
And lastly, not all stones that are A.B. are Swarovski - there are plenty cheaper choices out there now - many have facets that are not that sharp, are plastic - so you do have to look but the dating in the 1900s up to the 1940's for A.B. is impossible.
Hopefully this will help one buyer not be cheated - and sometimes it isn't intentional, it is just someone gets their information from a faulty source or listing and copies it.
I have a soft spot for groundhogs. This year I expanded the garden - had to drag huge willow logs to the back yard (thanks to my brother-in-law) to make a 2' wall around the garden to keep rabbits out. Little did I know a groundhog would find his way into the garden. At first I could live with his presence but then, his wife and four children moved in and basically in a few days ate the contents of the 20' by 15' garden. I had very nice cabbages, red beets, carrots, beans - the usual.
I did not know about the wife and kids until a neighbor said they had them in their yard and watched the mother take the babies to our yard for their dining out adventures. No one else in our neighborhood had a garden. Well, as they got bigger, they decided to relocate live closer to the buffet.
A little research shows that they love cantaloupe which is true but they also love watermelon and I'm sure I could put cabbage in their too. We have caught 2 of the 6 and relocated them to a dam where there are woods, water, and mostly no shooting allowed. I want them to have happy homes but just not in our yard. By the way, we have three dogs - beagles - and the groundhogs have no problem living in the yard where the beagles are.
Research will say that groundhogs do not like cat urine so you can put old cat litter at the entrances to their dens however my friends tried that (they live near farms) and they said that forget that - they started with the scooped litter reading that the urine smell drives them away. They noticed the ground hogs dug right through that so they took the fouled litter and guess what? Groundhogs don't care they will dig in it, walk through it, stand in it - so don't go to the trouble of finding litter - it won't work. The trapping works easy but just be sure to be kind - don't put it where they will be caught in the sun all day and check the traps often and move them quickly. Remember to put a plastic bag under the cage - they do sort of stink a little - but release them as quickly and calmly as you can.
Sadly, there are people that put soft unchewed bubble gum out for them. I did research that and it works - they can't digest it or pass it and it kills them. It is a horrible slow process and I implore you not to do that.
They are really cute little creatures but they have serious teeth and claws so do not be tempted to put your finger in the cage or try and pet them - you will lose. Just be kind and caring and send them on their way.
Some towns and boroughs will provide the traps - our Borough does. You leave a deposit but get it back when you return the trap. No purchase necessary.
In the past week I was in a Michael's craft store and at Cracker Barrel and both had their fall displays front and center. Cracker Barrel had Thanksgiving clothing for children and platters and everything else you need for fall - the colors are gorgeous to see and do make you remember how great Fall is - even when it is 97 with 97 % humidity, but I'm not ready for the summer to end - especially since it isn't even a month into it.
However, in the heat if you don't have a pool and are staying inside, why not start your online Christmas window shopping early - that will free up time when the holiday rush is upon us. Bookmarking things you like or buying early gives you a jump on the season instead of making November to December the crazies days.
Stay cool and enjoy your SUMMER. Maria
If you test precious metals using the standard black stone and acid - you can test sterling accurately by using 18kt gold acid. It will turn the area that you have rubbed on the black stone to a milky color after a few seconds. I have also heard you can use 14kt; however, I have not had consistent results with that. I sometimes double check the silver when I feel my silver acid is getting old or if I'm waiting for more to come in. I have never had the 18kt gold test be wrong. I also researched it on the internet and find that precious metal buyers often use the 18kt gold test and find it accurate.
This will just be a quick post.... I've seen decorating ideas where old jewelry - in this case brooches - are used to pin back curtains or drapes. I've also seen old brooches used scattered on drapes, curtains, or a sash in random or arranged patterns. It can be very striking. You can also pin a brooch on a pretty piece of ribbon and then use that to go around a drape to create a "bunched" or pleated gathering - if you can find matching brooches, having it on the two sides is perfect (if you are OCD and need things to be exact). You can also do that for a hair ribbon, added to a scrunchie, etc. It is a great way to keep a memory of a relative close by, and not have their brooch tucked away in a jewelry box and rarely seen.
I used to do flower and basket arrangements too when I had a storefront. I loved the shop (just not the overhead) and putting the brooches into the flower arrangements or a bridal bouquet that belonged to someone special - it was a way to keep them close on that special day. It also filled the "something old" requirement.
This comes in handy accenting a basket - you can use pieces from the past but it also can be a cute butterfly, flower, or bee - or whatever appeals to you. A little soap basket in your quest powder room with a lady bug brooch - or a bedside basket for a guest with mints and a cute little flower brooch - The possibilities are endless. It is a great way to repurpose a special piece but not deconstruct it.