One of the best moments for costume jewelry collectors is going to a garage sale and finding an old jewelry box crammed with tangled pins, brooches and necklaces. It’s like the discovery of a King Tut’s Tomb of jewelry! Costume jewelry never loses its appeal for relatively inexpensive ways to dress up an outfit or add sparkle to a day. Collectors today have favorite designers and manufacturers, which can be identified through clasps, maker’s marks and materials. The jewelry has been around for centuries, with some pieces dating to the 17th century. It was in the 1920s that modern costume jewelry became popular when French fashion designers began including it in their collections. Some costume jewelry is made to look like expensive jewelry but is made with less expensive metal, imitation pearls, and rhinestones or cut glass “gems.” Others have unique designs in materials including celluloid, plastic, Bakelite, Lucite and rubber.

Remember, never throw away your mother’s, grandma’s or aunt’s jewelry without carefully examining every piece or having an expert evaluate it. You don’t want to lose a potential treasure!

Here are some costume jewelry collectors look for:


bakelite bowtie bangle bracelet jewelry

Large bangle bracelets — they’re back.
Bakelite bangle bracelet, multicolored bowtie pattern, inner diameter 2 1/2 in. by 3/4 in. w., $1,750.   Photo: Ripley Auctions


costume art deco imitation precious stones lips heart jewelry pin

Colorful, sparkly pins with imitation precious stones.
Intertwined lips and heart pin, prong set red and clear glass stones, unmarked, Art Deco.


drum drumstick cellouloid charm bracelet jewelry

Charm bracelets — they’re in.
Patriotic white celluloid chain bracelet, red, white and blue drum charms and dangling metalic drumsticks, possibly Martha Sleeper, 7 in., $406.   Photo: Ripley Auctions


eisenberg pink floral pin jewelry

Anything pink.
Flower pin, pink and clear faceted glass stones, pot metal, Eisenberg, early 1940s, 3 1/2 in., $531.   Photo: Ripley Auctions


modernist amorphic amoeba 322 pin brooch by henning koppel for georg jensen

Marked modern-looking pins with futuristic designs.
Modernist pin, amorphic amoeba form, sterling silver, Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen, Denmark, marked, $344.    Photo: Ripley Auctions


cameo brooch pin jewelry

Cameos — the more old fashioned the better.
Cameo pin, stone, 18K gold frame with pearls, c.1875.


vintage chanel earrings

And anything vintage designed by top fashion designers such as Chanel, Gucci and Dior.
Chanel earrings, light pink with gold tone logo, clip-on, stamped “Chanel, Made in France,” 1 5/8 dia., $210.    Photo: DuMouchelles



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