It’s fun to go out and shop for vintage jewelry, at least I think so. But sometimes, you have a pile of it thrust upon you by a friend or relative. Then what do you do? If you’re familiar with antique jewelry, then you might instinctively know how to handle it, but if you’re not someone who regularly spends time with such things, then the task can seem overwhelming.
Lots of older jewelry pieces that have been thrown in a box can end up in a tangled mess, so the first thing you need to do is sort through it. You can use something small and thin, such as tweezers or a skewer to help you separate everything.
After that, it’s best to separate everything into a pile of similar items – put earrings with earrings, necklaces with necklaces, bracelets with bracelets, and so on.
Once you have done that, you can start to make sense of what you have. Obviously, earrings are best worn in pairs, so separate out any mismatched earrings. Don’t throw them out just yet – the mate may turn up. Or the odd one may turn out to have some value.
Once you have separated everything, you can assess what you have. Separate out any pieces that have obvious damage. Some slightly damaged pieces can be repaired by a jeweler, but you need to be aware that there will be a cost associated with that, and it may or may not be worth your while to pay to have that done. In that case, you should ask yourself if the jewelry is something you’re going to wear? If so, you might want to pay to have it repaired. If it’s something you’re considering reselling, then you’ll have to find out the value of it in repaired condition, determine the cost of repairs, and then see if paying to have the piece(s) fixed will be worthwhile.
Some vintage costume jewelry can have value, and sometimes quite a lot. Make note of any jewelry that may be marked Eisenberg, Trifari, Miriam Haskell, Napier, Coro, Chanel, Joseff of Hollywood, Hobé, Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, for example.
Be aware, too that some “costume jewelry” could actually be the real thing. Most costume jewelry is just that, with imitation gemstones, but I have heard of more than one case of someone giving away a piece that they thought was costume jewelry only to discover that they’d given away a genuine diamond! It happens, so if you’re in doubt, take the time to have the piece assessed by a professional jeweler.
Once you have everything sorted out, you can then assess whether you want to keep any of it and whether any of it is worth reselling. Sometimes, you’ll just have to throw odd or broken pieces away, but keep in mind that there are always interesting ways to repurpose vintage jewelry. They make great decorative items, and there’s always sentimental value. Remember – that jewelry once meant something to someone. It may not be you, today, but you should think twice before throwing any vintage jewelry away.
It’s fun to collect vintage costume jewelry, and older pieces are often of higher quality than their modern equivalents. Older pieces often reflect the style of a bygone era, and they’re usually big, bold and colorful.
That’s great, but sometimes you find that you’ll have pieces that you can no longer use. The reasons may vary; you might have an orphan earring that has lost its mate. Or a necklace or earrings that have a broken clasp. They could be repaired, but sometimes with less expensive jewelry, even of the vintage variety, it’s just not worth the trouble or expense to fix them.
In those cases, what can you do? You could just throw the damaged pieces away, and that’s likely what most people do. That’s fine; the landfills are already full of vintage costume jewelry and on the whole, it’s not really rare.
But you could repurpose those stray pieces and make them into something a bit more useful.
I recently came across an interesting blog post that offers 25 different ways to repurpose your old costume jewelry, and they had some clever ideas for putting damaged or orphan pieces to use.
I won’t go into too many details, as you can read the article to see all 25 ideas. But a few of the interesting ones were:
Dress up your pumps – a vintage earring can give your pumps a little extra bling. It shouldn’t be hard to take a pair of earrings and adjust them so they’ll fit on a pair of pumps and look like they belong there.
Napkin rings – Earrings or a brooch can also be used to adorn custom napkin rings. These are easily made with some fancy ribbon and a bit of glue. Everyone at your table can have one that looks unique.
Drawer Pulls – Sure, you can buy attractive drawer pulls at the local hardware store. But why not make some that are truly unique and interesting?
Refrigerator magnets – Refrigerator magnets are often boring, but you can bring them to life by adding a bit of jewelry to them. Like most of these ideas, it just takes some patience and a bit of glue.
I’m not really the creative sort, and I’m certainly not the arts and craftsy kind, but these projects are both interesting and easy to do, so I might give a couple of them a try.