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.


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

Huge Coro snowflake brooch

Bogoff snowflake brooch

As a hearty lover of all things Christmas, I couldn’t help but jump from my passion for Christmas tree pins to those sparkly snowflake brooches…an excuse to extend the holidays all winter long!  In my opinion, the best were made by Weiss, Juliana D&E, Boucher, Trifari, Sherman, Coro, Eisenberg and Eisenberg Ice, Ledo, Castlecliff, Krementz, Kramer of NY, and Schreiner NY.  Lisner also made one sweet, petite snowflake, and Sarah Coventry made a prize one called, “Evening Snowflake”, which came with matching earrings.  Some of the best I’ve seen are also unsigned beauties.

Eisenberg Ice still produces snowflakes brooches for each holiday season, and I have one in my collection that was released in 2009.  They are somewhat pricey, but worth the investment.  It will be interesting to see how much they are worth 20 years from now.  The 2009 snowflake sold for $110 retail, and I was lucky enough to purchase it from a fellow vintage jewelry dealer for $80.  It has huge faceted teardrop stones that sparkle like icicles melting, and it is sectioned off by lines of narrow, clear baguettes, tipped with a single marquis and clusters of round stones.  The largest stones are open back, which juxtaposes nicely with the foil back dividers.  Yowza!  Eisenberg’s still got it!

2009 Eisenberg Ice snowflake brooch

I have found several designers who produced advertisements for their snowflake sparklies, including Ledo, Castlecliff, Weiss, Krementz, and Trifari (See photos below).  I pray for the day I can find those found in the Ledo and Castlecliff  ads…I keep looking!  Only Coro and Trifari, that I know of, have patents for their snowflake designs (Shown below).

Snowflake made by Florenza

Another elusive snowflake brooch for me is one made by Florenza.  I saw it once a couple of years ago on Ebay, and I still kick myself for missing the end of the auction in order to increase my bid.  I saved its photo from the listing so I can remember what it looks like…for someday to find another!  I think it’s one of the prettiest brooches ever made by Florenza.

I have yet to snag a primo Juliana D’Elizza & Elster snowflake, for they often go for a pretty penny…or at least the ones I like!  Again, I dream.  I guess that’s part of the fun of collecting vintage jewelry…the hunt for what’s on your wish list…and the sheer joy experienced upon actually finding one.  I think it’s further enhanced if one finds the prize at a flea market or thrift store for little money or catch it on Ebay when no one else is watching!

Stay Tuned for next post  ~ Image gallery of the best snowflake brooches!

Adolph Katz for Coro 1st snowflake design patent, 1945

Katz patent for Coro 1946 - Snowflake

Katz for Coro 1946 snowflake patent

A. Katz's 1951 snowflake design patent

Adolf Katz for Coro patent for snowflake brooch

Alfred Philippe for Trifari patent for snowflake

Trifari 1950's magazine advertisement; snowflakes in upper left corner

Castlecliff advertisement for snowflake brooches

Ledo advertisement for snowflake brooches

Krementz snowflake necklace ad

St. Labre Christmas tree pin

Vintage Tannenbaums are becoming more popular among costume jewelry collectors, and the prices are rising, despite our sluggish economy.  As I’ve said to many about vintage jewelry in general, they are a better investment than the stock market, especially these days!

For example, in the past few months I’ve sold in my online shop: a very rare Eisenberg crystal tree for $560, a Miriam Haskell tree for $525, a De Nicola tree for $385, a Nolan Miller for $325, the Mylu Peppermint stripe tree for $300, an Austrian tree for $175, a Hollycraft for $165, an MV-signed arbor for $158, and a Kramer of New York candle tree for $140, just to name a few!

So if you want to start your own Christmas-inspired 401K, I suggest you start with the following die-hard, solid investment designers (in alphabetical order):  Art, made in Austria, Avon, Beatrix,  Brooks, Corocraft, Eisenberg, Hollycraft, Johnette Jewelry (JJ), Lia, Mylu, Napier, Pell, Swoboda of California, Tancer II, Trifari, and Weiss.  You can purchase these trees for anywhere from $5 to $100 online, or if you’re lucky, from a thrift store, flea market, antique shop, or trade show.

All these designers have trees in collector books/price guides, which are referred to as “book pieces”.  The Christmas tree go-to “bibles” all collectors use are Mary Morrison’s “Christmas Jewelry” and Nancy Trowbridge’s “Christmas Tree Pins”, as well as Kathy Flood’s Warman’s figural tomes and her own two-volume set of unsigned & signed pins, the second of which is being released this holiday season.

Corocraft twisted trunk Christmas tree pin

Also, you can get a jump-start on today’s designers trees, which will gain value in the near and far future, such as Dorothy Bauer, Lunch at the Ritz, R.J. Graziano, Eisenberg Ice, Kirk’s Folly, Swarovski, and Vero. Eisenberg Ice also makes gorgeous snowflake brooches, of which the premium ones cost $75-$150 each.

If you want to get fancy and like’em rare, designers such as Miriam Haskell, DeNicola, Cadoro, Hattie Carnegie, Cristobal of London, Hobé, Erwin Pearl, Original by Robert, Stanley Hagler, St. John, St. Labré, Lea Stein, Vendome, Larry Vrba, Warner, Yosca, and Zentrall are what you want to put on your wish list (As well as pie-in-the-sky list, too!).

New, high-end designers include Stuart Freeman, Blair Delmonico, Judy Clarke, and La Heir, among others.  For Christmas tree pin collectors, ’tis the season all year round!

Next blog entry will be about:  Unsigned Christmas tree beauties!  STAY TUNED!