WHAT IS COSTUME JEWELRY?
Everyone from the beginning of time has worn some sort of ornamentation on their bodies – necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings and so on.
Up until about 300 years ago, only the wealthy could afford jewelry inset with precious stones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires. This jewelry was “fine” jewelry.
In the 1800s, with the rise of the middle class, everyone wanted to be able to wear jewelry that looked like the real thing, but didn’t have the cost factor. Enterprising manufacturers starting using glass to make jewelry that looked “just like the real thing,” and this became costume jewelry.
Because costume jewelry was much less expensive than fine jewelry, women could afford to purchase a lot more pieces, so that they could have a matching piece or pieces for every outfit, or “costume” they wore for a particular occasion.
What’s the difference between antique and vintage costume jewelry?
Any item over 100 years old is considered an antique. Antique costume jewelry can be anywhere from 300 to 100 years old.
Vintage costume jewelry, on the other hand, is anywhere from 100 to 20 years old. Yes, costume jewelry from the 1980s is considered “vintage.”
Now, just because an item is an antique or vintage doesn’t make it valuable, of course. It all depends on demand.
But because lots of people love antique and vintage costume jewelry, don’t just assume that the pieces you have – even if they’re “only” from the 1980s, won’t have a market for them.
The fascination of vintage costume jewelry?
Vintage costume jewelry is jewelry manufactured from the 1920s to the 1980s.
Everyone loves beautiful things, and each “decade” of costume jewelry is beautiful in its own way. Designers really went to town on their creations, taking them every bit as seriously as fine jewelers took their creations.
Many of the designers from each decade gained recognition and fame, and their pieces are more valuable as a result. Designers were from all over the world – France, Italy, England, as well as the United States.
Below we’ll list just a few of the most famous designers from each decade.
The work of each of these designers is so distinctive that they are usually easily recognizable, but they also made the sound business decision of placing their designer’s mark on each piece. Vintage costume jewelry by some of the top designers can be quite valuable if they are in good condition.
A Brief, Decade by Decade Discussion of Vintage Costume Jewelry
Art Deco was the rage in the 1920s, and is still popular today. The most popular designers of costume jewelry during this decade were Chanel (as in CoCo Chanel, who was also a fashion designer) and Elsa Schiaparelli.
Their pieces were adorned with faux pearls, colored glass, beads and marcasite.
Double clips, pendant earrings and brooches of the new materials Bakelite and plastic made their debut in this decade. Popular designers were Coro (founded by Emanuel Cohn and Carl Rosenberger), Boucher (founded by Frenchman Marcel Boucher) most famous for his ornate brooches, and Trifari (founded by Italian Gustavo Trifari, Leo Krussman and Carl Fishel). Trifari designed custom jewelry for Hollywood actors, which really boosted their appeal.
In the 1940s, jewelry of leather, wood, Lucite, plaster and ceramic were crafted.
The popular designers continued to be Trifari and Coro, as well as Weiss (founded by Albert Weiss, who had originally designed for Coro), Eisenberg (founded by Jonas Eisenberg, and famous for crafting replicas of fine jewelry pieces of the 18th century), and Ciner (founded by Emmanuel Ciner originally as a fine jewelry company decades previously).
The 1950s saw the emergence of textured metals, art glass and beads, used in jewelry sets and bib necklaces.
Popular designers continued to be Weiss and Ciner. New designers rose from the austerity of the 1940s – such as Christian Dior (more famous as a fashion designer), Hobe’s (founded by Jacques Hobe, most famous for its beaded necklaces), and Juliana (a line founded by Frank DeLizza and Harold Elster).
The swinging 60s saw an upswing in large pendants, ball drop necklaces, and hoop earrings, crafted from textured metals, plastics and vinyl and featuring beads and art glasses.
One of the most popular designers at this time was Kenneth Jay Lane, who began in the early 1960s doing work for Dior and other designers, before establishing his own reputation. He was famous for creating copies of fine jewelry pieces for use by socialites such as Jacqueline Kennedy.
The 1970s saw an uptick in a love for vintage costume jewelry as well as new creations of stone, wood, shell or bone, with Haskell emerging as one of the most popular designers. Haskell, founded by Miriam Haskell in the 1920s, really came into its own in the 1970s. As with other top designers, Haskell costume jewelry was worn by such luminaries as Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and other actresses.
The 1980s saw the debut of jelly bracelets and cocktail rings. The jewelry was noted for gold plating, faux gemstones, and faux pearls, large brooches and hoop earrings, jelly bracelets and cocktail rings.
The big name making its debut in the 1980s was Westwood. Although Englishwoman Vivien Westwood gained fame in the 1970s with her punk fashion pieces (she was married to the manager of the punk rock band The Sex Pistols) the 80s saw her debut her “New Romantic Era” line.
This is just a taste of the vintage costume jewelry that may be in your jewelry boxes, or found in estate sales. Call Florida Jewelry Brokers today!!
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