When I talk to people who don’t understand the lure of prowling estate sales, flea markets and antique malls searching for that one special something, I don’t try to sell them on the idea by telling sentimental stories. I don’t go all sappy about the appeal of hand-embroidered linens or the pleasure of drinking a cup of tea from a vintage china cup. I don’t even try to sway them with the concept of recycling by repurposing old things and creating new uses for castaways.
Instead, I go straight to what I consider to be the gold standard. I show them the little charm I wear on a chain around my neck.
Years ago, I was poking around an estate sale. I picked up a bracelet that had one tiny crystal on one of the links and the little lock as a clasp. The piece was lightweight and made a distinctive “pink” sound when I shook my hand.
“I think this might be a nice piece,” I told the woman holding the sale, someone I’d met before. I wanted to be honest. She walked over and looked at the bracelet. “Nah, I don’t think so,” she told me.
“I don’t know,” I said again. “I think it might be.”
She’d already lost interest and walked away. I gathered my finds and paid for my purchases, including the bracelet. I don’t remember the exact price, but I’m pretty sure it was under $5. I took it home, cleaned it up and let my jeweller look at it.
Dated 1897, the little charm was gold. As was the bracelet. And the tiny little crystal was a diamond. All worth far more than I paid.
So, when someone asks my why I spend so much time chasing good finds, I have the answer on the tip of my fingers. No need to tell the truth. To say I would go out treasure hunting even if I knew I would never find a real treasure. No need to tell them I love the idea of bringing home something that has had a previous life, perhaps in another woman’s home. No need for all that.
I tell them exactly what they want to hear. That sometimes, when you’re panning for a good time, you find solid gold.