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Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry

Updated on December 11, 2011

Vintage jewelry collection

vintage jewelry in a shadowbox
vintage jewelry in a shadowbox
favorite vintage pieces
favorite vintage pieces

Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry

While I love big flashy costume jewelry as a rule, it is quite by accident that I became a collector of vintage costume jewelry (see near photo of shadow box and more photos below).

Last year my cousin shared with me the extremely large collection of costume jewelry his dear mother Linnell left behind. Since I was working overseas he had already shared it with some good friends. By the time I returned there was still, I'm guessing about 100 lbs., all in a several large tangled masses.

If you are a collector of vintage costume jewelry you will recognize many of the vintage names: Carnegie, castlecliff, Lisner, Dalsheim, Sarah Coventry, Trifari, M&S, etc. Many are unmarked with names but have the country of origin: Germany, Japan, etc. Much of it is from the '50s and '60's.

My cousin offered the rest to me because he knew that while I was in Korea, my feng shui buddy, Christine, and I were taking jewelry making classes. And he knew I always loved and wore very distinctinve costume jewerly.

It took me two trips on the subway with my rolling suitcase and backpack to pick it all up. Then began the month long process of matching up earrings and untangling necklaces. Did I enjoy it? I loved it! There's something about finding a matched pair of earrings that you really want - that makes the sun shine (see photo of my favorite pairs). And what fun to find some pieces that I will probably never see for sale anywhere. Pieces I plan to wear this spring and summer. Of course I shared a lot with friends.

Then I had about 100 earrings with no matches (see photo below) and I sold those on ebay. I also had what is called 'findings' - which is lots of clasps, and bits and pieces like rhinestone jewelry with a jewel missing. This I also sold quickly on ebay. In my neighborhood with an art school right behind me, I shared lots of big wired necklaces that an artist wanted to use for a project. He was thrilled.

All the vintage earrings are clip-on or screw on. Some are clip-ons that you can screw as well for a better fit. The quality is superior I'd say compared to the quality of most costume jewelry today. Although, I will say that present day African costume jewelry is generally superior and if you know where to shop in Brooklyn you can find incredible prices. What I plan to do in the warmer weather is mix and match both kinds.

I still have a lot of beautiful earrings and necklaces. I decided to use some of it to put in the shadow box - it has become eyecatching decoration and quite a conversation piece.

Also I still have about 25 lbs. of necklaces in disrepair that I plan to refashion with my feng shui/jewelry class friend.

Enjoy the colorful slide show above and below!


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      got some wgerman trafari coro rhinestones at e-bay cheap 330abbpet3 check it out

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks LG,

      My good mate, Cousin Bryan, is living over there in Hitchin - keeping me updated about the snow. He is a great mate/cousin!!!!!!

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      Glad to see your collection! Sounds as if you owe your mate some thanks (-:

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you DL. I have one pink milk glass pair of earrings. I found an old signed silver brooch from Sweden - I still have more stuff to go through. Did I mention I found some gold pieces? I will enjoy wearing some of this unique stuff this summer. Will you post some of your items online? BK

    • Denny Lyon profile image

      Denny Lyon 

      9 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

      Fun hub! I love the old milk glass necklaces and brooches, even have some pink milk glass. The old stuff really grabs a hold of your imagination, doesn't it? I finally settled into collecting 1940's sterling brooches, some of it Taxco and a lot of onyx and sterling combos that are 60 years old, awesome patina. I've collected from all time periods. The fun earrings to wear with lots of bling are from the 50's. Glad to see your collection, thanks!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      It has been an adventure. Wish I could see some of your pieces. It is all so colorful.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      9 years ago from Texas

      You have some lovely pieces. I have a lot of this sort of thing also. I had an aunt who was a serious collector, and I inherited her collection. Lovely old stuff!


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