Saturday, January 17, 2009

Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Part 5 - Metal Settings

Today's post will continue our series devoted to various aspects to consider when putting together a vintage jewelry collection. In the last chapter we talked about the creative use of stones. Today we will discuss the various types of settings used.

At the top of the list is a rhodium plated setting. It was extensively used by the better jewelry designers. Rhodium is a hard metal in the platinum group and it wears extremely well. Two well known designers who used platinum settings often are B. David, and Sarah Coventry. As you can see from the picture to the right, a rhodium setting is smooth and every even. It has a luster to it that normal silvertone settings doesn't have and it doesn't tarnish over time and is very corrosion resistant.

Open back settings for rhinestone jewelry are also found on better vintage jewelry pieces. The most famous designer of this type of setting is DeLizza and Elster who made the famous Juliana Jewelry. (you can view some verified Juliana jewelry pieces at The DeLizza & Elster Jewelry Education Site. Most open back settings also use high quality unfoiled glass rhinestones, although I have seen foiled pieces in openback settings too.

Riveted back settings were used extensively during the 1950s -1960s. In this setting, a small rivet is visible on the back of each of the cups that hold the rhinestones. Many designers used this setting, but pieces from Austria are often made with this design technique.

V Clasps were also another design technique often used during the 1950s. The back of this early vintage brooch uses both the riveted back setting and an early V Clasp.

There is a special type of rhinestone setting that I particularly like. It is found on many pieces from Austria. This special cup setting has crimped edges which are somewhat flayed around the edges. A version of this is called the pie crust setting for the similarity to a pie crust in baking.

Filigree settings were very popular with many vintage jewelry designers. They have had a resurgence with some newer designers such as 1928, but the older settings are notable because the beads and pearls were often wired onto these filigree settings. Japan and Germany used filigree settings often, but the most notable designer who used them extensively is Miriam Haskell. The quality of a Haskell piece is unmistakable and a staple of any top quality vintage jewelry collection.

Previous blog posts in this series:

Check back soon for the next chapter in this series which will deal with clasp types used on vintage jewelry.


  1. Very informative! I have been researching an unsigned vintage brooch with a v clasp, rivets and ornate floral patterns, all on the back. It is nearly as pretty on the back side as the front. The front has several great quality rhinestones in prong settings. Any ideas as to who might have designed this or where I can get more info?

  2. There were many pins made in the manner you described. Without markings it's almost impossible to tell who made it. Carol