2Hearts Vintage Jewelry: Notes from a Newbie - The Thrill of the Hunt?!

Yesterday, I found – and bought – my first Takahashi bird pin. After reading about them in Julia C. Carroll’s “Collecting Costume Jewelry 303,” I have followed their sales on EBay and have been on the hunt to find one. Locating valuable vintage costume jewelry finds is partly serendipity – at least for me as a newbie. It is also a matter of continuing education so that when you find a treasure, you recognize it as such. In this case, my Takahashi bird pin was sitting in an antique mall. You can imagine my excitement when I whipped out my loupe to confirm that the clasp was push pin and not the dreaded reproduction screws. Next I compared my bird to the Takahashi section in Ms. Carroll’s book and, lo and behold, there was my male crested cardinal on page 104. I will not be listing it on my Ruby Plaza site for now, as I believe that the soon-to-be released book by Ms. Carroll and a Takahashi granddaughter about the story of the bird pins will increase its value. Besides, I want to enjoy it! The seller did not know these pins were anything special and her price was a fraction of its current value.

 I also found – and bought – my first saphiret pin a few weeks ago. Let’s be honest, saphiret is a muddy looking brown that only reveals its beauty as it reflects light. In this case, of all the places to find such a treasure, the new owners of a local, very high end antique store were getting rid of some inventory they didn’t want. They thought the saphiret pin was a piece of junk at and had it priced accordingly.

These were lucky finds, but luck comes to those who do their research. I knew what I was looking at whereas these sellers did not. But the truth is that in many cases I don’t know what I am looking at either. If a bracelet is five links, I can recognize it as Juliana. If it doesn’t, then I am very uncertain. I would most likely bypass unsigned Schreiner bargains because I am not skilled enough to identify them with confidence. Same with bakelite pieces. Even with signed pieces, there is such a wide discrepancy in prices (which is both a challenge and an opportunity) that it is difficult to decide what to pay as a buyer and then how to price as a seller. I need more help with that. I keep looking for conferences or classes that specialize in vintage costume jewelry, but if they exist, I can’t locate them. Can anyone help with that?

I have shared a couple successes in my treasure hunts, but that is not my normal experience. In my area (Central California) vintage jewelry is not found very often at garage sales, or even at estate sales. Both the local thrift stores and estate sales will price designer label clothes for under $5.00, but their vintage costume jewelry is priced at $20-$50 for pieces in fair to poor condition. Bargains are rare. I’ve been toying with the idea of offering a special event at senior centers where they can bring their vintage costume jewelry and I can share what I know about their jewelry with them. My idea is that those who are interested in selling will let me know. Has anyone out there tried that – and if so, what was your experience? Although I enjoy the hunt, I’d like more frequent “finds.”

My question to the vets is: where should I be looking, and what should I be doing, to find more Takahashi and saphiret treasures in my own backyard?? And, where and when are courses or conventions to learn more?

D’Anne Brownell, 2Hearts Vintage Jewelry


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