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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.


MELECKY's picture
Submitted by MELECKY on

That was a good and interesting article on "costume jewelry." I am not big on jewelry but now when I am antique shopping I will look most closely at the jewelry counter for buying something for my sister, who loves jewelry.

LindaWBD's picture
Submitted by LindaWBD on

I only buy what I know I would wear. I can put on a black shirt & black pants, put on a beautiful piece of jewelry and compliments flow! I always wear a necklace, & sometimes a bracelet to match. Vintage jewelry with rhinestones, the right color- makes a plain black out-fit  pop!

Shyanne Lester's picture

It always shocks me at how many people toss out their inherited costume jewelry thinking it has no value. The craftsmanship alone is worth the passion and interest so many of us have for theses beautiful pieces of history.

Sommer97's picture
Submitted by Sommer97 on

Great insight. I've been collecting and buying jewlry at estate auctions for years. I have no clue if any if it is worth anything. I know I don't have a lot of real gold ,but I have some glasses that I know are from early 1800 and some broches and really neat pieces. But thank you for hints on how to tell if its old or not.


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