Buying vintage jewelry is one of the greatest pleasures in life for me. I scour the internet looking for amazing pieces that I feel tell a story. The more I look at vintage pieces, the easier it gets to figure out if it is something I would actually want to own. Whether at stores or online, I discovered that there is so much to admire about those “old” necklaces or that long wool skirt (if you are into vintage clothing) I first thought were a little antiquated when I was younger. A turning point on my adventures-in-vintage was living in Portland for seven years. I got lost many times between old books, brass bookends, velvet skirts and granny handbags crowding all the little and big shops around the city.
I have not found nearly as many vintage treasure stores in Miami, which is why I’ve turned to the second best option, the internet. I say second best because, though you can’t beat the variety of items to be found online, nothing is better than being able to see and touch things before buying them. Aside from the few surprises (smaller than I expected or not in the best condition), I am usually happy with my online purchases.
There are a few things I have learned to look for when deciding on a new purchase:
- It is only vintage if it was manufactured before 1989
- I usually look for weight, (which is obviously harder to figure out while looking online), especially when it comes to jewelry. Vintage tends to be heavier than recently made jewelry
- Scratches or missing stones. Good pictures are the best when looking for the item’s condition, and if the seller doesn’t have enough pictures or close-ups, I make sure to send them a private message and ask them for more
I prefer “vintage modernist” pieces. Those are the two search words I type on Ebay or Etsy. I get an extra kick when I find something that looks like it could have been made recently but was made thirty years ago. A plus about learning the past of jewelry in general is that I can see how much vintage jewelry has inspired current designs.
These are my three favorite brands so far:
Founded by Italian immigrant Gustavo Trifari in the early 1900s, there is a sumptuous air about every Trifari piece I own. This one is the most playful one, I thought the shell-like design was very appropriate now that I live in Florida.
Founded in 1949 and named after the owner’s granddaughter, this was one of the first jewelry lines to be sold at “house parties”. This triangle pendant is a Sarah Coventry piece.
This fish pendant was one of the pieces that took me longest to finally own. It eluded me for the longest time. I have lost so many bids on it that I couldn’t believe my eyes when it finally arrived.
The company was founded in Massachussetts in 1878. They were known for their avant-garde designs and to this day, some of their pieces look as modern as ever.
These beautiful earrings are Trifari. They are my favorite pair of vintage earrings and though you can see some of the scuffs, they are still in great condition.
Photos by Angela Bolaños