Near my parents home there is a flea market full of antique sellers called the Golden Nugget. Last year around this time I was searching for stick pins and I ran into Eden, who I unknowingly followed on Instagram already. Today we met at the market and although due to rain the number of sellers was low, we moseyed around looking for treasures.
Eden is a veteran collector who runs an Esty shop called The Eden Collective. She has quite a few personal relationships at this particular flea market that led us to digging around in the back of a couple vans. At each table we'd take turns pointing out our favorite pieces, she shared the history of a piece when she saw something she recognized. It was a fun morning doing one of my favorite things - trying on and discussing jewelry.
Chose to share this necklace because we saw a pin like this and Eden explained that ladybugs are loyal and always return to their spot - vine leaves represent religion, so a lady bug on a leave symbolizes commitment to your faith.
What I like most about Eden is her passion for the meaning behind these pieces, but also her joy in finding a less valuable costume piece that she loves. She knows the value of pieces, but also has a strong value in unique, personal style.
Since Eden was a child she has been collecting jewelry. Her father sold antique furniture and collectibles and used to take her with him to auctions and flea markets.
"He's buy me box lots of sparkly things to keep me occupied - auctions can be day-long affairs and that started my fascination with vintage jewelry and clothing."
Eden's mother is an artist who took her to museums at a very early age, " I always wanted to dress like the court ladies in neo-classical paintings with all their jeweled necklaces and layered rings. Portrait of Madame de Senonnes by Ingres is still my style inspiration."
For a long time Eden thought about having a shop but was too overwhelmed by the idea of a physical storefront given that she already had a full time career as a stylist and costume designer.
"I love the search almost as much as finding 'the thing' - because of that my friends and family had been encouraging me to open a shop."
After years of making and repurposing jewelry with her friend and co-conspirator, Lisa, she decided that Etsy's platform would be ideal to slowly grow her business.
"I enjoy the process of creating as much as the end result of beautifully unique pieces."
As far as favorite era of antique jewelry goes, Eden sees it as a favorite type. "I love and am always excited to find personalized and obviously one-of-a-kind or handmade love token / memorial jewelry. These are things made to document real events, emotion, people and their experiences - it's truly powerful and I believe these pieces are imbued with the energy, hopes and love, if you will, of the original owners. I'm a sucker for a talisman!"
Georgian and Victorian jewelry ranks high on her search list, but she has pieces from the 20th century, specifically trench art bracelets and rings, that fit into that category. Eden loves sparkly things - especially rose, mine and European-cut diamonds, antique pastes and cur-steel as well.
"I will admit to having an obsession for crazy things made out of gold; mechanical charms, oversized cocktail rings and huge brooches form 1940-60."
Eden can't choose an all-time favorite piece from her shop - it changes whenever she finds or re-purposes new pieces.
"There are several pieces I love in the shop right now; a mine cut diamond love struck heart ring repurposed from a stick pin, a Georgian French Royalist rose cut diamond and foiled gemstone giardinetti ring and a gold filled bracelet we made from an antique baby pin that says "baby" in black tracery enamel."
The number one question Eden asks herself when searching for pieces to sell or repurpose is, "would I wear this?" The second, "is it a good example of it's type?" She looks for rarity and style or good design and prefers things that speak to emotion and are emotive.
"I stay on top of current trends and ideas which definitely affects my eye when I'm looking for pieces the shop. I don't choose based on collectability, but rather, wearability, character and, of course, condition. I try to only stock items that are in excellent condition and can be worn and enjoyed without concern."
Eden has two pieces of advice for people wanting to start a collection of antique jewels. One being research.
"There are so many good books out there and of course the web is a great research. Research is your best friend because it will help you recognize the value and rarity of the pieces you find in the open market - information is your best friend. Dealers can be misinformed and no one can be an expert on everything."
Second being, get out there!
"Touch, handle and view as much as possible. Pictures on a computer screen or in a book will tell you a lot, but viewing as wide a range as possible of quality and type will give you the necessary experience to guide the choices you make for your own collection."