This post is part of a series where I interview my favorite Esty vintage jewelry sellers.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED SELLING VINTAGE JEWELRY?
It was actually a pretty long road for me to get into vintage and estate!
I started by studying at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) to get a Graduate Gemologist degree, and then got a job with a larger local family run jewelry store. Their specialty was loose diamonds and bridal, and I moved through several positions within the company before leaving 10 years later!
During that time, I learned everything I could from inside the business, and one of those things was appraisals. Not only did I sign all the in house appraisals for pieces that the store sold, but as the in house Gemologist, I did the written appraisals for clients bringing in their heirloom jewelry. And it was a really fun part of the job for me. Seeing people’s treasures is always exciting to me!
So after I left, I suspected I might end up in vintage. I was busy with my little one at home, but looking for a way to get back into jewelry, and eventually took the leap to purchase a few vintage pieces intended for resale. The rest is history!
What is your favorite aspect of selling vintage jewelry?
I have a few things that I really love. Sharing the knowledge and history of the pieces is definitely one, as is getting to know my clients. Seeing my clients enjoy treasures I’ve selected and worked on is such an honor. And I love getting to know my fellow vintage lovers. Come to think about, I think I love pretty much everything about my job!
Where do you source most of your jewelry?
I get asked this question a lot, and honestly never really know how to answer! Every piece is different, so there really is no ‘most’ so to say, but generally I’d say I shop a lot. It’s definitely a perk of the job!
What are your best-sellers?
I think my niche is finding super unique, high quality pieces, while also having a great selection of classics. Since each vintage piece is unique, we don’t get to have traditional best sellers. But clearly rings are our thing, and far outsell our other items.
Do you have any advice for people looking to buy vintage jewelry for the first time?
Yes! First, buy what you love. I find that going with your heart in vintage is always a good decision. But more importantly, there are a lot of reputable sellers out there - make sure you buy from them!
Reasonable returns are essential, as well as some sort expertise/ experience the field. Always feel free to ask questions - I find you can tell a lot about people by how they answer inquires. And educating yourself as you go along happens naturally - mistakes happen to us all, and we learn from them.
What is your favorite stone cut?
I love them all. I think more than focusing on cut, I really try to look at the over all design of a ring, and see how a certain cut will enhance the look. My own engagement ring is a plain Round Brilliant, ideal cut. It was definitely the cut to have when purchased! Old Mines are up there for me since each can be totally unique and quirky in cut. As are big emerald cuts - I always love the classic looks!
What are some of your personal favorites that you own?
Oh I have a few!
Many days I wear just a vintage sapphire halo ring. The sapphire is perfect color, 4 carats, unheated Ceylon, and was something I had been looking to collect for years. It is set east/west, with a diamond halo, and a diamond studded split shank. Since it is big and wide, I can wear just the one ring, which I find more comfortable since I have to try on many rings each day. It has excellent presence on the finger without being too crazy, and just feels perfect when worn.
If I want something more subtle, my go-to is an 5 carat eternity band I got for my 5th wedding anniversary. It’s enough bling on it’s own, which is how I normally wear it, but it can always be paired up with just about anything to get a bigger look.
One I don’t wear enough is an Art Deco Cartier ring - it’s has a large pave open worked face with the double C’s logo incorporated. Even though I don’t wear it as much as I should (I only have so many fingers, LOL), I’m saving it for my daughter. I think it would make a perfect piece to start her own collection when she is a little older.
Do you have any advice for couples looking at buying a vintage ring for an engagement ring?
Yes! Probably too much actually! But shopping for a ring doesn’t have to be super complicated.
If you have fun trying pieces on, go do that! Every time I go to the mall with my BFF, I make her come with me to try on whatever the jewelers there have (I only do this if they are super slow - I am very conscious of salespersons time and the fact they work on commission).
If you hate trying on, but are a super technical person, ask all the tech questions. A good vintage jeweler will be able to answer easily and honestly. But most importantly, if you see something you love, online or in person, get it!
The worse part of my job is telling a bride that the ring she was looking at sold to another client. It can be devastating. With vintage and antique, once it’s sold, it’s gone. Getting engaged is such a happy time in life, so do your research, but be ready to go for the right piece. Many jewelers, like Gold Adore, offer easy layaway, which definitely eases some of the financials.
What is the biggest mistake people make when buying vintage jewelry?
Probably buying fake. Whether that’s the stones, the metal, or just a reproduction. At Gold Adore, I test all the materials for authenticity. But not everyone does that or can. And time periods and craftsmanship can be hard to pin down with vintage. There are the obvious fakes, but some are a lot more subtle.
Also, condition is huge, and should definitely be taken into consideration when shopping. If you are super rough on your jewelry, be sure to pick something that will be able to hold up to the wear. Just because an antique ring is 100 years old (or more!) doesn’t mean that it will hold up on you! A good dealer can always advise on such issues.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Gillian! I loved hearing your answers and I am sure my readers think the same.
My favorite piece from Gold Adore is this Vintage 18K White Gold Tsavorite Garnet and Diamond Ring Engagement Ring, the dark green stone is exceptionally beautiful.
Remember to share this post with your vintage-loving friends, and let us know in the comments below what you are drooling over at Gold Adore!