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Please note that I am not acquiring additional inventory at this time. I do not provide appraisals or identification services, nor do I answer specific questions about your jewelry. I invite you to learn about vintage costume jewelry by visiting these pages.

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Jewelry History

  • Vintage Pearls for Modern Brides

    Pearls have been called the gem of queens and the queen of gems. For centuries, they have been associated with love, marriage, seductiveness and femininity. Not surprisingly, pearls have been a popular choice for wedding jewelry for generations. High-quality imitations have been fashionable since Coco Chanel started wearing them herself in the 1920s. Whatever your style, vintage pearl jewelry can provide the perfect compliment to your wedding attire as well as a treasured, versatile keepsake to wear forever after. Let’s take a look at pearl earrings, bracelets, and necklaces from some of my favorite makers.

    Louis Rousselet

    This premier producer of handmade imitation pearls as well as glass and Galalith beads was a major worldwide supplier from 1922 – 1975. Rousselet’s workers coated glass beads with essence d’Orient (pearl essence), a solution of crystals made from fish scales and lacquer. Up to 10 coats were applied. Until 1940, pearl essence was made only in France.

    He (and later his daughter Denise) also designed jewelry for stars of the Folies Bergère (including Josephine Baker) as well as couturiers such as Coco Chanel, Jacques Fath, and Robert Piquet. The 1950s pendant earrings in the photo above – seen here – are unsigned but can be attributed to Rousselet, based on their construction and components. His pieces were usually signed on only a paper hang tag.

    Baroque pearl earrings in Louis Rousselet-style

    Left: Baroque Pearl Earrings. Right: Pearl, Gemstone Bead & Rondelle Earrings.

    Here are two additional pairs of 1950s earrings by this maker. On the left is a more traditional look – a cream-colored baroque pearl center encircled by a ring of smaller matching pearls. Though unsigned, these earrings have the traditional Rousselet filigree backs and ear clips. A very colorful and complex choice is on the right. This pair features a cluster of pearls along with blown-glass emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amethyst leaves, intertwined with rondelles. Though unsigned, these earrings are undoubtedly by this maker – they match a magnificent signed necklace and earrings set that you can see here.

    For more Louis Rousselet jewelry, visit the boutique. Among the pieces shown is a stunning grey-and-white pearl sautoir and earrings set made for Chanel’s boutique in 1948-1952.

    Miriam Haskell

    Another maker known for lavish and imaginative use of imitation pearls in a variety of shapes is Miriam Haskell. According to Miriam Haskell Jewelry (by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff), from the 1920s until the late 1950s, one of two New York-based companies provided the firm with glass coated with pearl essence. In 1957 or 1958, the Niki Company in Japan became the exclusive supplier of pearls to Haskell.

    Vintage pearl earrings with Russian gold by Miriam Haskell
    Miriam Haskell bracelet with gray & cream pearls & rondelles

    Left: Pearl & Russian Gold Drop Earrings. Right: Grey & Cream Baroque Pearl & Rondelle Bracelet

    These classic earrings on the left feature a baroque pearl dangling from a pearl-studded Russian-gold-layered plaque. The adjustable screw-back that Haskell adopted in 1960 helps us date this versatile pair, which are fit for a bride as well as everyday wear. The bracelet on the right has two rows of baroque pearls with vertical rondelle spacers, all hand-wired onto a gold-tone hard-mesh-hinged bangle. This piece is also one that can be worn for a wedding and afterward.

    You will find more vintage pearls as well as other Miriam Haskell creations here.

    Hattie Carnegie

    Initially a fashion designer, Hattie Carnegie started producing costume jewelry in 1939. Instead of copying fine jewelry, a common practice at the time, the firm’s designs were innovative, distinctive and often whimsical. These two pieces from the 1950s illustrate these characteristics.

    Hattie Carnegie necklace with dangling pearls & crystals
    Crystal bead bracelet with pearls & diamante

    Left: Pearl, Crystal Bead & Gold Mesh Necklace. Right: Pearl, Diamanté & Crystal Bead Bracelet.

    The necklace on the left is adjustable and meant to hug the neck. Pearls and faceted crystal beads dangle from the diamanté-embellished gold-mesh choker. The bracelet on the right has faceted crystals and pearls that dangle from the center structure of three rows of diamanté. Both pieces have lots of movement and sparkle.

    To see additional jewels by Hattie Carnegie, visit the boutique.

    For More Wedding Jewels

    Check out the Vintage Bridal Jewelry collection.

    For More Wedding Inspirations

    See my Instagram page.

    For More About Pearls

    Watch this video from the Victoria & Albert Museum to find out about the lustre, longevity and luxury of both natural and artificial pearls, and their association with the birth of Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love and beauty.

     

  • Cartier bracelets worn by Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd.

    Jewelry in the Movies: Cartier Bracelets

    In June last year, I wrote about “The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s”, an exhibition I saw in New York City. Among the magnificent jewels on display was a pair of Cartier bracelets bought by Gloria Swanson in 1930 and now part of the maker’s collection. Those bracelets…

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  • History of costume jewelry -- researcher's story

    The History of Costume Jewelry: A Researcher’s Story

    Years ago when I was a consultant, one of my favorite clients told me that I was like a terrier. He wasn’t trying to insult me – he was just acknowledging the fact that I am a tenacious investigator. I don’t stop until I have all of the answers to…

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  • Introducing the Double Clip Brooch

    For me, September always marks a new beginning. Maybe I’m still grounded in the “first day of school” mentality. Or maybe it’s the changing colors of the leaves. Either way, I’m always looking for new ideas for jeweled accessories. And I’m sure you are, too. So here’s an exciting new…

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  • Flexible choker worn by Ann Sheridan in The Unfaithful

    Jewelry in the Movies: A 1940s Flexible Choker

    Movies produced in the 1930s-1940s rarely credited jewelry. In fact, in many cases, the names of the costume designers weren’t even disclosed on-screen. For this reason, I always look closely at what the female characters are wearing in these films, hoping to recognize a jewel. Last night while watching The…

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  • The Jazz Age

    If you love Art Deco as much as I do, you never tire of seeing jewelry created in this decorative style. I’ve just returned from a research trip to New York City, where I was fortunate to see the exhibition The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, currently on…

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  • Movie jewelry by Harry Winston and worn by Ingrid Bergman in Notorious

    Jewelry in the Movies: Winston

    As we eagerly anticipate this year’s Academy Awards ceremony on February 26, many of us are as interested in what the stars will be wearing as who will win. And the dazzling jewels worn on the red carpet will get as much press as the gowns they adorn. So with…

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  • ‘Downton Abbey’ Style Finale

    As North Americans eagerly await tonight’s broadcast of the first episode of Season 6 of Downton Abbey, many do so with some regret – this season will be the last. Viewers are anticipating the answers to last season’s cliff-hangers. For example, will Lady Mary marry again? Will Anna and Bates…

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  • Mellow Yellows for Spring

    Yellow, the color of sunshine, is associated with positive feelings such as joy, happiness, cheerfulness, intellect and energy. Not surprisingly, a tone of yellow is usually included in Pantone’s top 10 women’s spring/summer colors. This year’s shade is called Custard, which is defined as “Sweet and sunny … a cheering…

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  • Aquamarine for Spring

    Even though the weather outside may not feel like spring (at least where I live!), we can still look at colors for the upcoming season.  Based on their survey of fashion designers, Pantone has named the palette for women’s clothing in spring 2015:  En Plein Air, a French expression which…

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