We’re so honored and pleased to announce that our handmade jewelry has been featured as a Top Holiday Pick in a national holiday gift guide!
Released by The Rising Tide Society and Honeybook, the guide features jewelry, pottery, cards and many other gifts which enable you to shop small and support the creative community this holiday season. Our shop is listed among some of the best handmade shops in the country.
When you go to the guide, wait a moment for a pop-up that will offer you discounts on the vendors featured, including a 15% coupon for the Stacey Fay Designs website and Etsy shop!
It’s an accepted norm in our society to commemorate happy occasions with jewelry – engagement rings, wedding bands, communion crosses, anniversaries, the list goes on. This is of course important, yet, jewelry can be its most powerful at difficult times, as a point of remembrance, hope, or strength. The Victorians knew this well, with their mourning jewelry, and many of those themes have been represented in our own wax seal jewelry for quite some time. Yet, I longed for a way to create more significant life transition pieces, and the opportunity came recently when I co-created a piece of jewelry based around one woman’s story of divorce and single motherhood. It’s the very first piece in our new Memoir Jewelry line.
Cynthia wanted a ring that would not only represent the strength of her struggle through divorce, but, most importantly, would symbolize the happiness and hope she has found through single motherhood and this new chapter in her life.
The design we created together has a North Star on the front of the ring (and corresponding pendant), and an engraved intaglio horse on the inside of the ring. The North Star symbolizes hope and direction, and holds her son’s birthstone, citrine. On the shoulders of the ring are Cynthia’s own birthstones, diamond. The horse was intentionally engraved inside of the ring so that Cynthia can always remember her strength and story, but in a way that is known to her alone.
Cynthia’s story is a powerful and inspiring one. Here she tells it in her own words:
“At that time, it felt like it came out of nowhere, but looking back now – maybe it didn’t. I suppose a little voice inside me suspected something for a while but that voice wasn’t loud enough to be heard, until “that” day. “That” day, the floor beneath me was yanked without a warning, my heart stopped beating, and my breath felt like it was stolen from me – much like my life as I knew it. “That” day, I woke up to what felt like someone else’s life and was forced to play a role that I didn’t understand, a role that didn’t belong to me, a role I didn’t want. “That” day, I was left standing on my own, 30 years old with a six-month-old at hip and on my way to divorce.
The decision to go through a separation, and later a divorce, wasn’t one that was taken lightly nor was it made quickly. The days that followed were harsher than the last and the pain of separation was an unbearable grief to carry that weighted every step I took. Loneliness, anger and despair took over every part of my life and pushed me down a dark hole that seemed impossible to crawl out of. As if the inner battle wasn’t enough weight to carry, the pressures and stigma that still exist in society for single moms brings a shame that softens, yet hardens your heart – making you want to shrivel in its existence and hide from the world.
I spent days, weeks, months completely lost. Trying to understand what happened. Trying to find who I am and who I was, but the truth is, there’s no possible way to get back to who you were. That kind of loss (or any kind of loss, really) enters your life and leaves you different than how it found you, but it’s what you do with your new self that will define what’s next for you.
The pain and pressures of being a single mom was (and sometimes still is) a weight that I carried on my shoulders each day, but nonetheless, I carried it! Each day, I woke up, got dressed, grabbed the “weight of the world” and went about my business. With that weight I cried, scream, and yelled my way through the minutes and hours, but I showed up each day and rebuilt, loved, laughed, and grew.
Through that growth I also realized that regardless of what we go through – we shouldn’t go through it alone. That growth granted me the ability to learn to ask for help from a village that surround and supported me even when anger blinded my way. This village consisted of my family and closets friends who supported my sorrows and my happiness. They are the ones that steady the ground I walk on and hold me up when weakness wants to push me down. Although they helped me built strength, it’s the healing of my heart that has lighted the weight I once carried.
They say that “time heals all” and although three years has passed, I don’t believe that time has done anything for me. What continues to help me heal and what guides my way when I’m lost is the north star that shines where darkness once lingered.
In life, a north star comes in different shapes, sizes, and even forms – but regardless, it stands with you and lights the dark sky, showing you the way, and my north start does just that. My north star has come into my life in human form and at exactly at the time I needed it the most. That bright star of mine lightens my load with laughter, warms my heart with his spoken words, and pulls me into hope as he holds my hand.
At the tender age of three, my son has been the north star that has guided my way. He has shown me that with love, hope will come and healing will follow. His unconditional love has taught me that I am enough and will always be enough – as long as I continue showing up to life. And seeing him develop and thrive into the little person that he is has shown me that I am the kind of person that will make it because I’m the one to bet on.
So what happens now? Am I “healed”? No, but are any of us “healed?” We all have different battles that break us and helps us find the inner strength we never knew we had in order to rebuild, only to break us down again later on. But our resilience is just one of the amazing qualities we have as human beings. We all might be a little broken on the inside – but as Leonard Cohen once said “there is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
My wax seal jewelry line – necklaces that hold charms crafted from genuine antique stamps – remains among my most loved and bestselling jewelry that I sell. Whether it’s their symbolism, delicate nature or intricate detail, there are seals which speak to every person.
Recently, I worked with Leave It To Me Photography to help capture the seals’ essence and appeal through gorgeous photos, many of new pieces in the line. We chose earthy and ethereal amethyst quartz for the backdrop.
Often my wax seal necklaces, given the age of the stamps that make them, can have historical meanings, such as seals focused on the mourning jewelry craze of the Victorian era, or ones that have weirdly sentimental phrases. Or sometimes the seals are just classic, with images or words that stand the romantic test of time. Flowers often convey specific meanings as well.
In many cases, and also in line with the Victorian way of life, stamps that sealed letters would speak to a common and prevalent issue – death. Victorians weren’t shy about talking about death, and there were many Victorian art forms, small and large, which kept the reminder of death front and center.
There are many more seals, which will be featured on the blog in the future. See this website and our Etsy shop for all of our wax seal necklaces. Which piece speaks to you the most?
Whether for your own mother, a new mother, or the mother of your children, jewelry makes a meaningful and perfect gift for Mother’s Day. The Stacey Fay shop has one-of-a-kind antique and vintage jewels, symbolic handmade pieces, and special custom designs available – see below for this year’s best picks, be sure to visit the shop to see others, and be in touch to create a custom piece.
Vintage & Antique Lockets
You can’t go wrong with lockets for Mother’s Day! Whether one with “Mom” across the front, or one with a sentimental buckle motif, you’re sure to find the perfect one.
Custom Mother’s Necklaces
A bestseller is the custom Mother’s Necklace, made-to-order. I can stamp many different combinations of letters and symbols, and can even offer different shapes for the outline of the piece. Be in touch to get started on yours.
Vintage Tokens of Affection
Mother’s Day is to honor the women who gave us love, helped us grow, and are ushering in the next generation. The shop has many different jewelry pieces with the most common and adored symbols of love.
Symbolic Wax Seal Necklaces
Each of our wax seal necklaces is made from a genuine antique stamp, most from the late 1800’s, that were once used to seal letters of all kinds, including love letters.
There are countless beautiful, meaningful wax seal charm necklaces which make for a perfect Mother’s Day gift.
Feminine Pieces At All Price Points
Last but certainly not least, sometimes you just need a beautiful Mother’s Day gift for your wife or friend who is a new (or seasoned!) mother, and you don’t necessarily need meaning behind it. Here are a few good options from the shop, at varying price points.
Brocade, silk, satin, gold, diamonds, enamel…the combination of vintage clothing and jewelry can be intoxicating! We collaborated with photographer Kylene Cleaver of Leave It To Me Photography to pull together an epic styled photoshoot, with a vibrant color story, feminine details, and a modern edge.
Like any good photoshoot, hair and makeup were key to bring the story to life. We were lucky enough to partner with Leisa Kanienberg of iMakeupArtistry for vintage inspired makeup, and Lauren Thrailkill from the Velvet Hair Studio for beautiful hair. It was amazing to see them match the hair and makeup so perfectly to the outfits!
Once the hair, makeup, and outfits were ready, it was time for us to style the jewelry. We created jewelry sets for each look, with jewelry spanning Victorian times through the 1980’s. Our goal was not one set time period, but rather to compliment the colors of the vintage clothing and the personalities of each of the ladies.
Then the time came! Kylene worked her magic behind the lens, taking incredible photos of each of the models.
Cynthia’s look was all about soft lines and draping, and a classic style reminiscent of decades past. Cascading waves finished the look, and her cat eye was on point!
Gina had a Mafia-meets-Peaky Blinds vibe – so fierce! We just can’t get over the gorgeous combination of that green and peach. Her jewelry matched her look, bold.
Vintage green strapless dress
Retro 1960’s orange suede and fur collar coat
Gold filled bib necklace (email for inquiries), 1940’s Chinese enamel bird pin, a funky and amazing gold filled watch ring (Stacey’s personal collection), a H. Stern domed sputnik ring, and Italian micro mosaic bracelet (sold).
Kate’s look was classic meets modern, and a focus on texture and movement. This woman knows how to strike a pose!
Last but certainly not least is the ethereal and romantic look of Kathleen. You can’t get much more feminine and beautiful!
See-through vintage lace top, with an Edwardian feel
Coral tiered tulle skirt, which Kylene repurposed from a vintage dress
Earrings were doubled up, with tourmaline scarab drops paired with vintage opal gold filled studs (not yet listed – email for inquiries). Bracelets were stacked, with costume jewelry paired with fine jewelry – a half carat gold diamond hinged bangle, antique hinged opal bangle, and brass and purple glass bracelet. One lone ring made it into the mix – a stunning Victorian garnet ring (Stacey’s personal collection).
What a day! Thank you to our gorgeous models – strong, amazing and real women – Gina, Diana, Kate, Cynthia and Kathleen. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Stay tuned on the blog for upcoming styled shoots.
Perhaps your thrill is Saturday morning yard sales in warmer weather. Or maybe you’re the Ebay aficionado, always looking for that opportunity to get a treasure at a low price. Or perhaps you’re just a lover of vintage jewelry, but too intimidated to get your feet wet.
I was all of these things, and often still am – I will always go out of my way, with excitement, to find the treasure in the rough at a yard sale, estate sale, or on Ebay. Like everyone, I started with an interest in this but very little knowledge, and had to build up over time to be able to source and offer what you now see in my Etsy shop.
Keep in mind, buying vintage jewelry is much like a puzzle – you need to piece together several bits of information to understand the bigger picture of what you are buying. With just a few tips in mind, you can acquire beautiful vintage jewelry with confidence.
1. Invest in a loupe!
A loupe, that special magnifying tool you often see jewelers pull out and place on or near their eye, is a must if you hope to make a habit of buying vintage jewelry, whether in person or virtually. Here’s why: the closer you examine a piece of jewelry, the more you notice, both good and bad. You can use a loupe when considering an in-person purchase, to notice details that help you make your decision, or, if you purchase jewelry online, you can examine it after purchase to ensure it matches the seller’s description. Not thrilled with the idea of spending money on a loupe? Any jeweler worth his/her weight will have a loupe on hand for you to use if you are purchasing jewelry from a brick and mortar store. Simply ask them.
2. Look closely & pay attention to details
So now you’ve got your loupe, or even if not, it’s time to look closely at your piece, in hand or through photos from an online seller.
First – look for hallmarks of any kind.
There are usually two types of hallmarks, although for European-made jewelry there may be more. One type of hallmark is for the metal itself, called a purity mark, such as “sterling” or “14k” (gold) stamps. While a metal mark isn’t 100% dependable – sometimes items were stamped as solid gold, for instance, and they may just be gold plated – a metal mark is at least a starting place to begin to uncover the story of your piece. Next, look for a maker’s mark; maker’s marks tell you who made the piece of jewelry.
This too isn’t a perfect clue, as many times American made jewelry wasn’t hallmarked in any way. European jewelry, however, has had a required hallmarking system for centuries, and some European pieces will even have date marks to tell you exactly when the piece was made. There are many books out there to help you decipher your maker’s mark, and of course there are also famous jewelry designers’ marks to keep on the lookout for when purchasing pieces – Belais of the 1920’s or Ostby & Barton of Titanic fame, for instance – which will not only immediately date a piece of jewelry, but often can make it more valuable as well.
Secondly – look at the condition of the vintage jewelry.
Remember that all vintage jewelry has years, decades, perhaps even centuries’ of wear. So don’t expect a perfect piece; in fact, too perfect of a piece may indicate it’s reproduction jewelry. The wear to a piece is its story, its imprint of memories. However, it’s important, particularly if you are making a bigger investment, to look closely at the condition of the jewelry, and/or the condition report and photos which a seller provides.
When it comes to jewelry, some of the usual suspects in terms of condition issues which are easily visible with the naked eye (or a loupe) include chipped, cracked or badly scratched stones (diamonds can withstand quite a bit more of wear, so colored stones and white sapphires, etc, are those that most exhibit surface wear), loose stones (tip: shake the ring next to your ear and listen for the stone jostling around!), missing stones, very thin or broken prongs around a stone, chips or cracks in enamel, an overly thin band, or broken filigree. Many condition issues can be fixed by a reputable jeweler.
3. Know your eras
You don’t have to know everything about jewelry to buy jewelry – it takes more than a lifetime to learn it all! Like everything, however, some knowledge can go a long way. In the case of jewelry, you’ll want to do just a bit of research to understand the different jewelry eras – Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, Art Deco, etc. – as that information will not only help you understand what you like most, but it will also help you pick out those hidden treasures, and to know if the information you’re being given on an item from a seller is accurate.
For instance, if you find a platinum ring and it’s being sold as a Georgian ring, that dating is inaccurate, as the Georgian period was from 1714-1837, and platinum wasn’t in widespread use until the early 1900’s. Silver was a more common setting material for the Georgian period. Or, you may find jewelry that, upon close inspection, has a piece of cloth, or even hair, within it, a common bit of artistry from the Victorian period. You can work backwards as well – that’s often how I learn jewelry best! – by Googling a particular feature, hallmark or other characteristic you’ve found on your mystery jewelry.
4. Purchase from a reputable seller
Particularly when purchasing online, but even when purchasing in person, know as much as you can about the person selling the item. Reviews on sites like Etsy or Ebay – you’ll see our shop has a 5 star review status! – or well established jewelers or shows in your area, give you a good idea of the customer experience, and whether or not that seller can be depended upon to sell good, accurately described jewelry. Never hesitate to ask the seller questions as another source of information; reputable sellers will be happy to answer your questions and even send you additional pictures or videos if they sell online. When purchasing higher-end jewelry with stones, you should look for sellers who are certified gemologists with GIA, or are on that path (such as myself), or who have their jewelry examined and assessed by those who are GIA certified. Without this knowledge, it can be impossible to accurately identify some jewelry, particularly the stones, as some differing stones can look exactly the same to the untrained eye.
Buy from stores that have a good return policy, and clear communication around purchases, so that you can feel secure in your purchase. Lastly, the best part about a reputable seller is that s/he is usually a font of wisdom about jewelry! Ask lots of questions, and learn as much as you can.
5. Most importantly – buy what you love!
Even as a vintage seller myself, one of my biggest rules is that I buy what I love, not just what will sell or is a good deal. I recommend the same for you. When you go to make your purchase ask yourself – do you love it? Will you wear it often, or, is it a special occasion piece that will make you smile each time you wear it? Does it fit well and comfortably? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so find what you like and adorn yourself with those treasures.
Good luck with your vintage shopping! Always reach out to me if you have any questions on your vintage journey!