After a delicious dinner, well to be specific a mouthwatering steak, at BLT Steak last night and a good night’s sleep, I woke this morning charged and ready for Day 2 at the antique show. Overall, I wanted to experience the event through every aspect, using Alicia Oltuski’s recount of her own experience with her father at the same antique show in Vegas in her book Precious Objects as my guide. My other objective was to see some of the eccentric character’s mentioned in the book, namely Jimmy Alterman aka Jimmy Buyout. More on that later.
With my agenda outlined, I began by spending a good part of the day at the Betteridge/Excalibur/Vintage Watch booth #2201, observing all the excited commotion ensuing soon after the convention doors opened at noon and hundreds of deal-seekers, antiques collectors and jewelry lovers poured in. While a good number of the sales exchanged between other dealers, one such customer and their sweeping purchase proved most interesting to witness: two reps from GEM TV came and inspected tray upon tray of jewels, ultimately selecting a mound of jewelry filling a total of six trays. The jewelry-devoted TV channel enjoys a shockingly successful sell-through rate of 98%, so there’s no question that those pieces will go on to make ladies all over very happy. I even got to try my hand at the trade and blissfully experienced my first sale: a lovely older woman in search of an interesting channel-set band ring spotted one of a beautiful sapphire and diamond variety. Initially admitting that she needed time to think it over, she eventually returned to purchase the ring a couple of hours later. In sum, watching the wheeling and dealing that transpires at the booth was simply wonderful, something that never seems to dull over time.
Feeling a little restless and stir crazy, I ventured out into the antique and jewelry abyss where booths fill two of Miami Convention Center’s massive halls as well as another section solely occupied by jewelry dealers, an area known familiarly as Jewelry Siberia. My excursion into this distant realm was most interesting as so many more transactions, and all the offers and counter-offers and so on, transpired all around. The energy in this area pulsed with excitement that was easily felt the moment you crossed into its territory, truly earning its moniker as a place far removed from the calmly meandering public dispersed throughout the two main halls.
Feeling energized from the experience, I weaved my way through the booths in the main two halls, roaming up and down the aisles and skimming over all the various goods. As mentioned earlier, I also wanted to check out Jimmy Buyout’s massive booth and his various assortment of goods. His nickname is owed to the fact that he literally will buy a jeweler out as follows: “One of those characters is Jimmy Alterman, known as ‘Jimmy Buyout.’ Most diamond dealers carefully examine each stone, checking its color, brightness and flaws, before making a deal. Alterman, on the other hand, goes up to dealers after shows and offers to buy all the unsold stones, ‘the leftovers that jewelers are desperate to unload,’ the author writes. He is not looking for beauty in the gems he buys, but in bargains. It’s a risky way to do business, but by purchasing in bulk and treating jewelry ‘as if it’s blackjack,’ he usually makes money,” (via). Needless to say, his booth did not disappoint.
And, just as yesterday, I’d like to share some of my favorite finds of the day.