The good thing about vintage jewelry is that each piece is one of a kind. The bad thing about vintage jewelry is that each piece is one of a kind, so only one person will be lucky enough to own a prized necklace or ring, no matter how many others may be salivating over it. This is something that Deirdre Zahl, owner of the jewelry resale line Candy Shop Vintage, often experiences with her customers.
"After looking at these older pieces, I started to really appreciate the design of them, and it just became sort of frustrating to only have one of everything," she laughs. So it was natural that she'd want to start designing her own line — all while employing the practices of old-school jewelry houses. Now anyone can buy a beloved, brand new piece of Candy Shop Vintage Jewelry. No fighting necessary.
Over the years, Zahl has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of jewelry brands and trends as she grew her collection of mid-century jewelry. (Two of her vintage pieces even ended up on Christina Hendricks in a season five episode of Mad Men.) When Zahl researched the heritage of the older brands she collected, she learned that most of them were manufactured in the U.S., and some of those factories were still open. She found one in New England that would make her jewelry, and that led her down the road of design. Zahl works with a model maker, who takes her drawings and makes them three-dimensional, while the manufacturer does everything from plating to assembly to setting stones and adding color.
"When you're collecting and buying, it's one thing having the eye and to know what you like to buy," Zahl says, "but I think it's been challenging making my designs into something wearable and workable, because there's all these technical things I didn't know being a novice at jewelry design." Zahl admits the mechanical part of the process can be tricky, and there's a lot of tweaking involved. "The hardest part has been learning how the pieces really work together mechanically and how to go from something two-dimensional like a drawing to something three-dimensional and take into consideration all the other factors, like weight and size and fit and all of that."
The first two Candy Shop Vintage pieces are currently available for sale on Zahl's website (candyshopvintage.com): an "Elephants on Parade" necklace and a matching set of "Lucky Elephants" earrings. Vintage is, and most likely always will be, where Zahl gets her inspiration from, and the elephants recall the Egyptian-revival jewelry that became en vogue in the 1970s. "It was a really fun disco-era type of design," Zahl explains. "That was a good space to start from, very creative and fun and inspiring."
Zahl plans on releasing a new collection every year, with a smaller release in time for the holidays. The rest of the first collection will be available on Zahl's website starting April 1, and she's currently talking to a couple of retailers.
And just because Zahl has been bitten by the design bug doesn't mean she'll stop selling vintage.
"I think that people love the idea of buying something that's new that looks vintage, especially something that's made in the U.S.," she says. "I think it's a natural transition."