Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The ABCs of Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry: H - Z

So here it is, part II of The ABCs of Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry: H-Z. As with Part I, all the jewelry comes from my own collection.

Why the long delay? I was in the hospital! You can learn about that here

Since I wrote the last post, A-G, I also started a youtube channel about jewelry, so please visit that here. I'll be posting more videos as time goes on.

But now, let's get the provisos out of the way, and get back the wonderful world of the ABCs of vintage, costume jewelry.

The provisos:

1. You don't need to know any of this to collect vintage jewelry. You can just go for what you like and can afford, and that's it. Really, that's all that matters. But, gaining some knowledge about what you're collecting can be helpful, and, in my opinion, just plain interesting. 

A little knowledge can, for example, help you know when a piece was made, what materials it uses, and whether it's good quality. It can help you discover what you like, and then help you find more of it. It can help you know when a seller is trying to scam you. And it can help you know when you've found an amazing deal.

2. I am not an expert. I'm a hobbyist. I've done my best here, but it's not perfect.

3. I'm sure I haven't included everything. Maybe I just forgot something. Maybe I don't feel I know enough about it. Or maybe I don't own any examples of it. Again, I've done my best.

4. This is not a post about vintage jewelry brand names. However, whenever I could, I've given you the brand name of each piece. 

5. I am a collector, not a seller, and, while I'm sure some of the information here will be useful to sellers, I've written it for collectors like myself.

6. Any time I mention prices, I'm talking about Canadian dollars, not American ones. So, for example, if I say I got a piece for $10, that would be about $7 American.

7. I am not a crafty person. This is not a post about how to repair, repurpose, or craft vintage, costume jewelry. I'd be useless at helping you with that.

8. Please excuse the dust! I'm just too disabled to dust every piece before I photograph it.


Oi, hallmarks! First required on jewelry around 1909, in theory, a hallmark can tell you when, where, and by whom a piece was made, whether it is made with real gold, silver, or platinum, and how pure that precious metal is. That's in theory. In reality, hallmarks can be difficult to decipher, and I'm definitely no expert, but I can help you learn a little bit more about hallmarks, especially how to read them well enough to know if a piece is gold, or silver.

You don't need to memorize what every hallmark means. I don't know how you could! But I'll show you some things to try to keep in your head, and the main takeaway is that, if you see a hallmark, take a closer look: The piece is probably good quality, might be made by a reputable jeweler, and may even be "fine" jewelry, not "costume."

Mind you, it's not a given that you'll even notice a hallmark. Not only are hallmarks tiny, but they're usually hard to find: on the back of a brooch, on a tiny clasp, on a bail, on the inside of a ring ... Yet again, this is why I advise everyone to own a jeweler's loupe. It might make you look dorky at a second hand store, but who really cares, right?

Hallmarks: Gold

You may be wondering why I'm even talking to you about gold in a post that's about collecting costume jewelry which, by its very definition, is not made of real gold. Well, first, real gold is used for several different forms of gold plating which is used in costume jewelry. 

This includes rolled gold (which is seldom hallmarked), and gold fill, which I, personally, think is under-rated.

Second of all, obviously we'd all love to stumble upon some actual fine jewelry while we're busy collecting costume pieces. I've done so on numerous occasions, much to my delight, so it's always a good idea to keep your eye out for that tiny, tell-tale gold hallmark in some discrete, hard to see place. Get that loupe out and take a look!

This gorgeous, Edwardian, gold, seed pearl, and peridot piece? I saw it and liked it at an upscale, second hand (aka vintage) store. They were selling it as a costume piece for $50, high for costume, but my friend didn't mind the price and spontaneously bought it for me. When I brought it home, I found a gold hallmark, and learned that the piece is worth at least $300. It shows!

Third, the karat (also spelled carat) mark might give you a idea of when and/or where a piece was made. 8 or 9 karat gold could be from the UK or Canada, for example, but not from the United States. 

If you find a 15 karat gold piece, you know that it was probably made before 1932, and outside of the United States.

I've also found that pieces marked "carat" with a "c" (as opposed to a "k") tend to be from the United Kingdom. Important information? Not terribly. Interesting? Yes.

(As an aside, to give you a sense of scale, that "15C" hallmark is on the back of one tiny leaf on the peridot piece you saw above. Here it is again, resting on a quarter.)

The final reason I'm talking to you about gold hallmarks is because, when you get into the lowest karats, like 8, 9, and even 10 karats, you're bordering on costume jewelry territory. It's lovely, and definitely worth more than base metal or silver jewelry, but don't let anyone charge you too much for it.

This is new and fine, not vintage or costume.

Now, what do those little, gold hallmarks actually meanThe main thing to remember is this: the higher the number, the more pure the gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold. Anything lower than that is mixed with another metal, called an alloy. So, 18k gold is 18/24 parts gold, with the remaining 6/24 parts being an alloy. 14k gold is 14/24 parts gold, with 10/24 being an alloy ... and so on.

Though popular in places like China and India, it's very rare to find 24k gold in western countries. Even 22k and 20k gold is rare here. Generally, the highest karat gold you'll find in the west is 18k ...

... while 14k is also very common for fine jewelry. 12k and 10k jewelry are also very common in the west, but not quite as good quality. They're more like what you'd buy new in a department store than at a fine jeweler. But, my goodness, if you find these lower karats being sold mistakenly as costume jewelry, it's still a wonderful score!

This 14k and 18k gold, and carnelian ring is my most amazing thrift store find ever. 

The higher the purity of the gold, the yellower and more golden it is (excepting white gold, of course). This ring illustrates this really well because the band itself is 14 karat, but you the whole front, filigree part is 18k. You can clearly see how much yellower the front is compared to the back. 

High karat gold is also softer and can become dented and scratched more easily. Lower karat gold is less golden, but more durable and, of course, cheaper. 

This is not vintage, and not costume. I bought it new, at a high end jewelry store.

Of course, there is also white gold (and rose, and even green gold). White gold as we use it today has been around since the 1920s, but wasn't widely used until the 1940s. It too is more pure at a higher karat ...

The larger ring is 18k, white gold. I bought it new, not vintage. The vintage necklace, and new earrings are 10k, white gold. (The pinky ring is platinum.)

... and is therefore softer, but also shinier and more gleaming ...

... than lower karat, white gold. This piece is good illustration of another means of marking real gold. Sometimes, gold is marked using a scale of 1000. With this system, the purity of the gold is calculated out of 1,000 instead of 24. A "999" marking, for example, means that the piece is a 999/1000 gold purity. In other words, it's 24 karat. A 583 piece is 583/1000 gold purity: 14 karat. 

And so on. 

After all this explanation, there's a catch: A lot of antique, gold jewelry is not marked as gold at all! For example, it wasn't until 1906 that it became mandatory for American jewelers to hallmark their gold jewelry. This piece is Victorian and isn't hallmarked. I didn't know it was real gold till I showed it to a jeweler and she kindly tested it for me.

This 18k piece by Birks is not vintage, but I think it's a good illustration of the lustre of real gold.

So how can you tell if an antique piece is real gold? In a store, on the fly, you can't. But you can do two things. First, you can do the magnet test. When you go shopping, bring a strong magnet with you. Touch it to the piece, and, if it sticks, it's not a precious metal. If it doesn't stick, it's likely silver, copper, brass, gold, or platinum. (If it only sticks a little bit, you may be looking at some form of gold plating, like rolled gold or gold fill.) 

Those are a lot of possibilities, so you'll also want to simply really look at the piece, feel it, and even smell it. Real gold won't be tarnished or chipped, and its colour will be even throughout. Real gold will have a warm, lustrous quality, and a rich, mellow colour. I find that it also feels subtly softer, warmer, and more gentle to the touch, while base metals can feel cold, hard, and even sharp. I've never heard anyone else say they do this, but I'll smell a piece too. If it has a strong, sharp, metallic smell, I doubt that it's gold. (In one case, though, I was wrong. I gave a pair of old earrings a sniff, and I thought they were a base metal, so I only offered the seller $10. He said yes. I later learned that the earrings were bohemian garnet and gold. Oopsy!)

Hallmarks: Origin and Maker

So oi! Again, in theory, hallmarks will tell you where and when a piece was made, and who made it. That little squashy bit on the far right? It's actually a castle and it means the piece is from Edinburgh, Scotland. Did I already know that before I started writing this blog post? Nope. Will I remember it? I doubt it. There are just so very many hallmarks, and it's so very hard to google them or even use a reference book to find every one... that I'm pretty hopeless at the whole thing.

If you're really lucky, the hallmark will simply be the name of the maker in letters, not a symbol. That's not common, but abbreviations for the maker are fairly common and are quite a bit easier to google. Even then, you may or may not find what you're looking for. Some jewelers were very small businesses that have long since been defunct, and finding information about them can be hard.

Anyway, a lot of the time, the information you want is encoded in some tiny, obscure hallmark that a hobbyist like me can't figure out. 

Either way, hallmarks are tiny! The marks on the above charm?

I love that someone made a wheelchair charm, acknowledging that some of us disabled folks love our mobility aids because they free us. A lot of people think they bind us.
They're on the bottom of this teensy weensy wheelchair. 

Hallmarks: Platinum

I only own one platinum piece: my grandmother's engagement ring. It's inscribed "1936" which places it right, smack in platinum's most popular period: the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 30s. Because I only have one platinum piece, this is the only platinum hallmark I can show you: "PLAT". I believe the "IRID" hallmark means it's mixed with the platinum based alloy, iridium. I think that means it's 95% platinum, 5% iridium, but I'm not sure. 

I don't actually know that much about platinum. I find it harder than gold, so sturdier but also less warm and gentle to the touch. I know it's white and I know it's more expensive than gold, so, if I were to ever find it being sold as cheap costume jewelry, I'd buy it even if I didn't like the piece, because I'd want to resell it. But that's me.

Grandma's ring is not for sale though. No way! 

Hallmarks: Silver

Once you know how to identify silver, you're going to find it a lot more than you might expect. It's pretty common to find it in second hand stores, often for very little money. However, you will seldom see it hallmarked so helpfully, with the simple word, "SILVER."

One of the most common silver hallmarks is the familiar, "925" mark. This indicates that the metal is 92.5% silver (the rest being an alloy). You'll see "925" a lot.

"950" is less common, and simply means that the silver is even more pure, at 95% silver. This means it's a bit softer too, just like higher karat gold.

Note the tiny flower. It's the maker's hallmark. I spent a lot of time figuring out who the maker was, and I already forget again.

"925S" means "925 Sterling." That's a bit redundant since ...

... the sterling hallmark means exactly the same thing as the 925 hallmark: silver.

The "AM" with the swish is yet another hallmark that I couldn't figure out. Help is always welcome.

"STER" is simply an abbreviation of "sterling", so this too is a silver piece.

As usual, remember that this hallmark is tiny, so you have to look for it.

With silver, finding the hallmark is complicated by the fact that a lot of old pieces are very tarnished. This is so common, that I always look twice at blackened, dirty-looking pieces because I know they very well may be silver. If the price is right, I might buy them even if I can't find a hallmark, not only because tarnish obscures hallmarks, but also because many antique pieces aren't hallmarked at all.

A nice soak in some gently soapy water, a gentle scrub with a toothbrush, and a rub with a silver polishing cloth ... 

... and your silver will gleam once more. (Silver polishing clothes are inexpensive and can be found online. I also use them on jewelry that isn't silver.) A note on cleaning jewelry though: some stones like amber, opals, and pearls, are porous and sensitive, and should be cleaned with extreme care. I wouldn't go near them with a polishing cloth, and I'd be extremely hesitant about using even water and soap on them.

And don't use silver dip. Just don't. I learned this the hard way.

I love how this old piece flashes a Star of David in the right light. Do you see it?

Personally, I find tarnish really annoying. Every time I want to wear a silver piece, it's tarnished again, and I don't want to bother with the hassle of polishing it (though, really, a quick swipe with a polishing cloth is often enough to make the piece presentable). Plus, silver doesn't really suit my own colouring anyway. But if you're one of the many people who do love the looks of both shiny and tarnished silver, you're in luck, because inexpensive, vintage and antique silver are pretty easy to find.

If you find an old, silver piece that isn't tarnished at all, and you know it hasn't been polished recently, it's likely that it's rhodium plated. Rhodium is part of the platinum family, and is often used to coat silver and white gold to make it brighter, whiter, and more durable. It does not lower the value of piece, as far as I know. In fact, I think it might raise the value. Like gold plate, rhodium plate doesn't last forever, so some people opt to get it redone from time to time.

One final note about silver and then we're done. A lot of really high end, famous jewelers overcharge for their silver pieces. Remember those awful, "return to Tiffany" pieces about 20 years ago? Overpriced, and, in my opinion, tacky. When it comes to some silver pieces made by big jewelers, you're mostly paying for the brand name, so really look at them before buying. This is often true even when the piece is second hand. If you decide it's still just right, go for it. Just don't let the brand name blind you.


Also known as reverse carved jewelry, the process of making intaglio is deceptively simple. From the front, it creates an amazing, 3-D image (that enthralls little kids, FYI).

From the back, it's a simple carving into a hard, clear substance, such as plastic, glass, or crystal. That carving may be left on its own, or painted to stand out more.

It's kind of like magic. 

Intaglio pieces can range in price fairly dramatically. Intaglio in plastic was really popular from about the 1940s through the 1960s. Most often, you'll find coloured roses carved into brooches, and screw-back earrings. You shouldn't have to pay too much for them. 

Intaglio carved into rock crystal will run you quite a bit more. (As always, this is unless you find a great deal, which is your whole reason for reading this post!)

Glass and rock crystal intaglio were popular much earlier. For example, little, domed and coloured intaglio pieces with sports and animal motifs were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. This glass, child's bracelet is very typical of its time. I think I paid $10 for it.

I had a similar, Scottie dog pendant as a little girl and loved the magic of it as I turned it at different angles. I believe the domed glass magnifies it.

In this genre, the most collectible is Essex Crystal, which is made not from glass, but from rock crystal. I've never seen Essex Crystal "in real life," but, from what I see online, part of what makes it recognizable is the quality and detail of the carved images.

Note that I've attached this child's bracelet to an old chain, so I can wear it as a necklace. From Sheep and Squirrels and Kitties! On the Curative Powers of Cuteness

The images on mine are a bit smudgier and less detailed. I think that's only fitting for a child's bracelet, which is likely to get smashed and/or lost. I'm amazed mine has lasted about 100 years intact! 


Very popular in the 1990s, japanned metal is metal that is coated with a thin layer of a black or dark grey, often lustrous finish. In this example the stone itself is also black ...

... but this is often not the case. Often the japanning is meant to contrast with the gleam of stones, and therefore make the stones appear to gleam even more. Note too that, here, only the metal closest to the rhinestones and faux pearls is japanned, while the rest is not.

Japanning is an intentional, integral part of a piece, not to be mistaken for the much duller tarnish that can form on silver. Tarnish will come off on your fingers. Japanning will not. Tarnish can be polished off completely. Japanning cannot. 


You want a jeweler's loupe. Trust me on this one. They're just small, high magnifiers that you can use for a careful inspection of a piece. They'll help you to see if a piece is
signed or hallmarked, if it has missing stones, if it's broken, how intricate its design is, etc. 

Loupes can easily be found for sale online. (Because of my painful disability, I have a hard time doing a lot of shopping in brick and mortar stores, which is why I keep telling you what you can find online. When I do go to a store, it's usually a thrift store!) Though they range in price, as a mere hobbyist, I find any loupe will do. After all, you're not making the pieces. You're just looking at them.

(In a pinch, if you don't have a loupe when you're in a second hand store, see if they have a basket or rack of old reading glasses. Grab a strong pair and wear them as magnifiers when you're looking at the jewelry. Maybe it's just an older person thing, but it's worked for me. But glasses are nowhere near as strong as loupes.)



Lucite is a clear plastic that was first used in jewelry in the 1930s in Trifari's "jelly belly" line of animals with clear or colourful, lucite bellies. They're a bit too cutesy for me, but they're highly collectible and were often copied. However, lucite really caught on in other types of jewelry in the 1940s and 50s. 

Lucite can be coloured, and molded to quite stunning effect. That pendant is a broken bit of a Lisner bracelet that I got in a grab bag of broken jewelry at Value Village. With a bit of research, I figured out who the maker was, and that the intact pieces are pretty expensive. I thought it was really pretty, and ideal for my autumn colouring, so I kept my eye out for deals, and now have the bracelet and earrings too.

Lucite can also be used for delightfully tacky pieces, like these confetti earrings ...

... and this confetti bracelet, all circa 1960s. I think the bracelet looks like a snow globe threw up on it ... 

From Liking Pink: A Child Slave's Secret Rebellion

... but in a fun way!

I'll be honest: I have a hard time differentiating between the various plastics used in costume jewelry. Sometimes I'll even mistake them for glass. With the exception of those who are passionate about bakelite, I really don't think that a hobby collector needs to spend a lot of time figuring out just what plastic is used in each piece - unless you find that really interesting, and some do. Just do what works for you.

Yet another piece from my great-aunt's collection. When she was in her 90s, we used to chat on the phone about jewelry. For two women raised Quaker, this felt slightly naughty. I miss her.


There are two definitions of marcasite, only one of which is relevant to jewelry collectors. In jewelry, marcasite is actually pyrite, a dark grey, naturally occurring mineral, which, when cut and polished, is shiny and even sparkly. It always reminds me of pencil lead, which is surprisingly pretty if you really look at it, when, say, you're eight and really bored in math class.

Because its colour is so similar to silver and silver tone metal, it can almost disappear in its metal setting. If it's real, as in the necklace above, it will flash and shine in the light. The marcasite stones will be individually set, and individually cut.

Marcasite's resemblance to silver, stainless steal, and other white metals means that, instead of the real thing, more cheaply made jewelry will often use faux marcasite: chips or even mere bumps of silver tone metal, cut or molded to look like marcasite. They may or may not be individually set. I've seen a lot of Avon pieces made this way. There's nothing wrong with faux marcasite. Just make sure a seller doesn't try to charge real maracsite prices.

The real deal is very different. I was so excited when I brought home this, $10, silver swallow pin, and realized that it's real marcasite, with ruby or garnet eyes, and, even better, it's by Birks!  (Birks is Canada's best known, fine jewelers, a bit like the Tiffany of Canada. You'll notice a few Birks rings in the section on hallmarks. And yes, I think they too often overcharge for their silver. This swallow would probably go for about $300. But, since I got this second hand, and I think the craftsmanship is stellar, I'm not complaining.) 

Sarah Coventry

Mid Century Modern (MCM)

Oh my gosh, how to define a category as broad as Mid Century Modern? First of all, a quick google search tells me that nobody agrees about just when the period began and when it ended. Very roughly speaking, I'd say that, when jewelry collectors use the term MCM, we're talking about a period from about 1950 to about 1975, though I'm sure some would fight me on this. 

I got these gold-filled, circa 1960 glasses for $20! When the guy who put the prescription in them saw them, he totally plotzed. He couldn't believe I'd paid so little. From Sunshine, Hope, and the Skirt of Defiance

Try thinking of it this way: any jewelry a person was likely to wear with her cat's eye glasses? Probably MCM. MCM encompasses a vast array of design styles and materials from the period including several I define in this post, such as...


... brutalism ...


... brushed metal, button earrings ...

... climber earrings, lucite ...

... starbursts, and more.

Brooch and earrings: Sarah Coventry; Ring: probably from the 2000s.

Often matchy matchy, virtually never understated, Mid Century Modern pieces are usually big and bold ...

... even chunky ...

I'm not sure what company produced these, but they're designed by Boucher

... and often a bit weird. Expect a lot of geometry ...

... from the very angular ...

... to the curvilinear.

As one would expect in a period that reveled in the space age, and new technology, plastic is a staple of MCM.

Expect unexpected colour combinations ...

Yet more pieces that belonged to my great aunt. 

... especially once polyester fabrics took off in the 1960s, allowing clothing to be brighter and more colourful than ever before.

From Sunshine, Hope, and the Skirt of Defiance 

Because the MCM period was so all-encompassing, and was relatively recent, you're going to find a lot of examples of it all over the place, from super high end, fine jewelry, to super cheap jewelry that doesn't hold up well. If you want some fairly standard, MCM, costume jewelry, you'll probably have pretty good luck finding it at decent prices. As time passes, it's becoming more and more collectible, so snap it up while you can, and then have fun with it!

Micro Mosaic

Sometimes written as one word, sometimes two, this is exactly what it sounds like: a micro, or tiny, mosaic. The "micro" refers to the tiny pieces of glass or enamel that are used to create the mosaic.
Micro mosaics are strongly associated with Italy, and have been made there since ancient times. Consequently, micro mosaic jewelry has been a popular, type of  Italian souvenir since at least the mid 19th century. This may be why micro mosaic pieces are relatively easy to find, and despite their intricacy, quite inexpensive, though I'm sure there are really amazing ones that are worth a bundle.


Millefoiri means a "million flowers," and it's easy to see how it got its name. Another Italian art technique going back centuries, millefoiri is formed when a glass blower fuses several, differently coloured glass (or clay, since the 80s) rods in fire, and then cuts them into cross sections.

This creates a three dimensional effect in the translucent pieces ...

... and, on the opaque ones ... 

... a pattern that differs throughout.

And, yes, all those paperweights you remember from the 1970s? They were indeed also millefoiri.

Circa 1980s or 90s. I don't actually like this brooch, but I chose it to illustrate millgraining because the millgrain is so easy to spot.


Millgrain, also spelled milgrain, means a "thousand grains" and refers to closely set, metal beads, usually used to border the edges of a piece ... 

... though you'll see them used in other ways too.

Art Deco dress clips, circa 1920s

You'll see millgrain used a lot on early 20th Century, Edwardian, and Art Deco pieces, but it's never really gone out of favour. Personally, I like the way it creates a lacy, delicate, sort of "old fashioned" look on a piece. It takes a lot of practice to differentiate truly old millgrain from more modern pieces. 

From His and Hers Engagement Rings

Naturally, being such a fan of vintage and antique jewelry, I made sure to border the leaves on my wedding bands with delicate millgrain. Can you see it?

From His and Hers Engagement Rings

How about now? Okay, yeah, I just totally wanted to show you my engagement ring because I love love love it!


For such a short-lived fashion movement - its heyday was about 1960-1967 - Mod sure has left a lasting impression. Mod pieces are big, bold, and geometric ...

Still more jewelry that belonged to my great aunt. She really took a shine to Mod daisies, even though she was well into middle age at the time - like me now! From Race, America, and Canadian Patriotism: Reflections on a Chosen Country

... themselves a form of the Op Art so popular at the time. Expect a lot of big daisies ...

... and patterns and contrasts that could make you a little dizzy ... 

From Mod and Op Art: The Dumpster Divers' Edition

... and seasick if you stare at them for too long. Perfect for the psychedelic 60s.

Of course, you don't have to pair your Mod pieces with a Mod outfit. You can wear them however you want.

Weiss. I have the matching earrings too.


I think molded glass and plastic are really pretty, and I kind of covet pieces with molded components. Basically, they're just glass or plastic in interesting shapes that would not achieve if left to cool on their own. Instead, they're heated to a melting point in a hollow, shaped mold (or poured into that mold after they've reached liquid form). Once the glass or plastic is cooled, it's removed and it holds the shape of the mold.

A lot of metal jewelry, including fine jewelry, is made using a very similar process. 

But you really don't need to know all that. 

From Getting Inspired: Four Things You Must You Do To End Child Sex Trafficking

You just need to know the term so that, if you think it's pretty, you can use it to search for it online. 

Moon Glow

Once you see moon glow plastic, it's pretty self-explanatory: just like the moon, it seems to glow from within.

It's almost always cabochon, as this shows off its glow to the best effect, and it was especially popular in the 1950s and 60s. There was a lot of it around, so you shouldn't have to pay too much for it, especially if you're able to dig around in thrift stores.

It can be kind of tacky, in a fun sort of a way ...

... though, personally, I think it can sometimes transcend the tackiness and be downright, and unequivocally beautiful.

This is a good example of the beauty of rolled gold, and also of the ornate quality of Victorian jewelry.


When Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, died, she went into mourning for the rest of her life. At the time, "going into mourning" was not just about being sad. It actually required a person to dress a certain way, and this included the jewelry he or she wore. Because of Queen Victoria's long mourning period, there was a vogue for what is called mourning jewelry during the Victorian period

Mourning jewelry was meant to remember a loved one who had passed, and was full symbolism. The above piece, for example, shows a cut branch with fresh leaves on it. This symbolized someone dying in their youth, when they themselves were still "fresh" like the leaves. Very likely, this piece was worn in remembrance of a dead child.

There are many kind of mourning jewelry, including black pieces, and, shockingly, pieces made with the hair of the loved one who had died. Because of the deeply sentimental and personal nature of mourning jewelry, I, personally, would feel it was disrespectful to collect it for its beauty alone, so I only have this one piece to show you.

Murano or Venetian Glass

This glass gets its name from the Venetian island of Murano, which has been famous for its glass-blowing techniques and artisans for about 1,500 years! They're famous for perfecting many different styles, including millefiore...

... and wedding cake beads, which are a personal favourite. 

My guess is that, nowadays, a lot of glass is passing itself off as being Murano glass when it was actually made elsewhere. I believe these would then be called "lamp work" beads instead: the same and similar, bead making techniques, but not from Murano. Unless you're a serious collector of art glass, my advice is the usual: If you love it, and it's a good price, you don't need to worry about that too much.

New Old Stock

I don't have any examples of this that I know of. Sorry. New old stock is simply older pieces that were never sold "back in the day," making you the first owner. Perhaps, when a store went out of business, it had a stock of costume pieces that ended up in somebody's basement. Now a seller finds them again, and passes them on to you. That's the whole story.

A parure is a full set of matching pieces. They're not that easy to find, as sets almost always get split up over the years, so they tend to cost more than the individual value of each, separate piece. I saved money by putting this parure together on my own, starting with the $8 earrings, and then adding on to the set as I found its mates. (I actually own the bracelet too, but it's broken.)

Of course, finding each component can be an arduous process, especially if the maker is an obscure one, so you might feel that's it's worth it to pay extra for the work a seller has put into sparing you effort.

Pave stones are a lot of little, tiny stones, set very closely together, sometimes in a single row, but often in a more pavement-like (ie pave) effect.

It's a lot of glittering bang for your buck, but the stones are prone to dislodging and falling out if they're not very carefully set, so do watch for that.

Could there be anything more 1970s than this owl pendant?


Obviously, you know what a pendant is: It's a piece of jewelry meant to be worn hanging from a chain around your neck.


The only reason I'm mentioning pendants is to remind you first that you should never worry if a pendant doesn't come with a chain. Chains are easy to find and you can easily mix and match them with your pendants. A separate chain for every pendant seems like overkill to me.

Second, if you're looking for a pretty pendant online, you should remember to use "pendant" as a search term. Of course you can also search for "necklace," but you'll get different results, including a lot of chains with no pendant. 



I've talked about several different types of plastics here, like lucite, and bakelite. All I really want to add about plastic is that it was and still is a staple of costume jewelry, and you shouldn't automatically dismiss a plastic piece as tacky or of poor quality. 

And, hey, by buying plastic pieces, you're keeping them out of landfills, and out of our oceans.


Retro, which some used to call Late Art Deco, was a short-lived, delightfully weird moment in jewelry from the late 1930s, through the 1940s. I'm still figuring it out, but you do start to know it ...

... when you see it. It tends to mix angular geometric shapes, with rounder, swirly bits ...

... chunky elements with delicate elements ... 

... and thick lines with thin.

It's almost space age, before the space age! It's definitely growing on me.

It's very often made with gold-fill, and the brooches are often convertible ...

... so you can wear them as pendants ...

From A Few of My Favourite Things from 2018

... or as brooches.

The earrings are usually screw-backs, which can be pretty fiddly, but there are times when they're worth it.

1928 Jewelry Co., which specializes in revival pieces


If a piece is designed to bring back a jewelry style from the past, people may call it a revival piece. The designers aren't trying to trick you. They're just trying to revive former styles because they like them. Sometimes they specialize in making revival pieces of styles that would be very expensive if they were authentic. These Victorian Revival earrings are made by just such a company.

Some of the pieces are very good and might fool you. This is when your knowledge of older styles of jewelry design will help you. Look at the backs of the pieces. Look at the clasps and the hinges. These will give you clues as to the actual date of production.

One final note: Sometimes revivals become so popular, they become a style unto themselves. The Victorians loved Etruscan Revival pieces so much, that they too are now collectible within their own right. I think many high end jewelers would say that only pieces that fall into this sort of category can really be called revival. Others, they might say, should instead be said to have been made "in the style of" the period they copy.

Rhinestones (and Paste and Crystals)

You would not believe how hard it was to do the research to help me define rhinestones! So I'll do my best here, but I might get some things wrong. (Don't get me started on how few pages Wikipedia has on fashion. Women unite and make those pages!)

Way back when, rhinestones originally came from the Rhine River. Thus their name: rhinestones. They were natural, but not rare, quartz crystals. Soon, they were also made with glass. Nowadays, some are also made with acrylic. 

The shamrock is made with paste stones. Try as I might, I couldn't get a photo to show how sparkly they are. They're over 100 years old and they still dazzle.

Paste stones are clear or coloured, "faux" stones made from ground glass and lead combined, and then cut (faceted) by hand. Paste stones were used in jewelry during the Georgian (1714-1837) and Victorian periods ...

Two, inexpensive, stick pins, circa 1920s. I think the moon was meant to have some sort of round stones in it.

... but I have frequently seen jewelry sellers use the word "paste" to describe pieces made as late as the 1930s, so I remain confused, to be honest.


Crystals, such as the famous, Swarovski crystals, are very similar to paste stones, but they are machine cut.

I think I got that right. Technically, paste and crystals are not rhinestones, but a lot of people use that term for them, which is why I include them here.

All three of these types of "stones" can be very beautiful new, but, unlike real gems, they can grow dim and discoloured with time. 

Sherman earrings from the 50s or 60s. No filter.

Some companies, like Sherman, above, are known for the lasting quality of their crystal "stones," and are priced accordingly. 

The enduring beauty of rhinestones is really only a concern for you if you're buying new, or relatively new pieces. If you're buying something quite old, it will already have dimmed, discoloured, or blackened if it's going to do so, so you'll know it's quality just by looking at it. I have Victorian pieces that still flash like diamonds, and pieces I bought brand new that are already dull and cloudy.

Rolled Gold

Popular in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, rolled gold is very similar to modern, gold fill, but, unlike gold fill, it's seldom marked as such anywhere on a piece, so you just have to learn to recognize it. Both are methods of plating real gold over a base metal or silver in a durable, and lasting way. These two, converted, rolled gold pins are at least 110 years old, and they're still lovely and golden.

This may be a mourning brooch. I'm not sure.

Rolled gold is not invincible though, and it is very old, so you will often find some wear and tear where the base metal has come through the gold. Condition will raise or lower the price, of course, but rolled gold will always be much more affordable than gold pieces of a similar age and style. (I found this one for $8!)

Scarf Clip

A scarf clip looks quite similar to a dress clip ...

... and can certainly be worn as one, as long as you're careful it doesn't slip.

Like a dress clip, it has a hinged clasp at the back, but, it has a loop attachment instead of a pronged one. This is designed so the wearer can slip a scarf through the loop, close the clip, and be sure her scarf won't slip off, as scarves often do, especially if they're satin or silk. It sounds very chic to me ...

From Fall Colours and Autumnal Melancholy

... but I haven't mastered Jessica Fletcher level chic yet, so I mostly wear mine as I might wear brooches or dress clips.

Scatter Pins

Scatter pins are just tiny, little brooches, meant to be worn kind of casually scattered across your chest.

They're pretty adorable. To be honest, I've found them very useful for pinning a dress or top so that it reveals less cleavage. They're much prettier than safety pins!

Coro. These are also a good example of moon glow "beads."

They were often made in matching sets of two or three, and, as with all jewelry sets (like parures), you'll pay more for an intact set ... 

... because they were often split up by accident. You can imagine that brooches this tiny are easily lost! 

They often depicted fun, even silly images, like puppies, fawns, or waddling ducks, but I don't have any to show you since, because, as I've mentioned, I tend to shy away from figural jewelry.

As with all jewelry, how you wear your scatter pins is entirely up to you. 

Seed Pearls

Seed pearls are pretty much what they sound like: really tiny pearls. They were extremely popular in late Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco jewelry, and were often used in fine jewelry, like this gold, Star of David, stick pin.

For more on these, seed pearl pins, watch my youtube, video Blue Moon: Krementz Jewelry, Honeymoon Brooches, and My Vintage Finds

But, as I've mentioned before, lower karat gold pieces are sometimes on the borderline between fine and costume jewelry, and you'll certainly find seed pearls in such pieces. You'll also find them used in gold plate, rolled gold, and silver pieces, all of which are categorized as costume jewerly.

Though you won't find real seed pearls used in much jewelry made later than the Art Deco period, replacing a missing seed pearl or two isn't that expensive. The crescent moon above was missing one pearl when I found it, and I had it replaced. (I've since turned both of these brooches into pendants.)

This Victorian revival (or Victorian style) brooch is a good example of the use of both faux seed pearls, and faux bohemian garnets. Personally, I think it's beautiful.

You will find many pieces made more recently now use faux seed pearls, especially if they're made in an earlier style.


A semi-precious stone, or gem, is one that is used in jewelry in the same way a gem would be used, but is not as valuable as gems such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. Semi-precious stones are natural, as opposed to human-made, but not rare. Amber, for instance, as in this amber and silver butterfly, is natural, and beautiful, but plentiful enough to be relatively inexpensive. Other semi-precious stones include garnet, citrine, agate, tourmaline, onyx, and many others. 

You'll find semi-precious stones in silver ...

... gold, as with these citrine earrings, ...

... and cheap, base metal, as with this jade (I think) chip pendant from the 1970s. Semi-precious stones may be used alongside faux gems, or alongside precious gems in fine jewelry. In other words, they're used in pretty much all types of jewelry.

Though semi-precious stones are considered gems, don't let that trick you into spending too much for them, especially if they're set in silver, gold fill, or base metal.

My hand made (not vintage), wedding earrings are made with rose quartz, tourmaline, and topaz, all of which are semi-precious. They weren't super cheap, but they cost a lot less than precious stones!

Mostly I just wanted to show you my wedding earrings.

Shoe Clips

Shoe Clips were popular for a long time, at least from the 1920s through the 1960s. They were generally worn on the top of pumps, ballet flats, and other suitable styles. (After all, they'd be pretty tough to wear on lace-ups!)

They came in many styles, making is possible for someone to  change the look of her footwear, without actually spending a lot of money on a bunch of different pairs of shoes. 

They're generally curved, to fit comfortably across the top of your foot ...

... and they affix to the shoe with hinged, clawed clips, similar to ...

... but smaller than those on dress clips. As with dress clips, you can wear them on clothing, but be careful they don't rip your clothing or slip off it. They're designed to affix to the thicker, tougher material of leather, so they're a bit tricky with clothing.


A signed piece is simply one that has the name of the maker inscribed on it. The name is usually inscribed somewhere inconspicuous, like on the back of a brooch, the clasp of a necklace, the inside of a ring, or on the back of a pendant's bail. While these are generally the same places where you'll find a hallmark, a signed piece is not the same as a hallmarked piece. The sign on a piece generally only tells you the name of the maker, not what material is used in the piece, when it was made, etc. A signed piece will generally sell for more than an unsigned piece, unless the maker is known to make jewelry of inferior quality, or to have made so much jewelry that it's available in abundance.

Below are a few examples of names you might see if a piece is signed. I'm not going to go into any detail about each brand/maker, because that's a huge topic. I'm just giving you a sense of how to recognize when a piece is signed. I'm also probably showing you more Canadian makers than others might show, which is no surprise, given that I'm Canadian! But, of course, vintage pieces can show up anywhere, regardless of where they were made.


Avon is very common and readily available. You shouldn't pay too much for it. I'm mostly showing you the Avon signage so that you can differentiate it from...

Avon of Belleville

Avon of Belleville pieces are of much better quality and design than Avon, and they're far harder to find too. They're also often designed by one of my favourite designers: Boucher. 

Above: Avon; Below: Avon of Belleville

Avon of Belleville write "Avon" in a scrolled script, with lower case letters for the "von," while the much larger company of Avon writes "AVON" in block letters.


I inherited a few Bond-Boyd pieces from my maternal grandmother, so they have a place in my heart. They made cute, delicate, MCM pieces in gold fill ...

... and silver.


Coro was a reputable maker, but is not terribly expensive today. I think I found this one for $5. Many of Coro's 1940s, Retro pieces are gold fill.


D'Orlan's jewelry is well-made, a lot of it chunky, and very MCM.

Le Couturier

LeC is pretty pretty rare. I'm including it here because LeC pieces were designed by Boucher and a collaborator (whose name I can't seem to find), and, as I've mentioned, I really like Boucher. LeC pieces are not cheap.


Lisner made lots of MCM, thermoset jewelry. As with many of the best known brands, their pieces are sturdy and well-made.


Monet was still producing jewelry at least into the 1990s, so you'll find a lot of it about, in many different styles. Again, it's nice and sturdy.

Sarah Coventry

Sarah Coventry was a reputable company that I associate most with the 1960s and 70s, though they may have been in production a lot longer than that.


Sherman is most famous for its use of good quality crystals which don't seem to fade or yellow over time. Think: 1950s glitz. These can go quite a bit, so should snap them up if you find them cheap.


Trifari is probably one of the best known, most respected, vintage jewelry companies. They were in operation for over six decades. Some of their pieces, especially from the 1930s, are very collectible and can go for extremely high prices. But you can also find a lot of more recent Trifari jewelry at much more affordable prices.


Weiss is another company that used high quality crystals that don't fade or yellow. 



Starbursts look just as you'd imagine from the name: stars that are bursting outward with rays of light. Because of this, they often look like the sun which, after all, is a star. I find them very joyful. They had two major heydays: the Victorian period, and the Mid Century Modern period of the 1950s and 60s. 

I don't yet own a Victorian starburst, but give me time, and I will! For now, I'll show you these two, MCM ones, the design of which was clearly influenced by Victorian starbursts.

Station Set

Station set necklaces are those in which the stones are set at intervals within the chain itself, rather than as a pendant. Many of Tiffany's Diamonds by the Yard pieces are station set necklaces.

But cheaper, costume jewelry can employ the same method.

From On the Road: Fashion, Death, and Distraction

I don't know why, but I find station set necklaces very clever and classy. I just like them. 

Necklace: Effy; Brooch: Trifari

When I finally finished my legal battle, Beau got me a doozy of a diamond and gold, station set necklace to celebrate. I absolutely adore it.

Second from left: A great example of a Mid Century Modern starburst


Worn on the lapel, or as a tie pin, stickpins are... well, pins on sticks  - sort of. They're small, decorative pieces ... 

... mounted on sharp pins ...

... with a little sheath or stopper on the end, so you don't keep stabbing yourself while you wear them. You'll often find stickpins that no longer have their stopper. No worries. The stoppers are pretty interchangeable. If you've got even one, you can use it for all your stickpins.


If a jewelry seller advertises her pieces as being of a certain "style," she's telling you that they are more modern than pieces made when that style was popular. For example, the above brooch is Art Deco style; in other words, it was not actually made in the Art Deco period but was, instead, made more recently. This is the seller's way of being honest with you, while still reminding you that her piece has a lot of the qualities of a genuine, Art Deco piece. You'll often see online sellers using the word, "revival" in the same way.

How can you tell if a piece is simply in the style of an older period, or actually from that period? Well, most of all, you develop an eye for such things, and that just comes with time and study. But there are also the usual tips: look at the back or inside, check out the clasps, look for hallmarks, examine the hinges, etc.

Sweater Clips

If you saw something like this in a second hand store, you'd be forgiven for not knowing what it is.

And looking at the back would probably simply leave you even more confused. The easiest way to explain sweater clips ...

From In Praise of Spinsterhood -- on the Eve of my Wedding

... is to show them in action. Popular in the 1950s and 60s, sweater clips were designed to accommodate the fashion for wearing your sweaters "casually" tossed over your shoulders, without putting your arms into the sleeves. Each clip affixed to each side of the sweater, and the decorative chain between them held the sweater on your body.



If I understand thermoset correctly, it's a type of molding, which can be used on natural resin or, more commonly, plastic. Once it has hardened, it's very hard to melt, which is nice. It can be ornate and resemble glass, like in the above demi-parure ...


... or it can be smooth ...

... and more obviously plastic. 

From What Would Rosa Parks Do? Facing Online Haters with Style

It was yet another staple of Mid Century Modern jewelry, but remained popular later, well into the 70s.


I wish I had a good example of a trembler, aka en tremblant, brooch, for you, but I don't. They break easily and, if still functioning, they can cost a bit. A trembler is a piece of jewelry, often a brooch or, going back into the 19th Century, a hair ornament, which includes a part that is designed to tremble as the wearer moves. The trembling part could be a single flower, or the wings of an insect or, as in this case, the stamen of a flower. You can still manually move the stamen of this brooch up ...

... down, and from side to side.

Many tremblers had a tiny spring in them to add to the trembling effect. When working, the trembling bit would sparkle and catch the light - and the attention - quite beautifully. 

Tube Hinge

Being able to recognize a tube hinge is one of the skills that will help you be able quickly spot antique (as opposed to merely old) brooches. Used most commonly between 1850 and 1910, tube hinges are made up of three tubes: two affixed to the brooch itself, and one at the end of the pin part. The three tubes are placed in a row, and joined by a rod that passes through all three tubes. That sounds complicated and confusing.

Luckily, I have this handy, dandy, broken tube hinge to illustrate. Here, because two of the three tubes are missing, you can see the rod that is meant to pass through all three tubes, holding them together in a fully functioning hinge.

Honestly, though, you don't have to understand how tube hinges work. You should just be able to recognize them when you see them.

While we're on the topic, I don't know what this type of hinge is called, but I've found it most often on pieces made between, say, 1910 and about 1940. 


An unsigned piece has no mark on it to indicate what designer or company made it. Often, this is because the company wasn't well known and they didn't feel signing it was important. Unsigned pieces are almost always cheaper than signed ones.

This is true even if they actually were made by a well known and well respected company that simply did not always sign their pieces. In cases like this, sellers will sometimes label their pieces as, say, an "unsigned Sherman," or "unsigned (Sherman?)," depending on how confident they are about who the maker was.  But, either way, the price will be lower than that of a signed piece.

But don't assume that unsigned pieces are always of inferior quality. I picked these two as examples because I think they are both exceptionally well made, with all the marks of quality you should look for: prong set stones, firmly affixed parts, no missing stones, no chipping or flaking, and very little tarnish, etc.

This piece really knocks me flat, it's so beautiful. And it's unsigned.

Note the tube hinge


Ick. Verdigris is a kind of blue-green tarnish or crustiness that can form on brass and copper jewelry. Since a lot of antique, costume jewelry was made from brass or copper (and because they're just really old), you'll come across verdigris fairly often on antique pieces. The above brooch is rolled gold, but the metal beneath it has led to verdigris at the place where the rolled gold was most likely to rub off.

Just because verdigris is most common in antique pieces doesn't mean you won't find it on more recent ones. This earring was probably made in the 1960s and it's been hit too, which is why I hesitated to buy it, but the price was too good to resist.

You want to avoid verdigris if you can, not just because it's ugly, but because it can slowly destroy your piece. That said, if there's only a little of it, and it's on a part of the piece that people can't see, and the price is good, I often go for it anyway, partly because I don't mind it that much, and partly because I keep meaning to try the various methods said to be quite good at removing it. But I won't pay top dollar for a piece with any verdigris, and I won't buy one with a lot of it.


Oh my gosh, such a huge category! Strictly speaking, Victorian jewelry is any jewelry made during the reign of Queen Victoria, which was from 1837 to 1901. That's almost 64 years! If you think about how much fashions have changed in the past 64 years, you'll see why I'm at a loss to give you a quick description of Victorian jewelry. 

All I'm really prepared to say with confidence is that Victorian jewelry is often very ornate and swirly. Yes, I know that's not very helpful, but, if I were to go beyond that, I'd be writing a book! Look for things like c-clasps and tube hinges. Browse Victorian jewelry in books and online, and you'll just start getting an eye for it. I swear: you will.

The earrings, jacket, scarf, and gloves are all vintage... or are they second hand?


Okay, I'm going to be a bit unpopular here, perhaps even controversial. I don't actually like the term "vintage." I think it's kind of a snobby term that doesn't really mean much. For some of my childhood, all of my teens, all of my twenties, and half of my thirties, I was poor, like really really poor. So I shopped second hand. All the time. I very rarely bought anything new. (Truth be told, I also went through garbage on the regular. Did I mention I was poor?) Everything I owned was "used" or "second hand." No matter the age or quality of what second hand shoppers bought, nobody used the term "vintage."

Then, some time in the 2000s, that term, "vintage," started floating around. As near as I could tell, it was just a fancy way of saying "used." Second hand, used, and vintage were all the same thing. To be honest, that's still how I use the word "vintage." 

But, lately, a lot of people make a distinction between second hand and vintage, with vintage pieces being far superior to second hand ones. But what is vintage? Some say a piece must be at least twenty years old to be vintage. Others say it must be of high quality. Some are very adamant that there is a distinction between vintage and second hand. Some aren't.

Me? I'm still a devout, second hand shopper, with a passion for used everything. It's cheaper, more durable, more beautiful, good for small businesses, and better for the environment. If people want me to call my stuff "vintage," okay, I guess I will, but, to me, it's the same as second hand.


Okay, obviously you know what a watch is, so I won't 'splain them to you! But I wanted to mention them for a few reasons. First, people just don't wear watches much anymore, so you can find some really pretty, good quality watches for relatively good prices. I think I got this gold fill watch for $30. 

Note the vintage purse, circa 1930s. From In Praise of Spinsterhood -- on the Eve of my Wedding

I love how a vintage watch can add authenticity to a vintage look, like this 1930s ensemble.

I also mention watches because there are types of watches that people have forgotten even exist, like this great, pendant watch that belonged to my grandmother. Note that it hangs upside down, so, when you flip it up to look at it, it's right side up.

My grandmother wore this pendant watch on this chain, but I doubt they originally came together. From Perky in Pucci: How to brighten a blah day.

It's pretty on both sides! And, yes, it too still works perfectly.

In the past, women also wore watches dangling upside down from brooches. These are sometimes called "nurse's watches," because nurses often used them. You'll see them on Call the Midwife. You can often find watch brooches - little brooches with a hook on them - though the watches themselves are often missing.

Then, of course, there were men's pocket watches, a whole other type of watch to look out for in second hand stores.

Watch Chain

With men's pocket watches, came watch chains. I'm still trying to understand all the different types of pocket watch chains and how they were used, but the basic ones like the ones above and below tend to be about 13 inches long, and "masculine" in design, with a large ...

 ... or medium sized ...

Union. I got this, Art Deco watch chain for 25 cents!

... old, spring ring on one side, and a swivel clip on the other side.

The swivel clip can, well, swivel. 

It can turn all the way around ...

... thus accommodating the way a man would pull the watch out of his pocket and twist it round to see it.

Watch Fob

A watch fob was a kind of a decorative piece of jewelry that men would wear on their watch chains. Again, I'm still trying to figure out all the different types of fobs, and the different ways that men might wear them.

Many were two sided. This is the reverse side of the watch fob above.
And they often have a swivel clip on them, though those seem to have gone missing an awful lot.

From Self-Respect, Gold, and Golda

They also often have a larger bail on them than you would find on a necklace pendant, though there is a current trend for women wearing them on necklace chains, just as I'm doing here.

Some watch fobs are lockets. This one even has the original, sweetheart photo it in it!

This is my really poor attempt to make a watch chain, watch, and watch fob look as they would have when a man wore them in, say 1910.

Note that I'm wearing both a watch fob and a watch chain.

Anyway, as you can tell, I still don't really know all the ins and outs of men's pocket watches, chains, and fobs, but my main point is that they're worth a look, and can be worn in whatever creative way you can think of.

Wedding Cake (or Fiorato) Beads

A type of Venetian or Murano glass, wedding cake beads, also known as Fiorato beads, are made by overlaying dots, swirls, gold foil, and roses on an opaque, coloured bead. 

It's fitting to wear Italian beads in an Italian cafe. From My Tribute to Dolce and Gabbana -- in my Little Italy

They are my very favourite type of bead in the whole world. They just make my heart happy. They're so pretty

They're also not cheap. Each bead on its own can cost around $8, but a wedding cake bead necklace, bracelet, or earrings may add up to more than the sum total of each bead. After all, you're also paying for the craftsmanship of creating the larger piece. I got the above necklace for $10, which was amazing.

The older the piece, the better the beads, and the better the craftsmanship... the higher the price. You can easily find yourself paying well over $100 for a wedding cake bead necklace, though I've never weakened and done so. I considered myself lucky to find this necklace for $60. Note that the beads are graduated, with the largest one in the centre, and adorable, little ones near the end. I adore this necklace.

I got this one for $5! That's particularly wonderful because it's clearly from the 1920s, which raises its value. It's very short, so I think it was made for a little girl, and I like to picture her in my head. She must have been a very careful little girl, because it's in such good shape, 100 years later! What a sweetie. 

A note about wedding cake beads: I sense that there are a lot of imitations out there. I'm no expert at spotting them, though I can tell you to be leery of ones that are not opaque, and ones on those stretchy bracelets that abound in places like Value Village. Buy them if you like them, of course, but don't spend too much money on them.

Gold tone brooches: Coro; Sparkly brooches: Sherman. I got the pink one for $14, and the green one for $10, which were amazing deals

Wreath Brooch

Wreath brooches are pretty straightforward: they're decorative circles. (They have nothing to do with Christmas.) I probably wouldn't call a plain circle a wreath brooch, but, beyond that, it's a pretty open category. It seems to me that wreath brooches have always been popular, so it's hard for me to narrow that popularity down to any particular decades, but they were all over the place in the 50s and 60s. They're usually quite small, and, somehow, modest. They were often worn by older women who didn't want to be flashy or ostentatious. 


When a white/clear rhinestone or crystal grows yellow with age, it's generally referred to as yellowing. There are various factors that can contribute to yellowing - glue, dirt, fading, age - so you'll sometimes find newer pieces that are more yellow, and older pieces that are still clear and bright.

Personally, I tend to avoid yellowed pieces. But there are exceptions. The above and below dress clips both look very yellowed when photographed, but it's barely noticeable to the naked eye. I didn't notice it at all when I bought them.

Sometimes, a piece is old enough or rare enough that I might go for it even if it is yellowed, but I'm reluctant to do so, and I certainly don't want to spend too much on it. If it doesn't bother you, go for it, but don't let anyone charge you too much for a yellowed piece.

And that's it! The ABCs of Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry: H-Z. No zeds (zees) for you.

Grandma Ruth, wearing a Bond Boyd brooch. Her watch was probably Timex, knowing her.

I would like to dedicate this entire alphabet of jewelry to my grandmothers, Grandma Ruth ...

... and Grandma Tess, both of whom left me pieces that are in these posts, and both of whom influenced my taste in fashion.

But, most of all, I'd like to dedicate this alphabet of jewelry to my great aunt Dorothy. In her last several years, she and I grew close through many, long distance phone conversations, and discovered that we shared a passion for jewelry, both costume and fine, new and old. She was not well enough to come to my wedding in 2015, but she knew I was wearing an opal, our birth stone, just for her. She died in her own home at 97. I inherited her costume jewelry, so much of which is in these two posts. I wear it all, with pride and with love.

For Part I of this alphabet, see The ABCs of Collecting Vintage Costume Jewelry: A -G.

To see my youtube videos about jewelry, visit my youtube channel here.


  1. I loved to read and look at all your pieces of jewelry.
    Here in USA we have the Goodwill industries and you can buy vintage items. But, it has been sometime that you can buy via online by visiting shop and it is basically whoever ends up offering more for the items.
    The listings are by sections. I usually check the jewelry section. They often sell lots of jewelry, lots of vintage jewelry, individual pieces, and vintage individual pieces. I highly recommend you to check it out. In one lot, I found a pair of vintage silver earrings with 14k too. The shape is in a triangle and the stone is a large and looks like a citrine. 🤔 Those earrings almost look like the jewelry made by David Yurman, but the jewelry marking is a * it almost looks like a flower. That's how I ended up here, in your page.i saw your image of the tiny hallmark and I was, maybe I can find some info. But, I would say this, I was amazed by the beautiful items you have.