The popularity of vintage jewelry has created an excellent opportunity for creative-types interested in owning a small business. Learning how to make money selling vintage jewelry requires some research and patience while assembling a quality inventory and scoping out the most cost-effective sales outlets. While selling online reaches an international market with a greater potential for sales, selling locally may yield higher prices due to less competition but with fewer potential sales.
For non-collectors of vintage jewelry, it's important to become knowledgeable about the field in general but specifically, it's important to learn about types of metal used in vintage jewelry, popular designers and collectible pieces. A jeweler's loop can be used to identify makers and designers marks and metal content.
Aside from gold, sterling silver and vermeil--a combination of silver with gold overlay--rhodium is highly sought after. Rhodium, similar in appearance and value to platinum, was used by quality vintage jewelry designers after World War II.
Search for vintage jewelry at garage sales, estate sales and church bazaars. Flea markets are also an excellent source for collectible vintage jewelry. Online auctions often sell vintage jewelry in lots. Purchasing jewelry in lots may yield some treasures the seller has overlooked. In addition to looking for designers signatures on jewelry, look for unmarked pieces that show excellent craftsmanship or unusual designs.
Research prices online and at local vintage shops. Keep prices competitive but leave some room for negotiating with customers. Items featured in an online store or marketplace usually have set prices. Collectible pieces and sets will sell well online where many collectors search for specific makers or pieces to finish out partial sets.
Keep in mind the fees that many online stores charge for listing items or for items sold. Merchant account fees should also be figured into the price of the jewelry. Advertising, promotion, and time spent cleaning or making small repairs to jewelry should also be incorporated into the selling price.
Jewelry sold at a flea market can be marked up to leave room for negotiating. A 10 to 20 percent mark-up should leave plenty of opportunity for bargaining and still earning a reasonable profit. When figuring the price, add in the cost of the booth rental plus the cost of gas and the time needed to set up and break down the booth.
When placing items on consignment in local vintage shops or boutiques, the shop owner will keep up to 50 percent of the sale price after the piece sells. It may be unreasonable to recoup the profit from consignment sales unless an exceptionally strong local market will support high-end prices.
Popularity of the designer, mint or excellent condition of the jewelry item and quality images, in the case of online sales, will positively impact sales. Images should reflect any damage or issues of concern to a potential buyer. Don't forget to create a mailing list of customers to promote new inventory to secure repeat buyers.