antiquing my stack


The only thing better than adding to my ring stacks with jewels from Catbird is adding to my ring stacks with antique finds.

A couple of years ago P bought me a pair of antique coral earrings for Christmas in Berlin- one recently broke in the middle of a run so I was off looking for a new pair- we found this deep in a jewelry store and it was love at first sight. (Even though marriage is shared bank accounts it is still a pleasure when your partner buys you something unexpectedly!!)

What are your methods for antiquing jewelry? Mine change to conform the city I’m living in (duh!).  In NYC I went by my gut and how well I liked the dealer, only tentatively bargaining. In Berlin it was easy (Europe=old) with so many markets and dusty antique stores all around, plus die Deutschen are a reputable folk when it comes to these things (plus you can’t insult a German when haggling- they’ll either accept your price or not, there are none of the dramatics of an Indian jeweler). Deep in the jewelry markets of India (India=also old with a totally banging jewelry tradition) I need my mom and my aunts to haggle and authenticate and raise their voices and play the game. Johannesburg is not exactly a place where open air markets selling valuable jewelry abound.

I always feel nervous beforehand that I am going to be pressured or swindled particularly in a country I’m unfamiliar with. P is good moral support. Plus I always think back to this helpful guide from Russell Whitmore of Erie Basin on east side bride, and it is also helpful that I inherited my mom’s blood thirst taste for a good bargain.

Buying at antique markets is not for everyone. It does require a basic understanding of old jewelry, and at the very least, a stomach for bargaining. Buying from a store affords more customer service, and often more assurance that what you’re buying is authentic and not in need of repairs. If you can find a recommendation for a local store, that would probably be the easiest road. 

Also: If you’re one of those people who feel too bad/guilty/awkward to haggle….don’t! It’s free market capitalism at it’s finest. Always remember nobody (particularly jewelers!) give expensive losses away out of the goodness of their heart and he or she is perfectly capable of looking after their own profit. So aim low respectfully but firmly (or dramatically if you’re in India), be willing to walk away, and remember no matter how good a deal you get- the person you just purchased from got a better one.

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