Even though the weather outside may not feel much like spring (at least where I live!), we can still look at colors for the coming season. The palette in the Pantone Fashion Color Report: Spring 2014 shows two shades of blue among the top 10 colors for women’s fashion for spring and summer. The pastel shade is Placid Blue, which “like a picture-perfect, tranquil and reassuring sky, induces a sense of peaceful calmness”. The strong, rich shade is Dazzling Blue, “a scintillating, polar opposite to Placid Blue”. So let’s take a look at one of the gemstones (natural minerals) that comes closest to these hues – sapphire – and its counterparts in vintage costume jewelry. You’ll find a selection of pieces in many shades of blue here on the TruFaux Jewels website.
Sapphire is the name of all gem-quality corundum that is not red (ruby is the name given to red corundum). Although sapphires come in a variety of colors including violet, pink, green, orange and purple – which are known as fancy sapphires – this gemstone is most often associated with the color blue. According to Cathy Hall in Gemstones: “Variation in color, due to iron and titanium impurities, spans many shades, but the most valuable is a clear, deep blue”. Popular forms of this gemstone have been brilliant cut (where faceting is used to maximize a stone’s brilliance, as in the example on the left), cabochon (a polished stone with a domed top and flat bottom) and cameo (a carved or engraved stone).
Sapphires in Art Deco Costume Jewelry
In the 1920s and 1930s, richly-colored glass stones and beads were used in costume jewelry to imitate their precious counterparts. Faux sapphires were well suited to the geometric shapes and dramatic contrasting colors of the Art Deco style. Faceted round, rectangular or square sapphire glass stones were often paired with imitation diamonds in necklaces, brooches, bracelets, clips, earrings and finger rings. Square-cut sapphire stones channel-set in bangles as well as one-, two- and three-row flexible bracelets, often with contrasting clear stones, were also very popular. This example of a Diamonbar one-row flexible bracelet by Wachenheimer Brothers has a diamanté-encrusted buckle that is part of the clasp. Read more about his piece here.
Molded blue, red and green glass in shapes of leaves, flowers and fruits – called fruit salads or tutti frutti — were used to imitate the carved sapphires, rubies and emeralds popularized by Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier. Here is an example of an Alfred Philippe-designed fruit salad Trifari Clip-Mate (a double clip/brooch that was Trifari’s version of Coro’s Duette). You can see a description and more detailed photos of this piece here.
Although both of the above examples show deep-blue faux sapphires, pale shades were also popular at this time. Here is a close-up of a chicklet necklace, a modern term for what in the Art Deco era was called channel (actually spelled chanel at the time) jewelry. The term is applied to faceted, square-cut clear or colored crystals or glass stones set in frames and made into necklaces, bracelets and earrings. A description and detailed photos of this necklace can be found here.
Sapphires in 1950s Costume Jewelry
By the 1950s, when rhinestone jewelry was in great demand, stone makers from Austria and Czechoslovakia developed new stone colors and what Julia Carroll (in Collecting Costume Jewelry 303) calls specialty glass stones (i.e., “glass stones with special colors, textures, or composition”). Costume jewelry designers from this decade used these stones to great effect with imaginative color combinations. Here are two examples.
This 1950s brooch by Elsa Schiaparelli (on the left) features lava rocks, a type of textured stone that was this designer’s signature stone. To me, Schiaparelli’s lava rocks always glow as if they have fire within them. If you look at the detailed photos of this brooch here you’ll see what I mean. Notice the great color combination of bright sapphire blue and pale lavender in this piece.
Another maker well known for his use of specialty glass stones and creative color combinations is Schreiner. These 1950s earrings (on the right) showcase deep sapphire blue and white art glass cabochons surrounded by faux pearls and fuchsia rhinestones. This color combination is rather unexpected but fantastic, in my view. You can see a complete description and detailed photos of these earrings here.
More About Spring & Summer Fashion Colors
For more information about Pantone’s top 10 colors for women’s spring and summer 2014 fashions, see the Pantone Fashion Color Report Spring 2014 here on their website.
Last month when Pantone, the world’s authority on color, named Radiant Orchid, “a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple”, as the Color of the Year, it had already made its way into the spring 2014 fashion shows and was beginning to be seen on the red carpet. The company’s press release defines the color “as an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones”. Expect to see variations of this hue (in colors such as magenta, lavender and lilac) in women’s clothing and accessories throughout the year. If purple isn’t your color or if you don’t want to go for the head-to-toe look, you can use accessories to add splashes of various shades of orchid to an outfit. As you know, my favorite accessory is vintage costume jewelry. Because orchid is a blend of tones of purple, this article discusses shades of purple in jewelry and illustrates color combinations that will compliment Radiant Orchid. You will find a selection of vintage costume jewelry pieces in variations of purple hues here on the TruFaux Jewels website. For some suggestions on how to wear them with today’s fashions, see my collection on Polyvore.
The Colors Purple in Gemstones
Many gemstones (often called precious stones) occur naturally in numerous tones of the color purple, but the one most often associated with that royal hue is amethyst. This variety of the quartz mineral species ranges from deep purple to pale bluish-violet to lilac or mauve. (See my article Fall 2013 Fashion Colors: Amethyst for more information on this gemstone.) Another gemstone that occurs in a range of colors is sapphire, a member of the mineral species corundum. According to the Gem Encyclopedia, fancy sapphires come in colors such as violet, pink and purple. Some rubies, also in the corundum family, come in a purplish-red (raspberry) hue. Tourmalines, another gem species, have various shades of nearly every color, including pink and purple.
The Colors Purple in Costume Jewelry
Imitation gemstones (stones made to imitate the appearance of natural gemstones) in various colors have been produced from glass for centuries. Glass stones (known as rhinestones or paste) and beads in many shades of purple, in imitation of amethysts, were popular in vintage costume jewelry from the 1920s through the 1950s. In the same years, pink stones (to imitate pink tourmaline and rose quartz) were also fashionable. A close-up of the stones of my Pink Tourmaline & Sterling Art Deco Bracelet (at the right) shows an example of high-quality deep pink glass stones from the 1920s-30s.
After World War II, rhinestone jewelry “skyrocketed in popularity”, according to Julia C. Carroll (in Collecting Costume Jewelry 303). Stone makers from Austria and Czechoslovakia responded to the huge increase in demand “by developing new stone colors and special effects”. I particularly like many pieces from the 1950s that feature imaginative color combinations and what Carroll calls specialty glass stones (i.e., “glass stones with special colors, textures, or composition”). Let’s look at two examples.
This 1950s pair of earrings by Elsa Schiaparelli (on the left) features a bi-color stone (defined by Carroll as one with “two distinct colors”) that separates two pear-shaped stones in an unexpected yet very pleasing color combination. The amethyst stone is a cabochon cut (“a stone that has a smooth, domed top and a flat bottom”), while the blue-green stone is faceted. The round faceted bi-color stone in the center combines the two colors. You can see detailed photos of these earrings here on the TruFaux Jewels website.
On the left is another great example of specialty glass stones, also by Elsa Schiaparelli. This pair of 1950s earrings have lava rocks, a type of textured stone that was this designer’s signature stone. To me, Schiaparelli’s lava rocks always glow as if they have fire within them. If you look at the detailed photos of these earrings here, you’ll see what I mean. What I find really interesting about these earrings is the imaginative combination of colors: Shocking Pink (the designer’s signature color), pale pink and deep orange.
You have probably seen many examples of glass beads in necklaces and earrings from the 1920s-1950s, but you may not have seen many brooches like this one from France (on the left). This post-World War II piece features leaves, flowers and beads in deep amethyst, pink, blue and clear glass layered with faux pearls. Many of these amazing beads are multi-colored. All of the elements are wired onto a brass grid, a common construction style used in France during these years by makers such as Louis Rousselet and Madame Gripoix. Detailed photos and a complete description of this brooch are here.
More About the Color
The Pantone press release stated: “While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination … An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society”. To read the entire press release and/or download the Spring 2014: Pantone Fashion Color Report, go the company’s website.
One of the readers of my last article (Art Deco Chic: Wearing Amethyst with Today’s Trends) posted this comment: “I love putting those purples with chocolate brown”. She inspired me to create some outfits with dark brown paired with amethyst jewelry, to illustrate a lovely color combination that doesn’t always come to mind even though it’s right in style. Pantone’s Fashion Color Report Fall 2013 names Carafe, “a rich, glamorous brown”, among this season’s top 10 colors for women’s fashion and one that provides “more interesting and sophisticated alternatives to the black basics usually worn in colder months”. So let’s take a look at combining two of this season’s top fashion colors for three different looks. Each one features classic, one-of-a-kind vintage costume jewelry pieces from the Art Deco Era. To give you some ideas, I’ve gone back to the Polyvore website to select modern, business-appropriate clothing to wear with one or more of the featured jewels. Each of the ensembles below also incorporates another of this season’s fashion trends.
For a full description and detailed photos of each jewelry piece from the TruFaux Jewels website, click on the link in the caption. The links to the clothing and other accessories shown are from the Polyvore website.
For the Office
This outfit features a chocolate brown leather pencil skirt with a leopard print blouse in black and tones of brown. (Leopard prints are especially in style this season.) The shoes are brown and black, and the purse is black. You could easily wear a black skirt, brown or black shoes, and/or a purple bag. The quilting in the purse and the filigree in the earrings add texture, and the amethyst earrings add elegance to this classic, tailored look.
Day to Evening
This basic chocolate brown dress can be accessorized in so many ways! I’ve added a graphic scarf with tones of brown and purple along with rootbeer snake patent-leather, peep-toe pumps for a touch of Retro 40s glam (another trend this season). The violet in the clutch is echoed in the amethyst earrings and jewelry. This look is just right for the office and that after-work event.
The purple blouse and amethyst earrings add a pop of color to this classic brown and black outfit. The ankle boots are right in style, and this ensemble can be worn on a casual work day or out to lunch with friends.
For More Amethyst Vintage Costume Jewelry
Visit the TruFaux Jewels website to see additional amethyst pieces from the 1920s-1950s. For suggestions on incorporating Art Deco amethyst jewelry with this season’s fashion trends, read my article Art Deco Chic: Wearing Amethyst with Today’s Trends. For more information about the color and the gemstone, read my blog post Fall 2013 Fashion Colors: Amethyst. My blog post The 1920s Roar Again with “The Great Gatsby” discusses the evolution of the Art Deco style.
Among the top 10 colors for women’s fall 2013 fashion reported by Pantone, the world’s authority on color, is Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee). It was inspired by the acai berry from Central and South America. This exotic, rich purple, according to the Pantone Fashion Color Report Fall 2013, “adds mystery and richness to the palette, and can be incorporated with the other colors to create a number of powerful fall combinations”. So let’s take a look at the gemstone that exudes this royal hue – amethyst – and its use in vintage costume jewelry. You’ll find a selection of amethyst pieces from the 1920s through the 1950s here on the TruFaux Jewels website. See my Pinterest board for images of the color purple in vintage and contemporary fashion, art and the decorative arts.
Gemstones are natural minerals. Amethyst is a transparent variety of crystalline quartz that occurs in shades ranging from deep purple to pale bluish-violet to lilac or mauve. The color largely depends on the stone’s origin. Amethyst is dichroic, which means that it shows two or more colors – in this case a bluish or reddish tint – when viewed from different angles. According to Cally Hall (author of Gemstones), “amethyst has distinct inclusions [minute foreign materials enclosed within natural minerals] that look like tiger stripes, thumbprints, or feathers”. Siberia is known for the finest stones (those with a reddish tint); one of the largest deposits of amethyst is in Brazil. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February.
Amethyst derives its name from the Greek word amethystos, which means sober, as the ancient Greeks believed the stone would guard against intoxication. Amethysts were used by ancient Greeks and Romans for intaglio seals. Because the color purple is associated with royalty, many amethysts are present among the crown jewels of countries such as Britain and Russia. The stone has also been “favored by the Church for bishops’ rings and pectoral crosses”, according to John Benjamin (author of Starting to Collect Antique Jewellery).
Synthetic amethysts are artificial, man-made stones that have the same appearance, chemical composition and physical characteristics as natural amethysts. Synthetic amethysts often easily pass for genuine ones, especially if the stones are free from inclusions.
Imitation amethysts are also man-made to imitate the appearance of natural amethysts, but imitation gemstones have different physical characteristics and chemical compositions than their natural or synthetic counterparts. Imitation amethysts – known as rhinestones, strass and paste – are what we see in costume jewelry. They have been produced from glass for centuries. During the 1920s through the 1950s, the decades of interest to TruFaux Jewels, Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic) and Austria were the main sources of imitation amethysts for costume jewelry production.
Amethysts in Costume Jewelry
Faceted amethyst crystal beads that formed necklaces of various lengths as well as pendant earrings were very much in vogue in the 1920s and 1930s. The amethyst beads were often alternated with clear crystal beads or had faux pearl accents. Another style of necklaces, bracelets and earrings, which we now call chicklets (faceted colored crystals or glass stones set in metal), was known as channel jewelry (spelled chanel at the time). This photo shows a close-up view of the amethyst chicklets on an Art Deco necklace, which can be seen here on the TruFaux Jewels website.
Retro Modern costume jewelry of the 1940s is characterized by bold, large-scale and three-dimensional pieces plated in rose, yellow or green gold, in imitation of precious jewelry. Amethysts were among the most popular gemstones of the era, often square- or step-cut in a rectangular shape (also called emerald-cut) and paired with smaller rubies, sapphires or diamonds as accents. Ribboned bows gathered in the center with jewels was the most popular motif in brooches in the 1940s. This piece by Pennino illustrates these characteristics of the Retro Modern style: a large rose-gold-plated bow with faceted deep-purple stones and contrasting clear pastes. You can see detailed photos and a description of this piece here.
According to Antique Jewelry University (www.langantiques.com/university), the motifs of 1950s jewelry were similar to those of the Retro Modern style, but the former “were executed in an entirely different way. Retro jewelry had a solid, heavy and highly polished look whereas 50s jewelry was open, airy and textural.” Matching accessories were a trend in the 1950s; jewelry makers complied by producing matching sets of necklaces, earrings, brooches, bracelets and finger rings. This amethyst and aquamarine rhinestone brooch and earring set by the second generation of Hobé designers is a great example of 1950s design. A complete description and detailed photos of it can be found here.
More About Fall Fashion Colors
For more information about Pantone’s top 10 colors for women’s fall 2013 fashions, see the Pantone Fashion Color Report Fall 2013 here on their website.
Like our gardens, this spring’s fashions are green all over, with shades ranging from deep colors such as forest and emerald, Pantone’s color of the year, to pastels such as mint and seafoam. With so many options, you’re bound to find the perfect shade for your hair color and skin tone. If you don’t want to go for the head-to-toe look in green, stylists recommend introducing this color into your wardrobe with accessories. I’ve already written about emerald, so this post will discuss a few other examples of green gemstones. Fortunately, thanks to the producers of glass beads and stones and of early plastics, you can find vintage costume jewelry in many more shades of green than Mother Nature created. Take a look on the TruFaux Jewels website, for a wide selection of green pieces produced from the 1920s through the 1950s.
The gemstone jade is actually two types of gemstones: jadeite and nephrite. Both types occur in a wide variety of colors, and the greens range from light green with white markings to rich emerald, which is known as imperial jade. Genuine jade (the natural mineral) has been highly prized in China and Japan for centuries. Genuine and imitation (man-made) jade were both popular in Art Deco jewelry for two reasons. First, the stone connotes the Orient and Egypt, which were both influences on the style. Second, contrasting colors were another characteristic of Art Deco, and jade provides an attractive contrast to other gemstones (both genuine and imitation) that were fashionable in that era: onyx, diamond and carnelian, for example. Imitation jade stones and beads made from glass or early plastics (such as Bakelite) were smooth, moulded, or both moulded and pierced. They were made into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, buckles, clips and finger rings. The earrings shown here feature moulded and pierced glass that creates the look of jade. You can see a complete description and detailed photos of these earrings here.
The gemstone chrysoprase, the most valued variety of chalcedony, is translucent and apple-green in color. The use of chrysoprase as a decorative stone dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who carved it into cameos and intaglios. This gemstone, which was also popular in the Art Deco era, was often imitated in glass. Both forms were typically made into beads or cabochon-cut stones (i.e., a smooth top without facets, either rounded or flat, with a flat base). Chrysoprase set in sterling silver with marcasite accents were typical materials used in the Art Deco costume jewelry produced in both North America and Europe. Many particularly fine examples, such as this bracelet, were made in Germany. Detailed photos and a description of this bracelet are here.
Peridot, a gem variety of the mineral olivine, ranges in color from olive-green to yellowish-green. According to Cally Hall (author of Gemstones), the “Crusaders brought peridot to Europe in the Middle Ages from St. John’s Island in the Red Sea, where it had been mined for over 3,500 years”. Peridot has been used in jewelry since antiquity and was especially popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. This 1950s brooch by Elsa Schiaparelli features unusually-shaped peridot and pale sapphire glass stone flower petals. See detailed photos and a description of this brooch here.
For More Information on Gemstones
You can find more information about these and other gemstones in the Gemology section of the Antique Jewelry University website.
Pearls have been a traditional bridal accessory for centuries. They have been made into necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings and rings, and have been sewn onto shoes, wedding gowns, purses and veils. My favorite vintage pearl jewelry comes from France, where the process for making artificial pearls was born. The TruFaux Jewels website includes several pairs of French earrings that are lovely examples of vintage wedding jewelry fashioned from artificial pearls. You can see them and other pieces of vintage pearl jewelry for brides and other members of the wedding party here. You can also see my Pinterest board for more on this theme.
Artificial pearls have been used in jewelry since the Renaissance. They were first made in France before the 15th century by dipping a hollow glass bead into acid to produce an iridescent surface. Over the centuries, the process was improved by coating glass beads with essence d’Orient (pearl essence), a solution of crystals made from fish scales and lacquer. Up to 10 coats may be applied. Until 1940, pearl essence was made only in France.
One of the most notable 20th century French manufacturers of artificial pearls was Louis Rousselet, who started business in 1922. His factory became a major source of handmade beads worldwide until the late 1960s. Louis Rousselet jewelry is coveted by collectors but cannot always be identified with certainty because most of his pieces were signed only with a paper label. Maison Gripoix’s work is sometimes mistakenly attributed to Rousselet. Suzanne Gripoix, his contemporary, designed for Coco Chanel, among others. Imitation pearls produced in the south of France were prominent in Gripoix’s necklaces, buttons and brooches. My website has Rousselet pieces as well as others in the style of Rousselet and Maison Gripoix. You can find them here.
In the United States in the first half of the 20th century, pearl costume jewelry was produced by manufacturers such as Jos. H. Meyer & Bros. (under the trade name Richelieu), Indra Pearl Co., Inc. (under the trade name Omar Pearls), Albert Lorsch & Company (under the trade name Regent Pearls), and L. Heller & Son, Inc. (under the trade names Deltah Pearls and La Tasca Pearls). These companies advertised in wholesaler catalogs in elaborate multi-page, full-color spreads. The image above is a page from Donnelley’s National Jewelry Catalog, 1927-1928.
Genuine or natural pearls are formed in mollusks when a foreign particle, such as a grain of sand, is embedded and coated with mulitple layers of nacre. The finest pearls are produced by the pearl oyster in sea water and are known as Oriental pearls. Until the late 19th century, Oriental pearls were regarded as more precious than diamonds, because collecting a perfectly matched string of pearls took years. Fresh-water pearls, which come from freshwater or river mussels and clams, were discovered in the 1950s. These pearls are considered inferior to and are less expensive than Oriental pearls.
In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan first developed the cultured pearl, which is formed in the same way as natural pearls, except that a human inserts a grain of sand, a bead or other irritant into the mollusk for coating with nacre. Spherical cultured pearls weren’t grown in Japan by Mikimoto until 1905. He patented the process in Japan in 1908 and in the U.S. in 1916. The availability of cultured pearls made pearl jewelry more affordable to the middle class in the 1920s and 1930s.
For More Information
Read more about natural and cultured pearls on the Mikimoto Pearl Museum website.
As soon as Pantone, the world’s authority on color, named emerald, “a lively, radiant, lush green”, as the Color of the Year, that elegant and luxurious shade started popping up in clothing and accessories in stores and on the red carpet. Emerald and other shades of green will continue to be important trends for the spring season. I can’t think of a better way to bring a wardrobe up to date than to add vintage costume jewelry in the latest hues. You’ll find a large selection of emerald pieces from the 1920s through the 1950s on the TruFaux Jewels website. You can also see my Pinterest board for more on emeralds.
Gemstones are natural minerals. Emerald is the rich green variety of the species beryl and one of the most precious gemstones. Because pure beryl is colorless, emeralds get their rich green color from traces of chromium and vanadium. Flawless stones are rare, and most stones contain inclusions, which gemologists call the jardin (garden).
Emeralds have been popular since the 19th century BC. In ancient times, stones were typically polished and drilled to be used as beads or engraved. In modern times, the best stones have been step-cut in a rectangular shape (also called emerald cut); lesser quality stones are cabochon cut (a highly polished stone with a smooth and rounded surface) or carved into cameos or intaglios. Historically, most stones came from Cleopatra’s mines in Egypt, but today the finest stones come from Colombia.
Synthetic emeralds have been produced since 1934. These artificial, man-made stones have the same appearance, chemical composition and physical characteristics as natural emeralds. Synthetic emeralds are used in the same manner as natural ones (for example, synthetic emeralds are set in precious metals, as less-expensive alternatives to natural emeralds).
Imitation emeralds are also man-made to imitate the appearance of natural emeralds, but imitation gemstones have different physical characteristics and chemical compositions than their natural or synthetic counterparts. Imitation emeralds – known as rhinestones, strass and paste – are what we see in costume jewelry. They have been produced from glass for centuries. During the 1920s through the 1950s, the decades of interest to TruFaux Jewels, Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic) and Austria were the main sources of imitation emeralds for costume jewelry production.
Emeralds in Art Deco Costume Jewelry
In the 1920s and 1930s, the rich green color of emeralds was well suited to the geometric shapes and dramatic contrasting colors of the Art Deco style. Rectangular or square step-cut emerald rhinestones were often paired with imitation diamonds and/or onyx in necklaces, brooches, bracelets, clips, earrings and finger rings. Square-cut emerald stones channel-set in bangles as well as one-, two- and three-row flexible bracelets, often with contrasting clear stones, were also very popular. Single-row flexible bracelets of this type were called line bracelets, the forerunner of today’s tennis bracelets. Bracelets in these decades were usually worn in numbers.
Molded red, blue and green glass (to imitate rubies, sapphires and emeralds) in shapes of leaves, flowers and fruits – called fruit salads or tutti frutti — were used to imitate the carved gemstones popularized by Van Cleef & Arpels. Here is an example of an Alfred Philippe-designed fruit salad Trifari Clip-Mate (a double clip/brooch that was Trifari’s version of Coro’s Duette). You can see more detailed photos of it on the TruFaux Jewels website.
More about the Color
The Pantone press release stated: “Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions. It’s also the color of growth, renewal and prosperity – no other color conveys regeneration more than green. For centuries, many countries have chosen green to represent healing and unity.”
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.” To read the entire Pantone press release and/or to get their Spring 2013 Pantone Fashion Color Report, go to the company’s website: www.pantone.com.