Gretel's Treasures

Follow her hunt for vintage jewelry and other treasures




You all get to hear about my adventures at the auction.  But that’s not the only place to go treasure hunting. Thrift shops, flea markets,  and yard sales are great places to hunt.  Everyone has different searching techniques.  After a while, the best way to find treasures it to trust your gut. The longer you do this, the better your gut feeling will grow.  Don’t pay attention to people saying, oh that’s just junk jewelry.  Sometimes it’s just a diamond in the rough.

I recently read a facebook post from Courtney, owner of the Ruby Lane shop Mercy, Maude.  She sells a lovely assortment of vintage and antique treasures.  So sit back, and read her treasure hunting story


I’ve got a nice, happy story. A few months ago, I was in a tiny favorite thrift shop in Virginia, where my significant other lives, just a few miles out of DC. Cheap costume jewelry hangs from an expanding peg rack on the wall there, and I aways look it over for the occasional modern Brighton, Loft, Talbots, etc piece that I can sell at a yearly mixed craft/vintage/new show that I do with my best friend. Necklaces there are 2.99 and I resell them for about $10 to $25 apiece.

You know that moment when you look at something that is presented to you as one thing, and you know it’s something else, but your brain won’t accept it because you’re told it’s not? Yeah, that. I see this cheap fake leather cord necklace with base metal clasp and extender, with a dirty pendant with cloudy stones, and my eye, experience, and knowledge said: Um, something isn’t right here. But my brain thought it knew better – it’s junk, right? Fortunately my eyes always wins over my brain, and I took it down, touched the pendant/charm, and went “Yup, it’s good.” Took it to the window but all I could really see was dirt and a junky necklace. But it felt right. Bought it for 2.99.

Took it home, scrubbed it down, took it off the plastic leather cord, took off the oversized base metal jump ring, saw the thin break from wear, located on the ring where you hang it, and realized: white gold, diamonds, peridot charm; the only thing that breaks from wear like that is a 50s gold charm that has been worn pretty much daily on a loaded charm bracelet – looks like someone gave their granddaughter a broken charm, and she put a big loop on it to wear it on a necklace. And then tossed it aside.

I think: Peridot is no big whoop, but gold and diamonds are! And it’s a four leaf clover, heart shaped leaves, and how symbolic for me – my luck in turning up treasures that others dont see, and rehoming once -cherished items.

So I take it to my village jewejer, to be repaired on the loop, and he throws it down and sneers “It’s costume.” He’s been getting ruder over the last couple of years, disappears for weeks at a time, and is doing less decent work. I said politely, Well, how about we test it and see, and he says nastily that he isnt going to waste his time on junk. Which are the last words he gets to say to me because I walked out. (I am never going back, either.)

I take it to my old jeweler in Syracuse, and he’s like, we don’t work on costume, you know. And I’m like – it’s not costume; it’s gold and diamonds. Shouldn’t he know that? He looks at it with the loupe, politely says, “We’ll have Tom (the house repair guy, very good) look at it Monday. Maybe it’s sterling and he can solder a loop.” You can tell he thinks I’m an idiot in this regard.

Tom calls and says yeah its silver I can fix it. I say, did you test it? Those are diamonds and no one sets diamonds in silver. Yes, I know that peridot is no big deal and is commonly set in silver, but this is a 1950s piece and white gold was popular then and peridot with inclusions was used to create leaves, on gold pieces. I feel like I’m giving a history lesson to someone who doesn’t want to hear it but he agrees to test it before proceeding, once I point out that a repair for gold is going to be about four times as expensive.

He calls me back: 14k white gold, good diamonds. Estimated replacement value at least $500.

Here it is, a $40 repair of the loop, and a new ring later. My lucky charm which I am wearing on a chain. I will wear it every time I go out treasure hunting. And be reminded that I need to listen to my self. Yay me!


Please visit Courtney’s lovely shop:

Thanks for visiting,




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