Sourcing vintage and antique jewellery

When it comes to sparkly things, I am a bit of a magpie. I love jewellery, whether it be the costume and paste variety, or the real thing. But one thing unites all my favourite pieces of jewellery – it is vintage and antique pieces that I love the most. I love the idea that something so beautiful may also have a provenance, a story behind it, that it may have been super special to the person who first owned it. I wear my nan’s gold and diamond engagement ring every single day, knowing that it replaced a ration era thin band of gold and so was much loved and cherished, a symbol of times that were changing and improving. Only vintage and antique jewellery can hold stories like this.

The Real Thing

Finding really unusual and beautiful antique gemstone and precious metal pieces in perfect condition can be quite difficult, so it is best to consult an expert. Where else to head except Hatton Garden, the jewellery capital in the capital. Berganza is a good port of call, specialising in antique and vintage jewellery, including engagement rings that have now become super popular for those who want something that is a little different to modern designs. Berganza is the place to go if you have a reasonable budget and you want to get that unforgettable, show-stopping piece.

Art Nouveau Era ring - amazing.

Art Nouveau Era ring – amazing.

The colour of this stone.

The colour of this stone.

Costume and paste jewellery

If your budget does not stretch to the real thing, you can find some really interesting pieces of costume and paste vintage jewellery without breaking the bank. Vintage stores and Antique fairs can have rich pickings, but you can also find great pieces at jumble sales, charity shops and car boot sales. I wore a set of Austrian crystals on my wedding day that were from the 1960s and just sparkled so brightly with my dress. Names to look out for include Trifari, early Butler and Wilson, Monet (some really brilliant 1980s classics out there) and Lisner. But if you love it, and the price is right, you can pick up something that will become really special to you.



1960s perspex necklace

1960s perspex necklace



That brooch in that last picture cost a grand total of 95p. It is definitely worth looking around – you may just find a lovely bargain.

Stories of Hope – Qassim’s Story.

It’s that time of year when I sort out my clothes, Joe’s toys and books in order to have a cull in preparation for Christmas. I try to be ruthless with my sorting, and, when I am finished, I donate all the good but now unwanted stuff to my local charity shop. It is a win-win situation in my view, I am able to make extra space for new things that will be arriving with Santa, and know that my donation is going to a good cause. But have you ever wondered how your donation to Charity helps people – where your money goes and what it actually does? Oxfam are giving you some of ideas with their latest campaign which is called ‘Stories of Hope’. Today I’m going to share Qassim’s story,

Qassim Daoud is a barber. He lives in Husseini Village in Eastern Iraq. His barber shop is his passion and he had worked hard to build up his trade. But in 2014, life took a very dramatic turn. An attack on a nearby province saw an influx of people arriving in Husseini Village, seeing his already popular barber shop now over run. Kurdish Police became suspicious of him, and he was arrested and thrown into jail. He was later released, but returned to his village to find that his beloved barber shop had been completely trashed. All his barbering equipment had been stolen. Many people would’ve been destroyed by this action. But Qassim was made of sterner stuff. He found another property to use as a salon, and started all over again.

Rokam Hamoud cuts a customer’s hair in his barber shop in Husseini. The shop was looted by ISIS in 2014, but support from Oxfam has helped him to rebuild the business.

Rokam Hamoud cuts a customer’s hair in his barber shop in Husseini. The shop was looted by ISIS in 2014, but support from Oxfam has helped him to rebuild the business. Phot Credit Tommy Trenchard.

He says “…When Oxfam came, I reopened my shop. Oxfam provided me with money…They helped me buy everything in my shop. I bought chairs, the mirrors, the machines, the creams, everything actually. My barbershop is a small shop but I like it…I love everything about it…”

Rokam Hamoud cuts a customer’s hair in his barber shop in Husseini. The shop was looted by ISIS in 2014, but support from Oxfam has helped him to rebuild the business. credit-tommy-trenchard_oxfam-may-2016-2

All over the world, there are people like Qassim, struggling to rebuild their lives in warzones and villages decimated by the effects of war, you can help by making a donation that could provide urgent support to families in incredibly vulnerable situations.

  • £2.50 can provide 25 water sachets to a family in an emergency. This is enough to make 500 litres of water safe.
  • £7 could provide cash or vouchers for families to use in an emergency, helping them buy food locally.
  • £20 could provide warm bedding and offer protection from the elements.
  • £30 could give four families a kit of soap, detergent and other essential toiletries
  • £60 could build a safe, clean emergency toilet in a temporary camp
  • £100 could help four people to earn a good living in their community

As you prepare for Christmas, maybe you could add a donation to Oxfam to your gift list.


Christmas Recycling tips – More dash, less trash

It is hard now to remember a time when we didn’t recycle. Christmas especially used to mean overflowing dustbins of rubbish that were then left like that for a couple of weeks, as the dustbin men enjoyed their holidays too. But now, recycling is part of our psyche and more than ever, we use it in every part of our lives, from our household refuse, to selling on our old or unwanted clothing, even extending to scrap metal from copper to  old cars,with companies like CJ Metals offering good money for unwanted cars, and also practicing ethical recycling.

I have put together a small list of things you can be recycling this Christmas. So with a little more dash, we can cut the trash this festive season.

Carrier Bags

We know that it is now law to have to pay for carrier bags, but we are still buying them. So save them, put some in the boot of your car for when you make those trips to the supermarket and always forget to take any. Put one in your everyday bag ‘just in case’. Now you are paying for bags, they should pay their way and earn their keep!


Gift Bags

I take my presents out carefully and then keep the gift bags for the following year. On average these cost anything from £1-£2 each and are used just once so it is crazy to just throw them in a bin. Especially good are the plain foil ones that can be used for birthdays as well as Christmas.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards have so many other uses. Use pinking sheers to make tags for next years gifts, or keep them for collage and crafts with your child. Failing all that, check out places like WH Smith or your child’s school who often have recycling boxes especially for Christmas cards. Cards are just too pretty to head straight for the bin.


The Turkey

Everyone seems to buy a turkey that could literally feed the five thousand, but be creative with your leftovers. Turkey doesn’t have to be left for sarnies and cold cuts, my dad does a mean turkey curry that goes down a treat in the days after Christmas. A stir fry is another great option.


You need to add to that party wardrobe, but your budget is minimal. This is where you can take advantage of other people’s recycling skills by checking out your local charity shops. I went to my nearest town yesterday and almost every charity shop had a rail of sparkling, glittery clothes, shoes and bags. You can find some stunning bargains, and, even if you only wear the item once, it has hardly dented your bank balance.



What will you be recycling this year?

*This is a collaborative post with CJ Metals