The song lyrics by Seals & Crofts “Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind” comes to me when browsing Dance with Jewels, the Etsy shop own by Harriet. It is a combination shop, specializing in vintage, repurposed and her own handcrafted jewelry. It makes you want to go on a mini-vacation with her jewelry packed in your bags.
Margie: Hi, Harriet. Thanks for sharing your shop and story with us. How and why did you get started collecting Vintage Jewelry?
Harriet: I started buying antique furniture back in 1986 when my husband’s good friend, Jim started “The Antique Sampler Mall” in Arlington Texas. Jim asked me to rent a booth at the new mall. I rented a large booth then started buying and selling small items and vintage jewelry. Furniture was selling fast at his mall so I jumped in and hit the auctions. My husband joined me at the auctions for containers that came in from England, France, and Argentina. We became addicted to the mystery and the thrill of the hunt!
We had to help deliver the furniture to the malls loading dock. I did the painstaking cleaning of the furniture to get it ready to sell. We both had full-time jobs at a major company. This was becoming exhausting since the furniture was heavy and hard to move. Since I adore selling vintage jewelry, it was painless to give up the furniture. The added advantage was it was easy to move and clean, and lighter to ship!
Margie: What pathways led you to open Dance with Jewels on Etsy?
Harriet: In 2010, when Etsy was a fairly new online market place, I opened a shop. I thought it would be an adventure in selling! LOL! We all were pioneers in those days, finding out what worked and what didn’t. It was good to have a large national and international network available to sell what I had collected.
Margie: Harriet, deciding on a name for a business can be both interesting and difficult. How did you pick your shop name, Dance with Jewels?
Harriet: Ten years ago while I was watching “Dancing with the Stars” on T.V., I decided that I would like the dance theme in my shop’s name. I wanted something fun and happy. But different versions were already taken on Etsy, and so I picked “Dance with Jewels”.
Margie: What other things would you like us to know about you and/or Dance with Jewels?
Harriet: Besides, vintage jewelry, I also sell my own creations.
After retiring from a major airline, I started making artisan jewelry and re-purposed broken vintage jewelry as a creative release. My pieces are delicate, feminine and fit with lots of different colors and styles. I like to make different styles of jewelry, and one-of-a-kind hand-painted patina pieces. In addition, I love to add patina paints to seashells, mermaids, or new finds!
I started using broken vintage jewelry in my designs because it is so sad to see beautiful vintage jewelry that can’t be worn. I give them new life and hope my customers enjoy my results.
My home workshop is located in Galveston Texas. I live by the ocean and the bay area on the Gulf of Mexico. There is plenty of creative inspiration just looking out of the windows!
Margie: Even though we say we don’t, we all have personal prized items in our shops. Harriet, what is your favorite piece of jewelry in Dance with Jewels?
Harriet: I have a blue vintage crystal choker necklace in my shop that I adore. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, necks were smaller in size compared to the size of necks at the present time. It seems it could possibly be due to our dietary changes and the rise of the fast food chains.
This blue chocker is so elegant with small blue rhinestone flowers.
Margie: Have you ever found any surprises after you bought something for Dance with Jewels?
Harriet: Once, I came across a pair of vintage 1950s Weiss chandelier earrings. I was so very excited to find them that I asked the estate sale manager if he made a mistake on the price. He told me he did not care for vintage jewelry and that he preferred to sell furniture. That was enough for me to purchase them! It had a little wear which I described in my shop listing and documented the piece with pictures. I set a fair price and sold them within a week.
Many items in my shop are not signed pieces but have beautiful quality and style. I find vintage jewelry is the best value to collect.
Margie: Harriet, are there any items you buy for your shop but keep for yourself?
Harriet: Throughout the years, I have bought a lot of rhinestone crosses for resale and sold a few. It made me very sad. So, I have stored what I have left as keepsakes. My mother loved crosses. When she traveled, she would buy a cross pendant as a memory of her trip.
In addition, I like southwest jewelry, artisan and creative jewelry, antique and vintage. I keep some of these in a collection for myself.
Margie: Some vintage jewelry collectors and sellers specialize in style and types. What is your favorite type of jewelry, period of jewelry and/or designer? Where do you look to find it?
Harriet: Antique jewelry is my passion, but it is getting harder to find. I go to estate sales, auctions, and local antique and resale shops all over the area to search for treasures.
My husband passed away 10 years ago, and now I have a boyfriend from France. He thinks antiques should be over 100 years old. I laugh when I am buying a lot of items for my shop that are from the ’80s and ’90s.
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?
Harriet: I think communication with the customers is the key to service. All of my pictures have been enlarged to show full details of the jewelry. I make sure measurements are included as well as full details on each item.
Also, I send all jewelry purchases from Dance with Jewels in a gift box with plenty of bubble wrap to secure the packages for mailing. In addition, I offer free US shipping.
Margie: What is the best advice you can give to someone else about selling vintage items?
Margie: Since marketing is critical for all small businesses, how do you market Dance with Jewels?
Margie: Most of us have more than one selling venue. Harriet, where do you sell your treasures?
Harriet: My main selling venues are Dance with Jewels on Etsy and The Positively Grand Re-Sale shop in Bacliff Texas. I firmly believe antique and vintage jewelry will rise in value. So, hang on to it. Etsy is a wonderful source for investing in the future by buying vintage jewelry!
I could not help but picture the Gulf of Mexico when I read about Harriet and Dance with Jewels. There is something romantic and pretty about that vision. This is also true with Harriet’s shop. When I look at her jewelry, I can almost see the ocean and feel a soft breeze.