Antique & Estate Jewelry / Industry

This Vintage Jewelry Business Goes Viral for Posts About…History?


Maejean Vintage is a TikTok and Instagram favorite among millennials and Gen Z, and it’s not because the female-owned jewelry business chooses to feature flashy videos, scandalous reels, or outrageous content.

Instead, some of Maejean’s most popular social media posts are about…history. Specifically, jewelry history. TikTok users specifically seem to love learning new stuff about how to wear jewelry from the Victorian, Edwardian, art deco, and mid-century eras—including how to style lorgnette chains and cameo brooches and the charm of 1940s two-tone gold rings.

Did we mention the TikTok videos are set to everything from Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” to Louis Prima’s “Pennies From Heaven” to the Downton Abbey soundtrack? Not exactly what the generation raised on Ariana Grande might think they want, but it matches the jewelry and the subject matter in a way that anyone could respect.

Maejean necklaces
A crushed orange velvet background makes these antique lorgnette chains from the Edwardian era stand out in Maejean Vintage posts on Instagram and TikTok.

Maejean’s social media team is a powerhouse duo that came on board about 18 months ago. Previous to this position, neither Jess Velke or Heidi Wurtz worked in jewelry. Now, both say they have become fascinated by jewelry and are taking classes through the GIA to up their own knowledge. But they know social media, jump on trends, and keep Maejean going viral.

One recent TikTok video that showed how a vintage flip ring with diamonds on one side and blue topaz on the other racked up more than 3.5 million views and more than 850,000 likes. It’s that kind of traction that shows how a small company that restores and sells vintage jewelry can use technology in a way that grows its business.

“People love to learn,” Velke says. “The beautiful jewelry draws them in, but the education gets them to stay.”

Velke and Wurtz are among the latest additions to the all-female Maejean team, a brand founded in 2010 by sisters Laura Mae and Amanda Jean Hornberger. What started as a weekend hobby visiting flea markets, auctions, and estate sales has turned into a full-time career for the ladies, who use Etsy, their website, and social media to sell their finds.

Maejean jewelry
Contrasting colors make this 1940s heart jewelry irresistible for Instagram viewers, Maejean Vintage has found.

Part of what makes working at Maejean fun is you never know what might come into the studio at any time, Velke says. “If a sick piece comes in, we’re both making a video of it immediately,” Wurtz says. Velke and Wurtz meet weekly to go over new items, discuss posts, and take photos and videos of the latest pieces, coming up with new ways to showcase vintage jewelry.

For example, Velke recently posted a TikTok video explaining how to style a Victorian lorgnette chain, typically used back in the day by a woman to carry a pocket watch. Wurtz was the model, displaying how the chain could be a necklace, bracelet, or anything else the wearer could imagine.

“With lorgnette chains or classic brooches, you don’t often see them being represented in the media or on the red carpet. We like to give our followers ways to wear them or ideas on how to style them,” Wurtz says. “Things like stickpins were once used to hold clothing together. We have other tools for that now. But we’re also thinking about how else people can use them in the modern day.”

Because Maejean is online only, having Instagram reels and TikTok videos also help clients see how the jewelry moves and its details. Velke and Wurtz say they also read the comments carefully on all of their posts, looking for ways that clients want to see the jewelry or other items they’re looking to find.

Maejean Vintage staff
The all-woman team at Maejean Vintage includes (from left): Heidi, social media coordinator; Jess, photographer and digital marketer; Macy Preis, associate jeweler; Laura Hornberger, co-owner and gemologist; Amanda Hornberger, co-owner and gemologist; Becky Hornberger, administrative specialist; and Dahlia Miranda, inventory manager.

“There’s a lot of collaboration between us and our clients. You can search for it in our shop, but it’s a lot more interesting when you can see it,” Velke says. “TikTok especially likes any video that has a close-up of a really stunning, unique piece.”

They share content across both platforms, often acting as the model and muse for the pieces they’re highlighting. It’s a collaboration that continues to expand, and both Wurtz and Velke say they enjoy what they’re doing.

“Something we all love about vintage jewelry is preserving the past and preserving history,” Velke says. “These are pieces that gold buyers would otherwise melt down the for the metal. If we find these pieces, we can breathe new life into them, and that’s what we all want.”

Top: Jess Velke and Heidi Wurtz (right) joined Maejean Vintage about 18 months ago, and they’ve become social media stars by creating educational content around vintage and antique jewelry (all photos courtesy of Maejean Vintage). 

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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