Frequently Asked Questions
Most of our jewelry includes at least one antique stamped brass, cut steel or pewter button that was manufactured between 1880 and 1918. We also use several different kinds of vintage glass buttons most of which were manufactured in Europe between 1920 and 1960.
In the weird and wonderful world of button collecting, buttons that are more than a century old are considered to be antique and the ones that are more than forty years old are classified as vintage.
The fastest way to determine if a button is antique is to examine the back. If it has a looped or twisted wire shank embedded into the button, it’s very likely an antique. Vintage or new buttons more often have a shank molded or stamped into the back of the button.
Download or read our Field Guide to Buttons for a quick lesson on the categories and traits of the antique and vintage buttons we use in our jewelry.
Almost every antique button is a one and only and so the one on your piece of jewelry will not be identical to the one in the images on our website product pages. Our studio team hand assembles every piece of jewelry we sell, and when doing so they choose what they think is the ideal button for that piece. So, we cannot guarantee it will be exactly the same as the product page, but we do guarantee it will be lovely.
With the antique buttons (cut steel, pewter, and brass) you will not know exactly which button will be on your jewelry because they are one of a kind. That is part of the fun! However, the antique button on your jewelry will be similar in design, size and color as what is portrayed on our website. The vintage glass buttons featured in our jewelry designs will match what you see on the website product images because we often can purchase these pieces in batches. When we run out of vintage glass pieces we update the website with new images.
You can return your jewelry piece and we will find a button you adore, replace it and ship it back to you. It’s important to us that you are in love with every piece of Grandmother’s Buttons jewelry in your collection. Note that you will have to pay for the associated shipping expenses.
Our motto at Grandmother’s Buttons is to honor the button so we developed settings that enable us to attach antique buttons to jewelry pieces without damaging their shanks. This process is unique to us. We created it to protect the value of the antique buttons which will continue to grow over the years as long as the shank remains intact.
The Grandmother’s Buttons headquarters are located in a restored historic bank building in the tiny town of St. Francisville, Louisiana. A retail store and button museum occupy the first floor and our jewelry production studio is on the second. We design and hand assemble over 30,000 pieces of jewelry a year in our studio with a dedicated team of women. Our business is an economic mainstay of our tiny community and our team members, many of whom have been with us for decades, feel like family.
Although antique buttons have survived a century they remain a wee bit fragile. It is important to note that cut steel and stainless steel are not the same thing. Cut steel will tarnish if it gets wet. The best way to clean your jewelry is to delicately wipe it with a soft cloth.
The small Victorian buttons, which are the mainstay of our designs, come from collectors whom we’ve known for decades. We likely have over five thousand different designs of Victoria-era brass, steel, or glass buttons in our studio collection. We also go button hunting every year. Our founder, Susan Davis, scours the forgotten corners of this earth for antique buttons and vintage glass. She climbs into grimy abandoned lofts and bargains with flea market vendors. She spends hours upon hours in dusty warehouses, sorting through long-forgotten attics, and rummaging through thrift store shelves. Like all good fisherfolk, she has her favorite honey holes and knows that certain dead stock warehouses and flea markets are more likely to unearth the best treasures. These jackpots are located throughout the country in areas as diverse as California, New York, Texas, and Rhode Island.
We feature only the best of the best of our button finds in our limited-edition jewelry lines. In other words, only the rarest, most beautiful and valuable items in our collection are used in our limited-edition designs. Wherever the buttons come from, one truism for all of them is there aren’t very many of them. Usually, there is only one. Sometimes we find a special set of buttons, and therefore can produce multiples, but even then, the most we can make is two to six pieces. So our limited-edition designs are indeed genuinely limited in the true sense of that word. In fact, chances are your limited edition purchase will be the only one of its kind in the world. You can read about all the ins and outs of our limited edition designs on our Buttonology Blog.
The short answer is no. We are not in the button selling business because we like to save all our best finds for our jewelry. However, we do sell a few century-old buttons we have culled in our St. Francisville flagship retail store. We keep them in an old tin that customers can sort through - just like they did with their grandmother’s button box.
We seldom have time to do this but will consider it in special instances if the person requesting it can come and meet with our lead designer in our St. Francisville studio.
The delicate bits and pieces we use in our jewelry are not meant to get wet, especially the antique buttons. Note cut steel is different from stainless steel and will discolor if it gets wet.
For us, everything starts with the button hunt. Every year, our founder Susan Davis, scours the forgotten corners of this earth for antique buttons and vintage glass. Finding the best of the best is her superpower. We bring it all home and stockpile it in our design studio in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Over the years we've amassed a monumental archive of vintage glass, antique buttons, and other bits and pieces. When you climb the stairs to our second-floor studio, you'll find our collection exploding from every surface, nook, crevice, and corner. It's a bonanza or a torment depending on your tolerance for clutter.
The other thing that makes us special is our unique approach to jewelry design. We’ve been designing jewelry for over three decades and through the years have come to adopt an uncommon methodology. Most jewelry and fashion designers start by assessing new trends like this year’s palette of popular colors. Then they outline their ideas and procure the elements, like gems or stones, that they need to execute their vision.
We do the opposite. We start with the pieces. We like to say that we assemble our jewelry like a jigsaw puzzle and that the pieces are the secret sauce.
You can read about our unique approach to jewelry design on our Buttonology Blog.