Some of my favorite materials to incorporate in my jewelry designs are unique vintage odds and ends that can be brought back to life and into the spotlight in the form of wearable jewelry. A great vintage find can be amazing, but what's even more amazing is when you can score an entire deadstock vintage collection of one thing or another.
Examples of vintage components I re-purpose into jewelry
Deadstock vintage simply means an item or collection of items is still brand new in the original box or has the original tags but was never sold or used on the market. It's also commonly referred to as "new old stock" or "NOS" — basically, brand new but made over 20 or more years ago.
I get lots of questions on where and how I find so many of the components in my jewelry and one of my best sources are the wholesale jewelry supply warehouses located in Manhattan. When I lived in Brooklyn, it was easy to hop on the train and spend a day in the city rummaging through rows and boxes of jewelry parts just waiting for a new life — plus, the more you buy, the lower the bulk pricing kicks in. I'm sure there are tons of warehouses like this all over the country, but these are the ones I know about since I lived so close.
CJS Sales Warehouse is one the best places to visit if you're in the city. CJS (stands for Craft Jewelry Supplies) is a 5,000 square foot warehouse hidden in the heart of Manhattan and a well kept secret among many jewelry designers. It's owned and run by father/daughter duo Carl and Elyse Schimel, who both know the warehouse and jewelry design in general like the back of their hands. They've made it their business to buy out entire collections and liquidate stores and suppliers going out of business in order to keep stocking their own warehouse with new finds — making it easy for creative types and designers to dig through the goods all in one place.
Why is it a secret? This place is stocked floor to ceiling with boxes of vintage closeout and deadstock jewelry, findings, beads and more. What you find there might be the only bag of it left anywhere — and I'm telling you, the stuff you can find is good. To name a small fraction of things you can find in their collection — vintage jewelry, jewelry parts, cameos, beads, findings, cabochons, filigree, stones, stampings, components, chain, vintage Swarovski crystals, Australian crystal, rhinestones, bakelite, lucite and some just plain old oddities (my fave!)....I could go on and on.
Tim and I were able to make a trip to CJS during our latest trip to NYC. While in the neighborhood, we also passed by M&J Trimmings, another famous supply wholesaler. We didn't have time to stop by during this trip, but hope to make it back again at some point:
CJS Sales Warehouse is located at 16 West 36th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) on the 2nd floor of this building — it can be easy to pass by if you aren't looking for it:
You go in this front door and take the elevator to the 2nd floor. The minute the elevator door opens you are in the warehouse and will see floor to ceiling boxes filled with vintage beads, supplies and everything you can think of like so:
You will most likely feel slightly overwhelmed and very much-so in awe at this point. You know now that you are in on this hidden gem.
Elyse, Carl or another member of the helpful staff will be there to greet you and help you get your bearings if it's your first time there. Ask for a tour so you can get a feel for all the different rooms — they do have some method to this amazing madness! Once you're ready to dig in, they'll give you a big empty box to collect all your finds while hunting around. Warning — it can fill up fast!
You basically just start in one section and hunt, dig and hunt some more to unearth some of the most amazing deadstock vintage finished jewelry and supplies:
That top left image was a box filled with vintage tiaras. I will admit that I left with one. But hey, vintage bridal headpieces are so popular right now, I couldn't help it.
Can you imagine the heart palpitations that were taking place here? This was just one box out of undoubtedly thousands:
This was the chain area — nothing but deadstock vintage chain. It was in spools, in bags, in tangles — I could have spent an hour or more in this section alone:
I'm serious when I say each room was filled with boxes floor to ceiling:
All the floors and windowsills are even covered in vintage beads, jewelry supplies and odds and ends:
There are tight corners, narrow walkways and tons of nooks and crannies:
Now this is where having an amazing other half comes into play. Tim helped me dig through all the different rooms like the vintage-loving champ that he is:
Here he is in front of the wall of Swarovski crystals. Yes, that entire wall is filled with boxes of vintage Swarovski — the wall to the end where he is looking is filled with vintage cameos of all sorts:
Poor Tim, I bet in all of his lifetime he never imaged being photographed and blogged about in front of a wall full of Swarovski crystals.
Here we are in the vintage metal stampings room. Not only were they piled in boxes in the center of the room, but also stacked on metal racks around the entire perimeter:
It's quite a lot to take in, so we took our time.
Once ready, you take your box back up to the front where you came in and you'll be able to check out. Some prices are by the pound, other by the piece, depending on what you get. The staff will be able to tell you as you go along or you can collect as you go and then ask about pricing at the end.
My full box ended up weighing in at 12 pounds and with the wholesale pricing, I left more than a happy camper. Since I didn't think ahead about how much I might leave with, they were so nice to provide a bag to carry all 12 pounds of jewelry supplies back with me — and let me tell you about this bag:
Ha, Tim caught a few shots of me walking through the city with my new fashionable green and white zebra print bag from CJS filled with 12 pounds of jewelry supplies. It was pretty funny — nothing quite screams tourist like one of these babies!
So, what did I bring home you are wondering? Here's what my big and fabulous bag full of loot looked like spread out once we got back home:
I got a big mix of different things including brass charms, brass mesh bracelets and giant wooden beads shaped like horses and trees that I have no idea what I'll do with but knew I needed:
Vintage spools of micro chain (shout out to Tim for finding these!) and a pile full of tangled vintage curb chains — I'm always up for a good tangled chain challenge:
More brass mesh in the form of bow findings and these round antiqued brass flower bud filigrees:
Vintage plastic cameos:
Some of my favorite finds from the trip were these large vintage rhinestones in flatback settings:
And these really cute vintage metal acorn charms:
There were also bags full of finished vintage costume jewelry and I was able to snag a few of those. Some bags had mismatched or broken pieces for reworking into new jewelry and other bags included matched and finished pieces complete with their original tags:
As you can see, it was quite the trip! We were so thrilled to discover the hidden gem that is CJS Sales warehouse and are already planning how to fit another visit in on our next trip to the city.
While CJS Sales does have a website and Facebook Page, you must go onsite to the warehouse to buy any supplies; however, it is so worth the trip. You've also got to be prepared to buy in a wholesale format — everything you find is sold by the bag, box, or lot. I'm used to purchasing this way for limited pieces in my jewelry collection that I like to keep in regular stock, so it's refreshing for me to be able to buy the entire bag of whatever it was I come across.
A few more words to the wise:
- The space is big and there are lots of different rooms. Ask Elyse or Carl for a quick tour and overview before digging in — they know every nook and cranny of the 5,000 square foot warehouse like the backs of their hands.
- You need to have a passion for treasure hunting. If you are willing to hunt, you won't be disappointed.
- Prepare to get a little dirty. The kind of dirty that makes your heart race from digging up treasure.
- Elyse is really good and pinpointing your taste and creative style — let her know what you like and she will bring things for you to look at while you shop around. She's not offended if it's not the right fit but when she gets it she really gets it. Elyse had already looked at my Jewelry shop before I came to the space so she had a feel for things I might like — if you plan in advance of your trip, feel free to shoot her a link to your portfolio, Etsy shop, or current collection (or just take photos with you in person).
- Plan a couple trips. Tim and I spent a few hours in the space before we got really hungry for lunch and didn't have time to go back in the same week. It's a good idea to go for a few hours, get a feel for the space, then go back again for some serious treasure hunting — we hear the majority of people come and spend an entire day there.
- Be prepared to pay cash if you spend under $100 — you can use a card for anything over $100.
- Keep up with the CJS Sales Facebook Page and Twitter Account for updates on new deliveries — they come in by the truckload sometimes since they buy out complete collections and liquidated boxes.
- You may never be the same once you've been to CJS Sales warehouse. I warned you.
CJS Sales Ltd.
16 West 36th Street (between 5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 244-1400
Hours: M-F 9am-5pm
So, will you go to CJS on your next trip to the city? Have a favorite supply warehouse near you or make a destination for that we should all know about? We'd love to know more in the comments section below so we can check them out next time we're in the area.