Antique and vintage jewelry is a popular collectible, and its demand has created an excellent opportunity for creative-types interested in owning a small business.
Learning how to make money selling vintage jewelry requires some research and patience while assembling a quality inventory and scoping out the most cost-effective sales outlets. Here are some tips on how to successfully start a business selling vintage jewelry:
Become an expert in vintage jewelry.
For non-collectors of vintage jewelry, it’s important to become knowledgeable about the field in general but specifically, it’s important to learn about types of metal used in vintage jewelry, popular designers and collectible pieces. A jeweler’s loop can be used to identify makers and designers marks and metal content.
Aside from gold, sterling silver and vermeil–a combination of silver with gold overlay–rhodium is highly sought after. Rhodium, similar in appearance and value to platinum, was used by quality vintage jewelry designers after World War II.
eBay has a number of useful Buying Guides on vintage jewelry that is worth reading.
Find out the most in-demand categories.
Study what sells. Yes, vintage jewelry is a strong selling category but your items will not sell just because they are jewelries.
There are a wide variety of types, designers and time periods to consider – and some are more popular than others. Do you want to sell brooches, bracelets, necklaces or other pieces? Do you have gorgeous vintage jewelry pieces from Miriam Haskell and Trifari? Do you sell signed vintage designer pieces? Will you sell Victorian or ethnic regional and tribal jewelries as well as vintage reproductions?
If you want a sustainable and successful business, you need to offer in-demand products while catering to the niche categories that you prefer.
Know where to buy your inventory.
Search for vintage jewelry at garage sales, estate sales and church bazaars. Flea markets are also an excellent source for collectible vintage jewelry. Online auctions often sell vintage jewelry in lots. Purchasing jewelry in lots may yield some treasures the seller has overlooked. In addition to looking for designers signatures on jewelry, look for unmarked pieces that show excellent craftsmanship or unusual designs.
Determine how and where to sell, especially online.
One of the biggest questions you will face is where you will sell. You can sell in craft fairs or antiques markets. Be sure to leave adequate markup to leave room for negotiations and haggling from buyers. You can also sell your items on consignment in local vintage shops and boutiques, but the shop owner may keep as much as 50 percent of the price.
Online, you can sell on eBay or sell on your website. It is important to understand what it takes to sell online, including fees involved, accepting payments (especially international payments), photographing your items, among others. We have listed the pros and cons of selling online and selling on eBay in our article How to Sell Online: Sell on Ebay or Sell on Website.
Make customers trust you.
Whether you are selling online on eBay or in an antiques mall, be aware that it takes time to build a clientele and for customers to find you. More importantly, it takes time for customers to trust you. They want to see that you know what you are talking about, and that your goods are worth purchasing.
If you have a track record elsewhere or has a huge inventory of high-quality vintage jewelries, be sure to trumpet that especially online. This is especially critical online where you are not physically present to talk and present your products. Instead, be sure that your descriptions showcase your knowledge about your products. Know the lingo and add them to your descriptions.
Set your prices.
Research prices online and at local vintage shops. Keep prices competitive but leave some room for negotiating with customers. Auction sites such as eBay can give you some idea of the going rate for the prices of similar vintage jewelry.
If you are going to sell on eBay, consider experimenting with using both buy it now and auction formats. Auction formats typically bring in those looking for bargains and those new to your listings, while Buy It Now protects your product by ensuring that you sell it at the price you want.
Tap the international market, especially when selling online.
Selling locally may yield higher prices due to less competition; however, you may get fewer potential sales. There is a huge potential for sales in the international market. In fact, some eBay sellers find that international buyers form the bulk of their sales.
Research how other sellers are doing it.
Go to sites such as eBay and look for established vintage jewelry sellers. Study how they setup their sales – from the number and angles of the photos to titles and descriptions of the vintage jewelries. It is best to provide detailed descriptions of your product, in a succinct preferably bullet-points format. Spell out the item’s qualities and why it is a smart buy.
Also, look at how other sellers conduct their business particularly how they accept payments and their return and shipping policies. This is critical especially if you are selling internationally where there are custom fees involved and longer shipping times.
Vintage jewelries are gorgeous, fun to look at and collect. But for sellers, you want to see them sold. Here are other resources that can help you start to successfully sell antique and vintage jewelry:
- Vintage Revised Jewelry
- Vintage Jewellery Sourcebook
- Warman’s Costume Jewelry: Identification and Price Guide
- The Jewelry Maker’s Design Book: An Alchemy of Objects
Check out the Vintage Jewelry items on eBay:
- How to Boost Your eBay Sales
- Selling Beyond eBay: New Ways to Make Big Money in Online Sales
- How to Start and Launch a Successful eBay Business
- Top 10 Tips for Selling on Ebay
- How to Prepare a Marketing Plan for a Bead Jewelry Business