$econdhand First Class

A thrift store fanatic shares her shopping secrets

Archive for the category “jewelry”

How NOT to be a Thrift Store Hoarder

Ok. Take a deep breath. So far you have found a Tommy Bahamas shirt for $5.99, a wonderful walnut veneer side table for $35.00, a handmade pottery vase for $4.98, and a silver and amethyst cross for $12.99. Load ’em up and race for the register, right?

Uh, wait. Didn’t your significant other say if you came home with another wobbly table you would be living under it and not in the house?

So many wonderful things! What’s a bargain hunter to do? Here are a few ideas to keep your house from looking like a warehouse.

  • Upgrade. That walnut veneer table is in great shape. And the side table in your living room is showing the effects of too many late night drink cans and wrestling matches with the kids. Buy the walnut table and donate the other.
  • Buy for a friend. If that shirt or cross is just right for your best friend, whip out your cell phone and send a snapshot to her. Let her know it’s a limited time only opportunity. If she wants it, buy it. If you don’t hear from her, you can always buy it on the chance that someone will want it, but be warned:  down that path lies stuffed closets and 12-step programs.
  • Deco-rotate. That vase is perfect for your dining room table. But you already have carved candlesticks on your table that you nabbed at a thrift store just a month ago. You can’t put everything on the table; your family has to eat somewhere! One fact of human nature is that we often stop seeing things, no matter how beautiful, after a time. So deco-rotate. Display the candlesticks for a couple of months. Then, rotate out the candlesticks and showcase the vase. Both items will look fresh and appealing when they are up in the rotation.

Happy thrifting!


Bling It Home!


Thrift stores are great sources
of fun jewelry.
Photo courtesy: Morguefile, abpphoto

I’m not a gemologist or a jeweler. But, I’m happy to share what I have learned.

Thrift store pricers often go a little crazy over jewelry. One thrift store had a set of fake pearls priced higher than retail for several months. Other items in the case sold but those “pearls” had been there so long they practically had their own lunch order.

Take the phrase buyer beware to heart. Before you fork out big bucks for a piece of jewelry at a thrift store, have a jeweler with you. Or, if your cell has a web connection, check the price of a comparable new item while you’re browsing.

And always do the following:

  • Buy what you like. Most pieces will be costume jewelry so make sure you want it enough to wear it proudly.
  • Look for wear, such as finish wearing off the metal or beads.
  • Open and close the clasp a few times to make sure it works.
  • Test how secure the stones are in their setting. Check that all stones are present and accounted for.
  • See how well the stones reflect the light. If the stones are scratched they’ll look dull.

You’ll also want to check the metal for marks. Marks are usually on the clasp, the back of a pendant, or inside the band of a ring. The marks are tiny so a magnifying glass comes in handy. Here are some marks you may find:

  • 925 means the metal is sterling silver.
  • Nickel silver or German silver means no silver content. The piece is copper, nickel, and zinc. 
  • A number and a K such as 14K can mean the item is real gold but beware: Unscrupulous types have put this stamp on items that were not gold. The wearer’s neck or finger turned green and the giver’s face turned red. That could be how the item ended up at a thrift store.
  • A number and a K followed by GF (10K GF) means the item is gold-filled, not solid gold. The mark could also read: 1/20 14K.
  • 925 (sterling) but the finish looks like gold. The item is probably vermeil which is usually karat gold electroplated over silver.

For more information about gold and silver marks see Enchanted Learning.

Happy thrifting!

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