PTaBB: Collecting Brooches

I’ll be outlining the basics of my brooch bouquet process over a couple of posts. You can read the overview here.

The first think you’ll need to do for this project is collect lots and lots and lots of brooches. (Do you say it brOOches, or brOAches? I say ‘broaches’, but spell ‘brooches’).

From what I can tell from a hodge podge of jumbled DIY guides, it looks like you’ll need 100-300 separate brooches, depending on how full and large you want your bouquet.

This is what I have so far:

Pathetic, no? I’ll get there.

Because collecting the brooches is the most expensive part of this project, here’s my advice on where to get these babies:

  1. Collect from friends and family members. Don’t ask for their antiques or keepsakes, because using them in a bouquet may damage them. Their little trinkets will be just as meaningful, though. I’m getting lucky and have a handful of people keeping their eyes peeled for me. Thanks, friends!*
  2. Collect freebies. Freecycle is a great place to start, but you can also check with your local Goodwill and Salvation Army. Maybe they’ll be willing to give you the cast offs they can’t sell.
  3. Buy thrift; buy in bulk. My Goodwill charges $1.99 per broach. You can do the math. Buying per brooch adds up really, really quickly. The plus size of buying piecemeal is that you get complete customization. You can choose to buy only enameled broaches, only broaches in a certain color scheme, et cetera. I buy my broaches in bulk–mostly off eBay, but every once in a while, thrift stores will bundle brooches they want to get rid of. The plus side? You’re saving money, and getting lots of broaches. The down side? You don’t get the luxury of picking and choosing really specific types of broaches. You may be able to find brooches that are grouped in really general categories (“round” or “gold-toned”), but it’s rare (and expensive) to find lots that are entirely made up of “your” brooch style.

I’m opting for the bulk shopping way. I know that I want most of my brooches to be mostly gold- and silver-toned; mostly round or flower shaped, but I’m not picky as to how big these brooches are or what other kind of “filler” pieces I get. But this is a choice you’ll have to make. Going the bulk route means that I can’t be picky about what the final product will look like, exactly. I’m okay with that, but you may not be. Do whatever is right for you.

Where I shop:

  1. eBay: just do a search for “brooch,” “broach,” “broo/oach lot” or any combination of the above. Some of these lots go for $30-50 for just 10 brooches, some go for $0.99. It really just depends. Set a limit for yourself, though. For example, I can’t afford to spend more than $0.50 per broach, so I look at the cost of the lot (including shipping), and then I divide that by the number of USABLE brooches (i.e. ones I like, ones that aren’t so damaged as to look scruffy). If the price checks out, go for it. If not, delete it form your watch list and move on.
  2. Etsy: This is a great place to go for specific brooches. Want a Navy pin to memorialize your grandfather? It’s there. Want an enameled chrysanthemum in your mother’s favorite color? You can find it. But you’ll pay for it. Etsy sellers set their own prices, and they’re usually around $4-8 per piece, not including shipping.
  3. FabulousBrooch.com is a wholesale brooch site. They’re usually about $3/brooch, but you can really get anything. So if you were looking for a really specific type of brooch, or if you wanted a bouquet made out very similar (or even identical) pieces, this is a good place to go.
  4. RubyLane.com Too expensive for my blood, but it may yield some good results.
  5. Fire Mountain Gems has some pretty inexpensive ones, but I haven’t bought from them yet, so I can’t attest to the quality or service.

Where do you get your brooches, and how much are you willing to spend?

*If you would like to be awesome and contribute to the Great Brooch Hunt of 2010, you would have my everlasting love and affection. And a pretty sweet thank you note.

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About AshleyGee

I'm a graduate instructor at a completely Southern (Football, Rush Week, and lots of "Hey Y'alls!") university. I teach freshman comp, study
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