How to Clean Antique Jewelry: The Important Do’s & Don’ts

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For anyone that’s unfamiliar, antique jewelry is any piece of jewelry that is more than 100 years old. That’s a lot of years for dirt to collect under gemstones, metal to patina, and for grime to take away from the inherent beauty of the heirloom. It’s tempting to pick up a polishing cloth and buff away years of unwanted residue. But wait! Before you do that…

There is a right way and a wrong way to clean antique jewelry. We’ve compiled some basic do’s and don’ts you must know before you potentially ruin your investment.

*Remember, this is a general guide for fine antique jewelry. Some antique jewelry like cameos or hair jewelry require special care beyond what is listed here.

D O N ‘ T


1. Polish away patina on old rose or yellow gold jewelry

Patina is something that takes years to form. Some reproduction jewelry will actually try to fake this patina in order to make an item appear older than it is. For Georgian and Victorian jewelry, it’s important not to go overboard with polishing. You don’t want the yellow gold to be so light and shine like the day it was made.

Be careful if you’re having your rings resized by someone not familiar with antique jewelry. The tendency is to take rings to a high polish once the sizing is done. Advise them only to lightly polish the portion where the gold has been added or taken away on the bottom of the ring shank.

2. Use ultrasonic machines

There are times when it is okay to put antique jewelry into an ultrasonic machine for a very quick clean, and I mean quick. But to err on the side of caution, avoid using them altogether. If you have a platinum and diamond engagement ring from the 1920’s, an ultrasonic machine might be okay if the stones are tight and the prongs are in good shape. Most of the time though, the subtle but intense vibrations from these machines can do more harm than good.

3. Submerge jewelry for a long period

Liquid can be detrimental to some antique jewelry, especially jewelry with cameos, opals, seed pearls, or any other soft stone. For fragile jewelry, it’s best not to completely saturate the piece with liquid at all. Instead, lightly clean with a damp brush or cloth.

4. Clean with harsh chemicals like ammonia

The internet will often tell you how wonderful ammonia is for making your diamonds shine. This might work (in moderation) for new jewelry, but antique jewelry deserves a much gentler approach. Avoid harsh detergents, ammonia, and please never use household cleaners containing bleach!

D O


1. Make a gentle cleaning solution

Sometimes the best way to clean your antique jewelry is by making your own DIY cleaning solution. Most jewelry cleaners you find in the store will cost you a lot more money and may not even be as effective. They may even contain harsh chemicals.

To make your own solution, mix lukewarm water with a small amount of mild soap like Dove until it is sudsy. The key here is in the cleaning technique, not necessarily in the solution.

2. Use a soft toothbrush and lint free cloth

Once you make your solution, it’s time to clean your antique jewelry. You’ll either submerge the item for a few minutes to loosen grime, or if your item contains soft stones, you lightly dampen your toothbrush. Before you begin, make sure no stones are loose.

Then, gently brush your jewelry, paying attention to areas like underneath the stone and underneath the prongs. Use slow circular motions using only light pressure. If the piece is extremely dirty, don’t be tempted to use more pressure; instead, implement more patience. Submerge your jewelry into the solution again (if your jewelry can handle it) then gently repeat, repeat, repeat.

3. Make sure to rinse and dry thoroughly

You don’t want to give fragile jewelry a bath, but you want to be sure you remove any soap residue that might build up and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning your jewelry. Run the jewelry under lukewarm water and pat dry. For rings, take a polishing cloth and very lightly buff the shank, avoiding any area near stones or engravings. Let jewelry completely dry before putting it away.

4. Have the right expectations

Antique jewelry is never meant to look new. If this is your intention when cleaning jewelry, think again. Sure, you want to remove dirt, grime, bacteria, and all that other gross stuff. But you don’t want to take away years of character and patina. Is there a scratch in the gold? Leave it, don’t have it buffed away. Is the gold too dark for your liking? Consider a more modern replica like those from Arik Kastan instead.

How do you clean your antique jewelry? Any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments.

This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

Source: GossipGem.com

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Read This Before Buying Antique Jewelry Online or Through Instagram!

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Both Lauren and I have noticed a slightly frightening upsurge in the amount of overnight “antique jewelry dealers” these past few months. I’ve nominated Lauren to give her insight and take on this, along with some important tips we should all be aware of before buying any antique piece online or via Instagram. I’ll let Lauren take it away:

Selling fine second-hand jewelry is no simple task that just anyone can pick up by attending a few estate sales. Dealers must continually strive to expand their education and invest in their business so they can offer the best and most honest experience to their customers.

For me, selling antique jewelry was something I fell into by chance in late 2005. I learned my most basic knowledge by apprenticing under a few dealers that had been in the business for decades. This oral history only took me so far. I then conquered many books, took classes, and met with as many other dealers and jewelers as I could.

This happenstance quickly turned into a full on passion; perhaps it’s even my calling if there is such a thing. Over the next nine years, I evolved my business, Ageless Heirlooms until it took form as a brick and mortar shop on the busiest street in town. The lessons are countless and the experience over these years was immeasurably valuable.

Sometimes life takes you unexpected places, and the moment that I could no longer devote 100% of my time to selling antique jewelry was when I decided to take a huge step backward and regroup in late 2014. I closed my brick and mortar shop and continued writing about jewelry, in the hopes that one day I would get back into retail and help reconnect heirlooms with their next generation keepers.

During my almost three year departure from retail, the antique jewelry business changed a lot. The antique jewelry market, like most any business, has always been prone to scammers and dishonesty. But as this niche market keeps expanding, I’ve noticed that more and more dealers pop in and out of the scene — some legitimate and others that are trying to take advantage of the trend. It saddens me to think that there are dealers out there that are either intentionally or unknowingly misguiding their consumers. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and perpetuates the idea that buying fine second-hand jewelry is a shady practice. I assure you, it’s not.

Shopping for estate jewelry takes a certain degree of trust in the people you’re buying from, especially if you’re just learning all the ins and outs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide if you’re buying from someone who is worth supporting.

1. Are they GIA certified or have any other accreditations?

To have your GIA certification is arguably the most important feat in the fine jewelry world. This certification shows that the dealer has put a tremendous investment in their education and are much more competent at grading gemstones than someone that doesn’t have it. If you’re buying very high-end antique jewelry, this question should be high on your priority list. What schooling has this person gone through? If they haven’t, have they had someone else that is GIA certified look over the item in question?

2. How many years have they been in business?

Ask me in my first few years of selling antique jewelry if this question was important, and I would still agree that yes, it is. I was so fortunate that so many customers took a chance on me in my early years, but I had a full backing from other partners that had many years experience under their belts. It wasn’t until I had over five years experience that I considered going out on my own. Sometimes it’s worth it to take a chance on someone, but make sure you get to know them a little bit first.

3. Are their prices consistent with other dealers?

Antique jewelry isn’t always an apples to apples comparison. But, in the broad scope, prices for similar pieces should fall within a similar range. Anything that is way off the mark, whether priced too high or too low is a red flag for me.

However, sometimes antique jewelry businesses with lots of employees will have higher prices — they need this markup to survive. This higher price is worth it at times because many of these businesses have access to rare antique jewelry that smaller dealers don’t. Pay a higher price only if that item is rare and other reputable dealers don’t have anything similar for less.

Too cheap a price could indicate that the item is a reproduction, is in poor shape, the dealer is a fly by night, or maybe you just found a bargain. Either way, it’s worth looking into more thoroughly.

4. Do they have a brick & mortar shop or a website?

Any signs that this person has invested time, money and energy into their business is a good thing. Do they have a website, an Etsy shop or a brick and mortar that they keep updated? Are they active on social media? That is a good indicator that this business is their primary source of income, and they take pride in it. People who take pride in their online businesses are less likely to jeopardize it by acting shady.

5. How is their feedback/online reviews?

If the person is selling on Etsy or eBay, it is an absolute no brainer to read as much of their feedback as possible before you purchase. This won’t necessarily be a foolproof method, but it certainly helps when you’re buying on the internet.

6. Do you see any reproductions being passed off as old?

It might be hard to know what reproductions look like from a picture, but they are out there in full force! If you have browsed some sites that openly sell reproduction jewelry like Jan’s Jewells, you’ll have some idea which items are being remade. If you catch a reproduction being passed off as old, or the description is vague using terms like “antique-style Art Deco ring”, this is a red flag. Let me know if you’re interested in more ways you can spot reproductions online because there’s a lot that can be said here!

7. Do you notice that some items aren’t dated?

I’ve seen it where some antique jewelry dealers want to sell reproductions (they are easier to find and are cheaper), but they don’t want to be upfront about it for whatever reason. If you spot jewelry on a dealer’s site that has no mention of the item’s age at all, this is a red flag. Ask them openly if the item is new or old, and hopefully, if they passed a lot of these other questions, they’ll be honest and tell you.

Do you have any other ways you vet out antique jewelry sellers? Let me know in the comments and as always, happy hunting!


This post was contributed by:

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Vegas Prep: Interview with Marion Fasel of The Adventurine

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We are excited to kick off a fun series this week on Gem Gossip — these next five blog features will get you excited and prepped for Vegas Jewelry Week, which is quickly approaching! I’ve asked five people–a mix of designers, editors, and industry insiders–to contribute their insights from this epic event that happens once a year. I’m asking for advice, tips, favorite parts, and much more! Whether it will be your first time attending or you are a professional (and can pack with your eyes closed), these interviews will pique your curiousity and you’ll definitely learn a thing or two! One thing is for sure, we all are SO EXCITED for Vegas.

We are starting the week out with Marion Fasel who is celebrating a big milestone in a few weeks–her online magazine The Adventurine turns one year old at the end of the month. She strategically launched the same day Vegas Jewelry Week began last year and has been covering all kinds of jewelry topics since then (many of which are pictured above). But don’t let the small digit fool you, Marion has been in the jewelry industry for over 25 years. Most notably, she was InStyle’s Contributing Editor of Fine Jewelry & Watches for nearly two decades, has written eight books, and has helped curate several museum exhibitions. It’s no secret I am her number one fan and have been continually cheering her on since I discovered her flipping through the pages of InStyle magazine. Let’s find out more:

How many times have you attended Vegas jewelry week?

I have been 12 times. I haven’t missed a jewelry week in Vegas since the Couture show relocated from the Phoenician in Scottsdale to the Wynn in 2005.


Biggest tip for Vegas jewelry week you’d give your rookie self on the eve of your first time going to Vegas?

I’d give my rookie self a fun tip and a few practical tips.

My fun tip is about gambling. I’d tell myself to gamble. You are in Vegas—some fun must be had. Then I would say, skip the slots. Go in the early evening to the Encore where it can be quiet and find a Black Jack dealer with an empty table. There are usually several. Tell the dealer, you don’t know much about the game but would like to learn. The dealers are incredibly knowledgeable and thrilled to share their tips. If you allow them to guide you about what “the book” says for your hand, you will win. Trust me on this. Just let them tell you how to play.

One practical tip, don’t let the bellhop take your luggage when you check in. Just take it to your room yourself. If you don’t, you have to wait for it. They won’t leave it in your room unless you are there. Sometimes they are fast, but sometimes they take a while which keeps you waiting in your room before hitting the trade show floor or doing anything your heart desires.

Drink lots of water. It’s the desert and you will get dehydrated even indoors.

Oh, and have a clear strategy for who you want to see. There are a lot of great jewelry designers there and you won’t be able to see everyone, so do a careful edit on your agenda and leave breathing room to explore. The time to explore is key.

Name five things you ALWAYS bring to Vegas Jewelry Week.

I wear heels so I bring Band-Aids. I bring my gambling budget, usually around $200. I bring loads of jewelry, because it’s a jewelry crowd and its Vegas so it’s fun to get decked out. Beyond that it’s pretty standard phone charger, camera, computer. I don’t travel light.

One big difference from last year to this year?

Well, last year I launched my online magazine TheAdventurine.com one day before the Couture show started. The timing was not a coincidence. It’s really the beginning of the formal jewelry season. You see how the trends and designers are shaping up at Couture. I wanted my website anniversary to coincide with the Couture show. I guess the biggest difference is now The Adventurine is humming away.

Favorite things about Vegas Jewelry Week.

Winning at Black Jack. I am kidding. Meeting a talented new designer or just seeing a great new collection from an established designer are my favorite things.

Biggest pet peeve about Vegas Jewelry Week.

It is a bit odd being indoors for a week. During the course of the show, it’s not usual for some people to never step outside for more than a few minutes on the terrace off the trade show floor or to walk to the taxi stand to go out to dinner. I try to make my way to La Cave as often as possible to sit in the outdoor café there for lunch, dinner or drinks.

Weirdest thing to happen to you during Vegas Jewelry Week in the past.

I won a Vespa at the Couture Awards. It’s probably one of the most wonderful and weird things that has ever happened to me anywhere. I actually like public speaking but when I went on stage to accept the scooter, I was so shocked and happy, I was virtually speechless.

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? Check out my coverage from last year

You can follow Marion –> @marionfasel & @theadventurine

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Alex Cooper Has An Upcoming Auction You Won’t Want to Miss!

Alex Cooper Auction sapphire-wings-ring pendant-earrings Lot 30 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 43 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 43 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 46 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 47 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 47 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 60 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 78 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 86 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 93 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 114 Alex Cooper Auction Lot 119 Alex Cooper Auction

Alex Cooper is one of my favorite auction houses to keep up with, as I’m constantly checking their auction calendar in hopes of their catalog going live. Good news–I’m here to alert you to an upcoming auction and my favorite picks so you don’t have to be clueless! Alex Cooper has their spring Gallery Sale set for April 6th & 8th, 2017 with nearly 200 lots of fine jewelry, spanning all eras and styles. All jewelry lots are scheduled for an April 6th sale date and I’ve got the lowdown on all my top picks, featured above.

I hope you make certain to register to bid–you can bid online via Alex Cooper or on LiveAuctioneers.com

Lot 30: I’ve been seeing a lot of these dress clips that are truly gorgeous and over-the-top resurfacing. I feel like they are having their second wind, as I’ve seen them reimagined, styled in different ways never before seen. This one is an example of one of the prettiest I’ve seen–done in platinum, diamonds and sapphires. If you look closely, there are bullet-shaped and half-moon diamonds, making it truly special. Estimate: $1,000-1,500

Lot 43: A ring so enchanting it needs both views shown! I love this enamel dream–set with old European cut diamonds and bright blue enamel–it carries itself with its bold look. It is done in 14k yellow gold and currently a size 7 1/4. I can picture this styled with so many different looks; a fashionista’s fantasy. Estimate: $700-900

Lot 46: This brooch caught my eye because of the calibre cut aquamarine that is set in it, along with the diamonds. This piece is really unique and I love a few things about it–one being the size of it (2.5 inches in length, not too big or too small), two being the color combo (light blue of the aquamarine and the white of the diamonds), and three being that it is a brooch (can be incorporated into your wardrobe in so many ways). Just pin and go! Estimate: $700-900

Lot 47: I said “omg” upon seeing this circular medallion pendant! Not only do I love a good medallion, but the subject being an Egyptian pharaoh has won me over. On top of all that, the details are all colorfully enameled with white, blue, red and green. And I felt it was totally necessary to show off the back with the extra photo because it is THAT good. Look at that winged goddess on the back, such a cool design. Estimate: $1,000-1,500

Lot 60: One of my most favorite purchases last year was a solid gold wire choker. It was something that gets A LOT of wear, almost daily. I love it because it is so versatile (I can wear it alone, layered, add a pendant to it…) and totally on trend. These two gold wire necklaces up for auction are both 14k gold and I love the groove in the center, ready for pendants or enhancers to be added. Estimate: $500-700

Lot 78: I picked these 14k white gold diamond snowflake dangle earrings because I have a very similar pair of stud earrings which I love. These immediately transport me to a pretty wintertime setting, with snowflakes falling and holiday happiness. These earrings feature two carats total of diamonds. Estimate: $300-500

Lot 86: As many of you know, I have a special place in my heart for bypass rings. This one is pretty unique–with the crossover design and including a swirl of diamonds intertwined. The two main diamonds weigh approximately 0.78 carats and 0.82 carats. Estimate: $3,000-3,500

Lot 93: With the rarity of these pairs of wedding bracelets getting tougher and tougher to find, this makes lot 93 that much better. You’ve got an immaculate pair of wedding bracelets and both are present. I love the buckle motif of these gold plated bracelets and the best part is the black enamel details! Estimate: $200-400

Lot 114: I love lots like these where you get a few rings, not just one! They often complement each other so whomever wins the lot already has a ring stack ready to be worn! This particular lot features a tiger’s eye ring, a Victorian pearl ring and a lemon quartz ring. What a great grouping! Estimate: $80-200

Lot 119: Lastly, this cameo and intaglio pair stood out to me–a Grecian beauty and fair maiden! Just as a cameo is the opposite of an intaglio, these two couldn’t be anymore different. I love the juxtaposition between them. The black onyx intaglio is done in 9k gold and the cameo is 14k gold. Estimate: $100-300

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Alex Cooper Auctions.

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Want more? Learn how to bid online at auction by reading my top five tips!

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Spring Cleaning Your Jewelry Box: Gem Gossip’s Tips!

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It’s that time of year–spring cleaning! I tried Googling some spring cleaning facts and came up with 77% of people say they spring clean every year. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I would think that is a decent amount and glad to know that. I guess the other 23% are either lazy or have a hoarding problem…? I am definitely in the percentage that spring cleans…and I actually like to do a deep cleaning a couple times a year, not just once. When people mention spring cleaning, most think of their house–but I’d like to focus in on spring cleaning jewelry for this article. And just like spring cleaning your house, there are several similarities to spring cleaning your jewelry and the end results will have you feeling revitalized and happy.

Let’s get started:

1. Storage Solutions:

Keeping your jewelry safe, all in one place and consistently visible are three key points for a superb storage solution. I highly recommend the jewelry box that I own, however I did make a lot of changes to it–like ripping out shelves and swapping them out for more ring storage. The jewelry box that I have is from Lori Greiner and I bought mine off QVC about 8 years ago. Since then, they have made a few modifications to the design, but overall it is the same: a mirrored “cabinet” that has built-in everything! Here’s a similar one for sale at Target. It’s ok to have other jewelry boxes–I have several antique ones that I use for either travel or taking photos with–but for the most part, I keep everything in one home base.

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2. Clean Your Actual Jewelry:

After you’ve established your storing options, it wouldn’t be called “spring cleaning” unless we actually cleaned our jewelry! I will admit that I don’t clean my jewelry daily…or weekly…or even monthly for that matter. The only exception to this would be my engagement ring which I make sure to clean monthly and earrings that I wear often. Because I have so many rings, there are very many that get worn only a handful of times in one year, so I often wear and return back to its storing spot without cleaning.

An occasion like spring cleaning is the best time to give all your jewelry a good soak. For this step, I want to stress that many antique pieces should not be cleaned at all. Items like foiled backed gemstones, hair jewelry, mourning pieces, tiny rose cut diamonds that are often irreplaceable, pearls and seed pearls, and other soft gemstone jewelry. This cleaning step I mostly do with my all gold pieces, 80% of my diamond jewelry, sapphire and ruby pieces. First, I get a soft toothbrush and run warm water and dunk the brush in Mr. Clean. I gently brush over each piece and then stick it in my ultrasonic cleaner. I have one I bought from Gesswein–the one that has a steamer and cleaner in one (but my steamer broke after one year of working beautifully). Those who know the power and strength of a steam cleaner will never go back to cleaning diamonds any other way–so sadly my broken steamer is also breaking my heart. Need a new one! I usually use water and either a small cap full of Mr. Clean or whatever cleaning solution your machine comes with.

Depending on how dirty each piece is would equal how long you put each item in the cleaner, but I would say 15-20 minutes is plenty. Another perk of having a jewelry background is having a really handy tool at my grasp–a microscope! I usually take a peek at my gemstone jewelry pieces and check all the stones before throwing them into the cleaner. Loose stones will only get looser, or even worse–fall out in the cleaner. That’s my only other pre-caution.

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3. Go Through Each Item:

Now that you have all your jewelry out of storage and mystery boxes, under beds, and out of old socks (yes, people stash things everywhere), it is a great idea to give each item a thorough evaluation. This is when you decide if you want to keep, trade, or sell–maybe even redesign. You should also take some photos of all your jewelry for inventory purposes and insurance purposes. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve looked through old photos and said, “hey, whatever happened to THAT ring??”

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4. Clean Your Actual Jewelry Box:

Day in and day out you open up your jewelry box, make your selections and then move on with your daily routine. A lot of dust, debris and dirty fingers can add up on your jewelry box, so it is just as important to clean your jewelry storage solution. I made a video of myself doing this and posted it on Instagram–it got a lot of attention because I was using a vaccuum hose attachment and using it without taking any of my rings out of the case. Of course I was being careful, but it is much smarter to do this step when everything is out. My biggest problem is Chiefy’s white hairs that somehow get on the black velvet padding of my jewelry cabinet. Using a hose attachment on my vaccuum is the best solution for this, but you can also use a lint roller. I also make sure to Windex the mirror on the front of my jewelry box and dust/polish the outer wood.

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5. The Finishing Touch:

You’re now on the last and final step to spring cleaning your jewelry box! You should feel really good by now and the best part is about to start. I suggest you put on your favorite tunes (obviously I will suggest Girl Talk Radio on Pandora) and get to work.

Start with organizing within each category–earrings, necklaces, bracelets, charms, and rings. I organize my earrings by studs, dangles, ear cuffs, etc. I have a row of pearl studs, a row of diamond studs…even yellow gold and white gold are separated. I used to organize my rings by how I acquired them–so I would just add my newest acquistion in the next available spot. I realized this wasn’t working out very well and one day I took everything out and organized it differently. I put similar styles together, similar stones together and motifs together. All my moonstone rings are together and they look way cooler that way. You can group by color of gemstone if you’d like–similar to how a closet is organized (definitely not my closet, but coveted closets). I have all my baby rings in a section of their own. I don’t have a particular way of organizing my bracelets or necklaces because I simply don’t have that many.

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I hope these tips will help you and motivate you to SPRING CLEAN your jewelry box! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask me–you can email me at [email protected] or Tweet me! @gemgossip

I’d love to see your photos or videos of you spring cleaning your jewelry box–please tag me!!

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? Check out my tips on how to EDIT your collection

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My Personal Collection Up For Auction via EBTH.com

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Hey Everyone! Just wanted to let you all know something pretty exciting–I took nearly 50 pieces from my personal collection and put them on Everything But the House (EBTH)! What is so great about this auction website is the amount of unique, highly curated items that go up for bidding every day of the week. You can basically shop estate sales from the comfort of your own home. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve purchased from EBTH–several large gold mirrors (as pictured in my feature), one of my absolute favorite rings, and a lot of rock & mineral specimens. The variety of what you can find is impressive!

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How to Edit your Jewelry Collection & Know When to Sell

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My jewelry collection has gone through SO MANY changes this past year. As a collector, it is important to edit your collection no matter what it is that you collect. My ring collection, for example, has shrunk by at least fifty rings recently and normally this would freak me out, but I actually feel really good about this decision. I recently came across this photo of my collection and was astonished by how many rings I actually had. A more recent photo is shown above, and you can see the amount that has been edited. This decision has allowed me to refine and be precisive about what I like, allowed me to purchase items that I thought were out of my budget, and allowed me to grow my collection in a new way (even though I was subtracting from my collection). You might be wondering how you can do the same, so I’ve put together some tips and recommendations on how you can do just that! And as always, happy collecting!

1. Although I’ve never read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I’ve spoken with people who have and read a few blogs about this decluttering strategy. A part of me fears this technique, since I live in a world where I love my things and have way too many things, while another part of me thrives off of getting rid of stuff. It is a never-ending battle–but just as Marie teaches in her book, you must take each item and ask yourself if it sparks joy? Do this with your jewelry collection! You’d be surprised at what items you’ve been holding on to for the most random reasons, and how they actually spark the opposite of joy.

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2. Go through all your jewelry items and remove pieces that need repairs–these could be rings with missing stones, jewelry that you’ve always hated but wanted to give a “makeover” to, pieces that rarely get worn, or items that you’ve been meaning to convert into something else. Removing these from your main jewelry box will allow you to focus on what you have that is wearable and you often see things in a different light when there is less.

Once you’ve removed these items, put them in little baggies or envelopes and write on them what needs to be done to each piece so that you are able to love it again and wear it again. Is it a ring sizing? Write down “size ring to 5 to fit my ring finger” and then place it in a pile. If you’re redesigning pieces you own, feel free to draw to the best of your ability your design idea.

Now that you have all your “repair” items, find a reputable jeweler that you know and trust. Hopefully you’ve worked with him or her before so you know what to expect and know their capabilities. Set a goal of dropping off 2-3 items per week until all your repairs are finally finished. You’ll get momentum going once you’ve picked up your first batch of finished items–it’s like getting a new piece of jewelry all over again!

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3. Certain gemstones turn me off and you have to get comfortable with yourself as a collector to realize that. This means buying things at one time that you realize aren’t for you or just simply don’t like anymore. There are a few gemstones and gemstone colors that I’m not a fan of, but I used to be–colors that don’t really go with my skintone or aren’t pleasing to my eye as much as another color family. The point is to recognize this, either sell or repurpose these items to “edit” your collection, and then take the money you’ve made from selling these items to buy jewelry that fits within your new editing parameters.

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4. Trends come and go, but in the world of jewelry–certain trends stay longer than most disposable fashion trends. Also, like many trends, they can resurface several years from now and those items you “wish you had that you sold years ago” could be the next coolest thing. So, if you have a piece of jewelry that may be considered “trendy” but you honestly love it, but wearing it today may not necessarily fit with what you’re wearing now–I would think twice about selling something like this!

A prime example of this for me and my collection was the dainty jewelry trend (which is still actually very strong today). I liked this trend at first and it also fit with my budget a few years ago. I started gravitating toward bigger, bolder pieces and have never been able to look at a dainty ring the same again. I ended up selling most of my dainty rings and found that selling like five dainty rings could get me one bold piece, which was music to my ears. The bigger pieces bring me more joy and hopefully that doesn’t change anytime soon! đŸ˜‰

Another examples of this is gold chains. Growing up, I received a lot of gold chains from my grandparents as gifts from Italy. I went through a phase in college where I only wore this one chain of my dad’s with a medallion of St. Anthony on it (my dad gave me both), so I sold every other chain I owned because I simply never wore anything else. Today, I would kill to have some of those chains now–there was some really cool pieces which now would be very trendy with the chain layering trend that is happening today.

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5. Knowing when, what and how to sell is a big task that has some complications here and there, but luckily if you purchased your items you want to now sell at the right price back then, it should be able to yield the same price if not more today. Jewelry is great like that because gold and gemstones are almost always valuable (I’m not talking about fashion jewelry or costume pieces).

If you haven’t worn a piece of jewelry for over five years, I think it is safe to say you should sell it–or at least ask yourself, why haven’t you worn it? Once you’ve gathered pieces that you feel ok with selling, now you have to figure out what platform you’d like to sell them.

Sites like eBay, Etsy and Ruby Lane are all great options if you have a large amount of pieces you’d like to sell. If you open a shop on any of these sites and you’re not a formal antique seller, it is important that you state that in your bio/about section. There is a big difference between a dealer and a collector who has lots of items and just wants to sell them. Be open to making mistakes and allowing to accept returns if it is your first time selling.

If you’re a collector on Instagram and a part of the Instagram Antique Jewelry Community (idk why I capitalized that lol) then selling some items on your Instagram page is a fast and easy way to accomplish that. It is also fee-free, whereas with the sites I mentioned above take a fee if you sell through them. But this option is only as good as the size of your audience. Etsy, eBay and Ruby Lane have thousands and thousands of visitors everyday, whereas your Instagram page might be short of that number.

You can also TRADE — I started the hashtag #gemgossipSWAP for those interested in posting items they’re willing to part with and find others’ who want to trade as well. I’ve personally used the hashtag myself and am now the proud owner of a ring I traded with someone.

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? You won’t believe what my jewelry box looked like 7 years ago

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Five Important Things I Learned from Being a Jewelry Appraiser

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Never in a million years did I ever think I would have a profession such as “jewelry appraiser.” It was something that I fell into by chance and I’m grateful/thankful everyday for that–because although I never thought it would be something I would do, there wasn’t a day that went by which I didn’t learn something new during that time. My mind was like a sponge during the first few months of picking up the skills of jewelry appraising–from measuring, to formulating, comparing and researching–everything came almost naturally for me. Market values and research were aspects I really enjoyed about the job. Things like checking out auctions results, following market trends, and so on–these are things I still do to this day although I don’t appraise jewelry on a regular basis anymore. From the moment I picked up the profession and for five years straight, I appraised piles of 10-25 pieces on a weekly basis–that is, fully written up, documented appraisals for insurance purposes. I’ve worked with clients of all walks of life, even traveling to rural Illinois to appraise an entire estate of about 100 items.

Being a jewelry appraiser is a fun job and very rewarding, but also has its downfalls. For me, personally, I worked in an office with no windows. The days were long when you had piles of jewelry to appraise–just you and a microscope. My eyesight has never been the same, but obviously aging will also do that to you. I enjoyed breaking stereotypes of a “typical appraiser.” Young women usually aren’t the ones getting pulled from the back of a jewelry store when someone has a question about their jewelry. I remember a customer telling me, “wait you’re the appraiser? I was expecting an older man!”

I’ve been putting together this list for awhile now and wanted to share my top insights/important things I’ve learned from my five years of being a jewelry appraiser–let’s start from the top:

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1. While most appraisals I’ve done were dealing with happy clients that were getting insurance on their items to hopefully prevent anything bad from happening so they could potentially be covered–I also dealt with the opposite. So many disgruntled clients who were stolen from or lost an item that they deemed “irreplaceable” only to have it vanish. It happens–jewelry gets stolen, jewelry gets lost. I couldn’t recommend getting your jewelry appraised enough! I have never heard so many of the same stories of how things got stolen–the caregiver, the plumber, a son/daughter’s friend that came over, the list goes on. Bottom line, if you frequently have people coming in/out of your house–your jewelry items need to be insured and hidden.

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2. I’ve also appraised lots of items that were randomly found by people–whether it was on the ground, inside an old house that was being renovated, or at garage sales in a junk pile–dreams do come true and treasure is still out there!! My favorite story comes from a lady who was renovating a house that was recently purchased. She was moving an old, tall grandfather clock that was left with the house, when she noticed something behind the pendulum part of the clock. It was a ring box with a solitaire ring inside. She thought for sure it was fake, but sure enough it was an Old European cut diamond that was 1.50 carats and worth $10k!

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3. There are a lot of appraisers out there that aren’t doing it right. They think putting a crazy high value on a retail replacement appraisal will make their customer happy because it is nowhere near what they paid for that same item. So, this in turn makes the customer incredibly satisfied, thinking they got a steal of a deal. It is crazy because I honestly can’t even find comparables or a way to justify valuing some jewelry items so high. In the end, it doesn’t really help anyone because the customer ends up paying higher deductibles on insurance and also when they go to sell their jewelry, they have this clouded value of what they think that item is worth. Find an appraiser that is putting reasonable values on things and not outlandish replacement values.

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4. If there is any type of jewelry that I feel doesn’t hold its value over time, it would have to be watches. I know so many people are going to hate me for saying this, including my husband who invests in Rolexes (not smart lol), but it is true. Resale values on watches are usually less than 1/3 of what you paid for it. That is relatively speaking though. And yes, there are some watches that age like fine wine and hold, if not increase, their value.

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5. You’re only slightly offending your appraiser when you ask to be present while appraising your jewelry. This was my number one request I would get asked when people would make an appraisal appointment. It was hard to make exceptions for people and allow them to come back into normally-closed-quarters for the public. But at the same time, I could relate and understand where they were coming from. I can’t imagine leaving my engagement ring with someone for several days to get appraised. So while it may easily be taken offensively from an appraiser’s point of view, looking at it from a concerned client’s point of view helps. And yes, I would make exceptions–but no, not everyone does!

xoxoGemGossip

WANT MORE? Check out my Instagram Tips

*All above photos are pieces of jewelry I’ve appraised during my five years as a jewelry appraiser. None of them belong to me.

Thanks to Gossip Gem

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Jewelry Marketing 101: What’s NOT Working

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So you’re the creative type…or the type that has a unique eye. You’re a jewelry designer, an antique jewelry seller, or someone that has jewelry ready to sell. Jewelry marketing is a whole different realm of what most would consider typical jewelry business tasks. It is something I never thought I would be able to give my opinion on, but I can because I’ve lived it and found myself in this sector of the business more than I realized. I’m trying to break down my tips into simple steps anyone can take, whether you’re a veteran in this business and want to try something new or if you just graduated from a trade school with a jewelry collection on the horizon. So here is my list of ways you can market your brand or your jewelry line, with an emphasis on things that also DON’T work!

1. Photography is everything! Invest in a good camera or better yet, someone that is a photographer with jewelry or product photography as their specialty. If you ask anyone, they will tell you–jewelry is so hard to photograph! And they’re right.

Good photos may be a key aspect to showing off jewelry and that isn’t groundbreaking news. But what I’m about to say next might be: don’t use photos that are highly photoshopped or unrealistic. As a consumer, we want to see the actual piece of jewelry in a real setting–make it relatable, attainable. I don’t want to see an overphotoshopped model wearing jewelry in a posed setting with a fake smile. I want to see real women wearing jewelry in their everyday lives. Editorial shoots are cool, but just don’t overphotoshop.

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2. Social media platforms are SO important. Set yours up to look professional, concise and engaging. You want someone to look at your page and become interested. Grab their attention. Something that is quite popular right now is having a condensed, clean look that all flows together. Basically, a uniform and on-brand look. Every picture fits with your brand and is professionally executed.

This sounds all good, but I’m actually going to tell you the opposite. I like when jewelry brands mix things up, keep me on my toes and post photos that are off-the-cusp. Keep me INTERESTED. Uniform branding is often BORING. For example, here’s what not to do: first post is a high res image of a ring, next photo is a quote, next photo is the jewelry worn on a model, next image is a bunch of flowers, and then it repeats without missing a step. Nothing random ever thrown in the mix. Don’t do that!

I’ve asked Brooke of Arrow & Anchor Antiques, which boasts nearly 18k followers on Instagram with only 550 posts ever, what her opinion on the matter is…she says,“I am hesitant to have a uniform branding for my company. My aesthetic is my brand and it’s all over the place. I dig that. It may not appeal to the masses, but is that really my target audience? I’m selling one-of-a-kind vintage and antique pieces that might be better sold in an intimate setting like a trunk show or private sale.”

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Online Jewelry making classes

I was talking to my friend and fellow blogger a few days back regarding her Europe travels and she remarked that she had only travelled to all those places as she was already stationed abroad and that it requires dedication to travel to another country (and continent) just to learn a skill and better yourself. She, ofcourse was referring to my latest USA travel to attend Beadfest Workshops

I was talking to my friend and fellow blogger a few days back regarding her Europe travels and she remarked that she had only travelled to all those places as she was already stationed abroad and that it requires dedication to travel to another country (and continent) just to learn a skill and better yourself. She, ofcourse was referring to my latest USA travel to attend Beadfest Workshops. Some people might consider me lucky but only I know the hurdles that I had to cross and planning and work that I had to do (and still doing) to make the trip happen.
Many have also written to me asking if I could teach them enamelling or Precious metal clay that I learnt there. As a full time design educator, I am not someone who takes teaching lightly and without really practicing what I had learnt ( I mean I just did it once in a few hours time!) and experimenting with different techniques I cannot teach them.
But this Diwali, we are all indeed lucky. You and me can take any class we want, from world class instructors in the comfort of our our own homes for just $20 at Craftsy. Post contains affiliate links

craftsy classes sale

Yes you heard it right! Craftsy is now having a mega sale on its classes – you can learn anything from water color painting to how to sew a bra or how to solder metal for $20 starting today till Monday. Isn’t this a great Diwali bonus?
The best part about craftsy classes is, once you buy a class, it never expires. So you can watch the demo over and over again or go back to it and watch a particular step if you ever get a doubt which is not possible in a live class which far outweighs the other benefits

 

Craftsy online classes

I do agree that not everything can be learnt online, in a asynchronous platform. As jewelry being a touchy feely subject you might think that learning online might not work out for you. This issue can be simply solved by picking classes and techniques that can easily be learnt online. Here is a handy guide aka cheat sheet to help you figure that out.

How to Pick Jewelry making classes online

1. Material Availability – Pick a class where the materials are easily available to you (locally) or that use materials in stock as you need to be able to practise the skill that you just learned. For E.g – Take a Creative wire jewelry class if you already have base metal or artistic wire and required tools with you
2. Technique Up gradation A new or advanced technique class where you have experience with the material For e.g A Metal Form folding class will help advance your sheet metal skills, A Resin casing and sculpting class will help you further polish your resin jewelry making skills

cheat sheet on how to pick a online class

3. Learning tips and tricks To get guidance from a master – to learn tips and tricks of the trade. If you are self taught in soldering, then taking a course like Soldering Success in Every Scenario will equip you with tips and tricks that you would take years to learn by yourself.
4. International Exposure Pick a class which is not taught locally in your state or country. Believe me, it is much easier (and cheaper) to import materials and try out a technique taught online rather than flying to another country to try learning it, especially if you are not sure if you are going to practice it professionally after learning it. It is almost impossible to find a tutor to teach Torch fired Enamelling in India but it can be easily learnt online.

Pin or print out the above cheat sheet on how to pick a online class and use it as a guide whenever you are faced with a dilemma. Remember to never let your age, health or financial issues come in the way of your learning to be the best that you can be. Whether you are looking to add a new skill to your repertoire or pursue a new hobby, I hope that craftsy’s classes give you the best that you are looking for.


I hope you found it interesting. Wishing you all a very very Happy Diwali. May this festival of Lights with your lives with happiness and prosperity Cheers

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