Archive for Costume Jewellery
The designer vintage pearls jewellery I have found ranges through famous stars with their own jewellery ranges like Joan Collins, through the costume jewellery names of Ciro, Mazler, Yves St Laurent and Ciner to the great Miriam Haskell.
Of course faux pearls have been used in costume jewellery for more than a hundreds of years and like most things in life the quality of the pearls is variable. There are the rally high quality ones made in Majorca which come with a 10 year guarantee right through to cheap plastic ones which do not wear well and the surface fakes away easily. I recommend that you look for costume jewellery pearls made with a glass center as this gives the piece of jewllery more weight.
Possibly the first great name in Costume Jewellery pearls was Coco Chanel who layers multiple strings of pearls over her outfits.
Similar to real or cultured pearls there are several characteristics to look out for when buying costume pearls as your chosen piece of vintage jewellery:
Iridescence – the rainbow effect which should be present in a good pearl finish
Luster – the satin shimmer on the surface
Texture – Flaws are not seen as good in a pearl finish so the smoother the better
Colour – This can be to suit you, your skin tone or your outfit. Costume jewellery pearls range from white and cream through more exotic colours not seen naturally such as blue. Grey and black pearls are quite popular
The little pretties I would like to show you today go under a few different names. They can be called Iris or Rainbow and Diamante or Rhinestones. Normally I refer to them as Iris Diamante, if I was American I would call them Iris Rhinestones. Whatever we call these stones they are made of clear glass and have a streak of blue, green and pink or red inside. This gives a rainbow type appearance .
Iris diamante come in all shapes and size as you can see in the pictures. I have seen them prong get and glued into place in the jewellery. Set into gold tone, silver tone metal and on one occasion into sterling silver.
I’ve been trying to find out the date these special pieces of vintage jewellery were first made – I have examples dating from the 1930s but they could have been around before that time. Some of the pieces of vitnage jewellery I have here set with Iris Diamante date from the 1960s and I think they are still being made today. Some of the new Iris Diamante are made by Swarovski and so are of high quality.
Genuine vintage pieces of jewellery set with Iris Diamante are now most collectible. Want to buy some vintage jewellery set with Iris Diamante? AntiquesAvenue has an excellent selection at the moment including an amazing Czechoslovakian butterfly, a stretch bracelet, brooches and necklaces.
Busy adding loads of Vintage Brooches to my Vintage Jewellery shop at the moment. As regular readers know antique and vintage brooches are one of my favourite forms of vintage jewellery, their shapes, forms, colours and materials are probably more varied than any other piece of jewellery.
The brooches I have at the moment are mainly from the 1950s and before and include dragons, peacocks , Czechoslovakian pieces and of course lots of flowers. Adding this week and next is vintage costume jewellery brooches . There are glass and poured glass brooches, filigree with colourful glass stones and some bright enamels too. Here are a few group photos to feast your eyes on:
Here is where to find vintage brooches on antiquesavenue:
Glass is one of my favourite materials for vintage costume jewellery, it has a huge variety of shape and colour. Glass jewellery can be moulded, or hand made. Glass can be made into beads, moulded as a cameo or faceted as a gemstone. I have seen glass jewellery of every type: brooches, necklaces, charms, earrings, bracelets and for gents set into cuff links and stick pins.
Glass jewellery is quite durable as long as it is not dropped or knocked onto a hard surface. This durability is one of the great appeals of antique and vintage glass jewellery as , unlike some other vintage costume jewellery materials, its colour does not fade and it does not tarnish naturally. You can also clean glass jewellery so that it is like new depending upon the other materials used in the piece ( see further down this article).
Types of glass in Jewellery
During the Georgiana and Victorian era there was a type of glass known as Paste which was used instead of real gemstones. Paste jewellery can be clear or coloured and is normally set with a closed back which has foil behind the glass to make it sparkle. Paste is often used in brooches and earrings.
By the 1920s paste was largely replaced by Diamante which are a faceted glass ( moulded or polished) which have a foiled back and are often set with a more open back. Many diamante ( known as Rhinestones in the USA) come from Austria and they have a high lead content in the glass which adds to the sparkle.
Glass beads can be moulded or hand made . To my mind the very best glass beads come from Murano in Italy. Look for wedding cake beads. These special beads have been hand made and have lamp work decoration which looks like icing hence the name “wedding cake ” beads. Many murano beads are set with a metabolic foil and the come in a huge variety of colour.
Vintage glass necklaces
What an amazing range of vintage glass necklaces there is available today. You can find glass necklaces from the Victorian era in the form of French Jet or a sparkling black glass. There was a huge popularity for glass necklaces during the 1920s and 1930s and so there is a great selection available today. With many of these they have been re-strung and so as wearable today as they were 90 years ago.
From the 1950s we find what are now called prom necklaces which are made from diamante set into silver tone metal. These prom necklaces are ideal for a sparkling occasion today , they made great party or wedding jewellery . I believe that these prom necklaces are a real bargain at the moment, with prices from about £20 they could well be a great investment for the future.
Value of Antique and Vintage glass jewellery
You can buy a nice piece of vintage glass jewellery in good condition from about £20 upwards. At the other end of the cost scale, Rennie Lalique made some wonderful pieces of glass jewellery in the art nouveau era and a piece of this jewellery could set you back Thousands of pounds. In fact even a new piece of lalique glass and silver Jewellery can cost upwards of a Thousand pounds.
For most vintage glass jewellery you are looking between £20 and about £150 depending upon the style, condition, detail and maker if known.
Care of Vintage Glass Jewellery
When looking after vintage glass jewellery one of the main things is to look at the other materials the piece is made of. The glass its self can usually be washed but you would never put closed back paste or diamante jewellery into water. Also check the finish applied to the glass, a pearl finish can flake easily so you shouldn’t get it wet Glass set into costume jewellery metals should also not be immersed in water.
If you cant wash your glass jewellery how can you clean it? I recommend a soft tooth brush dipped into a clear liquid jewellery cleaner. Remove most of the liquid from the brush by dabbing it with a cloth. Then care full clean the jewllery with the brush. You can then dip the brush into clean water, dry the brush again and clean over your jewellery to remove any trace of the jewellery cleaner. Give your jewellery a gentle rub with a soft cloth ( take care with prong set diamante) . Leave your jewellery in a warm room for a few hours to ensure that all moisture is removed.
As with all jewellery pieces should not be thrown into a jewellery box but stored carefully with space between one piece and the next. you can wrap pieces individually in acid free tissue paper.
Where to buy Vintage Glass Jewellery
There is always an excellent selection of glass jewllery over at antiquesavenue.co.uk with a special section devoted to glass necklaces. Also take a look at the costume jewellery brooches and wedding jewellery where most of the pieces are made of glass.
Diamante Jewellery is vintage jewellery which sparkles and shine like diamonds but is very much more affordable than the real thing. Diamante are made of high quality lead glass and can be varied in shape, size and colour to suit the jewellery designer.
In the USA diamante are known as Rhinestones. During the Georgian and Victorian eras the equivalent stones were known as paste. Originally diamante were made in Czechoslovakia and probably the best ones are made by Swarovski in Austria. The backs of the stones can be coated in silver of gold coloured foil reflect more light out of the stone and give it a higher sparkle.
You can find Diamante can be set into vintage costume jewellery on their own or combined with other types of stones. There are several ways diamante can be set into jewellery, either glued or prong set being the most common. Look carefully at your diamante jewellery, can you see the prongs? If so it is better quality than jewellery with the diamante glued in and is most likely genuine vintage jewellery as modern pieces tend to be glued.
History of Diamante Jewellery
Paste jewellery was developed about 1730 , Georgian paste jewellery always has the stones foil backed and the paste will be enclosed in a closed backed setting in the jewellery just as fine jewellery was at that time. There is little real Georgian paste jewellery around these days and what we do see is often spoilt as moisture has got into the setting and the foil has lifted from the back of the paste stones.
During the Victorian ear paste stones would be set into gold and silver as well as into costume jewellery. I quite frequently come across Victorian gold brooches set with paste instead of diamonds which shows how highly regarded paste jewellery was.
The Edwardian used paste jewellery extensively. White jewellery such as diamonds and pearls was high fashion and every one could afford a paste brooch to copy this style
I cant find exactly where the distinction between paste and diamante started but it is round about the 1920s. It appears that pieces of Edwardian age and before are known as paste and later than 1920 are diamante. Of course white diamante were all the rage during the 1920s when they were extensively used to immitate diamonds. The 1930s saw a broader palette of colours used and combining diamante with other materials such as enamel. Many of the diamante used during the 1940s were larger and in colours such as gold and blue which suited the big bold jewellery of the time. During the 1920s to 1940s diamante could be set into materials such as Bakelite as well as into silver and base metal ( pot metal).
Diamante evolved during the 1950s with creations such as the Aurora Borealis finish which is a rainbow effect iridescent coating. Crystal clear diamante were popular for what has become known as Prom Jewellery which is jewellery with hundreds of prong set diamante strung as a chin into a necklace bracelet or earring. This type of vintage prom jewellery is suitable for wearing to a wedding or party today.
1960s fashion wasn’t big on diamante and for some years years they were rarely seen in jewellery. The diamante made its re-appearance in the 1970s disco era and become really big again during the 1980s club era.
Diamante are often given the same name as precious gemstones:
Baguette, rectangular long and narrow with faceted edges
Cabochon, half a ball shape with a flat back
Chaton, cushion, Dentelle, Emerald, flatback. Marquis, Mine cut, pear cut, princess cut Rose cur, round cut and square cur are all names which you may come across when looking at diamante.
Care of Diamante jewellery
Take care not to get your diamante wet, water behind the stone will ruin the foil and stones become dull, the setting beneath them can go green or they can fall out all together. The damage water causes has ruined countless pieces of good diamante jewellery. Try cleaning with s soft brush such as a dry tooth brush to start with followed by a light polish with a lint free cloth. If this has not worked you can use something like a tiny spray of clear window cleaning liquid onto your brush. almost dry this off the brush and then rub over the surface of the glass. Then polish dry and turn the piece upside down to make sure any residual moisture drys out rather than into the piece.
Please do put your diamante jewellery on after your perfume and makeup to keep the jewellery as clean as possible
I would say that with Diamante jewellery condition is extremely important perhaps a little more so than with other types of vintage and antique jewellery. This is because diamante jewellery especially from 1920s onwards is relatively plentiful and therefore it is not worth buying in poor condition. It is possible to buy replacement diamante and with a little effort replace one yourself if necessary but it will take a lot of time and effort probably exceeding the worth of the piece itself.
Names to look out for
Many top costume jewellery designers have used diamante in their jewellery. Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Norman Hartnell, Coro and Corocraft, Trifari, Eisenberg, Swarovski, Hobe, Boucher, Hollycraft, Weiss, Regency and Schreiner, Miriam Haskell is all named Jewellery with Diamante which is worth looking out for.
I’ve a lovely collection to show you, lots of vintage costume Jewellery brooches and available as one lot so that you can keep a few and probably sell the rest at a profit . There are 25 brooches in this lot for £100 which makes them just £4 each including postage.
Every one of these brooches is in excellent condition. They include gold and silver toned brooches, leaf and flower brooches, a cat brooch. There are diamante brooches, glass set brooches and brooches in the shapes of rose.
What is costume Jewellery made of? When we are looking at vintage jewellery materials we see all sorts of lovely pieces, Necklaces, rings, earrings, bangles, brooches which are made of costume jewellery . The term is used to cover all Jewellery which is not made of Precious stones and metals.
Semi Precious Costume Jewellery stones
Semi Precious stones are all naturally occurring gemstones which are not Diamonds, Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds. For example amethysts, Citrines, aquamarines and opals are all considered to be semi precious and can be found as costume jewellery or fine jewellery depending upon the other materials they are made of. If the semi precious stones are set with gold or platinum or silver then the Jewellery is generally considered to be fine Jewellery rather than costume Jewellery. A string of amethyst chip beads would be costume jewellery as would a pair of opal earrings in a gold plated setting.
Costume Jewellery Metals
All metals except for gold, platinum and silver are costume Jewellery as is base metal plated with gold, silver or platinum. The metal in costume jewellery could be a metal we can name such as copper or brass . More likely this metal will be a mixture of metals . Pot Metal is is the term given to some base metal used in costume jewellery . Other metals I have found in costume jewellery include stainless steel, aluminium and Iron ( remember Iron nail necklaces in the 1970s?)
Natural costume Jewellery materials
Many many different materials have been used in costume jewellery throughout history. Early materials would have included animal bones , feathers, river washed pebbles, leather and shell. These are still used today in many ethnic style costume jewellery. Cultured pearls are a natural costume jewellery material which has only been available for a little over 100 years. The Victorians made wide use of costume jewellery materials , polishing agates into slabs. A few more naturally occurring costume jewellery materials include Jet, Wood, fossils and amber.
Man Made Costume Jewellery materials.
Ceramic Jewellery, Lucite, Bakelite and all other plastic Jewellery, imitation gemstones ( CZ, Paste, Glass crystal). The beauty of costume jewellery is that these materials can be mixed and matched to create something beautiful to wear at a reasonable cost compared to fine jewellery.
Vintage Jewellery A-Z continues with Bakelite. Bakelite is one of the most highly collected forms of Vintage Costume Jewellery.
Bakelite is a form of plastic, in fact it was the first synthetic plastic and was first made in the early days of the last century. Bakelite was most popular for use in Jewellery between the 1920s and about 1950. It was popular because it was one of the first materials that could be moulded, coloured and shaped, was light weight and relatively low cost.
Bakelite was made into all sorts of jewellery brooches and bangles, earrings and necklaces. The colours and shapes used were those that were popular in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s ( The art Deco era). Bakelite was made in Ivory colour, Green, Red, Yellow and black as well as marbled colours and translucent pieces. You can also fine Bakelite set with Rhinestones / diamante and mixed with other costume jewellery materials.
Identification of Bakelite
The collector of Bakelite needs to be able to distinguish the real thing from other types of early plastics and this is not easy and something I do struggle with myself. The most commonly recommended way to tell the difference is by heating the piece gently and then smelling it. If your piece of jewellery can be safely immersed in water you can dip it for a second into boiling water. Apparently the hot Bakelite gives off the smell of carbolic acid, the problem with this is that you need a good sense of smell and you need to know what carbolic acid smells like.
A few characteristics which may also help identify Bakelite are that it is heavier than other plastics and makes a clunking sound when two pieces are knocked together.
I have heard that there is a polish known as “Simichrome” which when you polish the Bakelite with it leaves a yellow smear on the cloth.
Also check how the metal findings ( clasps , catches and hinges) are attaches. If they are screwed into the plastic rather than glued on then this would indicate Bakelite.
Care of Bakelite:
Store pieces separately to prevent scratching, avoid bright sunlight and harsh chemicals including those in perfume and hairspray.
A couple of books which might help:- Bakelite Style by Tessa Clark pub Chartwell books
- Collecting Art Plastic Jewellery by Leigh Leshner pub KP Book
This amazing vintage art deco Bakelite necklace is so long that i have had problems showing it to good advantage in the photos. There are two shapes of Ivory and black coloured Bakelite panels joined by silver toned metal chain. There is a hook which joins the two ends as a necklace as can be see in the third photo.
The hollow panel measure about 6 x 1.5 cms with the total length of this art deco necklace being about 125 cms. The Bakelite is in excellent condition although there is a little fading to the silver tone metal.