Monthly Archives: October 2013

What about all that costume jewelry in Grandma’s closet?

Decorated-Push-Pins-Main-Page-300x263Well, gee, as long as your 100% CERTAIN it’s costume . . . 

Vintage costume jewelry can bring in good money when it is sold online, especially if it is sparkly or signed by a desirable company like Trifari, Coro, Weiss, Sarah Coventry, Lisner, Money, Napier, and Ann Klein. And it has the advantage of being easy and inexpensive to mail. Take a good close-up photo and give it a go. Or hire a teenager to handle the sales for you, if you’re not fluent in eBay. Such jewelry is also welcome as a donation to nonprofits like Goodwill that resell to the public. 

Jewelry that is reminiscent of the past, such as Art Nouveau or Art Deco, will find a ready market, even if it doesn’t really date from that era. Some people are shopping for a “look,” and the actual date doesn’t matter. 

But please, please, please, before you try to sell or donate, take a box full of jewelry to your local, reputable jewelry shop and ask your friendly, honest jeweler if it is all, indeed, costume jewelry. They can eyeball it and give you a quick answer, and as long as they’re not busy, they won’t mind. (Call first and ask when you could drop by at a slow time.) 

How to clean the tarnished silver you’ve inherited

imagesEveryone tells you NOT to clean or polish old, tarnished silver or it will ruin the value of the piece. If your item is a valuable antique, you obviously don’t want to do that. However, on everyday, modern silverplate or sterling, feel free to polish away and use it regularly! Actually, if you use your silver regularly and wash and dry it regularly, it won’t need polishing; it will stay pretty shiny. 

Old items can be cleaned, but for the most part, that should be done only by a professional or you risk damaging the item. Here’s a gentle way to clean silver that won’t harm your piece: Fill a dish with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. Dry with a soft cloth so the item doesn’t spot. If that doesn’t work and your item dates from the 19th or 20th century, you can use a commercial cleaner or polishing cloth, available at a jewelry store, but never use the harsh silver dips (often sold in grocery stores or on TV) that will damage your piece. And do not put it in the dishwasher. Do not use baking soda (it’s abrasive). If it is older than that, or you suspect it might be, show it to a person who deals in antique silver and ask for advice. 

mgQeHqraGMTR3uGRB6shh4wAnd store whatever silver you decide to keep in Pacific cloth bags (that dark, velvety fabric) to keep it from becoming tarnished. 

P.S. What are the worst substances that cause tarnish? Sad experience has proven to me that eggs, lemon, mayonnaise, and mustard are all toxic to silver. After my silver touches any of those, I need to polish it right away.

Are Any Old Handbags Valuable?

pursesJust about every estate will have some used handbags and evening bags. If you find designer handbags of recent vintage, great! You can sell them online and actually get a good price for them on eBay, Craigslist, or other sites. Nantucket basket purses and evening bags, old or new, usually hold their value. Old ones can be sold to vintage clothing stores. 122092_1_1

Apart from those, used handbags have virtually no value. Your best bet is to donate to Goodwill or the equivalent.