Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Start Your Collection

Frogs, Frogs and more Frogs!

I collect frogs….oh, and that old 50’s guilloche enamel rose jewelry….oh, and I started this new collection of Les Bernard jewelry…and…oh, I have collected lots of jewelry over the years. 

In the beginning, I went to garage sales, estate sales, auctions, flea markets, antique stores, and of course the antique and collectible street fairs and shows. I shopped on EBay, as well as online malls like 

If I found something that fit into one of my collections, I would buy it.  Friends, family and co-workers would gift me wonderful additions for my collections.   After about thirty years of picking up every little frog or enamel rose, I had all sorts of jewelry in various states of condition, quality and design.  Allow me to impart some gained knowledge that has since helped to make my collection more appealing.

Purchased as is - poor condition.
The first 100 pieces of jewelry I found were quite atrocious!  Condition is so important to consider when purchasing costume jewelry. 

This past winter I started going through my collectible jewelry and found some pieces had missing stones, broken clasps, chips, scratches, worn plating, and cloudy or worn rhinestones.  I had pieces that were improperly soldered and others that had messy glue where there was an attempt at replacing rhinestones!  I was so disappointed remembering the higher prices that I paid for items in poor condition.

Now, I carry a loupe in my pocket, an extra one in my purse; as well as, in the car.  Examining a piece of jewelry carefully, under amplification, makes it easier to assess a reasonable asking price.  I have also been known to ask the seller if the piece had been repaired, or if I could take it to a window or someplace where the lighting is better.  Take the time to inspect the item before you lay down the money!


Duette by Coro

David Anderson Hummingbird

Initially, I had no clue how to really tell quality.  All I cared about was that it fit into the category of either a frog or enamel guilloche rose.  As time went by, though, I realized that some pieces seemed heavier, sturdier and has a designer name on the back of them.  I noticed that the rhinestones sparkled more, or the plating of the metal seemed thicker than others.  The realization occurred to me that I really liked some pieces more than others.  I noticed that the vintage jewelry pieces seemed to have those characteristics that improved the quality.  My observations were that the designers that had the best quality jewelry would plate their jewelry heavier, use quality Austrian rhinestones or used actual gemstones.  I also discovered as in all things there is a low end, a mid range and high end designers.  At the point that I realized this I began buying collector books and joined a couple of online vintage jewelry collector groups.  

In the beginning, I found it easier to rely on signed jewelry, like Schiaparelli, Regency, Eisenberg, Schriener, and Bogoff to name a few of the higher end.  I would look for mid range design companies like, ART, Trifari, Florenza and Hollycraft.  Again, relying on online jewelry groups, collector groups and books helped me to become more familiar with the types of jewelry I wanted to collect.  Remember, quality doesn't always mean that it has a cartouche with a name on the back.  many unsigned pieces reek with quality, so don't discount a piece just because there is no signage!

My Style Preferences

Unsigned beauty
Finally, the last consideration is your personal taste.  What styles do you like or dislike.  I like sweet flowers and pearls when it comes to my enamel guilloche rose collection, but anything goes when it comes to the frog collection.

Are you looking for rhinestones or do you like sterling with natural stones?  Do you like wood or plastics? What era is your favorite?  Victorian, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts or the Industrial era?  Some like to collect figurals, some like the glitzy sparkles and others like wood. 

Once I finally determined what I like to wear and what I liked to look at, buying jewelry was a whole lot less costly and overwhelming; and it was much more fun.

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