February 2009


Wearing vintage jewelry for me is like connecting with the romance and glamour of the past…when women wore things that were dazzling, hand crafted, made with care and the finest materials, all in the spirit of making every woman feel stunning, no matter what her economic or social status.  Post-depression America is what started the incredible wave of the industry of fine costume jewelry.   

Baby

The designers of many of these luminous works of art were unemployed fine jewelers from the Great Depression, many from the likes of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, who emigrated to the United States from France and Italy.  The most famous of them was Alfred Philippe who patented more designs for Trifari than any other designer or costume jewelry company.  His rarest patented pieces fetch staggering prices at auction today. 

 

Natalie Wood Wearing Vendome 

 Today’s costume jewelry literally makes me cringe, thinking of it being stamped out en masse, manufactured in China and showing little neither craftsmanship nor imagination.  Sure, there are artisans today who make exquisite jewelry, but it lacks a certain panache that only the mysterious and enchanting past can offer.  Why wear Liz Claiborne when you can be remarkable in Miriam Haskell favored by Joan Crawford, Vendome by Natalie Wood or Weiss by Marilyn Monroe? 

 

 

 

 Vintage jewelry really means something special, an idea I think that is a scarce commodity today in our franchised, reproduced, synthetic society.  Wearing a piece of vintage costume jewelry is unique and real.  It would be an extremely rare occurrence to encounter another woman wearing the same piece around her neck, wrist, finger or adorning her top, coat or dress.  When I walk into a room wearing jewels from a past era, I feel draped in fine art and history.  I am a walking museum of exquisite craft, class and beauty.  What else could a girl ask for? 

A gallery of vintage jewelry that can be found on Ruby Lane’s Under the Sea