Tuesday 21 October 2008

Jewelry buying and selling information

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)
1930s vintage belt buckle

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!!
Lampwork beads
From the beads came findings such as metal spacers, clasps and other jewellery parts. In the findings se,ction 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.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

vintage buttons, buying, cleaning & sorting

When we first looked at the viability of our website. We decided to sell vintage jewellery as well as vintage buttons under our superb and exclusive vintage accessories collection.

In the first instance the small number of vintage buttons we listed sold well, especially the metal buttons and children's buttons. So in the last few months, during our buying, we sourced more second-hand buttons including several large tins and many smaller quantities.

In the last few weeks, with the growing numbers of buttons, I decided to sort and get ready for sale.
No machinery available, it has all been by hand. So most nights whilst watching TV outcome the tins, etc and I have sorted by hand. My hubby and daughter have helped of sorts also.
Each tin sorted gives you an insight into the person who first made up the tin. It could be a family tin with someone who did a lot of sewing or knitting for children. Or a tin with a family that were wearing overalls and shirts - full of functional buttons. The one tin that I found fascinating was the family that were wearing military uniforms.

It was once the norm to collect buttons. Every family had a tin. In the early twentieth century, all buttons were cut off for reuse before the children took the rags to the rag man in exchange for a goldfish. Spare buttons that were sewn onto the label, went into the tin. Any buttons for recycling also went into the tin. Grandma's button tins were common. But not so today

But have you noticed that the spare button is no longer on the label or on the washing instruction label anymore of most new clothes? So if you lose a button nowadays, there is no spare!!

Anyway, I digress, what I find also fascinating is the other items in these tins. Nails, screws, pins, safety pins, bits of unidentifiable metal, coins, chalk, beads, bits of broken jewellery, etc

Soon the coffee table, the sorting starts per tin. Buttons into colours and other useful bits into piles.
Then each pile of coloured buttons are cleaned. Then each colour is then sorted into size and matched. Matching buttons are bagged ready for photographing and listing on Jewels and Finery. Bit of an art this. As the unmatched buttons are compared with the growing bags of buttons already, sorted & washed also.

With the number of buttons that I have brought, I now find that I am able to match more buttons up. They have come from different sources and singular are not so easy to use but with 2, 3 or more are now of greater use.

The sorting, cleaning and matching are time-consuming, but with a glass of wine and the television on, it is quite therapeutic. Anyway, I am so slow at anything these days. The sorting is quite an achievement. We now have over 100 button bags ready for sale, and soon there will be many more.

Most of the buttons were intended for reuse in sewing, jewellery making and haberdashery projects and recycled to go on clothing. I have always been before anyone else. When it was not fashionable to grow your own, I did. When recycling was not fashionable I did. So this to me is a natural progression. More people will catch up with my way of thinking in the next year or so. So to me, it is common sense to start collecting and buying a large number of buttons now.
However, I have found many beautiful buttons, metal, plastic, rubber and nice sparkling ones. I am not an expert on collectable buttons but I think that I have some and the number is growing. So I have been learning and reading. Will join the UK button society for more information. I personally do not think you can be enthusiastic about the products that you sell if you are not interested and do not learn as much as possible.

Anyway now have to get the bags of buttons photographed. Then listed on the website

Next week the vintage beads need sorting...

About Me

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Solihull, West Midlands, United Kingdom
I preserve the past. Researching family and local history. Finding about mine and other people's ancestors, is just one of my passions. I also love vintage costume jewellery made here in the UK. I write about my finds and like to research.