If you are going to collect vintage jewelry and have an eye on the investment value of the piece, then you may want to consider also investing in some vintage jewelry resource books. But with so many of them available how are you supposed to know which ones are most worth investing in?
I have a large number of them in my personal library and find that there are a few that I use most of the time, so I will outline the ones I find most useful for identification, information, and pricing. I will discuss a few general resource books and some that are designer specific.
1. Costume Jewelry 101 - The Basics of Starting, Building and Upgrading by Julia C. Carroll.
This is a personal favorite of mine and one to have if you are just starting to collect vintage jewelry. It gives a great introduction to the subject, outlines how and when to buy and gives very good overviews of four good designers for beginners. The book also outlines other designers in less detail. Photos are very good and the book also gives an idea of retail values.
2. Costume Jewelry 202 - The Basics of Dating Jewelry 1935 - 1980.
This is a follow up book to the one above and is for more advanced collectors. The book talks about 6 methods for dating jewelry and has patent numbers and patent design photos to help with the identification process. Lovely photos, retail prices and some examples of early vintage jewelry advertisements.
3. Unsigned Beauties of Costume Jewelry by Marcia "Sparkles" Brown.
This is a collector favorite! - This book has many photos of jewelry of various kinds. The price guide is reasonable but she does not take into account unsigned pieces that are known to be from certain manufactures which results in an under pricing for some of the items featured in the book.
3. Signed Beauties of Costume Jewelry (Volume I and also Volume II) by Marcia "Sparkles" Brown.
Each of the two volumes features different designers, so they compliment each other very well. The guide talks about each of the featured designers in great detail and outlines the markings used by them as well as design characteristics, although no pictures of the makers marks are shown. Wonderful pictures and suggested retail values are included.
4. Emmons and Sarah Coventry Jewelry Fashion Show - Deborah A. Robinson.
The book for collectors of Sarah Coventry Jewelry. I have several reference books for her pieces, and this one is the most complete, in my opinion. A huge number of her pieces are featured, with names of the designs, years of manufacture and suggested retail prices which are very accurate. Emmons jewelry is also featured to a lesser degree.
5. Copper Art Jewelry, A Different Luster - Matthew L. Burkholz and Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan
Fabulous book for collectors of copper vintage jewelry. Mainly discusses the work of Rebajes and Renoir/Matisse Renoir but also has a chapter on other signed and unsigned pieces of the period. No values, but clear photos with great detail. The book has a two page spread of design photos which gives the name to some of the Renoir piece, although not all.
6. Miriam Haskell Jewelry - Cathy Gordon and Sheila Damfiloff
The resource book for collectors of Miriam Haskell jewelry. It contains over 600 color photographs which are categorized design techniques. Both signed and unsigned pieces are included, and the book has very clear detailed photos of the back of the pieces to help with the identification process. Also includes retail prices.
7. The Art of Juliana Jewelry - Katerina Musetti
All Juliana pieces are unsigned and are identified by design techniques, so if you plan to collect Juliana jewelry, this book is a must. The book contains over 400 color photograph of Juliana jewelry made between 1947 and the 1990s. The first part of the book has chapters devoted to each style of jewelry made with clear photos of clasps, pin backs, stone settings etc. Retail prices are also included.
There are many other books which give a wealth of information, but these should get you started and will give you a good overview of information you will need in your vintage jewelry search.