To collective dismay of my father and husband (my father because he would rather I wore “real jewelry” and my husband because I’ve found yet another exy thing to “collect”), I’ve recently begun
hoarding curating vintage designer costume jewelry (“VDC”). By now you know that I do not discriminate against jewelry–if it’s beautiful and shiny I’ll take it! I love vintage costume jewelry (sometimes more than new costume jewelry) because the quality is just so much better as a whole than costume jewelry made today. VDC was often made with the same techniques as fine jewelry and most of it was made by hand whereas today most costume jewelry is made by machine. I sometimes bemoan industrialization for exactly this reason—where is the art-factor when its made in an assembly line? Grrrr. Exy and exclusive is always better than mass market.
First, a little history. Costume jewelry was born out of necessity. Towards the end of World War I, metals were in short supply and even if you could afford precious stones during wartime you probably valued your life and wouldn’t go around buying or wearing precious jewelry; so designers had to improvise with other materials. Coco Chanel was one of the first designers to make costume jewelry out of non-precious materials such as glass, bakelite, gold-plated metals, etc. Soon costume jewelry started trending and it’s been with us ever since.
If you follow fashion at all, you would have realized that designer costume jewelry is back in a big way. Thanks Lehman Bros and leveraged debt! No shame in it at all. Actually, I’ve realized that vintage costume jewelry from certain designers have actually gone up in value. So I am of the opinion that if you enjoy it and you share in my belief that “more is more,” go ahead and invest in some excellent quality pieces for your collection. Don’t start hallucinating about moth balls and crocheted doilies! Not all vintage jewelry looks like it fell out of grandma’s dentures cabinet. Here are two pair of earrings from my personal collection that I absolutely swoon over. Funky, hip and totally au courant.
Of the vintage costume jewelry houses of the 20th Century, here is a small list of the ones I am most fond of (judging by design, quality, and whimsy):
Trifari (aka Crown Trifari, KTF Trifari)
Jomaz (by Joseph Mazer of the Mazer Bros.)
Joseff of Hollywood
Zoe Coste (from the 80′s because remember: Everything before 1993 is considered vintage)
How do you know if its authentic? How much should you pay for it? Where do you get it? Ahhh, my darlings, those are topics for another post. Until then. . .
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,