Vintage jewelry leads trip down memory lane

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By Gina Velasquez

When entering Mrs. Beadsley’s Vintage Jewelry Store, it is like walking into a giant jewelry box. Every inch of the cozy space holds costume jewelry and items from a different time. Its major draw is for people who “love old stuff.”
Owner Debra Lowenstein opened the shop in March at 2101 Trinity Drive, Suite G. She has lived in Los Alamos two years, having come from Santa Fe, where she had a similar costume jewelry shop, first in a kiosk at DeVargas Mall, then in the Railyard.
She keeps a plethora of loose rhinestones, beads, clasps and pads for clip-on earrings. She has knowledge in restoration and repairs, such as necklace restringing. She said that since she has opened she has done hundreds of restrings for customers.
“It’s a challenge to make something look as if it has always looked like that,” she said, adding that it is a way for someone to keep enjoying the jewelry for years to come.
Lowenstein laments that today’s jewelry is not made like it used to and the quality has diminished due to machine-made pieces. “Things were made by hand back in the day and people were frugal and took great care in what they had,” Lowenstein said. “The heyday for costume jewelry spanned from the 1920s to 1960s, before the human touch was lost.”
Mrs. Beadsley Vintage Jewelry has a constantly growing inventory of vintage and antique jewelry, as well as clothes, hats, purses, scarves, belts, buttons, small figurines and dolls.
The name of the shop comes a combination of the doll from the late-1960s sitcom, “Family Affair” (Mrs. Beasley) and Lowenstein’s love for beads.
There are a wide variety of types of jewelry from all over the world and eras, such as brooches, pins, earrings and necklaces from the 1800s, early 20th century and some Native American and African pieces.
Lowenstein’s inventory mainly arrives from estate sales. “My favorite part is listening to the stories of who owned the jewelry and the history behind it.”
She said it is always an honor to repair something that used to be “mom’s” or “grandma’s.”
One story she remembers concerned pieces of jewelry brought in by the granddaughter of a woman who used to be a showgirl in Las Vegas, Nev., during the 1940s and 1950s. It was large, flashy jewelry that told a story of that time period and the kind of personality this particular woman had.
“It is a form of ‘girl therapy’ because women styles have evolved so much over the years,” Lowenstein said. The store has stuff for men’s interests as well, she said.
The shop is a picker’s dream. Lowenstein will buy, sell and trade. She said it is the perfect place to buy a gift for a collector.
She does not work on consignment, however she said she will take a look at anything.
“My shop appeals to beginning collectors and those who enjoy wearing vintage all the way to the serious, advanced collector,” Lowenstein said in a recent press release. “Signed pieces by the most collectible names, as well as the unsigned beauties are both represented.”
The shop has been slow in getting traffic while she still settles into the space on Trinity Drive. “Some of my former customers I knew from Santa Fe come in to see me from time to time,” Lowenstein said that is what keeps her going while she tries to grow her business. Her dog, Mimi, a loyal Bichon Frisé, is the official greeter and Lowenstein’s companion at the shop.
Lowenstein and her fiancé retired Los Alamos National Laboratory geophsyicist Allen Cogbill, reside in Los Alamos.
The shop hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. She is also open by appointment during other hours.
For more information, call 795-6395.