On collecting vintage jewellery. Bruna Harrison's most asked question, answered.
The most asked question from my clients generally is, how and where do I acquire these amazing pieces?
What I can share with you is that collecting for my Sydney store has been an ongoing adventure, as most of the time I never know where and when these beautiful things will appear.
After many years of research, studying and traveling I have connected to and come to know many interesting people and places both in terms of collectors and artisans.
Some of these collectors and artisans I have been directed to and more often than not, others I have stumbled across.
One such moment occurred on a visit to the city of Lyon in the South of France.
On this occasion I found myself lost in a criss cross of tiny alleys and lanes on the outskirts of the city and as is usual for me no maps and at that time no phone, so googling was not an option. Ambling around in a disoriented daze I spotted a tiny shop jammed full of old antique and vintage dolls, as my mother is an avid antique doll collector I ventured in to explore the possibility of purchasing a doll for mum.
On entering the store there in the corner was a young woman studying one of her dolls with a magnifying glass as she continued to peruse the ins and outs of her latest find.
She spoke not a word of English, so, here I go with my not so perfect French to ask questions about her interesting dolls. During the conversation I fond out that this is her 90 year old grandmothers store who is not able to work as often so this is her granddaughter "Merelyn " stepping up to help her grand mum.
In conversation I began to explain my real purpose for being in this part of the world, and that is to seek out vintage and interesting pieces of jewellery. Ah Oui ! She exclaimed so, as if she had been waiting for me ushered me into the back of the shop and begins to pull open rickety old dusty draws. I was speechless !!!
I could not believe my luck! This was "grand maman's" other interest, as Merelyn described collecting "old jewellery" none of which her daughter was in the least bit interested in. She declared she would sell me whatever I wanted.
Where do I begin? confronting me were draws full of 1930's - 1940's back carved lucite brooches some with antique lace inlay others carved and delicately hand painted all in perfect condition there were filigree and crystal/ pearl necklaces,
rare large chunky galalith burgundy beads with original chrome clasps, amber galore and many more rare and unique treasures. I was invited to sit on the floor and trawl through the draws at my leisure whilst Merelyn continued with her doll research.
"Choose what you want" she said, I wanted it all, however, I knew I could only take so much as there was a limit, I carefully selected what I could and vowed to return to collect more next time. In this collection I purchased nearly all the lucite brooches, the galalith chunky beads, a selection of beautiful early floral / filigree necklaces circa 1930's and a handful of lucite and brass cicada brooches c. 1920's - 30's of which she had plenty (being a typical french good luck charm of the day). These would be perfect for my French cicada collectors who can never have enough. (Sure enough these were the first to go on my return)
As I left with my haul, grateful for my new contact who graciously invited me to return, I vowed I would do so. With no contact details what-so-ever, no phones at the shop, no computer and her home phones were apparently unreliable, the language was a problem so it was entirely up to me to make it back for a second go.
Within weeks of my return to my Sydney store these pieces were sold, recognised, and appreciated by all, as well as my avid collector clients. Read on below images.
The following year my focus was to head back to my doll shop friend only to find It was gone! Yes, shut down gone! A never to be repeated experience, sad but true.
This is the nature of my suppliers; individuals with collections of beautiful things and if your lucky they might allow you a pick of the bunch.
By the way I did purchase a small doll for my mum which she treasures to this day.
There are many stories such as this which I will endeavour to share with you from time to time.
Meanwhile I shall continue the pursuit of rare and interesting pieces because I know this is what you want and this is what I love to do.
I would like to invite you to join in a conversation with us regarding any questions or comments that you may have regarding collecting of vintage jewellery or any interesting pieces that you might have.
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