Indiana Jewels: A Brimfield Antique Show Travel Guide

To Run or not to run, that is the question?
To run or not to run, that is the question?

Brimfield is one of the last surviving relics of the traditional antique world.(i.e. before ebay) An iconic bazaar with miles full of antique & vintage wares, who knows what untold treasures are to be found. Its a guaranteed adventure, rain or shine.

Having been in the antique world for over 10 years, I’ve attended numerous Brimfield shows. I am writing this guide to help new collectors and dealers navigate this show like a seasoned pro.The guide is set up in three parts, top ten antique buying tips, what fields to visit, and the lowdown on how the show works behind the scenes.

Top Ten Antique Buying Tips At Brimfield Antique Show

No Louis Vuitton at the Brimfield flea market!
No Louis Vuitton at Brimfield!

1. Leave the Louis Vuitton bag at home, your Prada Shoes are also a no no. Dress extremely casual. I am talking about wearing a shirt with a giant Eagle with the words USA plastered on it. Wearing your moms tennis shoes from the 80s is a sure way to knock 10% off your purchase. (thanks mom!) In general many dealers don’t have prices on the merchandise so if you look like your from the city or that you can afford to pay a premium they will quote you a higher price.

I know the "precious" is in there...
I know the “precious” is in there…

2. Look at every single booth. I have walked out of booths that were selling VHS tapes, Stuffed animals & tools with emerald & diamond rings. You have to look at every spot even if its just a quick walk through. Also don’t be afraid to ask if they have something your looking for. Some vendors keep jewelry to the side.

Is this one expensive?
Is this one expensive?

3. One of my first questions I ask a general vendor before even asking to see a piece is, “Is that an expensive piece?” (Don’t ask very established jewelry dealers this, they won’t take you seriously and some of them can get snappy. ) I do this to create a premiss that I am price conscious buyer and don’t want to spend a lot. It will help later for negotiating.

Yay! I can't believe I found this amazing necklace that is an actual antique but actually looks like the pendant that Arwen wore from LOTR! How much is it? 3,000?!!! oh no!! (don't show excitement the price might rise accordingly!)
Yay! I can’t believe I found this amazing necklace that is an actual antique but actually looks like the pendant that Arwen wore from LOTR! How much is it? 3,000?!!! oh no!! (don’t show excitement the price might rise accordingly!)

4. I can’t tell you how many times I have paid a premium on an item because when I saw it I got really excited and said “omg I loooovvvveeee this.” I know its hard fellow jewelry lovers but make sure you use your poker face when negotiating to obtain wholesale prices.

Don't put it down, unless you know you dont want it!
Don’t put it down, unless you know you don’t want it!

5. Do not put anything down that you are thinking about buying. If your shopping a stand and you put an item down and someone else picks it up, you have lost the item. You may say, “Hey I am buying that” and the other customer might be nice and give it to you, but the general rule is if its not in your hand its fair game.

Indiana wearing his backpack, follow his lead!
Indiana wearing his backpack, follow his lead!

6. Bring a backpack, do not bring a shoulder bag/purse here. Else you will be crying in pain by the end of the week and sympathizing with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. You will find lots of jewelry at the shows especially if you buy costume jewelry. You don’t want to weigh down one shoulder.

If its not a little dark when you get up, then your doing it wrong!
If its not a little dark when you get up, then your doing it wrong!

7. You must get to the shows early, there is truth to the adage, “The early bird gets the worm”, many of the best items are purchased within the first couple hours of the fields opening. so you must get there early and move quickly from booth to booth. If you know what you are looking for don’t waste time, go to each booth and ask the vendor if they have it, make a quick visual check, then proceed to the next booth.

One of my Brimfield finds, a 19th century white jade pendant. Originally from a court necklace.
One of my Brimfield finds, a 19th century white jade pendant. Originally from a court necklace.

8. Think positive and never give up. While being early is important, a positive mind set will give you the stamina you need at a huge show. For example while shopping at Brimfield Acres North despite not finding I anything the entire show I kept looking and it paid off. As a dealer was packing up I found two pieces of white jade. Meditate on what you want to find and don’t give up. What separates those who find treasures with those who don’t is Grit.

Indian wearing his trusty hat, but using a shoulder bag..naught, naughty!
Indian wearing his trusty hat, but using a shoulder bag..naught, naughty!

9. Wear sunscreen & a hat each day of the show, even if its cloudy. Bring small snacks & water with you to keep your energy up, the food lines are long here. Make sure you bring all the cash you can before entering the brimfield area, in previous years the ATMs have run out of money.

Make sure you have fun, your on a treasure hunt after all!
Make sure you have fun, your on a treasure hunt after all!

My final buying tip is to have fun and enjoy yourself:) Brimfield is one of the last frontiers of the antique world. It’s a magical place where treasures abound, and where you can truly feel like Indian Jones without the danger of boulder rolling over you:)

How to Shop The Fields

Its easy to be confused and overwhelmed by the field map if you have never been to Brimfield before.

brimfieldfleamarketmap

As you can see there are alot of fields to check out so i’ll just be reviewing and recommending the fields I think are best for finding fine & costume vintage jewelry. The fields I am highlighting are the fields that all the highly successful antique dealers that I know shop at. With that being said at every field there are treasures to be found and you just never know where you will find that special piece, so if you can explore them all, do! It truly is a treasure hunt!

Tuesday Best Shows
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Dealers Choice Tuesday 11am

This show should be your first show stop at Brimfield, it has some of the best dealers of the show. This field is really a treasure hunt make sure you look at each booth to find the best jewels.

brimfieldacresnorthmap
Brimfield Acres North Tuesday 1:00pm

If mornings are not your thing but you want an authentic Brimfield experience, I.E. waiting in line and being one of the “first” people in, this is a great field for you. It’s a hodgepodge of dealers from furniture to jewelry but they are well vetted and the merchandise is honest. I always find something really good at this field, this year I took home two beautiful white jade plaques.

Wednesday Best Shows
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New England Motel Wednesday 6:00am

Not into digging in a giant tub full of little plastic bags full of jewelry? Want to sip lemonade while leisurely browsing highly curated jewelry? Well than this is the best show for you. Some of the best costume & fine jewelry dealers in the show set up here.You may find the fine jewelry vendors are more expensive compared to the rest of the show but these dealers have spent a lot of time curating and it shows!

heartofthemartmapbrimfield
Heart of The Mart Wednesday 9:00am
After you’ve had a little stroll at the New England Motel head over to the opening of heart of the mart at 9:00am and stay for most of the day here. Its a huge maze of dealers, there is just so much quality merchandise you will find something you love!

Thursday Best Shows
maysfieldmapbrimfieldma
Mays Thursday 9am

Hands down Mays is the best show at Brimfield. It is also the only truly “fresh” field at Brimfield, Dealers are not allowed to unpack merchandise until after the show actually starts at 9am. Which creates a rather comical scene where both dealers & show goers are frantically unpacking boxes together. Every year people find items worth tens of thousands of dollar of items here.

Friday & Sat Best Shows

J and J Productions Friday 8am Saturday 9am

If you manage to last all the way until Friday and are not completely exhausted than I suggest you make J & J your last stop. Its a good diverse mix of vendors with a good number of out of state jewelry dealers who bring their freshest merchandise to each show. I picked up some beautiful 1920s necklaces here this year!

The Brimfield Lowdown, Behind the scenes!

Traditionally Brimfield is suppose to start on Tuesday and no “buying and selling” is suppose to take place before than. What has happened over the years though is that Brimfield actually starts informally the Thursday prior. Many dealers come early to buy and sell to each other out of hotel rooms. (Don’t worry, most of these items will end up at the show eventually, just at a higher price)

Also many of the Brimfield shows that open on Tuesday have dealers that come in on Sunday & Monday to setup. During setup many dealers are buying from each other and while most of the jewelry items will still be put out for sale (just at a markup) you are still not always getting first dibs at most shows (except mays). Which is why I think Mays is one of the best shows.

With that being said each year million dollar antiques are found at Brimfield after the shows have open. In the end its a matter of luck & just being at the right place at the right time.For example my two white jade plaques that I found at end of the show this year.

My last bit of advice is, if you don’t want to be stuck in hour long traffic do not book your hotel in MA. You are better off staying in CT and coming in through the back roads. If you stay in Sturbridge you WILL be stuck in hour long traffic.

I hope my Brimfield Antique Show guide was helpful let me know if you have any other questions:)Also sorry not having original photos on this one I forgot to take photos I was so busy buying!!

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  1. I can imagine keeping a straight face when seeing things you fall in love with must be difficult haha! This was such a fun post to read through, it seems like a whole other world there!

    aglassofice.com
    x

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12 WAYS TO WEAR A BROOCH FOR THE FALL & WINTER

broochinmyhairidontcare

Brooches, Brooches everywhere this season. From the runways of Prada to the flap of the ever coveted Chanel bag, brooches are making a huge comeback. Long neglected for decades and arguably the most useful accessory they are coming back with good reason. You can wear your brooch in 100s of ways your only limit is your imagination! Hope you enjoy my #justbroochit ideas!

audreyhepburnbrooch

Some mornings my landlord decides that its too expensive to keep the apartment at 65 degrees so he lowers it to 60, naturally this makes all of my necklaces feel like ice against my skin. On those mornings I wear my scarf like a choker and put a brooch in the middle as the centerpiece. Volia! A warm necklace for cold mornings!

broochintheevening

If you want to look like you just got back from exploring the Andes, wear a textured scarf and cinch it with a cabochon rhinestone brooch to give it just a hint of sparkle.

swordbroochonscarf

If you want to draw attention to your upper body, a long brooch around 3 to 4 inches on one flap of the scarf will do the trick!

broochonlariet

If you own a lariat necklace that has a small slider you can make a real statement by adding a brooch just above the slider. This look can be constantly changed and is only limited by the number of brooches you have!

broochsparklyonsweatervintage

Women in the Victorian era use to place their brooch in the center of their dress to draw attention to um.. ahem, their bosoms. Here I show a more conservative approach but risque renditions are certainly welcomed.

broochonthescarf

The most classic brooch style for your scarf just place it on the side for a little je ne sais quoi.

broochonrhinestonenecklace

A gal can never wear too much sparkle, add a rhinestone brooch to an already sparkly rhinestone necklace.

broochonmyhat

Are you already considered to be a little quacky and fun by friends & family? Live up to your reputation by embellishing your hat with an animal friend, in brooch form!

broochinmyhairidontcare

I love wearing brooches in my hair. If your hair is thick you can usually just pin it using the brooch mechanism. If your hair is thinner I suggest using bobby pins to secure it. you can check out another hair brooch look here

broochonbracelet

Here’s a great way to revamp your chunky chains. Pin your brooch pretty much anywhere on your chain to create a unique and fun look. I added a rhinestone brooch here but the possibilities are endless!

Here’s another example of brooching a chunky chain. I have a pretty big brooch collection so when I brooch my chains I want them to have a story to them. The story here is it’s summer again and butterfly’s are all around!

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I hope you enjoyed all of my #justbroochit ideas! Show me your brooch style by tagging your posts with #justbroochit on Instagram & Pintrest.

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    1. Thank you Tamara! I love brooches, they are so underused! yes that one is actually from the 1950s, its Lucite and rhinestone. such a beautifl tone and perfect for fall!

  1. That sucks your landlord controls the temp!! I can’t keep my house below 71 >.< I used to have Hawaiian neighbors that kept theirs in the 80s. Love all the ways you wore your brooches, they're lovely!

    Gina
    Pink Wings

  2. Those are all creative ways to wear a brooches. It isn’t an accessory I ever think of wearing, I’m not sure I own any to think of it. I like the idea of wearing it in your hair!

  3. Whoa!! Every style got me wanting a brooch!! You’re so so classy, and chic! And not to mention, super pretty!! <3 Love the ideas!! Now I have a reason to buy one! 😀

  4. Thanks for sharing this beautiful brooch. Brooch is very interesting fashion. If you are getting ready to go party with friends choose an attractive brooch that would be noticeable especially at night and you can get compliment. Find beautiful brooches from abmfashion.com.

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  1. Heello there! This is myy first visit to your blog! We arre a group
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  2. Ok, I will wait with excitement, I love trips and I want to see what you have to show, so much! Hope you have a great week! Nice to know that soon you’ll be back!
    DenisesPlanet.com

  3. SO happy I discovered your blog!! I’m a traveling fashion illustrator and I can already tell your site is going to give me oodles of inspiration. xx

    1. Thank you for your kind words Meagan! I love your blog its amazing! Your drawings are beautiful! let me know when you restock your shop!!!

  4. Hello, I have just discovered your blog and I must say I really love it! I love everything that you wear, your fashion sense is amazing and completely unique to a lot of other fashion bloggers I have come across! 🙂 xx

  5. I love your blog! And LOVE the photo above. What fun. Hope you’re having fun in your travels and good luck on the new design & stuff! Thanks for stopping by Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life. I don’t know why you’d need a meal plan in NYC, especially if you don’t have kids yet. Enjoy life, girl! These are the years!!

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