Tips in Finding the Best Vintage Christmas Tree Pins or Brooches
Christmas tree pins or brooches have been the most popular holiday decorative jewelry worn since the Victorian era.
Although Christmas tree pins are popular vintage jewelry designs, many other vintage jewelry wearers prefer angels, snowflakes, bells, Christmas wreaths, vintage lampposts, depictions of good ole’ Santa Claus or other holiday themed designs.
A Brief History
Christmas tree pins became especially popular during the 1930s and 1940s, when several costume jewelry designers such as Weiss, Trifari, Hollycraft, Corocraft, Eisenberg and Haskell began to manufacture Christmas themed costume jewelry. Stanley Hagler a famous jewelry designer for Miriam Haskell began to produce his own line of decorative Christmas jewelry in the 1950s. He worked in intricate beading designs, filigree hardware and trademark baroque pearls.
Another former Miriam Haskell associate was Larry Vrba who designed Christmas tree pins with large cabochons and interesting aurora borealis and rhinestones. Many of these designers were skilled jewelry designers that had emigrated from Europe just after the Depression years and were skilled in designing jewelry in precious stones and metals. However in order to meet customer demand, during World War II these companies began mass producing their costume jewelry designs in base metals and faux gems and the quality of the designs were superior.
Hollywood and famous Hollywood actresses were a big influence on the sale of costume jewelry during the 40s and 50s. Hollywood stars such as Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Russell would display the jewelry in famous women’s magazine ads. Ordinary women could then purchase their favorite costume jewelry pin or brooch at department stores or drug stores like Woolworth’s.
Many of these vintage pins are still available for sale now; however, their value has increased over the years depending on the condition of the Christmas pin or brooch, the pins’ rarity, whether the pin or brooch is signed, whether the pin was made by a famous jewelry manufacturer and the general complexity in the materials used and the intricacy of the design. You can great information on vintage jewelry pins from magazines such as Martha Stewart, Romantic Homes and Country Living.
There are also several books available at your nearest library or available online that give you information about specific manufacturers, rare designs and approximate values.
Finding Vintage Christmas Pins Offline
The best places to find vintage jewelry at the lowest cost is at garage sales; however, since a particular garage sale may vary as to what types of items are being sold pay attention to classified ads that specifically say they will be selling vintage jewelry. Keep in mind that you will be competing with other vintage jewelry collectors or resellers as well. Another great place to find vintage Christmas jewelry is at your local antique shop or dealer; however, prices are going to be closer to the highest estimated value of the jewelry piece.
Armed with a jeweler's loupe ( a small high powered magnifying glass), you will have the advantage of checking for tiny details that are not visible to the naked eye. Check for chipped metal, loose stones, poor glue application, rust in the metal, etc. In addition, you can check the "heft" of the piece, it's weight. Good vintage jewelry usually has heft. You will get familiar with this concept the more you handle authentic vintage pieces.
Vintage Jewelry Books
Vintage Jewelry Buying Tips
- Do some research regarding the
type of pin you want to buy or the era when the vintage jewelry pin or brooch
was made. Educate yourself on the
details of your favorite designs or designers. One easy inexpensive way to do this is to do a Google search of vintage pin ads and get familiar with popular designs available and advertised in the past or you might try Illusion Jewels an online site that has compiled several jewelry ads from the past for your research. This will give you an idea of the type of designs and styles that each costume jewelry manufacturer was well known for.
- Check to see if the vintage jewelry
pin or brooch you intend to buy is signed or unsigned by the manufacturer. The reseller should provide these pictures.
- Learn to identify vintage jewelry
pins by the back as well as the design in front. Buy from online sellers who provide close-up pictures of the back of the jewelry. While not an absolute guarantee that there is nothing wrong with the findings, a seller who goes to the trouble of this type of disclosure usually can be depended on for reliability. Unfortunately, a few unscrupulous manufacturers
are selling reproduction vintage jewelry pieces which are then resold on Ebay
or other online auction sites. In addition, other sellers have reconstructed vintage pins from other authentic pieces.
- Pay attention to the condition of
the pin itself- are there any stones missing? Is the metal rusting in any area
of the pin? Is it completely worn or abraded?Are the stones discolored in any way?
- Check to see if the seller has a
good reputation before making your purchase. A seller who offers a return policy for your purchase and is willing to stand behind the authenticity of the vintage piece is probably worth your online business as few sellers offer such terms.
Finding Vintage Christmas Pins Online
With a simple Google search, you can find several retailers of vintage christmas pins from small business owners to large online antique sellers. However, these shops will usually charge you the full retail value. You can usually do better price wise by purchasing your vintage pin from online auction houses with the biggest and most well known being Ebay. You will need to take into consideration taxes and any extra shipping costs. If your vintage pin is valued at anything higher than $75.00, you might want to purchase postal insurance for a nominal fee. Also, check the reliability and reputation of the online seller. And if a seller offers a return policy, take advantage of doing business with this seller as most sales in vintage jewelry are final.
Ebay is the largest auction online reseller on the internet. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find great deals on vintage Christmas jewelry from individual sellers. However, you will have to wade through pages and pages of listings unless you know how to narrow down your search terms and keywords.
Rubylane is an online retailer that functions very much like Ebay. The design and photos are usually high quality and vintage jewelry is sold by individual sellers from their online shops. The prices for vintage jewelry tend to be higher on this site as a general rule.
Etsy is an online retailer made up of sellers who usually sell their handcrafted items. You might be able to find vintage jewelry here as well. (Author's Update: Etsy has grown to a huge site and as a host of retailers who sell vintage jewelry.)
Since writing this article, the powerhouse for finding Christmas tree pins or other vintage jewelry is now the popular site Pinterest. Pinterest, for those who are not familiar with the online site, it is a virtual bulletin board with a variety of images with descriptions posted that have a direct link to the blog or website source of where the original image was posted. These images are referred to as "pins") There are many pins posted regarding vintage jewelry to suit your tastes. (The image above shows the Pinterest website with a search that was done using the following keywords: #vintage, #christmas, #tree, #pins.)
The great thing is that Pinterest allows you to post the pins you like on your own boards. This helps you group all your images "pins" on a virtual bulletin board of your own. You can create more than one board. To find these pins, you might want to use the search terms #vintage jewelry, #Weiss jewelry, etc. According to Mashable, (a technology guru site) Pinterest will be updating their site to allow better searches on their massive website for their members. As you get familiar with the site, you will be able to hone your search to exactly what you are looking for online and in much less time.
Great Craft Idea With Vintage Christmas Pins
I wouldn’t recommend this craft idea with your more expensive vintage Christmas jewelry ; however, if you have other assorted pieces you might want to try turning vintage Christmas pin or brooches into refrigerator magnets. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the pin hardware from the back of each brooch, then affix some glue and a strong magnet. And there you go, beautiful Christmas themed magnets for a nominal cost. This idea can also work with other vintage jewelry you may own. (Source: Country Living Magazine)
Vintage Jewelry Display
Although advertised for a military medal display case, it can be repurposed for vintage jewelry.
Ideas for Displaying Vintage Pins or Brooches
Naturally, if you have a large collection of vintage brooches you might want to display your collectibles rather than keep them hidden away for safe keeping. Many jewelry collectors purchase large display boxes that usually come standard with a black velvet back and wooden frame.
- If your preference leans to the traditional Christmas colors of red and green, I would get a large ornate photo frame and paint it gold . I would then insert velvet backing in either green or red to display for the holidays. If your color scheme preference leans more to the retro pastel palette, of aqua , pink and white, then I would use a pink velvet background with a white distressed frame. If you own mostly white or clear rhinestone vintage pins, I would suggest that you display them in shadow boxes with a black velvet background. The contrast of the pearly white or clear rhinestone would look stunning on your walls.
- Another idea, that is if you like vintage décor as well, is to display your vintage jewelry on a vintage dress form or a reproduction dress form.
With a little imagination and craft materials, you’ll be able to find a great idea for displaying your vintage pins or brooches and making them a part of your Christmas decorations.