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Thursday, June 26, 2008


You may or may not be aware, but there is a fabulous 8-minute video on designer vintage jewelry at YOU TUBE. In fact there are quite a few but this one, by Gail Gupton of Atlanta Vintage Jewelry is definitely one of the best.

I discovered this incredibly informative video many months ago, but it just struck me today that visitors to this blog can learn about many of the famous vintage jewelry designers in just 8 minutes. So I have embedded it here so you don't even have to leave this page to watch it.

You can learn so much in that 8 minutes including when and where many vintage designers began creating. As the narrator goes through the various designers, she includes photos of pieces that are typical of their style, pointing out key characteristics of their jewelry so you can recognize it more easily. You'll also learn about the intricate, quality craftsmanship that has gone into, say, a piece by Miriam Haskell. This video will also help you better understand why jewelry by vintage designers that is still in top condition today garners such reverence and such high prices.

Gail touches upon a good number of vintage designers, including but not limited to Hobe, Weiss, Art, Kramer, Vendome, Coro, Schiaparelli, Chanel, Florenza and Trifari...just to name a few. She touches on the materials used in vintage jewelry ... bakelite, swarovski crystals and explains why costume jewelry came into vogue in the first place.

If you buy, collect or sell vintage jewelry, I encourage you to watch the entire video. It's well worth your attention.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Recently a colleague sent me the photos shown in this blog. She has this fabulous vintage brooch which she feels might be a Schiaparelli, but it's unsigned. While it's been stated here and there that there were a lot of unsigned pieces put out by Schiaparelli, if that's true it does make it hard to know whether you are looking at an authentic piece or not. The same can be said for many vintage designers. For instance it is true that not all pieces by Weiss were signed. Some have said the same of Miriam Haskell. So how on earth is one to know?

The unfortunate part of all this is that this situation has given rise to a proliferation of fakes. Most of us looking for vintage jewelry will first look for the signature on the back of the piece. For many designers, this signature will be placed either on an oval cartouche or in the case of earrings, stamped right into the clips themselves.
So it's imperative that someone looking to buy vintage jewelry familiarize themselves with the authentic signatures.

One place you can turn to, which is a wonderful resource is the site at RESEARCHING COSTUME JEWELRY. You can look up the designers' marks alphabetically and there's lots of photos of signatures to help you out. That's a site I've bookmarked and you should too as you'll find you refer to it often. But bear one thing in mind: these sellers who sell fakes can also make cartouches with the designer's signature in them. And if you're not buying in person, you might not notice that the cartouche looks like it's been soldered on after, or the solder is sloppy, or the signature is blurry or off center until you actually get the piece. That's how I got caught with the fake Schiaparellis I wrote about HERE. If you haven't read that piece, do check it out and look at the photos I posted. They sure show you what fake cartouches look like!

But now, let's return to my friend's piece above. It's not signed but it looks like a Schiaparelli. It has the large lava stones she was fond of and appears well made. After being caught I don't dare make a judgment call on this one. I just don't feel I know enough about Schiaparelli's designs. But there are experts, collectors who are very familiar with the various designers and can usually tell if this is a Schiaparelli are not. There are lots of books available on vintage costume jewelry that tell you what characteristics to look for. Ginger Moro, author of European Designer Jewelry, is very familiar with Schiaparelli. You can find her contact email at THIS LINK to order a copy of her book, a very worthwhile investment.

And then there's a group I always turn to when I want advice or confirmation on pieces I either own or am considering buying. It's JEWEL COLLECT, which has a large membership comprised of buyers, sellers and collectors, many of whom are experts on the various designers. It costs nothing to join their mailing list and if you are unsure about a piece, just post photos and ask them to look at them for you. They're very helpful. The advice is free and could save you lots of distress before you get stuck with fake vintage jewelry that costs you a fortune and isn't authentic. That sure hurts. So this is a case of "do as i say and not as I did". Research and ask before you buy, not after.

And now, having said all that, I'm calling on the members of JEWEL COLLECT to answer my colleague's question: is that lovely unsigned brooch above a Schiaparelli or not? Please leave your comments on this blog. Thanks!