Gretel's Treasures

Follow her hunt for vintage jewelry and other treasures

Gretel Goes Mining…and Finds Silver January 18, 2013

Another day, another auction. I never know what I’ll find, and depending on the weather, I never know where I’ll be finding it. People set up their aisles to sell the day before the auction. Which means if it’s raining Tuesday, they don’t set up, or if they do set up, the results are a soggy mess. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll arrive on Wed morning to find aisles of wet clothes, magazines, dishes full of puddles of water. It’s so sad. So it rained Tue. and Wed. which was a good news bad news thing. Bad news is, no outdoor auction, good news is I could take my time in the morning, have coffee, check my lists on Ebay (every day I check new listings of things I collect) and mosey on down to the auction around 11:00.

So this meant, I could concentrate on Jewelry this week at the auction. One of my “goals” for the year is to get better educated about Sterling Silver jewelry. I’m not that interested in precious metals, but I’m thinking it’s more efficient to buy “better” jewelry than buy loads of junk costume, wade through the good stuff and be left with a small pile of lovelies and a huge pile of 1990s icky jewelry. You know, plastic beads, plastic rhinestones, broken necklaces, pins with no backs and single earrings. Stuff that’s great for a crafter, not so great for me. So it was a jewelry day for me.

I’m so lucky, I’m able to examine each piece before the auction, figure out what I want to try for, cull out the hidden broken things, and set up my game plan. First I’ll show you my trunk shot. A trunk shot is a picture of all my winnings in the back of my car. Except with jewelry, you don’t get a trunk shot, you get….wait for it…. a shoebox shot!



Do you see anything good in there? There are some treasures, but even with my new game strategy, I ended up with broken stuff, here’s a picture of some of the jewelry spread out:


First up are lots of costume jewelry. The jewelry auction is a very intimate experience. There are about 6 large glass cases set side by side on tables. On one side is the auctioneer, his assistant on the computer, his bidding assistant, and a few bidders who hang out on the auctioneer side. On the other side of the table are the bidders. We’re all squished together, since the jewelry is so small, it’s hard to see everything. I’ve reached the point where I’m up front with 2 other regulars (I don’t know how this happened, but we’re always lined up the same way) A few people sit on the ends of the tables, and some people stand on the tables behind us. Probably no more than 20 people, and the same people bid on the same types of jewelry, so there are only a few potential bidders against me. We’re pretty friendly with each other, griping about the broken jewelry, it’s fun.

My goal is to be first one out of the bidding gate for costume jewelry, often the first bidder won’t have anyone against them. Everythintg is sold in small lots, unless you pick one item out to be bid on seperately. (which I did last week with the sterling crown pin) The lots are usually 3-8 pieces of jewelry, could be more. If I can pick one piece in a lot as desireable, then I’ll bid on it. I picked up a very funky pink beaded necklace, you can see in the picture above. It’s nothing expensive, but it’s fun, colorful and big. I find selling online, those are important factors. You need to take pictures, and big, colorful and funky look great in pictures, whether it’s jewelry, clothing or antiques. Somewhere in the world, this pink necklace is going to be someones treasure that they find online. Selling small ditsy jewelry is harder for me, it just doesn’t show well in pictures, I feel that is better sold in person, whether at an antique show, flea market or store.

So as my title says, I went mining and found silver. Alot of it. I’ve never done this before, I don’t usually have the patience to stick out the whole auction, but that’s my goal this year. Less junk, better quality jewelry. (Remember, costume jewelry isn’t necessarily junk!) My bidding strategy was to try to buy small lots of sterling jewelry at lower prices, thus lowering their cost per item. At this point, I’m not confident about spending 50.00 and up for a piece I don’t know anything about. I do know about costume jewelry from the 1940s, which is what I found 5 sterling with gold wash pieces all signed by names like Van Dell and Coro:



During World War II, metal was needed to fuel the war, make planes, guns, bullets, so base metals weren’t used in costume jewelry. Rather, alot of jewelry used sterling silver, which is what all of the pins in the above picture were made from. It’s fun that now, sterling is precious, and costume is made out of base (like nickel) metals. So when I saw these I was rather happy. I paid alot for these, but I know what they are, and I think they’re pretty cool and I’m sure others will think so also. It’s not my personal style of jewelry, but I love all jewelry from the 20s-60s.

I got got some Mexican silver, including the beautiful oval pin with the glass faux opal below, Siam silver bangle and bracelet, and an interesting dragonfly necklace and earrings set. It’ll be interesting listing these and seeing how they do.



Sad to say, I can always melt them down. Due to the high value of silver and gold we’re losing our jewelry history to the melting pots. It’s so tempting to sell the metal for it’s weight, and I’m sure alot of the items sold at auction are destined for the pot. They always mention weight, and you can hear the calculators in peoples brains figuring out the value of candlesticks and other heirlooms. Plus our tastes have changed in jewelry, dainty Victorian and Edwardian pins aren’t in vogue, so why not melt them. Which means all we’ll be left with is Rhinestones.

Thank you for reading along this far, if you’ve enjoyed this, please tell your friends about my blog. You can always google Gretels Treasures to see what I’m up to.


4 Responses to “Gretel Goes Mining…and Finds Silver”

  1. Would love if you would write for Rock Hall Wave ….
    Cheers and here’s to loving jewelry!

  2. Susan Harris Says:

    Hi Gretchen..looks like you scored on a few sterling pieces..bracelets, pins..etc…I wouldn’t melt those down..they are selling..van dell doesn’t sell that fast but what you have seems to do well…that is just my comments ..some of our team will have a lot to say..but that is a good haul…congrats. Susan, Jewels..

  3. Todd Hughes Says:

    Well I think you probably did better then I did
    Love your blog!

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