This vintage costume pin is a perfect example of the imagination and detail that is a part of vintage costume jewelry. You just do not see this kind of quality in new costume jewelry today.
Selling vintage jewelry at the Burlington (KY) Antique Show this summer, I had more brides than I can count looking for rhinestone pins to add to a bridal bouquet.
Most of the brides I spoke to were looking for one showstopper piece to add to a bouquet of blooms.
Others were making an entire arrangement out of rhinestone pins and earrings.
There are some wonderful examples of creativity in this recent trend.
I’m so mad I didn’t think of doing this. I was taught never to alter a piece of vintage jewelry.
However, some pieces have a flaw and would be better off with a makeover.
Here’s another ingenious idea… taking colorful nail polish and covering vintage rhinestone jewelry in any pattern you choose!
It’s another way to refresh a piece that is boring, an awful color, or has minor damage.
I’ve recently seen the trend of crafters taking vintage rhinestone jewelry and painting it to give it renewed purpose.
I love this idea! It’s a way to refresh a piece that maybe has a dark stone or minor damage which can be hidden by paint.
Trifari was known for some designs using glass poured into molds. You can find such jewelry from the 1950s, with leaves and flower petals made from poured glass. This pin is unsigned but dates to the 1960s.
Let’s say you have a piece of vintage costume jewelry with a patent pending stamp or a patent # on the back. There are excellent web sites that are dedicated to identifying costume jewelry which was produced when jewelry designs were patented in the US. Patenting as a practice died out in the early 1950s and the heyday of patented costume jewelry was from the 1920s-1940s. The Trifari pin featured above is patented and is dated to 1953.
These sites can help you determine who manufactured and sold a piece of jewelry, the name of the designer, the date of patent, as well as other details. This information is extremely important in determining the value of a piece of vintage costume jewelry.
The following links show sites with comprehensive research resources. The sites are organized by jewelry maker and dates, along with design drawings and patent dates.
Also, if you want to see a site with loads of high-end magnificent costume jewelry that was produced during the hey-day of design check out the link below. Many of these pieces have the patent information provided.
My site: www.midcenturyjewelry.com.
I get asked fairly frequently where I get my vintage costume jewelry. Below is a list of the different sources I use to obtain jewelry. I’ve listed the sources in descending order based on my personal success in finding quality jewelry there.
1. My Contacts — over the years I have cultivated different people who I’ve met while conducting business. These people know that I am always looking to purchase jewelry. I contact these people every couple of months to see if they anything to sell me. Most often, these “pickers” are my best and most reliable source for jewelry. These pickers are often out in the market doing the same thing I’m doing…working their own contacts, attending sales and auctions and garage sales.
2. Auctions — I read the auction section of my local classifieds each week and also check a website named www.AuctionZip.com. Both of these sources advertise local auctions in my area each week. I only attend auctions which advertise a decent amount and quality of jewelry. I like www.Auctionzip.com because sometimes photos are posted that allow me to preview the auction. I have a pet peeve about auction listings, though….if an auctioneer is going to feature jewelry as one of the main highlights of an auction then he/she should PLEASE post some photos!
3. Local Jewelers — Sometimes local jewelers (I’m talking about independently owned jewelry stores, not mall stores or chains) come across vintage costume jewelry in the course of doing business. I’ve fostered relationships with a few local jewelers who do not consider me to be competition and are happy to sell me costume jewelry in bulk. I try to reciprocate by telling everyone I know how wonderful these jewelers are. I respect these guys and have confidence in their honesty and am happy to refer potential business their way.
4. Pawn Shops — I’ve visited local pawn shops and have found very good deals in the past. Again, pawn shops sometimes end up with vintage costume jewelry in the course of doing business. The only way to find which particular shops do deal in this type jewelry is to go in and ask.
5. Scrap dealers (AKA Jewelers and Coin Dealers) — Some jeweler and coin dealers will be happy to let you pick through the scrap jewelry that they originally intended to sell at scrap value. Lots of jewelry is scrapped when there is absolutely nothing wrong with it other than scrap value has, at times, exceeded the value of the jewelry itself (but jewelers don’t know costume jewelery and will scrap a real treasure). Don’t be embarrassed to go into a store and ask if they are willing to sell you scrap jewelry. The worst thing that they can say is “no”.
6. Antique Stores/ Antique Malls — I do walk through antique stores in the hopes of finding unidentified or underpriced “treasures”. This technique takes a lot of patience since it’s typical that once something is being merchandised in a store that there’s not too much profit margin there for me. But if I have time to kill and really need jewelry, I will visit stores in my area. I have found some wonderful things over the years.
7. Craigslist — I look at Craigslist every day and most of the jewelry there is not what I’m looking for. Every once in a while, though, I’ve been successful in contacting a seller and making a good deal.
8. Goodwill — Not usually a good place in my experience but I still visit periodically. Usually low end items are there.
9. Garage Sales — I don’t attend too many because I’m not interested in getting up at the crack of dawn and fighting other people for jewelry. I haven’t found too much good jewelry at garage sales. But when I do attend a garage sale, I ask the seller if they have any additional jewelry. Surprisingly, the answer is sometimes “yes” and then they bring out the jewelry still in the house.
10. Estate Sales — I went through a spell where I attended these for a while. However, estate sales often require you to get there and line up to get a number hours before the sale starts — only to get into the house and see that there’s nothing there. It can be a crap shoot but is an option.
11. Online auction sites — there are sites that conduct auctions in real time online. I’ve had some excellent but spotty results at these auctions. Read the terms of the auctions closely so that you are aware of shipping costs and additional charges.
I obtained this bangle recently. It’s a little different from things I’ve had in the past. The bangle is made from a heavy base metal with a silver plated finish on top. It has a modern design with a molten looking texture on the front.
The maker’s mark is “DS Handmade Denmark”. Another well-respected site shows a simliar piece of vintage jewelry with the same mark and attributes it to Jacob Hull. Hull was active in the 1960s-1970s and was know for using silver plating.
If anyone can help me with further info, I’d much appreciate it!
I had an errand to run recently that took me out into the country of southern Ohio. Prior to going, I Googled “antique stores” to see if I could find a few in nearby small towns. One town, Lynchburg OH, showed a single antique store listing online.
Well, I went out of my way and found Lynchburg. There was a single stoplight with a bank, a gas station, a hardware store and a few other buildings. Within a few seconds I found the location of Lynchburg Antique Mall but it appeared to be closed. Darn it! I was ready to spend some money. After walking up to the store front and peering through the glass, I saw someone arranging items inside. I knocked on the window, totally ignoring the sign on the door which announced that the store would be open for business for the season in a couple of weeks. The man inside the store opened the door to talk to me and let me in.
This guy was busy and could have turned me away. As soon as I told him what I was looking for, he rummaged around and found me several boxes of vintage costume jewelry for me to look through. I found some good items; we had a good conversation while I was looking and he gave me a fabulous deal.
I’ll be back. The owner of the mall said that several antique stores are open in the area during the summer season. It will be fun to explore the area again in a few months.
As a collector and seller of vintage costume jewelry, it’s always a disappointment to come across a beautiful piece of vintage costume jewelry covered in green gunk. You know what I’m talking about…it looks like green mold and is usually clinging to the metal parts of the piece. This green gunk is officially known as verdigris.
Verdigris is corrosion of the metal caused by exposure to moisture, makeup or other contaminants. It happens over time and I see it when a bunch of costume jewelry has been stored for years, sometimes in contact with moisture and with other pieces of jewelry. It is possible to transfer the growth of verdigris from one piece of jewelry to another if they are touching for long periods of time. Some verdigris is easily removed and some is beyond bothering with. I always try to remove it but realize that sometimes the treatment is nearly as bad as the verdigris itself.
Below are my recommended methods to remove verdigris:
1. TOOTHPICK — Sometimes a toothpick is all it takes to scrape small amounts of verdigris from small spots on jewelry. I’d try this first.
2. DRY TOOTHBRUSH — Take a dry toothbrush and brush it across the gunk, removing as much as you can.
3. METAL POLISH — After brushing off as much as I can with a toothbrush, I might move on to try metal polish. There are metal polishes out on the market that are worth their weight in gold to me. Most can be purchased at any hardware store or big box store. I’m currently using a small tube of metal polish named Maas Metal Polish. These metal polishes are very slightly abrasive creams which will help you remove tarnish or dirt from metals. Squeeze a pea-sized drop of polish on to a clean, soft cloth and rub softly on the jewelry. After about 30 seconds of rubbing, check your jewelry out. Hopefully, some of the green is off the jewelry and on your cloth. Finish polishing your jewelry with a clean portion of the cloth. If metal polish has not worked satisfactorily, it’s time to move on to “home chemical treatments”.
WARNING: Some of the options below may work but I use them only as a last resort. Many times, even after the verdigris is removed, the metal underneath is no longer gold plated and may not match the finish on the rest of the piece of jewelry. Keep this in mind before you try the treatments below.
4. VINEGAR — Pour some white vinegar into a bowl or cup and soak your jewelry for about 20 minutes. Pull the jewelry out, then brush it off with the toothbrush. Rinse well, then dry well with a soft clean cloth. Do NOT soak certain types of jewelry in vinegar, especially jewelry with soft gems like pearls, fake pearls, rhinestones with foil backings, glued in rhinestones. If the verdigris is only on certain parts of jewelry, you could still try the vinegar but maybe soak some onto a cotton ball or paper towel and leave the soaked cotton ball touching the verdigris only. This will protect your stones in the jewelry.
4. KETCHUP — I’ve used ketchup in the past because it is acidic and stays in place. The warning about protecting soft gems and rhinestones applies to ketchup as well as vinegar. Lay the jewelry on a paper towel. Squirt the ketchup on the verdigris, wait about 30 minutes, rinse the jewelry well and dry thoroughly. If you can get over the smell and mess of the ketchup, it can sometimes work well.
Proper storage of vintage costume jewelry will prevent future damage. Try not to expose your jewelry to moisture and at least make sure that moisture or makeup is not present on the jewelry when putting it away. It’s best not to pile a bunch of jewelry together and leave it laying there for years. Just get your jewelry out and look at it once in a while. The sooner you catch that nasty green gunk, the easier it is to stomp out!
The recession can be felt by jewelry sellers on eBay and the Internet. I belong to a vintage jewelry seller’s group and everyone sees a drop in their sales as a result of the recession. I have documented a drop in the average dollar amount per item I am receiving on eBay sales these days. I’m not complaining….it’s just something I have to live through until things get better.
The 1950s-1960s Winard signed gold filled cameo and matching clip earrings featured above sold this past week in my eBay store for $9.99. A heart-breaking price for me to accept, especially since a set like this would have sold for $45-50 this time last year. There are definitely bargains out there for people still buying.
Surprisingly, the competition among resellers at antiques auctions for jewelry continues to be strong in my area. Sometimes I see resellers purchasing jewelry at higher prices than I can resell it for. Either they know something I don’t or they’re not very smart. Also, winter seems to bring out people who are desperate for more stock when the pickings are slim in the cold weather months.
In my opinion, the market will continue to be depressed for a while. I think that some sellers will not survive the recession. Those who can hang on will be the sellers who already had strong customer bases and sufficient capital to survive the down times.
I need help identifying the maker of this copper and enamel pendant and matching earrings. The set has a bright orange background with raised flowers on the front. The backside of the set is also enameled. The pieces are of obvious high quality but I have not been able to identify the maker’s mark on the attached sticker. I’ve asked everyone I know in the vintage jewelry trade and still don’t know. If someone out there knows who this maker is, please email me! Thanks!
I’m fantasizing about Spring!
My kids have always hated old stuff. I’ve got these 1950s dishes that my son refuses to eat off of because the brown colors gross him out. He has his own personal bowl that no one is allowed to eat out of…the bowl is totally white. I guess he likes his white bowl because he can tell when it’s clean and that it’s not “contaminated” with the cooties of previous owners.
My daughter is the same way. For years, she has spurned my efforts to give her vintage jewelry from my collection. I can shake an old necklace at her like a voodoo totem and she’ll back out of the room. I always said to her, “I bet other girls would just love to have some jewelry”. Well, my prediction has come true. Her friend Sara loves to come over and pick through my jewelry to find the funkiest piece in the bunch. Last week, Sara took home some truly strange fuzzy Christmas wreath earrings with reindeer leaping across the front. Now that my daughter’s friends are interested in my jewelry, she is too.
So, this post is for my daughter. I’m glad that she will at least stay in the room when I drag my jewelry out to show her……