1. Ask if they have more jewelry -broken or mismatched – many pieces dropped off at the Thrift Stores, just need a simple repair; be it a new clasp, or replacing a stone. Assess what you are comfortable doing regarding repairs. Also, the creative minded will be able to see how to change a piece up or repurpose. Likewise, at the flea market, sometimes people have a tray of mismatched or broken pieces. Often they won’t put these out assuming that people are only interested is pieces in good working order. I have found some of my best pieces in these kinds of boxes and bins. For example, I bought a gorgeous, gold tone St. John collar necklace (signed), for $ 5.00 a few years ago, that somehow ended up in a large bin of broken pieces!
2. Look for signatures – 1980s and 90s names are very hot right now. These include Karl Lagerfeld, St. John, Christian Dior, Ann Klein, Oscar de la Renta, etc. I am loving all the big bold pieces from the early 90’s and am thrilled I kept all of my jewelry from this time period! As with all fashion, trends always come back around!
3. Good design -Even if there no signature, if the piece is of good design, or good colors, or beautifully composed it can still be a great piece. Use your gut instinct here, if you like the piece and are attracted to it, and if is fairly priced, buy it!
4. Signs of good quality: Always look for prong set rhinestones- denotes good quality and look for a nice clasp -again, indicative of good quality.
5. Bring your own baggies and tissue to properly wrap any pieces you purchase and I like to shop with a backpack so that I can have both hands free to shop. Also, carry a handiwipe or hand sanitizer because most of the time vintage jewelry is a little dirty and your hands will get soiled going through large batches of jewelry.
6. Bring a loop, reading glasses or magnifying glass to best inspect jewelry and look for a signature.
7. Always ask if the price is negotiable or if you buy several pieces, can a multiple piece purchase discount apply.
8. Use your smart phone to quickly look up prices of like items on eBay to check asking prices, rarity, etc.
9. Pack a small cooler with lunch and beverages. If I am going to the flea market, I like to pack my own lunch with an iced tea. It’s nice to spend the morning shopping and then take a break back at the car with a nice lunch or snack! And I like to save my money so I can spend more on jewelry and other fun vintage merchandise!
10. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt! This is one of my favorite parts of flea marketing and thrifting – finding fabulous, cool jewels!