If you’d like to start or add to a collection of vintage costume jewelry, there are several ways to go about it. There were so many styles made by many designers, that there are lots of pieces out there just looking for a new home – yours!
1. Estate Sales: Check the classified section of your local newspaper for listings for estate sales. These are usually conducted by professionals who do this for a living, and they pretty much know the value of what they are selling for the heirs of an estate. Usually the estate is that of an older person, and vintage items abound. Estate Sales are usually held on weekends, or Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Go on the first day to see if there is anything there that you want. Sign up on the agent’s e-mail list, so you’ll be notified about future sales. If you see something you love, go ahead and buy it if the price seems reasonable. The trick to getting the best price is to go on the last day of the sale, when prices are typically 50% off. O f course, many items will be gone by then, but you can still pick up a bargain. And by the last day, the agent may be willing to negotiate the price.
2. Flea Markets and Swap Meets: Sometimes vintage costume jewelry shows up here, but be aware that many sellers are professional dealers and their prices will reflect their retail prices, or perhaps a bit less. If you see something you love, be willing to negotiate the price. Look for sellers with lots of stuff other than jewelry – if they are just cleaning out the garage or attic, you may be able to find some real treasures, and they might let them go for a song. Offer the price you are willing to pay.
3. Yard sales and garage sales: Check your local classified ads and http://www.craigslist.com for listings of sales in your area. Plan your route and try to get to what look like the best sales early. Church rummage sales and group fundraisers are the best – people will donate some really good things to support their organization or cause. And all the tables of goodies are in one place. At yard sales always ask if they have any jewelry if you don’t see any…the seller might just go back into the house and bring out a treasure.
4. Thrift shops and resale shops: I have found some amazing pieces of costume jewelry at thrift shops such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Usually the better pieces will be in a locked case, but I have found some very nice vintage costume jewelry in a basket on the checkout counter. Ask about their specials – some have 50% off on Wednesdays, for example – another has 30% for Seniors on Wednesdays. (Guess which day is my shopping day!)
Always bring a jeweler’s loupe or small magnifying glass with you to carefully examine every piece of jewelry. Go out early and often, and you will be amazed at what you will find.