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Friday, August 8, 2008


My previous post generated some intriguing comments from members in my jewelry group, not about the cross itself, its origins or gold content etc., but about why so many women collect and love to wear costume jewelry, even preferring it to "fine" jewelry i.e. that made of real gold, diamonds and gemstones. I found their comments very interesting. Why indeed would a woman prefer to wear a lovely vintage rhinestone necklace like the Weiss shown above as opposed to the far more expensive 14k gold vintage-styled lace necklace shown below?

Obviously, one of the key reasons must be cost: costume jewelry is usually a lot more affordable than real gold or even silver, not to mention rings made of platinum or other precious metals.

And of course, diamonds may be a girl's best friend and while we'd all love to have them, not all of us can afford them. No wonder cubic zirconia is so popular!

Stones like rubies, emeralds, sapphires, alexandrite and others are mighty expensive too. So for those who love the glitter and sparkle but can't afford the price tag that buys it, costume jewelry is a wonderful alternative.

But is cost all there is to it? According to the ladies in my group, not at all. While none of them is averse to having the real thing if it was given to them, most of them agree that there's something special about costume jewelry, especially vintage costume jewelry by the great designers. One lady said "high end vintage costume mimics real jewelry". Another says "I do like fine jewelry and have a small collection of Vintage fine jewelry that I adore and wear. What I love about costume (and real) Period jewelry is the wonderful workmanship, and the fantastic design. In costume this is accomplished in non-precious metals and stones that truly mimic the real thing." Others confide that it's their husbands who buy them the real thing but they buy themselves costume jewelry. I must confess, that's what I do too. All my "good" jewelry, the gold necklaces, bracelets and diamond rings (not that I have many) have been purchased by my husband. Some of them I'm too scared to wear for fear of loss LOL!

And how many of these ladies actually wear their signed and unsigned vintage jewelry? Again, it seems quite a few! One member said when she got into the business world, the costume jewelry looked great with her suits. There's no question that some glittery costume jewelry would keep a woman looking feminine in a business suit! In fact, one of my best Sherman jewelry customers is a lawyer in Ottawa and when she purchased the pretty set shown on the right below from me over a year ago, she assured me it would be seen in all the best business circles in Ottawa.

One of the comments rendered by one of the jewelry group members brought a smile to my face. She said "My husband use to tell my family and friends that it was 'cheaper-to-keep-her' in vintage." Why does this make me smile? Well as long as he's referring to non-designer vintage, that may still be true. But when you study the current prices of designer vintage jewelry, when you see what Shermans, Miriam Haskells, Schreiner and Schiaparellis are selling for, it's astonishing what buyers will pay for what is, after all, "old" and "pre-worn" jewelry. My daughter was stunned when I sold a designer vintage piece for more than she got for a solitaire ring. Another time a customer kept trying to knock down the price of an item I was selling because she assumed it was just some old jewelry I'd had around for years and wanted to get rid of. How little she knew about designer vintage jewelry, or rather, the value of designer vintage in top condition.

Have you checked your mom's dresser drawers lately? What about grandma's? Love it or hate it, vintage costume jewelry, especially signed jewelry, is worth as much as gold to some folks!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I had just listed the lovely vintage filigree cross with 6 garnets shown in the photo on the right in our Shop at Ruby Lane, when I received an email all the way from South Africa.

The writer was seeking my help in identifying a lovely gold cross (see photos below) that she was given by her grandfather over 24 years ago. He had had the cross made for her in Morocco but apart from that, she knows very little about the cross, including what the karat of the gold used is, and whether the beautiful center stone is a ruby, a garnet or just glass.

Oddly enough, she'd taken it to some local jewelers and none of them could agree on the value of the cross and its gemstone. One thought it was 24k gold; another said it was value-less. Personally, I find it rather incredible that a jeweler is unable to test for gold karat. Even we have a gold testing kit which we use to test all our gold, and we're not jewelers! As for checking the gemstone, well if they can't determine if it's a ruby, garnet or junk stone, then heaven help anyone buying jewelry from their shops!

But to the point. This lady was seeking my help but without being able to physically see and test the actual item, there is little I can do. I've posted all the photos she sent me below. As you can see, it's a gorgeous cross with lovely filigree work. To our eyes, that looks like a genuine ruby. As for markings on the piece, there is something stamped or inscribed on the back:

She said it looks like 75C but I think it's most likely a worn 750 which is the European symbol for 18k gold. Just above it, you can see .44. I have no idea what this might be. She says there is something that looks like a curvy B beside the .44 so you get B.44. Does this mean anything to anyone reading this? We'd really appreciate your responses/comments.

The other thing she'd like to know is if anyone can place this cross in a time frame, period, or style. Grandfather said he had it made it Morocco. Is all this ornate filigree work typical of any particular period or design style?

We really hope some reader out there will recognize this design and can shed some light on that mysterious B.44 marking. Also, if you have the expertise, does the stone in the photos below look like a ruby to you? We think it is but ... ?

Photo above shows a front view of the cross. Photo below is a back view. One thing I do know is I wish I owned it! Isn't it beautiful?!

Thanks for your help!