I’m crushing on Chinoiserie – it’s a chic blend of what you find on The Antiques Diva® European and Asian Antique Buying tours. Travel opens your eyes and senses to new ideas and experiences, and we bring our new experiences back with us and interpret them into our own homes. As celebrity interior designer Bobby Berk told us: “Modern interior design is all about the global mix.” Our guest blogger Liza Jones, of Liza Jane Interiors, shares her love of Chinoiserie with us and how to bring the global mix with some Eastern flair into your home!
I’ve always been fascinated with all things Asian and I especially love Chinoiserie. Both as a general interior design style and as individual elements seen in interiors of all types, it’s one of those styles that have been around forever but really never goes out of fashion.
So you won’t have to struggle through this post, here’s how to pronounce ‘Chinoiserie’ which is derived from ‘chinois,’ the French word for Chinese: http://howjsay.com/pronunciation-of-Chinoiserie .
It all started in the 15th century when Marco Polo explored ‘the Orient’ and brought the first exotic Eastern treasures like colorful silks and carved ivory and jade ornaments back to Europe.
Chinoiserie – which has always been less about representing the Far East accurately and more about Europe’s idyllic, romanticized idea of the other side of the world – took the west by storm in popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was truly the first international design style.
Both then and now, Chinoiserie motifs range from the natural (willow trees, mountain ranges, streams, monkeys, elephants) to the man-made (pagodas, bridges, temples) to the fantastical (foo dogs, dragons, phoenixes).
Bearing those motifs is the ever-popular blue and white porcelain. Did you know these vases, plates, ginger jars, and more were at one time among the biggest exports from China to Europe? Today it’s everywhere and at just about every price point.
My preference has always been antique Chinoiserie. Take a look at some of these beautiful antiques I spied that would make any space special.
Pair of Red Chinoiserie Bamboo Sconces, 1st Dibs
We see Chinoiserie’s timelessness in currently very trendy fretwork patterns and glossy lacquered furniture finishes. Chinese garden stools, lacquered Ming tables, and ginger jars also adorn many of today’s homes of all styles, from staunchly traditional to ultra modern.
If you are looking to infuse your own home with a bit of Eastern-inspired flair, here’s a selection of some of my favorite pieces on the market today ranging from pagoda-shaped lanterns to bamboo-framed mirrors. I just might have to get a dog so I can have that fabulous pagoda dog bed!
Pagoda Lantern, Charles Edward Lighting
Pagoda Mirror, Interior HomeScapes
Pagoda Pet Bed, Society Social
Willow Salad Plates, Loveramics
Macau Armchair, Ballard Designs
Oscar de la Renta Pagoda Bar Cabinet, Century Furniture
Many of the grandest, most fashionable rooms have one thing in common: hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper. Some of the best quality today are from Gracie or De Gournay. Take a look at these absolutely stunning wallpapers.
For those of you who might be on the fence about installing wallpaper, I have found a company that sells temporary wallpaper in Chinoiserie styles and I think they look amazing. How cool is that?!
By the way, remember to always order a sample of any wallcovering you’re looking to put in your home, whether temporary or not, as colors can look very different on a computer screen than they do in person.
When it comes to Chinoiserie print fabrics… the sky is the limit. Almost every fabric line carries one or two patterns at the very least. I have pulled together just a few of my many favorites for you here.
Isn’t it fun knowing you can put something (whether it’s brand new or a rare antique) in your home today that’s been considered beautiful and stylish for centuries? Even though the tide of design styles ebbs and flows constantly, I’m confident we’ll never see Chinoiserie be anything less than the epitome of chic.
So tell me, are you brave enough to include a little Chinoiserie in your home?
Liza Jones, owner and principal designer at Liza Jane Interiors in McLean, VA, believes that good design is transformative, allowing us to experience joy when our living environments offer beauty, functionality and comfort.
A proud eighth-generation Virginian, Liza has a unique ability to spot unusual pieces that will punctuate and define a room’s décor. She then combines those pieces with other elements to create an elegant, cohesive finished space that reflects the clients’ personal tastes.
Her passion for gardening and original fine art, and her ongoing world travels inform Liza’s tastes for different styles and cultures. She sources a wide range of unique furnishings, artwork, and accessories to create living spaces for her clients that move their souls.
Liza Jane Interiors
Have you ever wondered where the worlds leading antiques dealers, interior designers – and mere antiques lovers – go to source fabulous, unique and authentic antiques? The secret: The Antiques Diva® & Co.
Buying antiques is not difficult. Anyone who can google can find an antique store to shop. The trick is in knowing with 1000’s and 1000’s of options – where to go – which dealer has the best inventory, the best prices, who offers the biggest discount, who is prone to having “reproductions” mislabeled as period pieces, who has hidden warehouses full of antiques never put online. The trick is in knowing that person (moi) who has the best little black book of antiquing sources – who has every dealer worth his salt on speed dial – who can get you after-hour appointments with dealers in their private homes or advance access to inventory before it hits the big trade fairs.
When buying antiques it is challenging :
- finding the best antiques dealers in Europe and Asia (they’re usually not online) – plus US secret sources where interior designers shop
- identifying if antiques are authentic – their provenance and history – and if they’re period, how that impacts their value
- how to spot damage, repairs and identify fakes (sadly purchasing antiques is caveat emptor – buyer be ware!)
- knowing what to pay for antiques and how to bargain for a better price, and for dealers what return you can expect on your investment
- spotting a great piece or exceptional value: something unique that tells a story
- shipping your purchases back home without damage
How do dealers and designers find antiques treasures? Shhhhh… The Antiques Diva is their dirty little secret!
At The Antiques Diva® we provide antiques sourcing, buying and shipping services in Europe, Asia and America: one-stop turnkey antiques services on 3 continents. We offer four service tiers, providing you one-stop turnkey antiques services in Europe and Asia. I recently sat down with Steven Favreau of Favreau Design, and filmmaker Fabien Prauss to explain what we do at AD&CO – and how we are the ONLY antiques sourcing service to offer complete turnkey antiques sourcing services:
Video Transcript: Steven Favreau interviews Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva
Steven: My name is Steven Favreau with Favreau Design and I have a dirty little secret: this is the Diva of all Divas, everybody’s secret little weapon when it comes to finding just the right antiques: the diva of all diva’s, Antiques Diva Toma Clark Haines has invited me to be with her today and I’m thrilled.
Hello Toma, it’s a pleasure to have you!
Toma: Thank you so much for having me as your guest!
How to Collect Purchases From Multiple Antique Dealers: International Shipping Questions
On an Antiques Diva Buying Tour, you will most likely make purchases from multiple antique dealers. Based on your shipping requirements, our turnkey international antique shipping services can handle all your antiques buying, sourcing and shipping needs. While every client has unique requirements and specifications, AD&CO Logistic’s 50 years of expertise in international shipping provides superior levels of customer service. Your shipping concierge will personally manage all facets of your shipment including collecting your goods from the dealers, tracking your inventory and payments, cross-referencing your tags, packing, complete all export/import paperwork and monitor your shipment’s progress from the time we receive your goods until they are delivered to you; and keep you advised of the status of your shipment.
Your shipping concierge will personally manage all facets of your shipment including collecting your goods from the dealers, tracking your inventory and payments, cross-referencing your tags, packing, complete all export/import paperwork and monitor your shipment’s progress from the time we receive your goods until they are delivered to you; and keep you advised of the status of your shipment.
Collecting Purchases From Multiple Antique Dealers
1. How do you know where my purchases are?
You will be assigned a personal AD&CO Logistics shipping concierge, who collects all PO (Purchase Order) books and photographs related to your purchases (if booked on an Antiques Diva Tour we receive this information from the Diva Guides managing your tours, regardless of the number of vendors or the number of countries). Then, we pick up your purchases directly from your vendors. We’ll take your purchases from 5 or 10 different sources – often in different countries – and help you coordinate ONE shipping. We’ll sticker your purchases, fill out your shipping purchase orders, even take Tylenol on your behalf as we handle headaches to get everything across the pond to you!
2. If I make purchases at multiple vendors, how do I pay them?
At the time of purchase, buyers typically negotiate a down payment on their purchases. Once your buying trip is over, your goods need to be collected and brought to our warehouse for packing. Normally the client makes one wire transfer to the shipping company (AD&CO Logistics) that covers 100% of the purchases, regardless of the number of vendors. Then AD&CO Logistics pays each of the vendors. This not only reduces the administrative burden on the client but also saves you money as wire transfers made within Europe are free of charge. Obviously, the vendors will not release their inventory to us until they have been paid.
Once all vendors are paid, we collect your items and consolidate them back at our warehouse in Amsterdam. If required by your destination port, we fumigate your inventory.
3. How do I handle my shipment’s paperwork?
Your shipping concierge prepares all the various customs paperwork and files it on your behalf so that your goods can leave Europe. We create a detailed packing list using the international coding system so that it can be reviewed by the customs broker at the destination port.
4. Who packs my inventory?
All your goods are safely packed at our warehouse, which may be Our shippers have 50 years international shipping expertise and know the best ways to pack and protect your goods. If you are shipping your purchases by sea, your packed inventory is then loaded into a container and taken to the port to be placed on a vessel from one of the global shipping lines. If you have chosen an air shipment, we will transport your crates to the airport for delivery to your destination.
I’d love to discuss your international antiques shipping needs: contact me at email@example.com!
Toma – The Antiques Diva®
Chatuchak Market Bangkok Antiques Tour
Whenever I’m traveling in the world I love shopping the flea markets – exploring the world through retail. When in Bangkok, Chatuchak Market (aka the JJ Market) is the place to go. It’s massive and sprawling… and the best bits are hidden. Most tourists arrive amidst the tourist tack or get lost in the maze that sells literally everything from pets to candles to t-shirts. The lucky ones find their way to the housewares and decorative accessories – even the reproduction antiques – but to get to the true antiques, off the main soi’s, tucked away in alleyways you need an expert’s hand and that’s where we come in. Our Thailand Antiques Tours Diva Guides not only know the vendors, but they know the hidden antique warehouses, they know the fakes from the genuine pieces and they know how to avoid the heat – escaping occasionally from the brutal heat into AC and when and where to rehydrate with a fresh coconut. They even know the best loos.
Shopping the JJ Market without The Antiques Diva & Co simply put is a waste of your time. We save you money by bargaining on your behalf – remember in Thailand negotiation is an art. And as we know the market like the back of our hand, we save you energy by helping you avoid both sensory overload and frustrating dead ends. What To Buy? Everything, but our favorites include Thai Wooden Carvings, Burmese Antique Teak Furniture, Buddhist Manuscript boxes, Handwoven Hill Tribe Baskets, Theater Chairs, Shophouse Display Furniture, Antique Textiles and Art Prints, Architectural Remnants, Vintage Garden Furniture, Khmer Stone Carving, Retro Accessories and billions of Buddha heads (both tourist market reproductions as well as original period pieces). And while these aren’t antique we love them – Thai and Chinese silk and silk lanterns and lighting galore. Not to mention jewelry – both new and old – as well as fusion fashion. And let’s not forget fabulous lunch. In Thailand it’s all about the food – the Thai eat ALL DAY LONG, so you won’t turn a corner without another opportunity to feed your mouth. And of course, we know where the best bites are. Our guide meets you at your hotel and whisks you away to the market so you avoid getting lost in the crowds – taking you directly to the area of the market you’re most interested in seeing.
Antiques Sourcing at Bangkok Chatuchak Market with Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva® – Watch
photo credits: Thaung Sint
Welcome to Bangkok! and welcome to Chatuchak Market, also known as Jatujak Market, or, simply JJ Market.
Join your host Toma Clark Haines, CEO, The Antiques Diva & Co; and Angela Somwaiya, our Head Antiques Diva Asia Guide; and Melanie Aus, locally-based Antiques Diva Guide. The tour begins with us meeting you at your hotel. Then we hit the market. Most tourists get lost in the maze. There are 8,000 stalls over 35 acres. You’ll find a lot of tourist tack, housewares, decorative accessories, fabrics, and handicrafts.
But The Antiques Diva & Co know where to find the TRUE ANTIQUES, and the BEST VINTAGE and DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES.
Shopping builds up an appetite. We have a quick coffee… then we’re off again! Immerse yourself in the local culture. Time for coconut juice!
Leaving JJ Market to visit a nearby secret source.
Book a Thailand antiques buying or design inspiration tour: www.antiquesdiva.com.
Immerse yourself in the local culture and shop all of Asia in one destination!
Our Chatuchak Market Bangkok Antiques Buying Tours Feature:
- Unique Asian brass fittings and hardware
- Vintage mechanical
- Asian lighting decor
- Hindu and Buddhist statues
- Wood carvings
- Lacquerware and prints
- Architectural salvage
Let your senses be thrilled – your Chatuchak Market antiques tour is guaranteed to offer surprising finds! And we will make sure you stay fresh and refueled, and ready to experience everything Thailand has to offer!
Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva®
How to Ship Antiques from Europe to Your Home
At The Antiques Diva® & Co, we have been helping clients buy antiques in Europe and ship them home for nearly 10 years. Our tips on shipping antiques are based on our experiences working with thousands of antiques buyers, hundreds of antiques vendors, and dozens of international shipping companies and will help you buy antiques and safely ship them home across the pond.
My most important antique shipping tip:
Before you go abroad set up a relationship with an art and antiques shipper so you are prepared to buy and import antiques. It makes it much faster and easier if you prepare in advance! Before you travel ask the shipper to mail you a PURCHASE ORDER BOOK (PO BOOK) and SHIPPING TAGS WITH YOUR NAME ON THEM before your trip so when you’re out and about you have all you need right at your fingertips for buying antiques abroad and shipping them home.
At The Antiques Diva & Co we not only offer Antique Buying Tours: we also have an In-House Shipping Service and you don’t have to be on a tour to use our shipping service at AD&CO Logistics. Other shippers that are well known include EDET, Camard and Chudley. When contacting shippers it’s always wise to get comparison quotes from several shippers. The key thing with shipping – problems can and do occur – but if you have a good relationship with your shipper, it will make it easier to solve the problems when they do occur!
How the Process Works to Buy Antiques and Ship Them Back Home
1) You tell the vendor what you want to buy and who your shipper is.
2) If you have your PO BOOKLET you simply fill in who the vendor is including his PHONE # and EMAIL ADDRESS as well as the COLLECTION ADDRESS for the pieces you’ve purchased and fill in your delivery information as well as LIST ALL ITEMS you’ve purchased. MAKE SURE TO GET THE VENDORS EMAIL ADDRESS AND MOBILE PHONE #.
3) When paying for antiques you have a few options – you can pay the vendor cash – but if the item is a larger purchase price you probably don’t have the cash on you! No worries! Simply fill out the PO and WRITE TO BE PAID BY SHIPPER. This allows you to buy from multiple vendors ON PURCHASE ORDER: PAYMENT AT THE END OF YOUR BUYING TOUR, but a KEY POINT is that once you have issued a PO the item is OFFICIALLY SOLD to you. All Sales are Final. And there are NO RETURNS in Europe on Antiques. The item is marked sold and if you change your mind and decide not to buy the item later on, you burn bridges not only with that vendors but also with his colleagues.
4) When you’re finished buying antiques, email your SHIPPER all your Purchase Orders and your shipper will make a summary of all the items you own $$$$ for. Your shipper will then invoice you for the AMOUNT OWED in INVENTORY and will pay ALL THE VENDORS on your behalf, making the entire process easy peasy pumpkin pie saving you time so you only have to do one payment instead of several payments to various vendors.
5) Most shippers require you pay for inventory via BANK TRANSFER – but some shippers allow you to use a CREDIT CARD. Ask your shipper their payment options.
6) While it’s impossible to give exact shipping costs prior to you making your purchases, you can get estimates on delivery costs from your shipper before your trip by telling them your budget to spend, the types of items you’re hoping to find and providing your delivery zip code. Getting the measurements of the pieces you’ve bought is important to help your shipper quote on shipping costs.
Shipping Impulse Antique Purchases
Scheduling a phone conversation with your shipper BEFORE you travel will make the entire buying process much easier and SAVE YOU MONEY when you’re traveling abroad. Some shippers will even give you their personal mobile # (we do! 🙂 ) so you can call and get a quote mid buying spree. But if you didn’t set up an account with a shipper pre-travel- Have No Fear. If you find something while traveling and haven’t set an account up with a shipper in advance there are options:
- call one of the shippers recommended above for last minute pricing and options
- ask the vendor you purchase your antiques from to ship the item direct to you
You will get better shipping prices if you do some comparison pricing on shipping but you can ALWAYS ship impulse purchases. Don’t let fear of not knowing how to get your purchase home dissuade you from buying abroad!
Do you have more questions about international shipping services for art and antiques? Visit our FAQs, or contact AD&CO Logistics directly.
Toma – The Antiques Diva®
How To Buy Antiques in Sweden
If you’re an antiques dealer wanting to buy antiques to stock your store, it’s hard to know how far the US dollar will go when buying antiques abroad – especially when you’re sourcing high-end Swedish antiques, which are the most prestigious and best quality of European antiques – but also the most expensive. Daniel Larsson is our native-born Swedish Divo Guide. Daniel enjoys helping clients find the right piece at their desired price point. With his extensive travel including trips to the US, England, India, Norway, Spain and Holland, Daniel comes to the table with an international mindset. When he’s not guiding Diva clients, he runs a very successful business called D.LARSSON Interiör & Antikhandel which deals in fine Swedish antiques ranging from 18th to late 19th century, specializing in high-quality Rococo and Gustavian painted furniture, Swedish country & decorative items. Daniel’s extensive knowledge of Swedish antiques is a huge asset to our company and to any client who books a tour with him, as he is sure to pass on some of his wonderful insights.
When antique dealers come overseas to buy antiques to fill a container with European antiques purchases to stock their store they often come to me with a budget of anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000. Their goal is usually to multiply their purchase cost 3 to 5 times.
We asked our Sweden Antiques Expert Divo Daniel, What can an antiques dealer buy in Sweden for $100,000?
Daniel recommends dealers stocking their store with Swedish antiques buy at least 30% STATEMENT PIECES – these are higher priced items and higher end in terms of quality – that will help establish your reputation as a dealer.
Also, remember when doing display space – Swedish antiques need air to breathe… room around them to look their best. And with your display space you’ve got the room to create the environment needed to set the tone of the collective!
Antiques Diva Tip:
Mix Mid-Century Modern in with these Period Pieces to Make Both Periods Pop.
Eclectic Mix of Perfectly Paired Contrasting Inventory Draws a Crowd.
General Price Points
- Pair of Arm Chairs $4000 – $6000
- Chest of Drawers (veneered) $3000 – $6000
- Cabinet $4000 – $5000
- Buffet $2500 – $4000
- Mirrors $2500 – $3500
- Sofa $2500 – $4000
- Console tables $3000 – $5000
- Chairs $1000 – $2000
Antiques Diva Tip:
For mirrors I often recommend clients go France as the price point on French mirrors is much lower than on Swedish – similar age and style for half the price.
To Stock Swedish Inventory in Your Store
You should consider stocking 3 kinds of Swedish pieces:
1. Period – Original Paint
2. Period – Repainted, Scraped, Retouched
3. Finer Statement Pieces
So much of what is on the market in the USA is “style” pieces – pieces that look like the period, but aren’t of the period. You want to be known for having REAL ANTIQUES. You want to set the bar that you are offering the best antiques money can buy. In my opinion the best quality – with the best profit margin – is Swedish.
Stay Tuned to Learn More Details about the upcoming Master Class Daniel and I will be leading at Dallas Market Center this June 2017.
How Much Can I Buy?
If you budget $100K to fill a 40-foot container, you can get approximately 50 Swedish pieces, including a combination of top quality statement pieces as well as a wide variety of excellent quality mid-range 17th and 18th C period pieces.
Here is a sample client budget for buying antiques inventory in Sweden:
30% STATEMENT PIECES
Price Range for Higher Priced Items and Higher End Quality
- Pair of Arm Chairs $4000 – $6000
- Chest of Drawers (veneered) $3000 – $6000
- Cabinet $4000 – $5000
- Buffet $2500 – $4000
- Mirrors $2500 – $3500
- Sofa $2500 – $4000
- Console tables $3000 – $5000
- Chairs $1000 – $2000
Statement Pieces You Can Buy
- 1 x Pair of Arm Chairs $5000
- 1 x Chest of Drawers (veneered) 5000
- 1 x Cabinet $4000
- 1 x Buffet $3000
- 1 x Mirror $3000
- 1 x Sofa $3500
- 1 x Console table $5000
- 1 x set of 8 chairs $8000
SubTotal: $36,500 – Approx 8 – 10 important pieces
70% NICE QUALITY PIECES
- Cabinet ca $2000 – $3000
- Chest of Drawers $1000 – $2000
- Tables ca Prices $500 – $1500
- Sofa $1500 – $2500
- Buffet $1000 – $2500
- Mirrors $1500 – $2500
- Chairs 500 – 1000 (per chair)
Nice Quality Pieces You Can Buy
- 5 x Cabinets ca $12500
- 5 x Chest of Drawers $8000
- 10 x Tables (includes side table and console) ca Prices $10000
- 5 x Sofa $12500
- 5 x Buffet $10000
- 5 x Mirrors $10000
- two sets of Chairs of 6 – 8 $12000
SubTotal: $75,000 – Approx 35 – 40 Pieces
TOTAL – $100,000K – Approximately 50 Pieces Total
What will it cost to ship these pieces to the US?
Assuming you’re shipping a 40-foot container and crate a lot of what’s going in the container, it’s a safe assumption to budget approximately €15K for shipping 1 exceedingly well container door to door. Granted –prices vary – so this is just a guideline – you could save thousands depending on your packing needs.
How long after my Antiques Diva buying tour will it take to receive my purchases?
Estimated lead time from payment of vendors: 2 – 3 weeks for collection and preparation + 25 days transit time + door transport.
- handling + container traction harbor € 700,00
- unloading collections + storage + charging packed goods into container € 1.100,00
- export packing /m3 € 45,00 OR
- crating for fragile items (based upon level of protection and m3) /m3 € 60,00-150,00
- fumigation (if needed: based upon nature of shipped goods) € 200,00-400,00
- weighing container (for customs) € 145,00
- ocean freight (port-port) Europe – US 40-ft € 3.400,00
- insurance 1,50%
- banking on behalf of buyer: included
Does not include duties and import taxes, demurrage or unloading at destination.
How do I price Swedish antiques for sale in the US?
We are not antiques dealers, but we work closely with dealers and designers to buy European antiques and negotiate the best price possible. Based on our experience, we find that dealers typically sell their pieces for at least 3 times over the purchase price.
Interested in booking an Antiques Diva Sweden Buying Tour? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a phone call to discuss your needs.
Toma – The Antiques Diva®
Antiquing in Parma at Italy’s Premier Antiques Fair
Fancy meeting up with a group of fabulous designers, delightful dealers, (antique dealers, of course), magazine creatives, gracious guides, and one Diva extraordinaire to #shopeatplay in Italy for five days. Well, that’s exactly what Laurent and I did last month during Mercanteinfiera, Italy’s largest antiques fair held in the historic and gastronomic city of Parma, Italy, famous for its Renaissance and Romanesque architecture and prosciutto, parmigiano cheese and Lambruscu.
Twice a year, Toma Clark Haines, the Antiques Diva, and her Diva Guides take a VIP group of mostly interior designers and antique dealers on a trip that can only be described as an “antiques lovefest” because not only did we fall in love with the beautiful Italian antiques we saw, but we also fell in love with the people and places of Italy as well as everyone in our group. (While The Antiques Diva & Co NORMALLY only does one on one customized antique buying tours, a few times a year they work with 3rd parties to put together special VIP Group Tours; Mercanteinfiera is one such occassion. We were lucky enough to be part of that group!) What we thought would be a “look see” turned into an outright buying trip filled with more food, fun and friends than we could have ever imagined!
buy directly off the trucks as dealers
were unloading and setting up
The nine-day shopping extravaganza, which attracted more than 50,000 purveyors of antiques and designer finds from around the world, opened to the public on February 25th, but as VIP guests of the AD&CO we were fortunate enough to have early access during the pre-trade and trade days. This allowed us the ability to buy directly off the trucks as dealers were unloading and setting up. It was a bit crazy with everyone heading in different directions, dodging doggies and dollies (the furniture moving kind), but it provided us first dibs on the crème de la crème of Italian antiques and wares of over 1000 dealers.
Dealers are set up in five different pavilions selling a mixture of styles and periods of antiques and vintage furniture, jewelry and fashions, lighting (lots of lighting), art and accessories. Because Toma was in full-on Diva mode and making history in London at the House of Lords with the first ever Facebook Live post at the Houses of Parliament while speaking at the 9th Annual LAPADA Conference, she wasn’t able to join us the first day. We were in very capable hands, though. Her amazing Diva Guides, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo and Chiara Zanella, took charge and managed to navigate our large group through the multitudes of shoppers. They made sure that we each found what we were looking for, whether it was an 18th century Baroque Italian painted cassapanca or the nearest ATM. They also made sure we could communicate properly. Everyone in our group was from the South, and we could all be heard asking “quanto costa?” in our best southern accents!
A Few Vendor Booths at Mercanteinfiera
Our Goal: A Large Monastery Table
Since Laurent and I had one goal in mind, to find a large monastery table, we were thrilled to find not one but two 18th century tables almost immediately – and decided we best take them before someone else did. One table was fourteen feet and the other was twelve feet – hard-to-find sizes, at reasonable prices and both in excellent condition. We had already arranged to have our “collector” there just in case, so we immediately called him and let him know we had made our first purchase of the day. He would be collecting any items we purchased and taking them to our warehouse in Nantes, France. When Laurent goes to France in April to make a container, he’ll add the pieces from Italy with what he buys in France to be shipped back to our shop in Birmingham, Alabama.
A few things you need to know about Laurent. He’s been importing antiques for 25 years and has his own sources and does his own containers, usually four to five a year. So he was really reluctant about buying anything during this trip. He thought everything would be way over priced, and many things were because it’s a very high-end trade show, but once we started shopping, we realized what a wonderful opportunity we had been given.
even established antique dealers, set in their ways,
can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours
In the two days that we attended Mercanteinfiera, we were able to purchase some incredible Italian antiques and were also able to find sources and make contacts that we will use in the future. Without the AD&CO, none of this would have been possible! We can’t thank them enough! It just goes to show even established antique dealers, set in their ways, can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours. We plan on taking another tour in either Belgium or Sweden as soon as we can. Time is precious. And the time saved having Diva Guides with us to make introductions, translate and negotiate when necessary, and take care of the small details (like reading a menu) made all the difference in the world. Our imaginations could not have dreamed up anything more perfect. The energy, creativity, ingenuity, experience and the professional and personal attentiveness shown to us by Toma and her Diva Guides made this buying trip a truly magical journey.
Myanmar Antiques Tours with The Antiques Diva
Myanmar – formerly known as Burma – is one of the least visited countries on the globe. Known as “The Golden Land” for the sheer amount of gold used to embellish everything from temples to lacquerware its a place where the men wear skirts known as longyis and the local women apply yellow looking make-up – thanaka– to their faces. The elderly warmly greet you with their blood red teeth (as a result of chewing betel nut) and monks making alms rounds are a regular sight. After years of being virtually closed to the outside world, economic sanctions have been lifted on Myanmar making this country one of the new frontiers for antiques sourcing.
Historically prominent when it comes to Southeast Asian antique furniture, Burmese teak has been always been highly prized and sought after. Few woods match teak for its durability and beauty, and the older the wood, the better the quality. But the variety of inventory available in Myanmar isn’t simply limited to Colonial, Victorian and Art-Deco Burmese antique furniture. An array of antiques abound from religious and temple architectural salvage and fragments to lacquerware, Chinese pottery, tribal Burmese textiles, antique wood carvings and Nat figurines, as well as brass and bronzeware. Our Myanmar (Burmese) antique tours Guide will custom plan an Asian antiques buying tour for you taking your wish list into consideration, maximizing your time and money by translating and negotiating on your behalf, and finally liaising you with an international shipper.
Do note that a visa is required for traveling in Myanmar and traveling with sufficient American cash is essential in the buying abroad process.
To book an Asia Antiques Buying Tour contact email@example.com
The Antiques Diva™ & Co offers custom antiques buying tours for tourists and trade professionals to 14 countries in Europe and Asia. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places. You can now book an Asian antique buying tour with The Antiques Diva to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia – along with our repertoire in 8 European countries.
Chief Asian Diva Guide Angela Somwaiya has one of the most highly respected antiques shops in Bangkok, Paul’s Antiques, and over 20 years expertise sourcing Asian antiques. In fact, Angela is taking you to the many antique stores where she personally has been sourcing for her store. As one of the leading experts in Southeast Asian antiques, Angela’s design eye understands how to create a modern global mix with Asian and European antiques and art. Angela is an expert guide to sourcing Asian bespoke furniture makers using reclaimed teak, and how to up-cyle and repurpose found items.
The Antiques Diva & Co offers 2 private Myanmar antique tours; custom Myanmar tours can be combined with other Asian country itineraries and designed to meet our client’s needs:
1. Burmese Antiques Tours In Yangon, Myanmar
Available 7 days a week
One to Three Day Tour
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the largest city in Myanmar and home to Burma’s most iconic landmark the Shwedagon Pagoda. The glittering skyline dotted with the golden temples of Yangon is juxtaposed against the crumbling remnants of the bygone British era. This phenomena of the existence of a local and an imported culture gives rise to a selection of antiques that is vast and varied. While the British ruled for over 100 years, the Burmese do not consider these colonial-era pieces as part of their artistic heritage, thus offering an opportunity for savvy buyers in the know to source some of the most scarce antiques in Southeast Asia.
On this Myanmar (Burmese) antique tours your guide will take you into both private homes and antique warehouses as well as formal antique emporiums and markets. Having been a closed country for nearly five decades, American buyers are few and far between – giving you the opportunity to be first on the ground sourcing antiques in Myanmar. With very few antique dealers working with export licenses, knowing where to go, what you can buy and how to get your purchases exported is key to your success in buying antiques in Asia. While Colonial Era pieces are top in buyers’ minds, one should not neglect to remember there is so much more on offer in Yangon including religious and temple architectural salvage to lacquerware, Chinese pottery, tribal Burmese textiles, antique wood carvings and Nat figurines, as well as brass and bronzeware. On tour we will translate and negotiate on your behalf, maximizing your time and money. We also liaise you with a shipper to get your purchases home.
2. Bogyoke Market – Formerly known as Scotts Market, Yangon, Myanmar
One Day Tour
Weaving your way through cobblestone streets into the sprawling colonial maze of this famous covered market, the Bogyoke Market is essentially a Burmese Bazaar. As a foreigner shopping in Myanmar it’s an essential stop for buying tourist goods from handicrafts, jewelry and art to antiques. While the general perception is that not many antiques worth collecting remain on this tourist track, our guides know where to go – up back alleyways and stairs – where the truly hidden sources with noteworthy collections are tucked away. Experts in navigating the markets and separating the kitsch from collectibles, your guide will point out the antique of tomorrow as well as share her favorite sources for antique Burmese textiles and lacquerware, carvings and statuettes. On the surrounding streets around the market vendors set up shop offering antique opium weights and tattoo needles, old tools and antique implements such as measuring scales and irons.
Knowing when to go to score the best deal and how to bargain like a native are just a few of the skills your guide will teach you as she takes you on a Myanmar (Burmese) antique tours. On tour we will translate and negotiate on your behalf, maximizing your time and money. We also liaise you with a shipper to get your purchases home.
In addition, The Antiques Diva & Co offers Asian antique sourcing services for when your schedule does not allow Asian antique buying trips.
tip: To learn more about how to buy Asian antiques
Angela and I have an online course at MyAntiqueSchool: the 1st global course on how to buy antiques in Asia
Book a Tour with The Antiques Diva
Toma – The Antiques Diva
I’m beyond thrilled to share with you a guest post by Margaret Schwartz, owner of The Summer House, and the inaugural USA Antiques Young Gun of the Year. Margaret is an antiques powerhouse: she began her career working at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which played a key role in inspiring and developing her passion for the home décor business. After four years, she left to open her own shop, The Summer House in New Canaan, Conn. Margaret applies her signature styles and passion for home design to hand pick today’s best finds: upholstered furniture, fashionable jewelry, eye-catching lighting, exquisite rugs, fine art and more.
I have a confession. I am an antiques junkie.
Three years ago by a stroke of luck, I discovered The Antiques Diva through another favorite blog, The English Room. I was planning a trip to London and just by chance The English Room posted about antiques tours offered by The Antiques Diva, the brainchild of Toma Clark Haines. I was very intrigued because I love antiques but was hesitant to buy because I don’t have a degree in Decorative Arts. The Antiques Diva gave me the opportunity to buy with confidence. The moment I laid eyes on a lavender glass mid-century chandelier on Lillie Road, I was hooked. That was nearly three years ago, and I am about to embark on my next adventure with Gail McLeod, UK Antiques Diva, and Daniel Larsson, Swedish Divo.
I’ve taken a half-dozen tours with The Antiques Diva and I’ve learned quite a bit about how to prepare for a buying trip. Let me give you some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Tips for An Antiques Buying Trip
Do Your Research
Antiques Diva tours are incredible regardless of how much prep you as a client do. However, these guides are seasoned vets and know all the best places to go for that perfect Venetian mirror your client covets. For instance with this upcoming trip, I am looking for pairs of chests, pairs of nightstands, cabinets, side tables, mirrors, and lighting. We usually create a shared photostream on our phones and post photos of past items I’ve purchased and loved, things I’ve seen and loved, or items that clients have requested I locate. Pinterest or a shared visual board would work, but we prefer the shared photostream because you can add detailed descriptions, measurement, and budget info and it’s private. Once the Diva or Divo Guide has an idea of what you’re looking for, he or she will tailor the itinerary to your needs.
Trust in your Guide
Your Diva or Divo Guide is there for you, no matter what you need. This is something that differentiates them from other buying agents. Your guide has access to some of the best secret sources in Europe. When I say I’ve bought from castles, I mean actual, real fairytale-esque castles. I’ve also dug through dirty warehouses because you really can find a diamond in the rough. If you prefer to only shop castles, let your guide know as far in advance as possible so she can schedule those calls for you. No need to storm the gates down; when they see it’s an Antiques Diva client, they will roll out the red carpet for you.
There is an art to negotiating, and in Europe you need a trusted hand to guide you through any cultural barriers. They will translate for you and help you negotiate prices. The dealers offer good prices because The Antiques Diva brings so many clients through, and there is power in numbers. Be prepared to bargain, but don’t insult them and your Diva Guide will help you walk that fine line.
Your Diva is also an expert in the industry. She can help you spot a piece that you might have overlooked, or conversely a piece you are interested in, but you didn’t see that replacement leg that would turn off your clients. You make your own decisions, but they will keep you informed and point out things you might not be aware of. Listen to what they have to say because they will impart wisdom to you and teach you so much about the industry. Gail McLeod, UK Diva Extraordinaire, has been such a tremendous source of wisdom and support, helping me grow my business and career, and she’s been with me every step of the way on all my antiques tours. She has become a fast friend too. I don’t know what I would do without Toma and Gail!
I cannot stress this enough. Set. Your. Budget. And then add 20%, minimum. There will inevitably be an absolute to-die-for must-have piece, and of course it comes when you’ve already spent your budget. Your budget can be anything. There is no minimum spend on these tours, but communicating your budget in advance with your guide will help set you up for success! Price-point is key so they know where to book your calls. A quick note, even when you do set your budget and go over, there will still be the one that got away.
I had the opportunity to buy the console from an Axel Vervoordt-designed castle that was on the cover of The Houses of Veranda book. What was I thinking passing it up? I was thinking, “Oh my god, I’ve been on tour for two weeks, and I’ve completely blown my budget!” There will ALWAYS be the one that got away! And that’s ok. My mom likes to say that it’s good to not get everything you want. Naturally, she is referring to the sable coat she has always wanted, but she got a gorgeous sheared mink with sable cuffs and that will do. Haha!
How can you help stick to your budget (+20%)? Transfer funds ahead of time! One of the best tips I’ve learned is that you transfer your budget, plus the 20% slush fund, to your shipper. While you are out on your trip, your Diva Guide will be writing up detailed purchase orders and you can keep track of your spending that way. If you don’t use the 20% extra (I’ve never been that disciplined) that’s fine. Your shipper can deduct their charges from that leftover amount. It’s all very tidy when done this way.
I learned the hard way that the dealers need to be paid immediately. Your reputation over there is everything, and if you drag your feet on payments, other dealers might hear about it. So pay promptly. Seriously. These dealers work so hard sourcing and restoring, and this industry already has razor thin margins. In order to keep these wonderful dealers in business, we must pay them promptly.
Just as important as the relationships you build with your Diva guides is the relationship you build with your shipper. Your Diva Guide can help you with that, but better yet, you can conveniently use the in-house The Antiques Diva shipping service. The Antiques Diva & Co. kicked off their shipping service last year, and using them will help streamline your experience. The fewer moving parts the better! And you absolutely need a trusted shipper. There are so many forms to fill out and information that customs needs. Getting a shipper who understands that process and guides you through it, or manages it for you, is absolutely vital. Plus, you want someone reputable, reliable, and experienced and The Antiques Diva knows quality when she sees it!
Day to Day Tidbits
- Wear comfy shoes. While Toma is always clacking in heels, my days of Barbie Feet (look it up, it’s real) are over since I moved out of the Upper East Side, and now I prefer a pair of fly-looking Chiarra Ferragni slip-on sneakers so I’m still stylish but can navigate barns and fields.
- Pack light, re-wear items. The dealers don’t know that you’ve worn that sweater twice before, and the Diva Guidess don’t mind. Trust me on that one.
- Take breaks throughout the day. Your Diva Guide will keep you fully caffeinated and fed, but you will both need mental breaks to review what you’ve purchased throughout the day.
- Take photos of everything. Now on your iPhone you can write directly on the pictures so you remember what the price was, the measurements, and what restoration was promised or that you need to do on your end.
- Be social! Get your booty into high gear with social media. Post multiple times a day and have a little fun with it. Yes, this is a serious job with serious people, but it’s also an absolute joy. And even though the company is called The Antiques Diva, the guides and you will get down and dirty so have fun with it! Show people what the behind-the-scenes of the business is!
Margaret (Modern Antiquarian)
How To Shop For Vintage & Antiques at French Flea Markets
Marché aux Puces and Brocantes
In France, flea markets are known as marché aux puces or simply, les puce, (the fleas). But googling “brocante” will take you off the beaten path to traveling flea markets that are only held a few weekends a year. They can be held anywhere from 1 day to a full 2 weeks. Bigger traveling flea markets in France will have billboards all over town advertising them – so when you see a sign stuck to a lamp post or a giant poster in the metro with the word brocante highlighted, get ready to shop! Brocantes attract vendors from all over France, selling everything from high-end antiques to vintage pieces and simply second-hand junk. Prices here are usually better and take you into neighborhoods you might never have reason to visit on your own. A great website for finding brocantes is www.brocabrac.fr. While the Paris Flea Market is a personal favorite and must-do (and The Antiques Diva & Co are the only official tour guides of Paul Bert Serpette at the Paris Flea Market), visiting other French flea markets in Paris and across France is ideal to shop for antiques and vintage pieces. Here are my top 3 brocantes in Paris – and my all-time favorite French flea market starts next week!!
tip: Check out our Antiques and Design Markets and Fairs 2017 Calendar for flea markets in France and across Europe!
While there is nothing more fabulous than getting lost in France and discovering some place (or something) magical, shoppers in the know research where to go before traveling overseas. We suggest you book an Antiques Diva tour so you can shop on the arm of a local who knows the area like the back of their hands – plus more importantly – has relationships with the vendors which allows you to get the best prices possible when negotiating. But if you decide to give it a go on your own, be prepared and do your research. Google the cities where you’re planning to antique, using keywords for the antiques and vintage pieces you want to buy.
On brocabrac.fr you will also find vide-greniers – essentially attic sales – set up in the center of town with anywhere from 50 to of 1000s of people participating. These aren’t professional vendors, but instead they private people wanting to sell their goods – think of it as a town-wide garage sale where anything and everything is for sale. While you’ll have to dig through second-hand clothes and used toys you can also find gorgeous antiques going for a song!
Salon des Antiquaires
If you’re looking for high-end antiques you want to go to a salon des antiquaires – a step up from a flea market or brocante – which can have second-hand and decorative objects. This will be more high brow and have higher quality pieces – but don’t let that phrase scare you – there are still bargains to be had. Remember French antiques are often 3 to 5 times less expensive in France than they are in America or Australia. Something selling for 2,000 Euro in the North of France might go for $6-10K in the USA. You have to spend money to save $$$!
Key French Shopping Phrases
Now that you know where to go whether it’s a puce, brocante, vide-grenier or salon des antiquaires you should know a few key phrases in French to get the ball rolling! Even if you don’t speak French, learning some basic vocabulary is worth it’s weight in golden Louis 15th antiques.
- Always start the conversation with a simple, Bonjour Madame or to catch the vendors attention try S’il vous plaît (SVP) Monsieur.
- Point then to the item you are interested in and ask how much it costs: C’est combien, SVP? or try Vous voulez combien?
- Ask how old it is? Quel âge a cette chaise? Ça date de quand? What wood it is? C’est quel type de bois? And where it comes from: Quelle est sa provenance?
- Don’t be shy – negotiation is expected. Ask for a good deal. Vous pouvez faire un meilleur prix? Will you make a better price? or C’est votre meilleur prix? or Vous pour faire mieux? Is that your best price? It’s best to ask the Vendor to tell you their best price BEFORE you offer a number – because sometimes they offer you more of a discount than you would have expected. If the piece is 100E and you ask for a best price, the vendor might come back and say 80E. You can then continue the negotiation – Will you take $70? Prenez Vous 70E? If said this way, the vendor might compromise on 75E. 25% is a reasonable amount to expect for a discount.
Be willing to walk away in order to get a discount. Leaving then returning to the piece helps with negotiation… but beware… you might just return and find your item SOLD to someone else!
- Verify they are giving you the export price – C’est le prix pour exportation? Is it too expensive? C’est trop cher! (said while batting your eyes!) A good deal? C’est bon marché – C’est un bon prix – C’est raisonnable. I’ll take it! Je le prends!
- And don’t forget to say Merci! Au Revoir!
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva