Over the years that I have collected vintage jewellery, I love the big rhinestone brooches and necklaces of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
When my husband and I decided to start buying antique and vintage jewellery to sell, the learning curve for both of us was steep. From the start, it was always vintage costume jewellery that we were interested in.
What age is the piece, designer, condition, interest and price???
We source from sales, auctions, shops and from private collections. We also have brought many reference books on antique and vintage jewellery, cameos, bakelite, Avon, Sarah Coventry and other designers - building up quite a reference library.
During our buying, my husband and I were presented with many pieces of jewellery that were in need of restoration or for reuse.
Necklaces that needed re-stringing, bits missing from bracelets, stones missing from brooches and bent earrings. Gradually we amassed a small collection that we had mistakenly brought. Brooches that had a stone missing that we had not noticed on purchase. Clasps that did not work and other pieces of jewellery that needed repair. Already having replaced stones in my own jewellery, we were able to restore many of these pieces but some were not restorable. The choice was to throw them away or sell a job lot on eBay!! I hate throwing anything away so opted to recycle as much material from each piece and then sell for jewellery making. So we often use them in jewellery making projects and repairs.
Slowly Jewels and Finery emerged. We have a vision of a large site that has not only old and new jewellery but jewellery supplies that have been recycled. Also buttons and associated vintage accessories. With this, we also thought a large amount of sewing, craft and jewellery making books would be appropriate to use. We both love old books. The pre-war ones are so interesting. How to make was much more in vogue and so the information is much more detailed. We have lost much over the years with being able to buy new as much that is made does not last. And people used to recycle not as now just throw away.
Antique and vintage beads and findings are sorted into boxes. Then as with the buttons they are sorted into type, cleaned and bagged. Jewellery is dismantled first. Again as with the vintage buttons as the web site supplies grow and as we source more beads. We can match up the same beads over a relatively short time and then offer a larger amount per bag. Sorting takes place into special boxes with small compartments for storage.
We do collect all sorts of children's beads and other kitsch items (more on kitsch in another blog soon)
In the last few weeks, we have prepared about 100 or so packs for the website. Glass, plastic, wood type, seeds and metal. Lampwork and faux pearls to name a few. Mark and I have great fun identifying the material and how to describe the colour and shape!! Who would have thought paint colour charts would be handy!!
Unlike new items that come from the wholesalers with a description of sorts and the material, class etc on the bag. The beads were antique and vintage are not so easy to identify material and the actual shape. A large collection of lampwork beads were a challenge, they looked like animals or fish but not quite. How do you describe these!!
From the beads came findings such as metal spacers, clasps and other jewellery parts. In the findings section we have listed buckles as they were in the grandmother's button tins and we have sourced some antique ones.
Joining many jewellery chat boards has been great for the information and companionship. Being unable to mobilise and mix as I have always been used to.
We use strict criteria for recycling. Named jewellery is never dismantled but restored. Beads that need stringing and ones that are badly made are dismantled. However, we have had a few bracelets and necklaces that are downright ugly and unusable. These have been dismantled with the thought that the beads can be reused in a more wearable piece of jewellery. One necklace stands out and I have been tempted to add it to the beads box more than once. But it would be ideal for a fancy dress. It is the Flintstone necklace that we have for sale. Other than fancy dress, I can not for the life of me see anyone wearing it for everyday use!!
Note - Jewels & Finery no longer sells beads and findings. Instead, we use them in our own handmade jewellery. Using up-cycled bits and pieces.