Want to know why Croghan's is so big on bangles?
Read on for a bit of a rambling blog about the subject! (Which is why we are calling this adventure "bloggish".... because we really don't know how to blog!)
It was not long ago that all of the estate jewelry at Croghan's Jewel Box was displayed in a 36 x 24 mahogany case with gilded accents and its own key--complete with a silk tassel. We have always been known for our antique and estate jewelry, but it was like a little treasure hunt to find it at the very back of the store. Sitting near the wrapping station, it was often covered with wrapped presents waiting to be picked up by a customer, or perhaps inventory that just arrived that had not quite made it onto the shelf. As a matter of fact, if you were a first time visitor, you might just have to stumble upon it. But our customers that loved old things ... they knew right where it was. These customers always started their hunt for the perfect present or addition to their jewelry wardrobes right there--after they nicely asked if they could help put away the new arrivals or special orders of sailing trophies that could be impeding their view.
A former Governor used to wink and smile as he made his way in the back door of the store and say, "Gosh! I have bought my wife some of the most spectacular jewelry out of that little box! Just leave me here for a minute to look for something that she will enjoy!" We would toss him the key, and he would go through the tattered black velvet trays that were stacked 3 deep and work through a pile of tangled chains dangling from their lockets. Sure enough he would find something just right. While sifting through the little treasure chest, he may have held court with a few customers while they paid for their purchases. You might hear him say, "This is the best part of the store! Right here! I always find just the right thing."
That is a very long winded way of saying, we used to not carry gold filled estate bangles! We simply did not have enough room in our little antique case. At that time, there were so many other things in demand like brooches and stick pins and bejeweled curiosities...sometimes stacked in the corner of the case in their original antique fitted boxes. That little spot was reserved for the "real" thing... not gold filled anything!
That began to change as gold began its ascent into the stratosphere! From 1999 to 2009 the price of gold jumped from around $300.00 per ounce to over $1,700.00 per ounce. The gold bracelets we were once selling for a couple thousand dollars had sky rocketed to 8 or 9,000 dollars. And above all, our manufacturers were simply not producing heavy classic gold jewelry... it was too expensive to make. It was a time to sell your gold and get top dollar, not invest in gold to wear around your wrist.
That was when we stumbled upon a new antique dealer. She had dozens and dozens of gold filled estate bangles priced so reasonably that we could sell them for a few hundred dollars. Not only did she have the bangles, she had the name of a man who specialized in refurbishing them to a shiny new purpose. I don't mean he removed all the little dings and dips that come from wearing a bracelet for decades.... that is in fact how these bracelets got their name. They "banged" up against things as they moved gracefully up and down your arm! We kept the old hand engraving--including bygone names like Florence or Penelope or Matilda. These names were etched deeply into cartouches on the center of the bracelet. We loved the engravings on the inside too, connecting us to important moment of the bangle's past lives. The inscription inside these bangles are special and hold precious memories, like one that reads "to my beloved daughter on her graduation day, Love Pops! 1954".
The small case with the gilded accents has now become a sale case, and these gold filled treasures are stacked at the end of our antique and estate jewelry case. These treasures actually sit in the footprint of the original store, when it was just a long skinny alleyway. In this same space, my grandfather may have delivered a bangle to a customer that he may have personally hand engraved in the 1950s! We like to say estate jewelry is jewelry with a soul... and who wants to remove pieces of a soul...right?
Click on the photo below to see our current inventory!