Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dating Costume Jewelry - Six Methods

Dating Costume Jewelry Can Be Quite a Task

Collectors of Vintage jewelry know that one of the most daunting tasks is dating a piece.  No one method will give results for all pieces, but there are six commonly used techniques.

  • Signatures.  This signature on a vintage jewelry piece will offer valuable clues to dating it.  Many designers of vintage jewelry only made pieces during a certain time period.
  • Copyright symbol.    Many jewelry designers applied for patents for their pieces to keep them from getting copied.  Both signature marks and actual designs were patented.  A study of patents will give exact dates if the designs were copyrighted themselves.
  • Signature Variations.  Most designers used a variety of signatures on their pieces over the years.  A good knowledge of the progression of these signatures can help pinpoint a design within a long time period.
  • Dating by style.  Vintage jewelry is like any other fashion style.  It has certain characteristics which were trendy at various time points during the 1935 to 1980 span, which is considered vintage.  Many vintage jewelry advertisements were used during this time.  Locating an ad for your piece or one like it will give an approximate age of the piece.
  • Resource books.  If you are serious about collecting vintage jewelry, it will help to have a library of resource material. 
  • Dating from the original source.  Provenance is defined as the original source.  In vintage jewelry terms, this would mean dating a piece with information obtained from the original owner of it.  If you are lucky enough to purchase an estate from the original owner, you may be able to get a lot of information about when it was originally purchased.  How lucky that would be.
Have you discovered other methods for dating vintage jewelry?  I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry

New Napier Book Just Released.

Napier Jewelry is a fairly well known design mark for later 20th century jewelry.  While they are not one of the most collected designers, the company did put out very well crafted jewelry that stands the test of time.  I sell quite a lot of it in my various online stores.

The company has just released a new resource book about Napier jewelry.  The Napier Jewelry book is an encyclopedia of Napier Costume Jewelry. It tells the (before now) untold and phenomenal story of The Napier Co.’s inception, development, flowering, and ultimate success.

The book is written and resourced by long time jewelry collector Melinda Lewis.

The book chronicles the history of its management, manufacturing, marketing, and most importantly, the unparalleled beauty of Napier fashion jewelry. With approximately 4000 pictures of Napier jewelry history and over 250,000 words of text and descriptions, you will be taken step-by-step, decade by decade, through the development of the Napier style.

As a collector, you will learn to recognize the findings, materials, and designs to appropriately circa-date the Napier jewelry in which you are investing. As a lover of vintage costume jewelry, you will enjoy the drama and excitement of the trials, tribulations, and breakthroughs at each stage of the Napier journey.

In the end, you will have a deep and lasting appreciation of the romantic story infused into the metal, gemstones, crystals, cabochons, and elegance of each piece of Napier jewelry that you own or are considering owning.

The book not only talks about the Napier jewelry company but also the fashion jewelry industry as a whole, so it is a must read for all collectors of vintage and costume jewelry.

Here is a YouTube video which discusses the book and gives some photos and images from it.

My experience in collecting vintage has shown me that, once a designer is featured in resource books, the value of the pieces go up over time.  Perhaps now is a good time to start collecting Napier jewelry while it is still quite affordable.  The book gives fair market value of most pieces made between 1950 and the year 2000 which will be a great help to anyone deciding to start collecting Napier Jewelry.

The book can be purchased directly from the Napier Jewelry Company.

Are you a fan of Napier Jewelry?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Jewelry Store Opens at Amazon

 Jewelry Lane to Open at Amazon

I have been trying for years to get approved to sell jewelry on Amazon.   Most categories are available to anyone who wishes to sell there, but a few are closed categories which require approval before you can list items for sale in them.  This year, I finally got approval and have opened a store front on Amazon called Jewelry Lane.

The store will feature only new jewelry.  The vintage category has been closed for many years and Amazon is not allowing any new sellers to list vintage items.  Since my other stores are a mix of both vintage and new costume jewelry, this is not a problem for me.

I opened the store in early January and am in the process of listing items.  It is a slow process, since Amazon is very strict about the terms and conditions under which you can list items.  I currently have about 150 items for sale, but I plan to extend my range of jewelry to approximately 800 to 1000 items over the next 6 months or so.

Here are a few of my current listings.  You can click any of the pictures to go to the item page.

These are just a few of the many selections.  You can view my whole catalog in my Jewelry Lane store.

Do you sell on Amazon?  How do you find the experience compared to other venues?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Today's Jewelry Word - Lavaliere

 The Dangle is the Key to Lavaliere Necklaces and Brooches

There are many styles of necklaces available.  Everyone knows what a pendant is, but a lavaliere pendant is one that you may not be aware of.

 The term lavaliere is used for necklaces (and also brooches) which have a pendant that has a dangling tassel or stone hanging below it.  The word was made popular in the mid 17th century by the Duchess de la Vallire, who was a mistress of King Louis XIV of France.

In the jewelry world the term has been shortened to lavaliere, or lavalier. Either spelling is correct.
Many stones can be part of the dangle but pearls are one that is commonly used.  I've seen lovely aurora borealis tear shaped glass stones, used in conjunction with a pendant or even brooch with dramatic effects.

Occasionally the word will be used for pendants which have dangles within a part of the design rather than below it. I have also seen two strand necklace, each with its own pendant described as a lavalier necklace. To be technically correct, there should be a dangle though, as part of the design, not just two separate pendants.

Here are some examples of Lavaliere jewelry:

Kenneth Jay Lane dramatic lavalier rhinestone brooch.

Egyptian Inspired necklace with Lavaliere dangles.

Lovely rhinestone mid century lavaliere necklace.

I have lavaliere jewelry in my Vintage Jewelry Lane store at very competitive prices. 

What do you think of the design technique? Do you like the dangles or prefer a plain pendant?