Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rhinestone Repair - Re-Foiling Rhinestones

Vintage jewelry, by nature, is usually quite old and will often have minor flaws and blemishes. Rhinestone vintage jewelry, in particular, is prone to various stages of wear, since the foil backing of a rhinestone can sometimes be damaged by moisture, or can easily get scratched if the stones are ever replaced.

Some rhinestone pieces are very valuable and worth the effort and cost of the restoration. There are several places that sell vintage rhinestones. One company that I have used and recommend is Matthew Ribarich's site called MrStones.

But what do you do when you have a vintage rhinestone piece that has badly damaged foil, you have searched high and low, and you still can't find a stone which will blend in well with the others?

Rhinestone foil backings such as those used by Swarovski and other rhinestone manufacturers involves a process similar to that used for the silvering of mirrors. The original process involves some tricky chemical processes. Actual silver is applied to the back of a mirror and then a paint-like coating is applied to protect the silver from oxidation and darkening. Re-silvering a mirror is a process often done and the end result is usually very satisfactory.

To duplicate the process with something as small as a rhinestone would take a miniature set up of the same process and would be quite specialized. You could contact a glass seller who resilvers mirros and ask them if they would undertake the job of resilvering your rhinestones. Don't be surprised if you are greeted with widened eyes and a dropped jaw at your request, since you may be the first person to ask them about this.

A curator at a nearby museum might be able to give you some names of those craftsmen that they use for preservation or restoration. These craftsmen who may know of some other techniques that will assist you. Obviously, this step would only be undertaken as a last resort and if the piece is particularly valuable and suitable for the expense of this type of repair.

If you have a piece which you adore which has damaged stones but it doesn't warrant the expensive of a professional repair, there are vintage rhinestone re-foil kits available. I have seen them on ebay, but haven't tried the product, so I can't guarantee that you will like the results.

Quite honestly, I would be surprised if there is a suitable paint easily applied which will blend well enough with the original silvering or golding. If you do decide to use this process, be sure to remove all of the old silver or gold coating first and then tackle the painting job.

If you do purchase this re-foil product and use it, please publish your results in the comments. I'd be interested to see how it works.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Word of the Week - What is Basse-taille?

Today's vintage jewelry word is Basse-taille. This is a French word which means "shallow cut." The term refers to an enameling technique which has chased relief metal which is overlaid with a translucent enamel finish.

During the process, the metal is engraved deeply enough so that the enamel can be held when heated. It also has sides high enough to be sure that the colors of the enamel are kept separate. The addition of the translucent enamel allows light to reflect from the relief and creates a very artistic effect. The end result has a lovely play of light and shade and a brilliance of tone.

The process of basse-taille was first developed in Italy in the 13th century, and was especially popular in Europe during the Gothic and Renaissance periods. This technique was also very popular with mid 20th century Scandinavian silversmiths such as David Andersen, Hroar Prydz and Askel Holmsen. The technique has also been called "translucent enameling."

Here are some xxamples of basse-taille jewelry:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to my Readers

Happy Thanksgiving! This year I will be hosting the meal and my husband's nephew is visiting us from England, so he gets to find out, first hand, what an American Thanksgiving is all about. I have a table full of all manner of side dishes, the proverbial turkey and many deserts, and he also brought over an English fruit cake to add to the celebration.

This year, I am most thankful for my health and that of my family and loved ones, and that my daughter is having a great year at university with roles in many of the college drama productions. It is nice to see her so happy and involved.

I hope that you also have much to be thankful for. With all the problems in our economy, it is nice to take the time to think of little things that are good in our lives.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is Christmas Without a Candy Cane?

Statistics say that most of us gain a few pounds over the Christmas holidays each year. In the next few weeks, many of us will be baking and eating sweets of all sorts, so I thought it would be fun to feature some of my cute candy cane Christmas pins. Perhaps one of them would be just the sweet treat for you - minus the calories of course.

Christmas brooches come in a wide variety of designs and one of the most popular style is the candy cane. These are made in a myriad of designs and materials - with the most popular being enamel and rhinestone designs.

Most of the major vintage jewelry designers included them in their range of designs, and contemporary designers seem to come up with new ideas for the motif each year.

Here are a few for you to choose from. Each of my online stores also has a larger range of styles. One of them is sure to make a cute stocking stuffer or even a present to yourself! You can click the pictures for more details and additional photos. Prices range from $8.99 to $16.99.

Now you can enjoy your Christmas sweet with never a fear of gaining those unwanted holiday pounds!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Sagittarius

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Today's astrological sign is Sagittarius, which is the sign for those born between November 22-December 21. The sign is depicted as the archer and it is considered a fire sign.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of

Thinking about buying jewelry for your Sagittarius friend and don't know where to start? Let's examine some of these zodiac facts for a bit of inspiration.
  • Their special colors are yellow and orange
  • The lucky numbers are 1,3,5, and 9
  • The gemstones associated with this birth sign are Amethyst, and Turquoise
  • Their animal symbol is the horse
  • Flowers that Sagittarians love are pink flowers, carnations and thistles
Let's combine some of these traits and see what we can come up with for gifts that might please your Sagittarian friend. All the pictures can be clicked for more details and descriptions.

This genuine turquoise necklace would be a lovely choice:

And for the horse lover Sagittarian, this lovely Gerry's Christmas horse drawn sleigh pin would be a perfect stocking stuffer:

This wonderful bakelite demi parure which combines yellow and orange into one pretty hue would also make a great choice:

Finally, here is a Georgian poem which depicts the Sagittarius personality well:
Who loves the dim religious light;
Who always keeps a star in sight?
An optimist both happy and bright-

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today's Vintage Bling - Japan Signed Diamante Rhinestone Expansion Bracelet

I thought that it would be appropriate that the piece I choose for this week's vintage bling should be something that might work well for the upcoming holidays and New Year's Eve. This fabulous rhinestone expansion bracelet will do that and then some!

The bracelet is set in silvertone metal and features three rows of clear diamanted rhinestones in prong settings. The bracelet is 1/2" wide and is an expansion style so it should fit most wrist sizes.

It is signed Made in Japan on the inside of the bracelet. The lovely piece is available from my Ruby Lane shop - The Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry for only $25.

Rhinestone expansion bracelets were all the rage between the 1930s and 1950s and they have recently had a resurgence in popularity. This lovely example is in gently used very fine condition with clear and bright rhinestones.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Limited Edition Vintage Jewelry - A Real Collector's Find

Those who collect antique and vintage items are well aquainted with the term limited edition. It is used to refer a design, book, print, or collectible which is limited to a specified number of copies. Numbered limited editions normally give more value to the lower numbers in the total run of pieces.

There were several designers of vintage jewelry who used this term on their products. Some which come to mind are Reed and Barton for their damascene designs, Sarah Coventry for her religious crosses and Birds and Blooms for their pewter nature designs.

Many contemporary designers use the term for their products. Judith Ripka is one popular designer of limited editions, but many modern jewelry artisans use the term for their products too.

Here are a few limited edition jewelry pieces that I currently have for sale in my Vintage Jewelry Lane store:
Reed and Barton 1st Limited Edition Christmas angel damascene necklace - $42.99

Sarah Coventry Limited Edition Cathedral multistrand Signed Necklace - $21.99

Birds and Blooms Limited Edition Birdhouse pewter brooch - $12.99

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elizabeth Taylor for Avon Jewelry

Most of my readers are familiar with the Avon cosmetics company and know that the company has also been designing jewelry since the 1970s. But do you also know that some of the jewelry made by Avon was inspired by notable personalities?

During the 1980s and 1990s many designs were inspired by the likes of Kenneth Lane, José and Maria Barrerra, Louis Ferraud, and Corinne Simpson among others. This has given rise to the high level of collectibility of designs with these additional logos.

Elizabeth Taylor is one such person whose name graces the high end Avon lines. Ms. Taylor oversaw every detail of the design of the jewelry bearing her name. She is featured in Sandra Sturdivant's book "Identifying Avon Jewelry." The fabulous set featured here is described in her book as design with a “softly glowing matte gold rose which rests amidst textured leaves with sparkling crystal dew drops.”

This design is called “Passion Flower Collection”, and includes a brooch and pair of matching clip earrings. No detail has been spared in the design of this set. which helped Avon join the ranks of famous designers and producers of high end jewelry. Inspired by the star's passion for rose, the goldtone rose has sparkling rhinestone accents which look a lot like dew drops.

The pieces are marked Elizabeth Taylor - Avon, and is also inscribed with an “E” in a lovely script selected by Elizabeth herself. This fabulous Elizabeth Taylor Avon rhinestone rose flower Demi Parure is available from my Vintage jewelry Lane shop for $125.99.

If you are a fan of Elizabeth Taylor, you may be interested in the book Elizabeth Taylor’s Personal Jewelry Collection – My love affair with Jewelry. Known for her beauty, her seven marriages, and her stunning jewelry collection, screen star Elizabeth Taylor treats us to a first look at her jewelry, in gorgeous actual-size photos and in personal photos-some never before seen publicly-of herself wearing them. This book showcases many of the pieces from her collection with 125 stunning photographs.
Since the Elizabeth Taylor line of Avon jewelry was discontinued in 1997, it is becoming increasingly hard to find and is now very collectable.

Here is another example from her Avon jewelry line. The design is called "Love Blooms" and is from 1995. Also available from Vintage Jewelry Lane for $27.50

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ring in the Holiday Season with Christmas Bell Pins

Christmas is just around the corner and rhinestone Xmas pins are some of my best sellers this time of the year. I've purchased a large warehouse buy out of some lovely designs. I'll be showcasing the various designs of Christmas jewelry over the next few weeks.

The first style which is very popular is the Christmas bell pin. Whether covered in rhinestones, or done up in colorful enamel, this design of Christmas pin is very festive.

If you are looking for a stocking stuffer or Christmas gifts, these designs may appeal to you. Here are a few designs which will let you ring in the holidays in style: (you can click any of the pictures for more details and additional photos)

Nordstrom Rhinestone Christmas Double Bell pin - $24.99 (original retail $42!)

Gerry's Vintage Enamel Christmas Bell Pin - $11.99:

Colorful Red and Green Rhinestone Christmas Bell Pin - $8.75:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Find of the Week - D. David Aurora Borealis Rhinestone Leaf Demi Parure

This week's vintage jewelry find is by Mid 20th Century designer B. David. This designer produced high end jewelry with an abundance of aurora borealis rhinestones.

The set featured here is just perfect for fall. It consists of a pretty maple leaf design with meridian blue prong set aurora borealis rhinestones. There is a brooch and matching pair of clip back earrings included in the set. Stunningly plated in rhodium, this set is pure high end design.

For more details and close up photos of this pretty B. David rhinestone set, please visit my store at Vintage Jewelry Lane. Priced at $95.99, it would make someone a lovely Christmas gift.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today's Vintage Bling - Basse-Taille Pink Enamel and Rhinestone Brooch

Today's vintage bling is a lovely little layered brooch with a flower design.

This pretty pin is just adorable! It is set in goldtone metal and has a 1950s riveted back setting and great depth and detail.

The petals are made of prong set dark pink rhinestones and the top layer of leaves has a translucent basse-taille enamel coating in light pink. The lower layer of leaves are also very nicely detailed.

There are no markings on this beauty, but the design and weight of the piece reminds me very much of Austrian jewelry from this same period. Priced at only $26.99, this piece would make a great gift for someone who loves pink jewelry. For more details on this pretty pink rhinestone flower brooch, you can visit my Vintage Jewelry Lane online store.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Christmas Jewelry Ideas for Men

There are always lots of promotions and write ups about what to give the woman in your life for a Christmas jewelry gift idea. But what about men? No one seems to consider all the great things that would be appropriate for gifts for the guys in your life.

I've recently purchased a large warehouse buy out of old stock of men's cuff links, key rings, money clips and the like. All of the items are from dealer stock from the 1980s or earlier and none have been worn. They would make fantastic stocking stuffers.

Here are a few choices from my ebay store Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry. Prices range from $8.75 to $16.99. All of my other online stores also have a great range of men's jewelry. You can click the links on the top right corner of my blog to go to my stores to see the whole collection.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just Rattle Your Jewelry - Twist and Shout

I am an avid John Lennon fan, and recently found a fabulous YouTube video of a part of a November 4, 1963 performance of the Royal Variety Performance in London, England.

The Beatles were on stage and about to sing Twist and Shout for the Queen Elizabeth, the queen Mother, and Princess Margaret. In the clip you hear Lennon say, “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.”

Here is the YouTube Video from the performance 46 years ago yesterday.

Now this is a creative use of vintage jewelry!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thanksgiving Jewelry - Hard to Find

One of my husband's biggest complaints is that the retail stores seem to skip from Halloween to Christmas and forget all about Thanksgiving. Even though I adore the Christmas holidays and love to decorate quite early, I have to agree with him. The holiday, which is all about giving thanks, and not too much about giving to shop keepers, seems to be a forgotten thing with retailers.

The same can be said about jewelry items with these themes. Halloween jewelry is fairly easy to find and Christmas jewelry is plentiful all year round. But Thanksgiving...not so much.

I had a look in my stores to see what I have left for this holiday and the pickings are indeed slim. I have had several cornucopia pins for sale, but they are all long gone.

One very special item that I do have left is a wonderful 14K gold demi parure from the Robbins Attleboro Company. They have been in business since 1892 and produce very high quality jewelry.

The demi consists of a charm bracelet and matching pair of clip back earrings. All pieces are set in 14K gold with multi colored enamelling on the cornucopia design. The set is not marked with metal content, but I tested it three times with my Mizar gold tester and it tested at 14K each time for the bracelet, bracelet charm and earrings.

This lovely set is available from my Ruby Lane Shop - The Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry. For more pictures and additional information about this 14K Gold cornucopia charm bracelet and earrings, you can click here. Priced at $699 (or you can make me a reasonable offer) - it is a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving in real style.