A rush of cool air slapped me in the face. It took me by surprise. We entered, finding a welcome relief from the scorching August heat. Vintage shopping in Rome in August is HOT, y'all. The kind of heat I wasn’t really expecting. Finding ways to escape the mid-day sun became a fun pastime during our 2-week stay last summer. This day, though, I was determined to go shopping in Rome for the best vintage jewelry I could find. Thank goodness I found Fabio Piccioni.
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Why Vintage Jewelry?
I've written about my vintage shopping experiences before, and tweet about my love of vintage jewelry often. Collecting other people’s treasures has become an obsession. To me, there's nothing better than finding that perfect piece of vintage jewelry, the one you didn’t know you needed. Well, I lie. One thing's better: finding that perfect piece of vintage jewelry while traveling.
Some people collect knick-knacks, keychains, shot glasses, towels, or nameplates when they travel. I choose to collect vintage and artisan jewelry. Wearing the pieces later brings back fond travel memories and reminds me of my past adventures. I’ve got pieces from just about every place I’ve traveled.
Finding the best vintage shops and artisan boutiques is one of the first things I do when researching future travels. So, it's safe to say that I knew I'd be shopping in Rome for the best vintage jewelry before I even booked my flight.
Vintage Shopping in Rome
I knew Rome would have a choice selection when it came to vintage shopping. While researching for our trip I came across several recommendations for Rome flea markets, but most were scheduled to be closed during our visit.
There were some vintage shops in Rome I knew we'd hit, but some were simply too far from the areas we would be exploring, ruling them out entirely. No way I was going to convince The Professor to ride public transportation clear across the city just to go to a vintage shop.
Luckily, there were a handful of shops in the Monti District, a quiet residential region of the city northeast of the Colosseum. My trusty Lonely Planet guide told me this was the best place to shop in Rome. We popped into a few vintage clothing shops, snatching up a sweet leather The Bridge bag for a ridiculous price.
We checked out a few more vintage shops in Monti, but I found only costume jewelry (not really my taste). I’d read in my Lonely Planet guide about a small vintage jewelry shop in the area and was intrigued. It sounded too good to be true, but it was worth a shot. There was nothing to lose but a little cash.
Love at First Sight
After walking along the beautiful streets of Rome for a few blocks I was standing face to face with one of the most amazing vintage jewelry collections I’d ever seen. All four walls of the small shop were covered in cases and shelves packed full of pristine vintage fine and costume jewelry.
Within seconds I lay eyes on IT, the find to end all finds. I bee-lined, nearly knocking over The Professor in my mad dash. Hanging on the wall was the most beautiful citrine and green aventurine necklace. I admired it hanging there so daintily, just whispering my name.
One touch was all it took to fall in love. The weight, the texture of the stones, the filigree settings...it was perfect. For a split second I stood there imagining myself wearing it for special occasions. Then I saw the price.
I had set a 100 euro limit on my vintage jewelry shopping, and, needless to say, my favorite new necklace was more than my limit. Saddened, I walked away from IT now on a mission to find something even better but doubtful it was possible.
Roman Glass? Yes, please!
I browsed the shop, looking for other pieces that I might find to take my mind off the necklace. But every chance I got I was glancing back at the beauty hanging on the wall.
After I sorting through a few trays of rings, one ring was screaming my name. It contained Roman glass, fragments of glass found in archaeological sites and fashioned into jewelry once determined to have little scientific value.
The colors on Roman glass pieces are stunningly bright and often seem iridescent. I admired the structural ring in its setting of sterling silver. I was sold the minute I saw the piece. "Man, I love shopping in Rome!" I heard myself say aloud.
I'm a vintage ring junky
Not long after uttering "I'll take it" I laid eyes on another gorgeous specimen of vintage jewelry: a filigree sterling silver ring with a large smoky quartz stone.
We were a match made in heaven! I knew the second I slipped it on my finger that I was taking it home with me. The setting, the stone, the artistry, all of it was exactly what I had in mind when I daydreamed about great vintage jewelry shopping in Rome.
The setting, the stone, the artistry: all of it was exactly what I had in mind when I daydreamed about great vintage jewelry shopping in Rome.
He's a Keeper
Now, you see, I had a dilemma. The necklace, although it was stunning, was more than I was willing to pay. I tried haggling but couldn't get the owner to budge much (understandably so). This ring really was that beautiful, y'all.
Two vintage rings for under 100 euro!? It seemed like the best buy I'd found in a while. After one last wistful look back at the necklace, I whipped my card out and declared "I'll take both the rings".
Right about that time I heard the Professor say, "we'll take the necklace, too!"
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