10 Tips For Finding the Best Vintage Jewelry


Click through the slideshow to get Jillian's top 10 vintage-hunting tips. But if you're more the shop-online-while-watching-reality-TV type (totally my style!) you can also shop Sweet & Spark's vintage pieces!


Try Out Antique Stores

"For starters, I recommend going to antique stores, as they have the largest variety and best quality."

Take a Road Trip

"Every few months, my dad and I get together for what we call a 'sparkhuntin' trip!' Most of the pieces currently on the site came from our last trip back in April. We drove up the East Coast starting in South Florida and stopped along the way in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. The trip was a mix of yard sale-ing, antique/thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. One day we hit 16 antique/thrift stores in one afternoon! I remember one estate sale in Nashville that had beautiful rhinestone brooches still in their original boxes—those are now in our wedding collection!"

Stop at Small Towns

"With my dad as head buyer scouring the entire East Coast and myself out west, we are both at different markets throughout each week. We're learning that bigger and more well-known doesn't necessarily equal better. Sometimes the best places to find vintage goods are in small towns.  A lot of our finds are discovered by just getting in the car and stopping along the way based on what we see or what yard sale our favorite app tells us is nearby. It's very much trial and error."

Don't Forget About Yard Sales

"If you're feeling up for the chase, and don't mind getting out there early and a little dirty, flea markets and yard sales have some of the best treasures for the best price. You never know what you're going to find, and that's part of the rush. Be prepared to find the score of your life (my best find was a pair of Chanel earrings for $1!) or go home empty-handed."

Mark Your Calendar

"The most well-known markets on the West Coast are Alameda Point Antiques Faire just outside of San Francisco and Rose Bowl Flea Market in southern California. Brimfield Antique Show, in Massachusetts, steals the show for best East Coast market. You really need to watch the dates for these shows, as some are only a few times a year while others are more frequent."

Come Prepared

"Bringing a small eyeglass loop with you is always a good idea. That way you can see if a piece is signed by the designer's name; we tend to focus on American designers from the '40s-'90s along the names of Monet, Trifari, Napier, Goldette, Lisner, Kramer and Coro."

Steer Clear of Green Gunk

"While I believe a little wear to the finish gives a piece character, make sure to stay away form pieces that are broken, missing stones or have any green gunk on them. They are more trouble than they are worth."

Watch for Water Damage

"Water is jewelry's biggest enemy, as it can lead to damage if a piece isn't cleaned correctly. With that said, we stay away from anything that's already damaged or in poor condition."

Go for the Gold

"Gold plated jewelry tends to age better than pearls and rhinestones. Back in the day, they used to triple-plate each piece, so older gold finishes tend not to tarnish as quickly as today's fashions do. As pearls and rhinestones age, they more easily become discolored and lose stones. Every girl needs the following vintage gold classics: a tassel necklace, statement stud earrings and a stack of mixed-width bangles."

Know the Trends

"Pierced ears weren't popular until the later 1970s, so most vintage earrings are clip-on—and due to the heavier nature of the predominant statement stud style, they are actually more secure."

Web Editor

I have a vintage cameo from my grandmother that I love—I mean really love. If my apartment caught on fire tonight, I would grab it before I remembered to grab my favorite fur coat. That said, whenever I hear about a new vintage jewelry seller, I have to check it out. And when I first stumbled upon Sweet & Spark, I was speechless. Not only is the store stocked with beautiful, classic vintage pieces, but they're also incredibly affordable (we're talking under $100 for many pieces)!

"At the core, we're about gold classics," says founder Jillian Bremer, who works with her dad to find the best pieces for her shop. "There's been so much buzz in the vintage world lately but we have yet to come across a brand that is focusing just on jewelry in an aesthetically pleasing way. Our mission is to bring credibility to the overwhelming world of vintage."

Jillian predicts that pearls will be big news come fall, so she's making sure to stock up on tons of pearl pieces to add to Sweet & Spark's inventory. But as it turns out, bridal baubles are the site's current hottest ticket.

"After many requests from current customers that are getting married, we finally launched our wedding collection. It's been inspiring to work one on one with brides to curate jewelry for their bridesmaids and themselves to wear on their wedding weekends. Usually a bride will send us pictures of both their dress and their bridesmaids, along with some inspiration images, and our team then puts together a few options for them to choose from that aesthetically work together (similar finishes, designs, etc.) since everything is one of a kind."

With Jillian scouring the West Coast and her dad taking up rank on the East, the two have begun to conquer the tricks of the trade. Having racked up thousands of miles hunting for the best vintage across the United States, the father-daughter duo certainly knows their way around a flea market—and Jillian was nice enough to share some of her secrets exclusively with us.