All posts by Lisa

Dating Jewelry: Landmark Discoveries, Inventions, and Historical Events

Dating jewelry is done through multiple methods:  looking at design and stylistic clues; at construction techniques; at hallmarks; at materials used; and at patent numbers. However there are certain discoveries, inventions, and historic events that are milestones in jewelry history and knowing a few of them can help narrow down the date of a lot of pieces and eliminate some faulty attributions.  I’ve arranged these chronologically and included items of interest to collectors of both fine and costume jewelry. read more

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The Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy

Mercanteinfiera
Pietra Dura Tray

When most people think of Parma, Italy they think of cheese and ham.  But antique-lovers should re-evaluate and think of Parma as a twice-a-year destination for antiques, served up with an exceptionally good side of food!  That’s because twice a year, in the spring and fall, the Mercanteinfiera – the largest antique show in Italy and one of the largest antique shows in Europe – is held in Parma. Thanks to the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Fiere di Parma, the show promoter, I was invited to attend the Mercanteinfiera in October 2016 along with a group of antique dealers and interior designers. read more

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Antiquing in Brimfield

BrimfieldThree times a year – in May, July, and September – the small Massachusetts town of Brimfield transforms into a massive antique fair. Running from Tuesday through Sunday, “Brimfield”  is actually an agglomeration of twenty shows that take place in multiple fields and buildings throughout the week.  The shows stretch along about a mile of Route 20, a two-lane road that runs through the center of town.

I’ve been to Brimfield many times over the past dozen years.  Here is my advice on what to expect and how to have the best shopping experience. read more

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Identifying Georgian and Victorian Fakes

fakesUPDATED FEBRUARY 2016 

I love Georgian and Victorian jewelry and am horrified by the quantity of fakes on the market.  In an attempt to bring these fakes to light, I’ve been undertaking an intense study of reproductions that are available for sale. fakesWhile these pieces are being sold as “reproductions” by their manufacturers, they rapidly hit the secondary market as genuine antiques, sometimes by unscrupulous dealers, and sometimes by people who genuinely believe they are old. Studying fakes won’t necessarily teach you how to spot genuine antiques, but it will hopefully help prevent you from making purchasing mistakes. read more

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Secret Shopping Days at the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale

White elephant sale
A Small Portion of the Art Department

The Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale is the mother of all rummage sales in the Bay Area. Now in its 56th year, the sale is a major fundraiser for the Oakland Museum of California and a major vintage shopping destination.  While I first attended the White Elephant Sale about 20 years ago, I only learned about the secret donor shopping days several years ago.  Admittedly it’s not that big a secret since, if you read their website carefully the information is there, but it’s buried several pages in and not broadcast on the home page.  Once you know about donor shopping days you’ll always want to shop during them.  I save items all year to donate to the White Elephant Sale just so that I can shop during donor shopping days. read more

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Passports with a Purpose Fundraiser

Passports with a PurposeBecause I write about traveling in search of antique jewelry on this blog I’ve gotten to know a lot of travel bloggers over the past year and, through them, the wonderful organization Passports with a Purpose. Passports with Purpose (PwP), which started in 2008, is an annual travel bloggers fundraiser and Worldreader is our 2015 beneficiary. Funds raised will bring digital readers to five libraries in Kenya. I’ve donated two pieces of vintage jewelry to the fundraiser: a Mexican enamel necklace and a Norwegian enamel brooch (see below for more information about Worldreader and about the jewelry that I’ve donated). read more

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Weekly Antique Markets in London

London is one of the great cities in the world in which to go shopping for antiques and almost every day of the week there is an antique market in which to find them.  Here is a list of the weekly markets and my tips for shopping at them:

antique markets in london

Monday:  The Jubilee Market Hall in Covent Garden has markets every day of the week, but Monday is antique day. The market opens early (5am) but on my latest trip I arrived at about 9:00 am and many dealers were just starting to set up; from talking to several dealers I gather that during the early morning hours they are busy selling amongst themselves.  The items available are smalls:  silver, china, decorative objets, jewelry, clothing. read more

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The Best Antique Market in London: Kempton Park

best antique market in london
Exterior pitches

The best antique market in London isn’t actually in London and,  as a result, often isn’t listed in guidebooks or internet searches. But if you love antiques and are visiting London, you should make a point of attending the antique market held twice a month at the Kempton Park racetrack. It’s an easy train ride from central London so, do as the locals do, and head to Kempton in search of antiques.

The Kempton Park Market

Formally known as the Sunbury Antiques Market, but referred to by locals as “Kempton”, it is held on the second and last Tuesdays of each month, rain or shine.  TIP: be sure to check the calendar because the LAST Tuesday can be the fourth of or fifth week of the month.  About 600-700 dealers are located in a series of three indoor spaces plus outdoor spaces. read more

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Antiquing in England: Newark Antiques Fair

The Newark Antiques and Collectors Fair

The Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair is the largest in Europe (according to its promoters), with up to 2500 dealers. Held at the Newark and Nottinghamshire Showground, about an hour-and-a-half train ride from London, the fair has a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, so it goes on rain or shine.

Newark
Newark Antique Fair Site Plan
Newark
View inside one of the buildings

The Newark antiques market is vast (84 acres) and, depending on your collecting interests, can take a full day or two to traverse.  On my first visit two years ago I  arrived the night before so that I’d be ready to go early in the morning. What I discovered during this visit is that the majority of jewelry dealers (my primary interest) were located inside a series of large buildings which are shown in black on the site plan. read more

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The Jewelry of Margot de Taxco

Margot de Taxco
Pair of Brooches

Margot van Voorhies Carr, known as “Margot de Taxco” was one of the great designers of Mexican jewelry in the mid-20th century. After moving to Mexico in 1937 she married Antonio Castillo who was working for William Spratling. While still working for Spratling Antonio produced and sold jewelry designed by Margot; because it sold well, Antonio, Margot and his brothers and cousins established “Los Castillo” in 1939 with Margot as principal designer.

After divorcing Antonio Castillo Margot opened “Margot de Taxco” in 1948.  According to Penny Morrill and Carole Berk in “Mexican Silver”, Margot designed everything that her company produced and had book of instructions and drawings for each piece of jewelry detailing their construction and finishing. read more

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