I’m listing some costume jewelry finds in the near future and thought I’d explain what I look for when selecting pieces to purchase.
- CONDITION: I look for pieces that are complete and have smoothly working parts. A pin must have a shank that moves easily and fits into the clasp securely. The clasp must not be loose so that the shank falls out easily. Clip earrings must have smoothly moving clips or screws. They must fit snugly and hold firmly on the ear. The same goes for cufflinks and clasps on bracelets and necklaces. I avoid pieces with extremely worn plating, darkened or cloudy rhinestones, missing parts, missing stones, and chipped or scratched enamel. Obvious repairs such as sloppy soldering and haphazard stone replacements I also avoid.
- QUALITY: I look for a brand name and then assess the reputation of the brand. Eisenberg, Schiaparelli, Miriam Haskell and Schreiner are a few names to look for when purchasing high-end pieces. More moderately priced signatures include Weiss,Kramer,Coro,Trifari,Lisner and many more. Should a vintage jewelry purchase always be “signed?” Not necessarily. There are beautiful unsigned pieces available on the secondary market, and all the aforementioned companies made unsigned jewelry at one time or another. Once you have handled enough pieces to recognize the artistic look of a brand, you can find some unsigned early pieces.
- RESEARCH: I generally make a purchase and then research the marks online at http://www.illusionjewels.com/costumejewelrymarks.html