From delicate vintage strands of pearls to intricate art deco ring designs – when it comes to capturing the beauty and history of antique jewellery, you’d be challenged to find someone more passionate and dedicated to the subject than London-based blogger Iidamaria Heikinnen.
As the founder and editor of Decades of Elegance, the Swedish/Finnish style maven invites her readers into the fascinating world of jewellery trading and takes them on a treasure hunt that spans the hustle and bustle of London’s markets, antique auctions and even the shores of South Africa to source the most special pieces.
Here, Iida reveals how she set up her blog, shares the highlights and challenges of her working day and gives insight into what it takes to turn your dream into a reality…
How did you get into blogging?
I have always had a million creative things going on; from classical singing to writing and drawing… you name it! After having worked in the City for a few years I decided that I needed an outlet for all this creativity, and soon Decades of Elegance was born. I love being able to combine my love for the glamour and elegance only old school Hollywood movies can bring with my interest in beautiful things, like a classic dressing table mirror draped in pearls! The blog allows me to mix all of this to my heart’s content and it is wonderful to share it with others.
Where did you learn about antique and vintage jewellery?
All the antique traders that I have spoken to have given me the same advice – you learn from experience – and this is what I have stuck with. I love talking to the merchants at antique fairs as so many of them possess such impressive knowledge on gemstones, styles and eras. I also do lots of online research for my blog posts and I have a fabulous collection of antique jewellery reference books at home.
What has been the most challenging part of setting up Decades of Elegance?
The technical aspects of running the blog! I have a wonderful IT expert who helps me with a lot of things, but I have also had to learn tons of things that I didn’t know anything about before – and in which my interest might still only be limited.
What inspires you?
Everything! From a painting that I see in a window, to an amazing vintage shop that I visit or a piece of jewellery that a friend is wearing. There is so much beauty around us and we often taken it for granted. I love capturing these things with my camera and writing about them, as it gives a voice to something that might otherwise have gone past us unnoticed.
We noticed you discover a lot of pieces abroad?
I often end up finding myself in antique shops and fairs even when I am on holiday – this is why the blog is populated with posts on South African and Swedish jewellery! It gives me a great excuse to research foreign antiques and photograph beautiful landscapes!
What are your favourite shopping destinations for vintage jewellery in other countries?
In South Africa I know some wonderful shops that I visit every time I am over – for example the Jewel Tree in Cape Town that sells the most stunning pieces of high-end antique jewellery. They are based in Long Street where you can find lots of other antique shops too, so I always end up going there to look for new pieces.
In Sweden, I once visited a beautiful old house that was bought by the current owners with all its interiors and jewellery when the last of ten siblings who lived there for 80-odd years passed away. The treasure hunt in the house was one of the most fascinating Decades of Elegance-experiences to date and I was able to write about so many beautiful pieces that are still up for sale. The first post can be found here.
Which countries are on your shopping wishlist?
One of my best friends is from India – she has featured quite a bit on the blog as one of my models – and whenever she comes back from her trips she brings back the most stunning pieces of antique jewellery! I would absolutely love to go on a treasure hunt there, but I would probably have to leave all my belongings behind as my suitcases would be filled to the brim with all kinds of exotic pieces!
What is your vision for Decades of Elegance?
I am thinking about turning parts of the blog into a book. There are so many beautiful photos on the website and a lot of fascinating information, since a lot of research goes into writing about the gemstones and different eras.
I also enjoy answering people’s questions about jewellery; how to wear a certain piece to their wedding; or finding the best place in London to buy an antique necklace! That is why I created the ‘We Love’ page, so that you can easily see what vintage shops you simply must visit when you are next in London – or go for the best afternoon tea that Brighton has to offer.
Do you ‘personal shop’ for people looking for vintage pieces?
Yes! For any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – or send a message via the Decades of Elegance Facebook or Twitter pages. I also love getting comments on the blog and I always make sure to respond to them!
Iida’s tips for setting up your own blog:
1. Create your blog in an area that you are really passionate about – that way writing your posts will be fun and inspiration will come to you naturally.
2. Be dedicated and decide what days you will write posts on. It is so easy to skip a post one day and suddenly you haven’t done anything for two weeks! Starting a blog is the easy part and the first few weeks the novelty of it brings lots of motivation, but keeping it going is the challenge.
3. Always keep up the quality of your blog, and don’t be tempted to write half-hearted posts just for sake of getting a post up. You want your reader to see that you love and believe in what you are writing, as this will make them come back to read more!