Juicy Tales From The “Junk Pile” With @ chelseagirl.nyc – JCK

Just look at this image above. If you’re as intrigued as I am by the glittering mishmash of gold chains, bracelets, chunks and bobs, let me explain what it is: a snapshot of the waste pile. Or at least that’s what Elisa Casas, aka @ chelseagirl.nyc, calls out on her lively Instagram feed, and said the Trash Pile is where she gets some of her best vintage jewelry.

I needed to know more – rummaging through books on random gold jewelry books really sounds like my idea of ​​heaven. The following is a recap of what I learned about Casas, his business and his process.

First of all, his name may be familiar to any New Yorker reading this, as Casas has a long history in the resale fashion business as the owner of three SoHo boutiques. The first was Chelsea Girl, which opened on Thompson Street in November 1993. “I was six months pregnant when I opened my little shop in SoHo and, frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing,” says- she. “But I was passionate about vintage clothing and jewelry, and that passion resulted in a successful business.” Laurel Canyon (one of my favorite shopping spots), Clutch! and City Girl Café followed for 17 years… until Soho changed. “My artistic clientele moved and tourists moved in, my stores lost their leases and closed one by one, so I started selling exclusively on my website,” says Casas.

Cut in 2016, when Casas’ daughter Ruby created an Instagram account for him. The format suited Casas well, as she is a former photojournalist. Today, she sells exclusively on the platform, focusing primarily on antique gold and diamond jewelry, with around 15-20% of her inventory scrapped.

“It’s such a fun way to shop, and my customers are literally fascinated by it, so sharing my stories definitely keeps my ‘junk gang’ engaged and invested,” says Casas. “My clients tell me they feel good about saving heirloom coins literally days before they melt and be lost forever. In their own way, they preserve little pieces of history.

Elisa Casas and her ruby ​​daughter
Elisa Casas and her daughter Ruby, looking for treasure in the trash

As for this newly initiated member of the Garbage Gang, I needed clarification. Like, what is the junk pile by definition – and more specifically, where to find one?

“What I affectionately call the ‘junk heap’ is more often called the ‘junk heap’,” says Casas. “There are a lot of companies on 47th Street (and I guess in other towns) buying gold, and everything is thrown in big dirty, tangled piles. Scrap metal dealers don’t care about the quality of the parts, they only care about the price of gold. When the gold goes down, they wait, and when the gold goes up, they send everything to the founder and make their profit. In between, merchants like me can dig through the treasure heaps. Being a treasure hunter all my life and loving the thrill of the hunt, I absolutely adore looking for this needle in a haystack! The parts I choose are sold by weight which is well below retail value allowing me to offer special items to my customers at bargain prices.

Unsurprisingly, this drab dragon’s lair of treasures is strictly the domain of the jewelry trade. “The guys in the trash are very strict about getting your business information, and they only accept company checks as a form of payment,” says Casas.

I also wanted to know: how the hell do you get rid of the clutter to find parts worth returning? I distinctly remember going through a sort of intense overstimulation and fatigue as I rummaged through the clearance shelves at the end of the great Century 21 in downtown Manhattan. I can’t imagine what a bunch of gold jewelry would do to my senses …

“I always buy my merchandise on instinct. If I want to, I guess my clients do, too, so in that regard shopping in the garbage heap is really no different than shopping elsewhere. Of course, as a salesperson I stay on top of trends and know what my customers like. So, for example, I always buy San Marco bracelets, which I often find, due to their popularity. And the chains are suddenly hot, so I’m always looking for good ones.

The secret, she says, is to walk through the pile methodically, piece by piece. “It’s so easy to overlook something special if you go too fast. And you need to be extra careful with screening for the condition: hollow items are often dented, rings are fake, and deep file marks (from testing) are common. Sometimes an item just needs an easy repair (like a chain without a clasp), and I take it to my jeweler. Other times I have to leave it behind.

The scrap heap is just an arrow in Casas’ quiver: she gets her supplies all over the world. “I have a merchant in Paris who buys high-end antique rings from all the auction houses. I buy online. I go to flea markets and auctions. I will look everywhere and anywhere for a beautiful old jewel.

But man, she digs up hot little numbers among the rubble. Below are some of his most memorable finds.

“Every once in a while, if the stones are small, the junk heap guys don’t bother to remove them, which is best!” said Casas. “I rarely buy earrings because my daughter, who has her own business, Girl of the Earth, also digs through the trash heap and sells them on her website. But when I found one of them in the junk heap, “they say about the earrings below,” I prayed to find the other, and I did. have done !

Chelsea Girl Retro Ruby Earrings
Retro diamond and ruby ​​earrings

“Back to jewelry! In fact, I didn’t buy them: they were so expensive and I didn’t know what to do with them, ”Casas says of the chess pieces below. “But I took a picture, and when I posted it on Instagram, everyone went crazy. When I went back to pick them up the next day, they were gone.

Chelsea Girl Golden Chess
18k gold chess pieces

“Even though I knew it wasn’t super old, I appreciated the build quality, so I bought it,” Casas says of the larger ring below, right. “When I showed it to my friend Janet, she gasped: it was a designer from the 1970s, whose pieces are rarely sold. Janet was a collector of hers, so I was delighted to give it to her! “

Chelsea Girl Rings
Helen Woodhull Rings (the find from the scrap heap is on the right)

“This solid gold keyring is a work of art. Key chains aren’t really my thing, but when you find something special like this you instinctively know you have to buy it. It sold out in a hot minute.

Chelsea girl watch pocket
Griffin keychain

“Snake chain bracelets are a hot trend right now, and believe it or not, the old ones quite frequently end up in the trash heap. Last week I found the heaviest I have ever seen, but it had a few flaws, so I took it to my jeweler, and I pray he can fix it. The nice thing about the trash heap is that if you don’t sell it to a customer, you can just sell it back to them! So often I take risks on parts that I wouldn’t normally buy.

Chelsea girl snake chains
Matching snake chain bracelets

Above: “What I love most about the junkyard is how democratic it is: there are $ 10 charms and super heavy pieces that cost thousands of dollars,” explains Elisa Casas. “And I’ve always loved the idea of ​​appealing to a large demographic, offering fun, affordable rooms as well as expensive real estate.” (All photos courtesy of @ chelseagirl.nyc)

Follow me on Instagram: @ aelliott718

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