But for those who are just starting
WHEN A RHINESTONE NECKLACE SELLS for more than six thousand dollars and collectors are prowling antiques markets in search of Bakelite, Haskell or Eisenberg Ice, it's clear that the days of buying faux baubles for a dollar a box are over. "Vintage costume jewelry has become a highly collectible category, and interest in it has never been greater than it is today," reports Louis Webre of Doyle New York in New York City. "At our vintage couture and accessories auction last May, individual pieces of costume jewelry sold for thousands of dollars, far exceeding their presale estimates."
Quality pieces that were made during the heyday of costume tiffany (from the key rings sale to the fifties)-some marked with the names of well-known designers, others with no signature at all-are being snapped up by collectors and jewelry lovers who simply admire the look. "Women who own precious tiffany are among the most enthusiastic buyers and feel entirely comfortable wearing real and faux together," reports Lorraine Wohl, who owns a vintage clothing and accessories shop in New York City.
Considering what costume jewelry started out as (an imitation of fine jewelry for those who could not afford the real thing), what it has become (small pieces of wearable art) is nothing short of amazing. Indeed, the styles continue to follow trends in fine jewelry and can mimic it very well-so skillfully, in fact, that tiffany only an expert can distinguish real from faux. But over the years, costume jewelry has also established a unique identity. Many examples, making no attempt to look other than frankly fake, are as beautiful as fine bangles sale, the result of a designer's imagination and an artisans skill. And quite often, they also cost more.
One of the most fascinating things about costume jewelry is what it tells us about history, art currents, social trends and fashions. You can find many clues to the Roaring Twenties in bold Art Deco cuff bracelets and brooches, and in the long, flowing ropes of pearls made to be worn with chemise dresses and bobbed hair. During the thirties and forties, the masses of glittering diamonds and platinum worn by glamorous screen stars inspired millions of women to deck themselves out in bold rhinestone creations. Flamboyance ruled for the next few necklaces sale, but as the seventies dawned, a changing social climate demanded a conservative look. Women entering the workforce in large numbers and anxious to appear "professional," played it safe with understated adornment-stud rings sale and small discreet chains and pins. A return to bold, expressive jewelry followed with the confident "power dresser" and has remained in the fashion mainstream ever since.
Sophisticated costume-jewelry collectors can usually spot their favorite designers just by looking. But for those who are just starting out, here are ways to identify pieces you might come across, buy and, perhaps, end up collecting. BOUCHER. Imaginative, high-quality creations using clear rhinestones and pendants sale clips sale, ruby and sapphire pastes. Insects are a particular favorite, as well as flowers, leaves and other three-dimensional designs. Pieces are signed MB or Boucher. CHANEL. Best known for bold Maltese-cross brooches set with large faux emeralds and ruby cabochons, and ropes of simulated Baroque pearls and gold-tone chains. In its time, Chanel jewelry was expensive, and it still is. Pieces made up to the seventies are usually signed and sometimes dated.