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The Best Sources for Vintage Beads, Findings, and Jewelry Components

Updated on June 7, 2017
Margaret Schindel profile image

Margaret Schindel has designed, created and sold one-of-a-kind and custom handcrafted jewelry for decades. She loves sharing her techniques.

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Vintage beads and jewelry supplies are, by definition, a limited and dwindling resource. Understandably, designers who know the best sources tend to keep their favorites a closely guarded secret!

I remember how hard it was for me to find genuine vintage beads, stones, seed pearls, findings, filigree and stampings, as well as high-quality reproduction vintage jewelry components. It took me years to suss out the sellers with the best stashes whom I could rely on for great finds. Now I'm sharing some of my favorites with others who love working with vintage jewelry materials as much as I do. Some of them are well known to designers in the business; others are lesser known gems.

What Makes Vintage Beads So Special

They just don't make 'em like they used to! Swarovski's gorgeous special effects colors from a few decades ago just haven't been the same since they changed the coatings to use less dangerous and less expensive to produce processes and materials than they did in the vintage Swarovski crystal special effects colors. Now that they're moving to lead free crystal, it's hard to imagine that even the underlying crystal beads will have the same clarity and sparkle as leaded glass. And even good-quality contemporary glass pearls just don't hold a candle to vintage glass pearls from pre-World War II Japan. Vintage lucite beads and components are fabulous, fun, funky, and lightweight, which makes them great for larger, bolder designs.

Finding these increasingly rare treasures is a real challenge!

Two Valuable Shopping Tips

  1. Because of the nature of vintage jewelry supplies, the offerings are limited and change often, so you never know what goodies you'll find. It pays to check back often to see what's new.
  2. When you find vintage beads, chain, findings, crystals, etc., that you really love, buy them right away ... because if you wait to make up your mind you may well have missed your chance to get them. When rare vintage products are gone, they're gone for good!

Have You Ever Shopped for Vintage Beads and Jewelry Making Components?

If so, where do you prefer to shop?

See results

Some of My Favorite Sources

Many of the best sources will sell only to professional designers, and usually only to those who have a wholesale buying license, AKA a resale certificate. But there are some terrific places to buy that also are willing to sell direct to consumers. Here are some of my favorites.

A one-of-a-kind necklace and earrings set that I designed, inspired by vintage Miriam Haskell jewelry from the 1950s. Made entirely from very rare vintage glass beads, vintage glass pearls and gold-plated components, and freshwater pearls.
A one-of-a-kind necklace and earrings set that I designed, inspired by vintage Miriam Haskell jewelry from the 1950s. Made entirely from very rare vintage glass beads, vintage glass pearls and gold-plated components, and freshwater pearls. | Source

Wholesale Discounts

For Professional Designers

Vintage beads and jewelry components are not often discounted, since they are in such scarce supply. But there are some discounts to be had.

The following resources offer wholesale pricing with minimum purchase amounts to jewelry designers who have a valid resale certificate / resale ID number.

Vintage-inspired, one-of-a-kind, extremely dramatic formal drop earrings, a custom commission for a mother of the bride.
Vintage-inspired, one-of-a-kind, extremely dramatic formal drop earrings, a custom commission for a mother of the bride. | Source

CJS Sales in New York City

A Vintage Beads and Supplies Paradise for Jewelry Designers

CJS Sales is like a dream come true for jewelry designers who work with vintage beads, crystals, stones, components and findings. Although I haven't had the chance yet to get back to New York to explore it for myself, this vast 5,000 square foot warehouse of vintage jewelry supplies is legendary among those in the know! CJS Sales has been written up in Accessories Magazine, Metal Clay Artist Magazine and others. My close friend, colleague and editor of Creative Fire, Jeannette LeBlanc, was dazzled when she visited CJS Sales in 2016 to interview the co-owners, the father-daughter team of Carl and Elyse Schimel, and was treated to a personal tour. She wrote an article about her visit to CJS, so you can share her experience vicariously,

This is not a place to browse casually (remember, it's a 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse!), and Carl and Elyse sell only face-to-face to wholesale buyers who make the trip there. (Don't even bother with the web site.) But if you're a jewelry designer who's in the market for unusual vintage beads, stones, settings, findings and other vintage jewelry supplies that will make your designs stand out, CJS Sales needs to be on your bucket list.

CJS Sales is located at 16 West 36th Street, 2nd floor, New York, New York 10018 and is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You can contact Elyse, who's in charge of sales, at (212) 244-1400 or at elyse@cjssales.com.

Update: CJS is Moving!

Elyse and Carl Schimel lost their lease on their enormous warehouse and will be relocating to a significantly smaller space at 390 5th Avenue, just 200 feet east of their current building on 36th Street. They need to reduce their inventory substantially before their move, so now is the perfect time to visit them in their old space through July 2017, where you can grab some incredible bargains!

eBay: A Surprisingly Good Source of Vintage Beads and Jewelry Components

Including Some Vintage Beads and Jewelry Components You Won't See Anywhere Else

Because vintage beads are, by their nature, in increasingly short supply, it's important to have as many potential sources for what you are looking for as possible. With sellers worldwide and a constantly changing selection of products, it's a good idea to check eBay on a regular basis to see when new vintage beads auctions are listed, since when the supply of something that has not been made for decades is gone, it's gone.

Time Saving Tip: Create a Saved Search on eBay and sign up to receive daily emails when new items that match your search criteria are added to the site. This is a huge time saver, especially when you are trying to find rare or unusual beads.

Rare Vintage Swarovski Crystal Beads and Stones

Nothing sparkles and shines like vintage Swarovksi crystal beads! Many styles have become rare and can be very hard to find. If you set up a search and monitor the results daily, it is possible to find extremely rare vintage Swarovski crystal beads, glass beads, and components on eBay that you can't find elsewhere, and usually at a much lower price than at retail vintage bead stores or sites.

Vintage Glass Pearls

High quality vintage glass pearls can be absolutely gorgeous. They were very popular with the top costume jewelry designers of the era, especially baroque pearl shapes. Glass seed pearls also were a favorite in designs that used a technique known as cagework beadery or tapestry beading, in which the tiny seed pearls and other beads were hand embroidered with fine wire onto brass filigree stampings.

When buying vintage glass pearls, be sure to contact the seller first to ask whether the coating is still intact, without chips, and retains its original luster.

eBay Stores That Specialize in Vintage Beads, Filigree, Settings and Vintage Swarovski Crystal

Many of the best eBay sellers for these types of vintage jewelry making materials have managed to accumulate huge stashes of valuable vintage beads, stampings, settings, etc. Some of them purchased the closeout inventory from high-end jewelry manufacturers and suppliers who went out of business many years ago. Their eBay stores can be an awesome resource for rare, hard-to-find vintage Swarovski crystal beads and stones as well as other rare and unusual vintage jewelry making supplies. Here are two of my favorites.

Beading in the Rain

Beading in the Rain sells some extremely rare and very beautiful vintage Swarovski beads and stones. There's always something drool-worthy in this awesome eBay store!

Bonkers for Beads

Bonnie Coulombe sells very high quality vintage beads, findings and components, some of them quite rare and hard to find, in her eBay store as well as on Etsy under the name Bonkers for Beads.

Etsy Finds

As on eBay, the vintage beads and vintage jewelry components on Etsy vary in rarity and quality. Here are a few of the sellers who seem to have a consistently good selection of these materials.

© 2010 Margaret Schindel

Did You Find Some New Sources for Vintage Beads and Jewelry Components in This Article?

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    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 11 days ago from Massachusetts

      @Claudia Drake, you should be able to find most of what you're looking for using the resources I've provided. For brass filigrees, B'sue Boutiques and VintageJewelrySupplies are good places to start. Enjoy making Miriam Haskell-inspired jewelry! It's very rewarding.

    • profile image

      Claudia Drake 11 days ago

      Just beginning my journey towards making Miriam Haskell-inspired jewelry and seeking basic skeleton/foundational components for building basic pieces to then create beautiful art upon.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 7 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you for letting me know, Crystal! As vintage beads and components become increasingly scarce, it's getting harder and harder to find really good sources. I'm glad this was helpful!

    • profile image

      Crystal P 8 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for this! I was pleasantly surprised to discover your guide and recommendations regarding vintage jewelry suppliers. You've made my research much easier!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 4 months ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Janet! I've also come to expect slow shipping from Jewelex and probably should have mentioned it. Considering the vast size of their warehouse and the fact that it's a family business that doesn't have a large staff, I understand and am willing to accept the slow turnaround in exchange for their exquisite and usually exclusive beads. But it's a good thing to let others know, and I'll add it to the article now. :) Thanks again!

    • Janet Homer profile image

      B Traven 4 months ago from Flint MI

      Thank you for this informative article--I'm already having fun visiting the sites you have listed. Jewelex is all you say it is, but they are extremely slow. The last time I ordered online it took 10 weeks to get here and I had to prod them. The contact info they post often leads to dead ends. But I do love their product once I get it out of them.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 4 months ago from Massachusetts

      @Penny Albertella - I'm very glad you are finding this article to be such a valuable resource! I don't know of a company that makes stampings with built-in depressions for setting crystals, but I wish you luck with your search!

    • profile image

      Penny Albertella 4 months ago

      Hi. This is an amazing resource - thanks so much. I am just starting out and I am based in the U.K. and finding it difficult to get wholesale resources here. I was wondering if you knew of any company that create these beautiful stamping with ready-made 'holes' for crystals to be set into? Any help gratefully received.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 13 months ago from Massachusetts

      Dear Shray,

      Thank you SO much for your extraordinarily kind feedback on this article! It sounds as though we share the true joy of helping others develop their skills and their unique artistic voices. Your wonderful words mean more to me than I can say. And thank YOU for your huge heart and your willingness to share your gift to help others self-actualize!

    • profile image

      Shrays studio 13 months ago

      Dear Margaret,

      What a truly outstanding gift!

      Your talent and knowledge leapt from the page. Leading me to realize so few artist are willing to share and pass on all that they have learned.

      I am a pro sculptor, helped many students-in my field it is a rare moment when and accomplished artist gives so much, as you just have. Brava to you, your extraordinary talent and huge heart for opening the door to your stdio and your mind, but I would say, mostly your heart.

      For those that are new to art, I hope all appreciate the work time-and above the gift she has given to us.

      thank you,

      Shray

      Shraybronze

      2008 Olympic winner USA - 'Arts in the Olympics' The '5Rings Award'-sculpture

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 23 months ago from Massachusetts

      Lorelei, thank you so much for your wonderful compliment! The vintage jewelry you received as a wedding gift from your older sister must be very special, indeed.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 23 months ago from Canada

      Always excellent information above and beyond. I love vintage jewelry it was the wedding gift that I received from my older sister.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Adventuretravels, thanks so much for your awesome feedback and for sharing this article on Pinterest, Giovanna! Sounds like you made out well with your jewelry making adventures even if it didn't turn out to be profitable financially. Fun, travels to Venice and Venetian beads sounds marvelous to me! :)

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 2 years ago from London UK

      Wow! It's an fabulous piece of work. I used to make jewellery years ago and sell it on a market. It started because I wanted an excuse to go to Venice - so I decided to go and buy some hand blown glass beads!! LOL I learned how to bead them and made necklaces and earrings, it was very enjoyable. I actually sold most of the things I made, but it wasn't a good business plan as my profits did not cover my expenses! Still I got to go to Venice 3 times and filled my backpack with beautiful beads. I have given you a thumbs up and pinned your hub.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Brite-Ideas, thanks so much for that wonderful compliment! You know I value your opinion very highly.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Lady Guinevere, I'm glad you think the information is great! I agree with you about the length - I kept finding and adding more great information and before I knew it, the content had "outgrown its britches," lol. There are reasons I haven't broken it out into multiple hubs yet, but ideally that's what I'd like to do eventually. Thanks again for your feedback!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      A first class Hub Margaret - you sure are an expert in your field

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Wow this is all great but too much to take in at once. You could have made at least three hubs out of this. Great information though.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @CherylsArt, thanks so much for that lovely compliment!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      Your designs are lovely Margaret!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much for your lovely compliment on my vintage inspired jewelry designs! I agree, both making jewelry and discovering bargains on vintage beads and components are a lot of fun. :)

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 2 years ago from New York

      Your jewelry is gorgeous! I spend a lot of time going to estate sales and have picked up many great beads and real pearls for cheap. I love making jewelry from them too. It is so much fun.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @craftbutterfly: Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, craftbutterfly! That was one of my goals in putting together this resource and I'm truly delighted that you found it so helpful and confidence inspiring. :)

    • profile image

      craftbutterfly 2 years ago

      Brilliant resource and very helpful. Gives me confidence to give it a go. Thank you for creating this awesome page :)

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      @gottaloveit2: Many thanks! I really appreciate your kind comment.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      Another stunning article. So well done.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Brite-Ideas: Thank you so much, Barbara! I'm truly honored by your wonderful words.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I know it's my second comment here, but I have to say it again; you certainly are an expert in this area Margaret, wow! anyone looking for information on jewelry making need not look any further!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Emily Clay: Thanks so much, Emily! I'm really glad you found the vintage jewelry making supplies sources, tutorials and other resources helpful.

    • Emily Clay profile image

      Emily Clay 3 years ago

      The collection of Vintage Jewelry was awesome and this lens is very helpful.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Ibidii: Thanks very much, Sherry! I'm so glad you found these vintage jewelry supplies resources and jewelry making tutorials helpful. I'm looking forward to seeing what you make with them!

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      I found a lot of jewelry supplies I got over the years and purchased some more. Thank you for this very adequate page and links with tutorials to help! When I am dome with the Christmas gifts I will add them to a page. Very well deserved purple star!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @SheGetsCreative: Thanks so much, Angela! I really appreciate it. :)

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I've made a few pieces in the past. What a great resource for jewelry crafters ! Pinned

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @tazzytamar: Thank you, Anna! I'm so glad you enjoyed this article on making jewelry with vintage beads and components. I really enjoy making collage cuff bracelets with vintage stones and brass stampings! :)

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      Beautiful lens - I love collage jewelry :)

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @nikahexplorer: Thanks very much! I'm delighted that you enjoyed it.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @bead at home mom: Thanks so much, Teri! I feel the same way about you. :)

    • nikahexplorer profile image

      nikahexplorer 3 years ago

      This lens is so lovely, i love this lens.

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      Wow! What a wealth of information you are Margaret. Love the page and I definitely need to be bookmark to visit often. Great work! and thx for the plug.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @dellgirl: Thanks so much for your wonderful compliment! I'm delighted that you enjoy seeing some of my jewelry designs and hope that my articles and tutorials are helpful.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 3 years ago

      Yes, I have made jewelry before, it is so much fun. You have shared a lot of beautiful pieces with us, thank you.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @jerrybarndorf: Thanks very much, Jerry! I appreciate your kind compliments and your sharing your jewelry making preferences. :)

    • profile image

      jerrybarndorf 3 years ago

      I like the idea for the glasses! great lens. I am loving all the vintage work. I like mixing metal with cloth as a preference and I definitely like minimalism in my jewelry. Thank you!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Craftymarie: Hi Marie - thanks so much for the wonderful compliment! As you know, I adore collecting beads, too. I own many more beads than I'll ever be able to use in this lifetime. When I design jewelry I usually start by looking at my beads and seeing which ones are "speaking to me", and sometimes I just go through my bead collection simply for the pleasure of looking at and touching my beady treasures. :) Thanks so much for your visit and for your very kind comment!

    • Craftymarie profile image

      Marie 3 years ago

      The lampwork glass beads and crystals bracelet in lilac and green shades that you made is simply gorgeous - I adore bracelets and apart from my wedding ring on a chain, they're all the jewelry I wear. I have tried jewelry making but I found I loved collecting the beads even more - I prefer using them combined with embroidery / home decor projects. I really loved looking at the vintage inspired collection here today.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @conniec123: Thanks so much, Connie! I'm delighted that you enjoyed my article so much and appreciate that you will be sharing it with your jewelry making friends. :)

    • conniec123 profile image

      Connie Clyburn 3 years ago

      Great lens -- wow, love the photos and information! I'm not a jewelry maker, but I'm constantly looking at jewelry everywhere i shop - and buying a lot of it. I've made a few things for myself, but never ventured so far as to make things for other people. I'll definitely share your lenses with my friends who make jewelry!

      Beautiful pieces! Congrats on the lens awards too!!

    • Margaret Schindel profile image
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      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Zeross4: Thanks so much, Daisy! On occasion I, too, have purchased broken vintage jewelry to repurpose the beads, components and findings. :) Best of luck with the move and the baby! Looking forward to sharing more jewelry making tips and tutorials with you. :)

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      I agree, vintage jewelry is one of a kind- my favorite to work with too. I can't wait until things get settled and we've finished moving and having the baby (Yes, Its been quite busy these days). I really want to get back into it! I find that Ebay sells some great vintage jewelry lots, and I also like shopping around our local thrift shops too! Loved this lens, bookmarked and pinned so I can come back later!

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