Click into the Trademark Antiques website and you enter a platform that has more in common with branded jewelry websites—think Zoe Chicco, Aurate or Effy—than it does with its fellow vintage jewelry retailers.
That is to say, it’s slick. Boldly designed, featuring lush, oversized photos and product portals with enticing titles such as “Gift Ideas Under $500” and “Bespoke Originals,” the site feels like the digital storefront of a major brand, not what it actually is: a three-woman operation headquartered in a small office in downtown Lewisburg, Pa.
Founded in 2008 by Jessica Sitko, the digital shop specializes in vintage and estate jewelry and also sells a small selection of newly made vintage-inspired pieces including Art Nouveau-inspired 14k gold rings and a delicate charm hook. But the “old” for Trademark ends with its merchandise. The virtual retailer’s trifecta of e-commerce platforms—website, Etsy page, and Instagram—infuse feel-good and refreshingly polished vibes into the retailing of pre-owned jewelry (which by nature of the product can feel stale or mish-mash-y).
Seventy-three percent of the retailer’s sales originate from Instagram, and Sitko tells The Zing Report that shoppers there are “very motivated to buy.” Consumers transact directly on the social platform, but are also driven to the website by the retailer’s eye-candy social content.
A new video on its Instagram shows a tray of beautiful opal rings with the query-caption “How many types of opals can you see?” It’s a delightful game aimed at jewelry lovers who are already somewhat in the know about gemstones and jewels. At the time of this publishing, the post had garnered roughly 300 likes and close to a dozen guesses (“5?” “8?”) in the comments.
“We got onto Instagram in 2014 and I realized there was no more powerful marketing tool than this free marketing tool,” Sitko says. “It’s a lot harder now to get seen and stand out, but it’s still incredibly powerful.”
Another tool Trademark’s found success with has been layaway, which the retailer intentionally makes feel “easy and normal” for its shoppers, Sitko says. Of course, many jewelry retailers use layaway these days, often through Affirm, a fintech company that lets retailers offer installment loans for consumers at the point of sale.
But the Affirm process can be daunting for some shoppers, while others balk at applying for a formal loan, credit check included, to purchase $600 earrings. Trademark Antiques utilizes Shopify’s Shop platform, which gives consumers the choice of splitting the payment into four monthly installments. And the retailer also offers 3-8-month layaway plans on a case-by-case basis, with a 15% deposit required to start a plan (and if a layaway payment is more than 90 days late, the plan is abandoned and the 15% can be used as store credit only).
“Layaway benefits us and it benefits the clients we serve,” Sitko explains. “Shoppers get to lock down any item, even an item at a sale price. And from a cashflow perspective, I get a very predictable monthly income that I can count on with layaway. My buying doesn’t ebb and flow the way some people’s does, because around one-third of our income monthly is from layaway payments.”
Finally, the site’s inventory, which includes the occasional edgy and the oddball items alongside classically elegant ones, appeals to two highly desirable demographic sets: the young and the fashion-forward.
“Through the years I’ve honed the inventory’s aesthetic,” Sitko says. “In the beginning I couldn’t afford what I really loved, but as we grew, I was able to get the things I love, like curiosity pieces, figural pieces [such as spiders, women and birds] and Art Nouveau designs. It really is just what I love—that’s my litmus test. If I don’t love it, I don’t want it.” —Emili Vesilind
All photos by Kelsey Musser, courtesy of Trademark Antiques