The first thing that can be said about learning to collect vintage jewelry is to first purchase all the jewelry reference books that you need. Something to remember is that you never quit learning about vintage jewelry. This is such a vast category of collecting, and so much has been written to help the novice jewelry collector get started. Another tip is to try to see and touch as much vintage costume jewelry as you can to get the weight and look of what old jewelry is.
When I first got started collecting vintage costume jewelry (about 30 years ago now) of course the only thing I knew about jewelry was what jewelry looked like. I knew what a finger ring was or a bracelet etc., but I had no working knowledge of jewelry. My Grandmother, Aunt and, Sister all collected, but that didn't mean much to me at the time.
One summer, I got the yard sale bug because I was raising a family and money was always short. On a Saturday long ago, I decided to yard sale over at my sister's house, about 50 miles away from my home. I hit one yard sale after another and picked up bits and pieces of jewelry along the way, I could afford twenty-five cent items, and I was having a lot of fun at the same time. The last yard sale I went to was just a couple of blocks from my destination, so I stopped at the last yard sale of the day. At that yard sale I had a great find but, because of my lack of knowledge of jewelry, I didn't realize what I had found.
Well, to make a long story short, I had had such a fun time yard saling that I decided to give my sister the pair of gold earrings that had these huge purple stones in them. Some years later she told me that the earrings were 14k gold retro earrings set with large Amethyst stones :0).
The Care Of Vintage Costume Jewelry
Please keep in mind that Vintage Costume Jewelry was never meant to last fifty years. It was mostly disposable jewelry, cheap and a lot of fun.
A lot of the jewelry that you might find at a yard sale or resale shop probably needs a good cleaning. To clean costume jewelry, I used to use a product called Jewelry Joose, is no longer made. This is a product that just cannot be beat. Just follow the instructions on the bottle. Please DO NOT USE WATER ON YOUR RHINESTONES. The water will ruin the foil backing on the stones.
If you need to replace a rhinestone or two, go ahead and do that. In order to glue the rhinestone, I recommend a product called GS Hypo Cement, for pinpoint precision. This product is great.
I otherwise do not recommend buying costume jewelry that will require any other repairs, as that becomes quite costly.
The definition of Antique Costume Jewelry is, Costume Jewelry made up to 1950. Costume Jewelry made after 1950 is considered Collectible Vintage Jewelry. Something else that is not talked about too much is that most vintage costume jewelry went unsigned until the late 1940s or 50s.
The Jewelry Designers and Manufacturers
Art Deco Jewelry was a style popular from the mid 1910, until the mid 1920s, This jewelry style originated in Paris, France. Art Deco Jewelry is characterized by geometric lines and angles, with very few curves.
The jewelry in this movement eventually became bolder and evolved into Art Moderne, now called Retro Jewelry. Transitional Art Deco jewelry is the movement from Art Nouveau to Art Deco design. So we move from Art Nouveau to Transitional Art Deco, to Art Deco, then Art Moderne or Retro.
Art, Mode Art, costume jewelry produced by Art Mode Jewelry Creations Inc. It was in business from the 1940s until the late 1960s. Their medium to high-quality jewelry pieces included figural items, Victorian jewelry replicas, and many costume jewelry styles.
Avon Jewelry - 1896 to present.
B. Blumenthal, Co., Inc.,
Button manufacturer in the late 1800s and for a short time produced jewelry. Jewelry by this designer is considered rare and hard to find.
Binder Bros. Inc, produced jewelry since 1920 in New York, NY. The logo is BB in interlocking circles. Binder Bros. GF Faux Pearl Fringe Necklace
Bogoff, Jewels by Bogoff,
are marks used on costume jewelry made by the Spear Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois, USA. The Bogoff mark was first used in 1946. Bogoff jewelry is high-quality, was made in small runs, and is often studded with rhinestones.
Carl Art,The initials CA in upper case with an arrow through the initials. Providence Rhode Island Mark for all types of jewelry plus cigarette cases, buckles, tie pins, cuff links etc. The mark first used in 1937.
Coro, The CORO jewelry company started doing business about 1900. It was the largest of all costume jewelry manufacturers. The Coro company went out of business in 1979 after 80 years of making costume jewelry.
Judy Lee,quality Judy Lee the mark was first used in 1958 and the jewels were sold at home parties.
Trifari,The company is founded around 1918 as Trifari and Krussman later in the 1920s Carl Fishel joins the company and becomes Trifari Krussman and Fishel.
In early 1930 Alfred Phillipe becomes head designer after joining the company, and under his leadership the real jewelry look is born.
He introduced his famous crown pin in 1941, and the success of the company was almost certain from that time on. Trifari became one of the largest and best known producers of costume jewelry, manufacturing a broad range of jewelry at different price levels.
Trifari jewelry displays superb designs and workmanship. It has a distinctive look, resembling fine jewelry, which can easily be recognized by collectors.
Sarah Coventry,The Sarah Coventry jewelry company was founded in Newark, New York, USA, by Charles H. Stuart in November 1948 (Stuart had founded the Emmons jewelry company earlier). He named the company after his granddaughter Sarah. Sarah Coventry jewelry was sold at home fashion shows until 1984, when the company was sold.
Van Dell,The Signature in script for the Van Dell Corporation, The signature first used c. 1939.
Weiss,the Weiss company made high-quality costume jewelry from 1942 until the 1970s. The company was founded in New York City by Albert Weiss, a former employee of the Coro company (the largest costume jewelry manufacturer). Weiss' jewelry was often studded with Austrian rhinestones.