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Itís funny what a little pair of earrings can do
By Joyce Chapman

Antique jewelry has been a part of my life since a young age. The beauty and elegance of it all just ďgrabbed me,Ē I guess you could say. Or pierced me.

When I was 11, vacationing in Peekskill, N.Y., an adult friend asked me to go with her to get her ears pierced. I was to lend moral support. Fine, I said, but I would go only if I could get my ears pierced, too. We went, I got earrings, and my mother almost fainted when I returned home and she got a good look at my new look.

Gradually she eased up, and a cousin of mine in the antique jewelry business talked her into buying me a pair of pretty Victorian earrings (my second pair Ė you canít have just one pair of earrings!). My mother should have known this was the beginning of a trend. My grandmother (my motherís mother) had spent time in China in the 1930s and brought back a lot of intriguing items from her travels. These items were displayed all over our house. They were the only things I showed an interest in.

Through my teenage years, I collected more earrings, and my fascination with antique jewelry Ė and antiques, in general Ė grew. In my twenties, I ran antique shows to benefit charities. Then I decided that with my passion for antique jewelry and knowledge of a wide range of pieces and styles, I should open a special place that would serve other people who loved the same things that I did. So I created Gallery of the Unusual, on Main Street in Port Washington, New York.

Today, operating solely online, I put people in touch with a very eclectic selection of antique and estate jewelry and vintage and decorative items hand-picked from around the world. I handle nearly 1,200 items in 14 categories, which means itís hard not to find exactly what youíre after. For women, I offer earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pins, rings, pendants, and charms Ė all fancy and elegant to complete that perfect look. For men, there are cuff links, money clips, rings, tie pins, vest chains, bracelets, and more to accent any style of dress with a noticeable touch of sophistication.

Itís now been 25 years for me in the antique business, both on the wholesale and retail ends, and Iíve loved every minute of it. Since 1981, Iíve been a fully qualified personal property appraiser and serve as an expert witness for Nassau County, specializing in antique and estate jewelry and Orientalia. Iím a proud member of numerous organizations including the American Society of Jewelry Historians, the Long Island Professional Antique Dealers Association, the International Jewelers Association, the Allied Board of Trade, the Appraisers Association of America, and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Yes, I spend a lot of time doing a lot of things, but the time that matters most is when Iím helping other antiques lovers find that perfect piece. You see, most of my customers, like me, are crazy about owning unique, one-of-a-kind items that are impossible to find in the mass market. Today, my biggest thrill comes from connecting people with special, impression-making accessories that really grab them.

Or pierce them.

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