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My Vintage Costume Jewelry

Updated on February 3, 2017

My Vintage And Antique Costume Jewelry Collection

I have several very unique pieces of vintage and antique jewelry. Aside from the sentimental attachment I have, I believe they are beautiful pieces.

Vintage and antique costume jewelry has so much more workmanship than newer costume jewelry. Many of the pieces, such as the one shown in the intro photo, look like pieces of fine jewelry.

This necklace is crafted of sterling silver, as were many costume jewelry pieces in the early 1900s. At that time, silver was an inexpensive metal. The red "stone" in this piece is just nicely cut glass. The setting makes it look as if it is an important piece.

Many people have recognized the quality of old costume jewelry and the pieces have a high value today. Before you give away or put your old jewelry out at a tag sale, do a little research on the value. You may be very surprised.

Wightman & Hough Locket

Wightman-Hough-Locket | Source

Wightman & Hough was in business from 1856 to 1922. They are known primarily for their lockets although they made other pieces. Some were gold, some silver, some brass. Their hallmark is the W&H Co. mark.

This piece belonged to my great aunt and has a picture of my grandmother (her sister) in it. The front has her initials in it, which I find hard to discern. Her initials were S.F. or S.F.J. after she was married.

Although, it is not marked, It is probably made of brass with a gold overlay judging from the worn areas of the locket.

Before you buy or sell costume jewelry, know its value. - You would be surprised what the pieces of jewelry you have tucked away in a dresser drawer are worth.


Use a magnifying glass or invest in a jewelers loop to completely check your jewelry for markings or hallmarks.

Signed pieces are generally worth more than unsigned pieces. Also, knowing the hallmark will make it easier to look the piece up and identify it's origin and worth.

Guilloche Locket

vintage-jewelry-guilloche-locket | Source

Do you see the wavy lines in the locket? This is guilloche.

Guilloche is a process where the same pattern is repeatedly etched. Very often you will see guilloche on a watch face or a better pen barrel. United States currency has a guilloche pattern in the background to make it harder to counterfeit.

On the case of this locket from the 1940s, the guilloche pattern is on the metal underlay and then there is enameling and a transparent layer above it. The metal is probably brass.

This is called a "book locket" due to its shape and the way it opens like a book. I believe my locket is made of brass. This same locket was also made in silver, however, those are stamped "Sterling" on the back. This one has no markings.

I don't know when our family acquired this piece. I do know that as a very young child, I was given it to play with and stash in my little jewelry box.

Dress Or Fur Clip - Another Rich Red Colored Piece

vintage-jewelry-dress-clip | Source

Called a "clip" as it "clips" on instead of pinning.

This clip has no markings on it. It could be silver as it has a somewhat tarnished appearance. It also has no hallmark.

The stones are "paste" --they are glued in and as you can see one of the red stones is missing.

Whether real or fake, stones in the colors of rubies, emeralds and sapphires were popular in a lot of antique jewelry.

Diamonds were thought of as plain -- lacking color and were used as accents.

In 1947 DeBeers started marketing campaigns including "A Diamond is Forever", to promote the popularity of diamonds. Creating the market for diamond engagement rings.

Victorian Bohemian Garnet Shamrock Pin - Sometimes Called "Pomegranate Garnet" Due To Its Color

Victorian-Bohemian-garnet-shamrock | Source

Garnets are the birthstone of January.

The "Bohemian garnet" as it was called in the Victorian era, is really a pyrope.

In this brooch we see the stones are prong set with the prongs part of the design. Again we see that rich dark red so popular in this era. This piece was my grandmother's.

Garnet jewelry of this era may vary widely in price. The beauty or intracacy of the piece may add to the price as may the base metal.

The pin has no hallmark and is probably made of brass.

Emmons Brooch - Aurora Borealis Beads - Emmons 1949 -1981 -

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Front of Emmons brooch.   Emmons is high quality costume jewelry which was sold at house parties. Emmons added the "Emmons" mark to their jewelry in 1955.  Image ©.E. Gregory/LiteraryMind all rights reserved
Front of Emmons brooch.   Emmons is high quality costume jewelry which was sold at house parties.
Front of Emmons brooch. Emmons is high quality costume jewelry which was sold at house parties. | Source
Emmons added the "Emmons" mark to their jewelry in 1955.  Image ©.E. Gregory/LiteraryMind all rights reserved
Emmons added the "Emmons" mark to their jewelry in 1955. Image ©.E. Gregory/LiteraryMind all rights reserved | Source

Be careful when purchasing "vintage jewelry".

A lot of items labeled "vintage jewelry" are actually new items which are only vintage look or vintage inspired jewelry.

To be "vintage" the item should be over 20 years old.

© 2012 Ellen Gregory

Do you have any old keepsake jewelry stories to share? - Do you own an old inexpensive piece that has a special meaning to you?

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    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      They are all so pretty, the star shaped brooch looks so beautiful!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I simply love vintage lockets! Your pictures of your costume jewelry are wonderful :)

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      I love the shamrock pin!

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 4 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      I love vintage jewelry too. Your collection is beautiful

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a fairly large collection on vintage and newer jewelry but all my favorites are vintage. I especially like the Deco pieces. Thanks for all the "eye candy"!

    • cutethings profile image

      cutethings 4 years ago

      Beautiful collection of vintage jewelry.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wow, I'll have to look through some of my old jewellery. Your collection is lovely, thanx.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Than you for sharing another one of your lovely collections. :)

    • mjoonline profile image

      mjoonline 5 years ago

      What a fabulous collection and interesting lens. Thank you for sharing.

    • rainydaz profile image

      rainydaz 5 years ago

      The heart locket is beautiful, and reminds me of one I use to have.

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 5 years ago

      My mother had a beautiful Aurora borealis beads necklace

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      These are lovely.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      Beautiful collection of vintage jewelry you have. :)

    • ninakreativa profile image

      ninakreativa 5 years ago

      These pieces of vintage costume jewelry are truly amazing. There was so much work and love put into them that one can almost feel that. Great lens!

    • marlies vaz nunes profile image

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 5 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      Stunning jewelry! I have one piece of old keepsake jewelry, that was given to me by a cousin of my mother's. It's precious to me.

    • Yourpersonalcon profile image

      Yourpersonalcon 5 years ago

      My grandmother passed along some of the aurora borealis beads and I've always loved them. Thanks for such a lovely lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love collecting vintage jewelry too, especially brooches. Your Emmons Brooch - Aurora borealis beads is stunning!

    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 5 years ago

      I like the dress clips, I would like to have one for myself.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 5 years ago from Jersey Shore

      I have some beautiful old jewelry passed down in my family and I'm gifting it to my daughters -- very interesting article :>)

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 5 years ago

      Vintage stuff is great, and many times has more character than new stuff. I like the guilloche locket

    • profile image

      CatJGB 5 years ago

      Beautiful stuff. I don't have much jewelry and don't really wear it, maybe I would if I had some really beautiful pieces.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

      Nice selection. I really like the shamrock.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      What lovely accessories! Thanks for sharing!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Like the dress clips. A nice way to accessorize.