costume jewelry


The dawn of cocktail rings dates back to the roaring 20’s, when women were freer than their Victorian and Edwardian counterparts, drinking during prohibition and flaunting their verboten cocktails in illegal speakeasy’s.  To highlight their new-found independence and defiance of social restrictions, women started wearing rings with large stones that sparkled along with their alcoholic drinks.  Like champagne, these rings were full of sparkles and bubbly with personality.  The cocktail ring enjoyed a renaissance during the 1960’s and 70’s, and they have also made a reprise in the new millenium, far bigger and bolder than ever.  Some of the Hollywood and LA wearers makes you wonder how they stay on the finger or how one can even maneuver a cup of coffee with a 30 carat rock on their hands.  Explore the world of vintage cocktail rings online…it will make your eyes sparkle and perhaps bring back that wanton flapper feeling.

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Have to share some of rarest trees yet – some for sale in my shop, Vintage Under the Sea!  The rarest is the Gorham tree set with diamonds…none of the Christmas tree pin book authors have ever seen this one before – so I will be soon heading to Providence, RI to search the Gorham archives for a drawing of it or any information about this tree – what year it was made, how many were made, etc.  The Gorham archives are located at Brown University in Providence.  Hopefully, I’ll be heading over there next week – can’t wait to see what I can discover!

Gorham Sterling Silver Christmas tree pin, set with genuine diamonds

Alphabet Sampler ABC Sterling Silver Christmas tree pin

EXTREMELY Rare Har signed Christmas tree pin

Sea Coral Branch Christmas tree pin – Wild!

One of DeNicola’s signed rare arbors!

Love this modernist tree – Mint condition in the original box!

BJ half basket weave gold tone Christmas tree pin

The highly sought-after Beatrix (BJ) basket weave Christmas tree pin – snagged it recently from a large lot sale (hidden treasure!), and it sold immediately (within 24 hours) from my online shop – I knew it wouldn’t stick around for long…wish I could’ve kept this one…but hopefully, someday, I can find another one for my private collection!

Always on the prowl for the rarest, most unusual and beautiful trees, these are my latest conquests of the vintage holiday arbor variety:  Swarovski 1996 Limited Edition Crystal Christmas tree, Sign Language tree, and Plique a Jour “stained glass” tree!  Love’em!

Swarovski 1996 crystal Christmas tree pin

Sign language Christmas tree pin

Stained glass Christmas tree pin_$48.99

Next year (2015) will mark 125 years since Napier moved its costume jewelry & accessories company to Meriden, CT, and I have been immersed in Napier since the recent publication of Melinda Lewis’ iconic book, “The Napier Company: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry” (Fall 2013).  My online shop collection has now grown to 45 pieces of this company’s vintage beauties, the largest and longest standing costume jewelry producer in U.S. history.  From the Art Deco period to the chunky and bold 1980’s, Napier dominated the jewelry counters of most fine department stores, from Filene’s to Macy’s to Bloomingdale’s.  Not to mention, who doesn’t remember their silver plated wares, such as the piggy bank (popular baby shower gift), the chic sterling diaper pins (engravable for silver-spooned tykes), or their barware (jiggers, cocktail shakers, etc.)?  …Which are now making a comeback, thanks to retro-homage TV shows like AMC’s Mad Men.

Napier developed many of the classic styles that became staples for the American woman’s working and cocktail party wardrobe, from the Gucci-link designs to their infamous and best-ever made charm bracelets from the 1950’s-60’s.  Feast your eyes on a fashion timeline that might recall your mother’s or grandmother’s favorites!

Napier 1950's moonglow fruit charm bracelet

Napier 1950’s moonglow fruit charm bracelet

Napier 1968 Eugene Bertolli design set

Napier 1968 Eugene Bertolli design set

 

Napier 1940s sterling silver bracelet

Napier 1940’s sterling silver swirl bracelet

Napier 1950s chatelaine earrings

Napier 1950’s over-the-ear chatelaine earrings

Napier gauntlet bracelet

Napier 1955 flexible gauntlet bracelet

 

Napier Gucci link bracelet

Napier “Gucci” link anchor bracelet

Napier bell earrings

Napier 1950’s Bell Chime earrings

 

Mama and baby bear cub pin

If you’ve been following my blog, you already know my favorite figurals are Christmas tree pins and snowflakes, but one that is nearest and dearest to my heart is my mama and baby bear cub pin, which I wear on my coat in honor of my sweet son, Chauncey, who will soon be turning 8 years old.   My dear Italian friend, Chiara, who resides in London, England, started calling my son my “little cub”, so when I found this pin, I just had to have it.

Another favorite of mine is the Art Deco sterling and enamel cornucopia I wear on my sweater for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.  It is rather detailed and gorgeous in cornflower blue, with sapphire blue, carnelian red and yellow blossoms, decorated with sparkly marcasite stones.

Figurals can be worn on a sweater, blouse, dress, coat lapel, purse or belt.  If you’re worried about pin marks, there are brooch converters that will slide over the pin and attach to a magnet behind your clothes so that no stick pin marks are necessary.  I got mine on Ebay, but there are several online sellers who have them, either in silver plate, gold plate or sterling silver.

Figurals take many interesting shapes: Butterflies, insects, flowers, hearts, animals, letters, fish, leaves, frogs, turtles (as well as trees and snowflakes, of course) are my favorites.  One of my holy grails is to acquire one of Trifari’s sterling silver “jelly bellies”, but since they usually are rather expensive, it might take me a while to snag one!  I’ll be showcasing some of my collection and my wish list in my next post!

Art Deco sterling & enamel cornucopia brooch

Keeping a sharp eye on costume jewelry, I’ve been scanning the screen images of the wildly popular retro show on AMC, Mad Men, looking for what these women are wearing with their early 1960’s wiggle dresses and party frocks.  Looking at Season One to start, I’m seeing a lot of the designer, Trifari, particularly on the character known as Rachel.

However, in one of her first scenes, she steps out with a luscious pink satin glass necklace with matching earrings, which is totally stunning over her fuchsia pink outfit and over-the-top feathered hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here she is pictured with a teardrop faux pearl and art glass 3-strand necklace with the matching earrings, designed by Trifari.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here she is pictured another  Trifari set, with black lucite “rings” and gold plating.

Same Trifari set with green lucite rings

Trifari black lucite “ring” necklace

3.  Clear rhinestone bracelets ~ tennis-style, celluloid bangle, WIDE ones!

4.  Large pendant necklaces ~ Open-back glass, Paste, 1960’s & 1970’s lucite (Trifari, Accessocraft N.Y.C., Panetta)

5.  Sautoir necklaces ~ glass pearl ropes, bezel set glass & crystal, Art Deco hand-cut glass, black jet

6.  Multi-strand gold and silver chain necklaces (Trifari, Monet, Kramer of New York, Vendome)

7.  Whimsical and conversation pieces ~ Figural brooches & pendants, fun earrings, carved bakelite necklaces

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