Era Antiques and Finds is the shop of longtime Vintage Jewelry Team member Marirose. From the minute I read my first online post from Marirose, I felt her joy and love for life, a sincere connection with people and a true admiration for the things she collects and sells.
Margie: Hello, Marirose. It is pleasure to talk to you. How and why did you get started collecting vintage jewelry?
Marirose: My maternal grandmother was quite a fashion diva. In the fifties and sixties when I was a little girl, whenever we visited my grandparents my cousins and I would play dress up and put on fashion shows for everyone. We’d raid my Gram’s huge closet full of many wonderful dresses, hats, purses, and shoes. We would pick out an outfit, and then accent it with fabulous mid-century jewelry from her very large collection. Sometimes I would just look through that jewelry for hours. It always delighted and fascinated me, and I never lost that.
Margie: From a little girl playing dress-up, what pathways led you to open Era Antiques and Finds on Etsy?
Marirose: I’ve always loved vintage and antique furniture, décor, jewelry, and fashion. I inherited many things from my grandparents and later my parents. In between, I bought and collected much. Too much really and it was beginning to get quite overwhelming. I mean just how much can you display, and just how much jewelry can you wear? Packing it away is such a shame. No one can see it or enjoy it.
I started selling off some of what I had in brick and mortar antique shops and malls but always wanted my own shop. Having my own brick and mortar store was just not feasible, and then I discovered Etsy. This is truly my dream job! I can sell what I no longer want of my own, and still buy what I love to sell to someone who would love it as much as I do.
Margie: Now we get to talk about vintage jewelry! What is your favorite type of jewelry, period of jewelry and/or designer? Why does it inspire you?
Marirose: Goodness, this is a hard question for me to answer because I love it all. If I had to choose I’d have to say the Victorian and Art Deco periods are my favorite. Victorian jewelry is truly lovely to me. It amazes me that it has survived. I love trying to imagine who wore these beautiful delicate pieces and what they wore them with. To own pieces of Victorian jewelry to me is a privilege that comes with a responsibility to cherish and preserve them not only for myself but also for future generations.
I love the designs and lines of Art Deco era jewelry. This was a really important and exciting time in the history of fashion. The women’s movement was just beginning and women began to express themselves more with style. The delicate and demure fashions were still around, but they were now taking a back seat to the bold and beautiful pieces that said: “hey look at me”.
As a result, jewelry designers began to get more creative and bold with their pieces to cater to the desires of their customers. One of the most fabulous creative companies and designers of this era was Miriam Haskell and her head designer Frank Hess. Haskell ran the business and handpicked all the materials used in the jewelry. She was very picky about what went into her jewelry and the quality of the workmanship. What most don’t know is that she was not a jewelry designer. That credit goes to Frank Hess who was a super talented jewelry artist. I love all of Haskell’s jewelry, but the Art Deco Haskell Hess era is my favorite by far.
Margie: Marirose, what is your favorite piece of jewelry in your Era Antiques and Finds and why?
Marirose: Another tough one to answer because I have quite a few pieces in my shop that I really love. I guess if I have to pick just one, for now, it would have to be my early Frank Hess Miriam Haskell Mother of Pearl Shell Coral Bead Choker Necklace on Silk Cord. As I said earlier, I’m a big fan of Haskell and especially the Frank Hess Art Deco period pieces.
During the early part of the Haskell Hess Art Deco period, Miriam Haskell was really into using genuine shells and coral in her jewelry. Of course, those shells had to be cut and carved perfectly and the coral beads had to be hand strung onto the shells. If the shells and coral were to be strung on cord, it had to be silk cord and the silk cord had to beautifully hand braided.
Then, of course, there was the clasp. Fish Hook clasps were the thing then, but Haskell would never settle for just a plain old metal fish hook, instead, she had Frank design a beautiful one. In this case, it’s a large oval prong set genuine mother of pearl. I Love everything about this piece and would have not put it in my shop for sale except that I have another one of my own which is very similar to this one. You can bet mine will never be for sale. Ha!
Margie: As I am looking at your shop, I see a lot of care for the items. When you look for an item for Era Antiques and Finds, what are you looking for and where do you look?
Marirose: When I look for items to sell in Era Antiques and Finds, I always make sure that whatever I buy is something I really like. I feel that I can’t sell something to anyone if I myself don’t like it. The items I sell come mostly from either my own collection or estate sales. I do also check garage sales simply because you just never know what you’ll find. I have found some great pieces.
Margie: Part of the fun of this business is you never know what you will find. Have you ever found any surprises after you bought something for Era Antiques and Finds?
Marirose: Oh yes, many times. When I was a shop dealer at a mall, I specialized in antique furniture. I’ve found many genuine diamond and gemstone rings, old coins, old stamps etc. I once found a very primitive pioneer era homespun pin cushion with very old needles and pins in it hidden in the drawer of a very early antique wash stand.
My biggest find was at an estate sale early in my dealer days. I found what I thought was a beautiful art deco era picture frame hidden in a bookshelf behind some crummy old paperback books. Twelve dollars was the price for the frame. I had been looking for a really nice frame for a family picture and was thrilled to find it for such a great price. I got it home and unpacked it. On the back, it was signed by Tiffany and Company New York! Turns out it wasn’t a picture frame at all, but instead a very rare desk calendar frame which was part of a rare 1920’s era Tiffany desk set. I sold it soon after to a big collector for a very, very large price.
Margie: I think all of us who collect loves stories behind what we sell but we also like the stories we gather from our shops. What is your best funny or heartwarming story that happened on Era Antiques and Finds?
Marirose: Oh, it has to be the young man who purchased a vintage jewelry box that I had rescued from an estate sale. When I found it the bones of the box were in wonderful condition, but the leatherette on the top had seen better days. I don’t consider myself a crafty person, but I gave the box a bit of a “facelift” by using some broken vintage jewelry pieces. I was a bit nervous about what he’d think of it when he got it. He sent me a message telling me he was thrilled with it and he couldn’t wait to give it to his new bride on their wedding day!
Margie: We all have antique and vintage items that speak to us. What items do you buy that you have to keep for yourself?
Marirose: I started out as a furniture dealer;, my entire house is furnished and decorated with Victorian and Art Deco pieces. But I have to admit that I have kept many pieces of jewelry, purses, vanity items etc. Since I’m “confessing” here, I should admit that my most unusual “keeper” is a fabulous Victorian black lace and sequin mourning dress, hat, chatelaine purse, cane and umbrella which I display in my office on a mannequin. Her name is Petunia for some reason. My office has a glass door and is located off of my living room where I watch TV. I sometimes get spooked when I happen to glance that way and catch a glimpse of Petunia. She looks so real. Ha!
Margie: Do you specialize in an area of vintage? If so, which area is it? And can you tell us something you find interesting in this area?
Marirose: I’ve always loved antique and vintage vanity items, purses, hats, and clothing from the Victorian era through the 1960s. I just love all the lovely detail on the vanity items. The clothing and accessories from those eras just fascinate me. Each era brought a new style and to me, each era’s style was wonderful and feminine in its own way. From the fussy fancy Victorian style to the Art Deco era when women started to become more independent and daring. The forties war era found women dressing for work as well as for happiness in a very hard time. The fifties were cute and chic and elegant, and of course, the sixties were bold and colorful and sometimes wild.
Margie: When you researching an item, what is your best source for information?
Marirose: I have many books that I use all the time. My wonderful and very knowledgeable fellow teammates from The Vintage Jewelry Team have shared many jewelry informational websites. I find those sites to be very helpful.
Margie: What do you like about having Era Antiques and Finds on Etsy?
Margie: It is hard to develop good customer service online. Is there something you do special for your customers and if so, what is it?
Marirose: I try to treat each of my customers as I would want to be treated as a customer. All questions are answered to the best of my knowledge as quickly as possible. I pack my items very well and use a lot of packing material on each item. I ship as quickly as possible too. These may not be “special” things, but to me, they are so very important. There’s nothing worse to me than to ask a question about an item and not get an answer. Or to have to wait forever for a seller to ship your purchase only to have it arrive damaged due to poor packing.
Margie: Marketing online can be hard but also usually necessary. How do you market Era Antiques and Finds?
Margie: When we are out collecting and selling, we also pick up some words of wisdom. What is the best advice anyone gave you about selling vintage items?
Marirose: My wonderful “old time” dealer friends always said be sure to buy what you love. Do your “homework” meaning research your pieces well. Price your items fairly, but don’t devalue them by pricing too low. Most of all, be honest about what you are selling.
If you love what you do here on Etsy, treat your customers well and take pride in your work, your shop, and your merchandise; all the rest will fall into place.
Margie: Very wise words indeed. Thank you, Marirose, for talking to us. What other things would you like us to know about you and/or your Era Antiques and Finds?
Marirose: I truly love what I do! It’s a lot of work and sometimes a big challenge to own and operate a shop on Etsy, but to me the pros out way the cons. I see myself doing this and still loving it hopefully for many years to come.
Without a doubt, Marirose is on a labor of love with her business, but it is more than that. I have a feeling that even as a little girl playing in her grandmother’s closets she was full of love and joy, and having a great time in what she was doing.