In the age of the Internet, it's common for people to head for online auction sites, such as eBay, in the hope of finding not only what you have been looking for but also a bargain. Unfortunately you maybe one of many searching for the same items. Even more of a problem can be that the seller is knowledgeable and experienced in grading and selling antique jewelry, knows exactly what he wants for the piece that he is selling, knows its value and has priced it accordingly.
Of course, that doesn't mean you can't find some bargains at online auctions. It's still worth keeping an eye on the more popular sites. Review the many jewelry auctions, as well as the antiques section. Always check the sellers reputation before making a bid. Using eBay it is easy to check the sellers statistics and you also can check the feed back from previous sales. Use an escrow service if the price is high. Most importantly, communicate with the seller to make sure you understand exactly what you're buying. Many a novice buyer has made the error of thinking that what the seller means by a description turns out not to be the same that the buyer understands. This last sentence is a little dense but means that the buyer and seller do not speak the same language when jewelry is discussed and specially described for a sale. Furthermore the buyers and sellers on eBay are watched carefully and trouble from “sharp" practices of a seller is usually not tolerated for very long. But, as always , you should recognize that buying long distance on the Internet rather than a local store means that you should keep the old slogan in mind-"buyer beware. "
But don't give up - there are other, better sources of wholesale antique jewelry. You simply need to look where other people aren't looking. One great resource is your local newspaper. Check for estate and garage sales being held close by. Check them out, because it's sometimes likely that the seller might be unaware of the value of the jewelry they're selling. Usually though antique dealers and those who organize and run what are called “estate sales" are pretty knowledgeable but may want to make a sale and move on so you have a chance to do some dealing. I remember reading about the buyer at a small “estate sale" who uncovered a complete uniform of a Civil War Union Sharpshooter under some old blankets in a chest. He was able to buy the uniform from the lady who purchased the chest. She told him that she would probably throw the mild-dewed clothing away. Both were happy because he know what the uniform was worth and she had the old chest to decorate and sell in her antique shop.
If you're going to check out local sales for bargains, though, don't make it too obvious when you're interested in a piece of jewelry. If you get out a magnifying glass and start examining the piece in detail, you're likely to tip off the owner. After all, if you're familiar with antique jewelry then your hunch is probably right, and for the sake of a few dollars, it's better to buy the jewelry and take it away for close examination or valuation, rather than risk having the price skyrocket because of your interest.
This means that you may end up buying some worthless junk along the way, but that's okay. The genuine pieces you find will more than make up for the few dollars you spend on worthless pieces. It's important to realize that once you've made a find or two, you may become addicted to visiting yard and estate sales. Just remember that your interest in jewelry may be not only to make a little money but also the pleasure that is evident in the beauty of an antique piece of jewelry. One of the nicest pieces that I have seen was actually sold by the Smithsonian here in the states. Many times they will sell reproductions of some of their jewelry in their Christmas Uncatalogued. This piece was a small ladies ring with a garnet surrounded by seed pearls. It was delicate and lovely and although not an actual antique piece was in its own right a collectible that you could wear without worrying that the seed pearls would drop out or the ring come apart. I wish you Happy buying and I hope you come upon that “once in a life time" type of deal.
Jim Ott is a visitor to yard sales and estate sales. Visit his jewelry website at http://www.berts-jewelry.com