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Entries in selling jewelry online (2)

Read This Before Buying Antique Jewelry Online or Through Instagram!

Antique Jewelry Gem Gossip Antique Jewelry Gem Gossip

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

Valentine's Day Picks from KAVADOR

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Launched in 2015, Kavador was created with a main goal in mind: to dig into the vaults of jewelry stores around the country and give these hidden jewels their time to shine online! Jennie Pastor, CEO and Founder of Kavador, and myself have a few things in common. One of them being that we both realize there are so many amazing pieces of jewelry out there belonging to smaller, independent jewelers that don't have the means to promote their inventory online. Websites are expensive and having one that is fully functional with e-commerce capability is often way over a jewelry store owner's head. Just as I like to travel the US, visiting jewelry stores to showcase all that is out there, Kavador does as well! Only they have a whole team dedicated to curating items they find and listing them online, available for purchase. Kavador has quickly become a growing marketplace for stores to sell their pieces and for jewelry lovers to frequent often to find new treasures. And if you glance at their inventory, you'll recognize right away how this website needs to be on your radar and checked regularly! Their SOLD gallery is fun to look at as well, although it is slightly sad because they've already found their forever home.

I'm so excited to partner with Kavador--not only have I gotten the chance to learn more about this amazing company and speak with Jennie (interview below) but I also got to curate my own favorites just in time for Valentine's Day. I've also got a special treat for everyone--have $150 credit on me! Have fun exploring the vaults of Kavador and use code GEMGOSSIP150 from now until the end of February for your $150 credit.

>> Shop my Valentine's Day Picks here! <<

Hope you enjoy my interview with CEO Jennie Pastor--and be sure to follow Kavador here:

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As a kid, I have always been attracted to glitter and sparkle - I made my own accessories, tinkered with colorful nails and clothes and hair... No surprise then that I married into a family of jewelers and gemologists!

My family has been in the fine jewelry business for over 40 years, owning and operating independent retail jewelry stores and developing relationships with jewelry lovers and buyers as they select and maintain jewelry for generations. I've personally watched how dramatically the industry has changed in the last decade, specifically the challenges faced by independent local retailers in the face of changing consumer buying patterns and reduced in-store foot traffic.

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The concept of Kavador began at a family dinner - my father-in-law, who owns a number of local fine jewelry stores, was lamenting the outsized expense and poor returns of his recent investment in a new custom website. His expertise is in fine jewelry and in-person sales and customer service; digital marketing and e-commerce are not in his bag of tricks! Our family then began exploring the issue together: how could local independent jewelers reap the benefits of the growth in online jewelry sales without damaging their local brand and bottom line?

And from that dinner, Kavador was born...

We saw a startling need for an online marketplace specifically for fine jewelry which would give local retail jewelers and designers a platform to sell jewelry to a broad, national audience through a trusted brand with digital marketing expertise, and give fine jewelry consumers unique access to these treasures otherwise hidden in local jewelers' vaults.

We launched Kavador in late 2015, and have been happily adding new retail jeweler partners and uniting spectacular jewelry with new owners since!

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Kavador's audience is looking for pieces that speak to their individuality and style - statement cocktail rings, with colored gemstones and intricate designs, continue to be big sellers. More broadly, we have seen a real shift in preferences from mass-produced, generic jewelry from big brands toward vintage and estate pieces with bold colors, interesting settings, and... character.

A few of our most recent sales included:

Isa: a multi-colored pave sapphire bracelet

Phoenix: a 34ct cabochon cut Amethyst cocktail ring

Laksha: 15ct blue Topaz cocktail ring

Keely: a Tsavorite Garnet and Diamond butterfly necklace

We curate just one of each piece, so we shed a happy tear each time one of these standout treasures finds a new home - but we're thrilled that our buyers have found their match!

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These last 18 months have been such an adventure!! But my favorite Kavador treasure hunting memory, the one that really affirmed for me this concept of partnering with local jewelers to bring their treasures online, actually happened shortly before we officially launched.

We were out there pitching the Kavador idea to our family's jeweler network and to local jewelers in our town, trying to convince them to take a chance with us, list jewelry online through our start-up brand as part of our launch collection... And one of those meetings, with a local multi-generation family-owned jewelry business, became less of a new business meeting and more of a jewelry gossip session. His collection included mostly estate jewelry, including some spectacular vintage and antique pieces - and the owner was so excited to talk about the unique design features and histories of every item, even flaws became assets (because it gave those pieces "unique character")!! I think we were there for over three hours, most of it going through his jewelry piece by piece, as if he were a teacher talking about individual students.

This jeweler ultimately became part of our "launch crew" of retail jeweler partners, and we are thrilled to have his special treasures available for an online audience that would never otherwise have the opportunity to see them.

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Kavador recently launched a new and enhanced website in November, and the momentum these last few months has been really exciting! We have been adding new retail partners and new jewelry at a steady clip, expanding our marketing campaigns and social media following, and absolutely LOVE hearing from happy customers - some of whom will soon be helping us curate their favorites on the website!

Our dream is for Kavador to become for small, local jewelers and designers what Etsy has become for independent artists and craftsmen - a trusted marketplace for selling special, standout fine jewelry. Jewelry consumers have a clear appetite for special pieces, and a preference for supporting small businesses. Kavador's mission is to unite these consumers with specially-curated inventory from local jewelers, thus helping these jewelers continue to thrive.

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This sponsored post was brought to you in collaboration with Kavador -- all photography by Gem Gossip.

 

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