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Collecting Costume Jewelry

Collecting Costume Jewelry image

Vintage costume jewelry can be one of the most enjoyable and valuable things to collect. Aside from the amazing beauty of the pieces and the enjoyment of learning more about the history of the companies, you can also do quite well purchasing the right piece with the mindset of reselling in the future. Think of vintage costume jewelry as an investment for the future so long as you know which designers to choose from and that you’re able to determine if the piece is a reproduction or an original designer piece.

Some of the top costume jewelry manufacturers range from Trifari, Eisenberg, David Mandel, Chanel, Larry Vrba, Robert Sorrell, etc. With the increase in interest in collecting costume jewelry and vintage pieces has come the problem of fake and reproduction pieces flooding the market. There are some key points to look at a piece to find out if it’s an original or a fake.

The best way to avoid purchasing a new piece being touted as an antique is to carefully look at the piece in detail. Remember that original pieces of vintage costume jewelry were handmade back in the day. If the piece looks like it was machine-made then chances are that it’s not a vintage original. Key fake giveaways are in the way that the settings and mountings are made. If the mountings are a single piece or molded in cast then it would not be a vintage since antique costume jewelry was usually made of separate pieces soldered together.

Also, viewing the piece from the back is a key indicator as to age. If the mounting does not use prongs like traditional jewelry pieces then that’s another indicator of not being vintage. Also, if the metal looks brightly colored, new, and doesn’t show normal wear, then it’s probably not a vintage piece as well.

Vintage antique jewelry from the 1940’s and 1950’s are the most sought after by collectors. Dolce & Gabban’s pieces are always a favorite as are marked Chanel pieces. Miriam Haskell is another designer to keep your eyes out for. Studio pieces, from the early 1900’s such as those by Joseff of Hollywood are highly treasured, but because they are so collectible reproductions are bountiful and often hard to discern from the real thing.

Antique and vintage costume jewelry can be extremely enjoyable since there are so many diverse pieces. Take your time to learn what is collectible or if you're interested only as a hobby then collect what you personally enjoy looking at and wearing. You'll always have a great unique conversation piece that will rarely go unnoticed.


David James's picture

I have a Hamilton diamond watch that belonged to my mother. I thought it was costume jewelry, but then I found appraisal papers saying it was worth $4000. I had someone look at it and they said it wasn't real. I'm stumped. Did Hamilton make costume jewelry or is the appraisal papers false.

SpethKL63's picture
Submitted by SpethKL63 on

Wow this was the first time I understand what to and not to look for in my jewelry I have several pieces that I love dearly but know nothing about them. Buy this helped me have a whole new understanding Thankyou so very much. .Karen

geoings's picture
Submitted by geoings on

I have just come across a ring that seems too good to be true.  It is a German Christian Dior ring  with what looks like three baguette cut emeralds (most likely faux), and possible CZ around it.   I do know that in the 60s and before, German made Dior rings and such were actually well made fakes, but I am interested to know if anyone has any other information.  I am hard pressed to think that it is real emeralds and diamonds, but even if fake, it is a beautiful cocktail ring.

Heavenbomb's picture

I just happened upon two chests full and I mean FULL of 1940’s 1930’s costume jewelry. If anyone is keen on helping me go through it let me know. There is one tirifani necklace/bracelet/pin set that is just adorable. It’s made entirely of little bows. There are real pieces mixes in as well (meaning real stones) I’m interested in selling. 

SissyBeans's picture

I love Crown Trifari! It is one of the nicest selections of cat pins. I should know, I have some I got for me only! There is one that is a circus cat sitting on the things they were trained to sit on. Have never seen that one before. It is about 1 1/2" talk and only about 1 /2" wide. So cool!! Part of a circus set that I haven't see.  Has anyone seen more? Thank you! 


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