Saturday, February 28, 2009

Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Part 9 - Dress Clips, Fur Clips and Shoe Clips

This is another chapter in my ongoing series about what you should be looking for as you assemble a collection of vintage jewelry. In past chapters we have talked about condition, metal backs, types of stone settings, types of stones used, pin clasps, earring backs, etc.

Today's chapter will talk about the various types of dress clips, fur clips and shoe used during the popular early periods in vintage jewelry manufacture.

While modern day sellers often use the term dress clip and fur clip interchangeably, there are definite differences in the design and intended use of them.

Fur clips have two long sharp prongs which are attached to a spring on the back of the clip. They are meant to pierce fur without doing much damage to the fur pelt. Sometimes, these clips would be marked with the designer name on the top of the hinge and the patent number, if any, under the hinge mechanism. Others would have the patent number on the actual piece itself. Here are some examples of Fur Clip mechanisms (the last one is a modern Kenneth Lane clip.)

photos courtesy of ebay sellers: frenchysvintage, sweetthingsvintage and gloriajean

Dress clips have a larger and wider piece of metal which has "teeth" intended to grasp thin material like a dress or shirt. There are many styles of dress clips. Some were flat hinged pieces of metal with no decoration and others were ornately filigreed in design. Occasionally, one would be more of a wired frame design. Normally, a patent number is found on the underneath part of the hinge mechanism. There are numerous bakelite dress clips from this period too.

Some examples of fairly plain dress clips mechanisms:

Photos courtesy ofvintagejewelrylane and ebay sellers parlin_darlin,meemaws_house, and cvmant

These examples show the difference in a filigree dress clip back:

photos couresty of vintagejewelrylane and ebay seller gillette1

Most early vintage jewelry manufacturers made dress and fur clips, but Coro and Trifari are two notable ones. Many of these clips were patented, but not all were. Some additional designers who made dress and fur clips in number are Miriam Haskell, Eisenberg, Hobé, Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, and Polcini, among others.

It is rare to see a dress or fur clip which was manufactured much later than the middle of the 20th century, so that makes it fairly easy to date vintage clips, at least in the general sense. They were common during the Art Deco and Art Nouveau period up to the mid 1950s and 60s. Earlier and later examples are available, but they are exceptions, rather than the norm. (One notable exception to the early rule of manufacture is contemporary designer Kenneth Jay Lane who makes modern fur clips.)

A special type of clip in this category is a pair of clips which has a special mechanism which allowed two brooches to be worn as a single pin. Coro and Trifari are famous for these double pins. Coro called theirs "Duettes" and Trifari named their creations "Clip-Mates." There are many other manufacturers of these double clips - many were European in design.

The following photos show a common design mechanism for the combination pins. The first two photos show a Coro duette both closed and open and the third photo shows the Trifari Clip Mate.

Photos courtesy of ebay sellers chitknit and peepsnmeems
Shoe Clips were commonly seen in the 1950s and 1960s and are still made today, although not as often worn as they used to be. They were worn in pairs and were meant to embellish a plain pair of shoes. Here are some common shoe clip designs:

For the best investment, try to purchase pairs of fur clips or dress clips. They are always more valuable than the single piece, even if you decide not to wear them together. Here is an example of a pair of owl fur clips showing the back mechanism:

Photo courtesy of ebay seller lovethyneighbor43214

Be sure to visit my Vintage Jewelry Lane Site. I have a nice range of shoe clips and dress clips for sale at reasonable prices.

Previous blog posts in this series:

Be sure to check back soon for the last installment in this series. I'll cover how to shop for vintage jewelry, how to value it, and how to purchase for a good price. I'll also give some tips for buying online and tell you about extras that add value to a piece.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Interesting Diamond Engagement Ring Idea

I don't normally blog too much about fine jewelry, but I recently received a comment on my blog from the owner of an interesting site connected with diamond engagement rings. I had a look, and the site seems interesting.

The website is called Diamonds for Her, but it isn't a normal site which sells diamond engagement rings. The owner of the site says that you can
  • Get the exact diamond or jewelry item you want *
  • Regardless of size, color, cut, clarity *
  • From a local jeweler in your area *
  • Without making a single phone call *
  • Without negotiating once *
  • Get Multiple bids *
  • For 50-80% less than the advertised prices *

They say that they bridge the gap between the jewelers that need to move inventory and consumers that want to get the best price.

I can't vouch for the site, since I have never used them, but if you are looking for a diamond engagement ring, this could be a source to investigate.

Photo courtesy of Diamonds for her

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jewelry Find of the Week - Matisse Renoir California Dreaming Set

Renoir was a California Jewelry Company who manufactured between 1946 and 1964. They specialized in solid copper jewelry featuring the Arts and Crafts style. Their pieces are distinctive with superior designs and of very high quality. Matisse was a subsidiary company which was establised in 1952 - often using copper with colorful enamel. Matisse Renoir pieces are highly collectible and much sought after.

I have recently aquired a wonderful Matisse Renoir Demi parure from the series called "California Dreaming." The name is so apt. Imagine yourself sunning on a beach in Surfside with fluffy power puff clouds floating overhead as the sun beats down on the surf and sand. The fine grains of the sand around you glisten in the morning sun and pick up the colors which abound.

This visual image describes my set beautifully. All of the pieces feature tiny bits of fused glass and enamel in a power pink color baked onto a copper background. The necklace is 16" long tip to tip and 7/8" wide and the earrings are 1" wide and have clip backs.

These are book pieces featured in the Book "Copper Art Jewelry," by Matthew L. Burkholz and Linda Lichtenberg Kaplan. The book makes note of the fact that very few of these sets remain in good condition, since they were not as durable as the kiln-hardened enamel work for which Matisse Renoir is so famous.

My set is in wonderful condition and would make a great addition to your Matisse Renoir copper collection. The California Dreaming Set is available from my Vintage Jewelry Lane set for $179.99. You can view close up pictures and more details of the set on the site.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Designers - Who am I?

Ready for some fun? Here are the next clues on my ongoing guessing game series about vintage designers. I'll give you some clues and a few photos and you see if you can figure out who the designer is. (the answer is at the bottom of the blog, reading backwards.)

Here are today's clues:
  • I was in operation from 1949-1981
  • All of my designs are named
  • I was sold at home parties
  • All of my pieces are clearly marked
  • I was founded by Charles Stuart and named for his wife
  • I have a sister company named for the owner's granddaughter

Here are some pictures of a few of my designs:

For more information and the answer to today's riddle, you can go to the designer page of the resource library on my website Vintage Jewelry Lane. (answer is also shown reading backwards at the bottom of this blog post.) All three of these pieces are for sale on my main site Vintage Jewelry Lane.

I'll be doing more of these riddles over the next weeks and months. Have fun with the series.
ANSWER: (read it backwards): snommE nyloraC

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Pisces

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Pisces is the star sign for those born between February 20 and March 20.

Those born under the sign of Pisces are said to be compassionate, devoted and imaginative. On the negative side they can be seen to be a bit oversensitive, indecisive and somewhat of an escapist.

To get a clue about what sort of Jewelry to choose for your Pisces friend let's have a look at some of these Zodiac facts:
  • The primary color is Lilac or purple
  • Gemstones associated with the sign are diamonds, amethyst and bloodstone
  • Lucky numbers are 5 and 8
  • Best locations are the seashore or coastal cities

Combining these ideas gives me lots of possibilites for choices for a jewelry gift for your Piscean friend. How about this lovely purple banded glass stone in lovely amethyst colors with a pretty filigree heart pendant? It is available in my Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry store for only $10.75.

Since Pisces loves the water, you couldn't go wrong with any seaside themed jewelry. Does she like vintage sweater guards? Look at this sweet seahorse sweater guard with creamy faux pearls and cute little seahorses on either end. It's available in my Vintage Jewelry Mall store for only $12.99 and is just adorable.

If you are looking for something a little more extravagant for your friend, consider this stunning vintage cameo brooch. It is handcarved from genuine shell cameo and is marked 800 for its silver content, so it uses her lucky number too. This exquisite shell cameo brooch is available in my Vintage Jewelry Lane store for $96.99

Check back soon for the next chapter in this series, when I will discuss jewelry ideas for your Aries friend.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of

Jewelry at the Oscars 2009

I had wondered if the downturn in the economy would affect the styles of clothing and jewelry at the 2009 Oscars ceremony. Part of me thought that the stars would tone it down, but the cynical part of me was pretty sure they wouldn't.

Predictably, the cynic in me won. However, I have to admit, that with my fondness for large jewels at the neckline, I'm not too disappointed at the lavishness. Statement jewelry was big this year in more ways than just sizes. This type of jewelry was a big hit during the recent Fashion week, so it is no wonder that it showed up during the Oscars too.

Stars showed up with arms full of big bangles, huge statement necklaces, and other opulent pieces which were seen on Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tilda Swinton, Tina Fey, and Kate Ledger, to name a few. But none had as much of a statement as this incredible diamond flower necklace from Fred Leighton, worn by Taraji P. Henson - nominee for best supporting actress in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Jewelry aside, my overall impression of the oscars this year is the effect that Michelle Obama is having on fashion. Long flowing white gowns, clusters of diamond bangles, and long drippy diamond chandelier earrings were in abundance. It seems that many wanted to emulate Michelle Obama's look at the inaugural ball as can be seen from the following photo montage.

(Photo courtesy of 55 Secret Street)

One last note - my love of statement necklaces aside...displays of opulence in this economy is unsettling to say the least.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Words - Pietra Dura

There are many styles of mosaic jewelry. One that I particularly like is called Pietra Dura. In this type of design, which is similar to Micro Mosaics, the tessarae or tiles are much larger and are made from hard stones such as chalcedony, jasper, lapis lazuli, and other nice stones.

These large tiles are then set into a solid back ground such as sandstone or black marble for a pictoral effect. The surface of the design is flush with no protruding tiles or grooves between the tiles.

Floral scenes are the most common, but any design can be used, such as butterflies, human figures, birds and architectural buildings.

The settings are generally silver or genuine gold, but plated settings and brass are also used. Most settings are open backed to show the back of the background stone used.

The popularity of Pietra dura pieces dates from the early to mid 1800s. This type of souvenir jewelry is known as "Archeological Jewelry." Mosaic jewelry of all kind became fairly widely available after the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Pietra Dura jewelry was found in Italy - especially Florence, but was also available around the same time in England and other European areas. I've also seen some examples of it in pieces from Taxco Mexico.

This type of mosaic jewelry is highly collectible and fuels much of the tourist trade today in Italy.

Be sure to visit my website Vintage Jewelry Lane. I have a large range of mosaic jewelry, including some of the Pietra Dura pieces shown in this article.

Photos are courtesy of ebay sellers anteaklovr, clelak and Adin Fine Antique Jewelry and

Saturday, February 21, 2009

25% off Vintage Earrings in my Ebay Store

Here is a sale for all you bargain hunters looking for vintage earrings. My ebay store Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry is currently running a sale on a huge selection of vintage earrings.

There are lots of styles to choose from with many designers featured too, including Berebi, Trifari, Sarah Coventry, M. Jent and others. You will find rhinestone, thermoset, glass, and lucite earrings as well as many other materials.

Here are a few of the selections - all priced much less than $10.

You can see the whole selection on the sale page of my Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry store at ebay. Hurry though. Sale ends March 1.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Juliana Demi Parure and Earrings are Verified!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I often submit jewelry pieces that I believe may be DeLizza & Elster Juliana designs. Juliana Jewelry was not marked on the pieces. They only had paper hang tags which were often discarded.

I recently submitted four pieces - a parure and three pairs of earrings. Two of the earring pairs are still in the verification process, but the demi parure and one pair of earrings have been verified. I am delighted, to say the least.

The demi features a stunning combination of dark blue navette rhinestones and meridian blue aurora borealis stones. All prong set with open backs in a silvertone setting. It is to die for - particularly since I adore blue jewelry, which is my favorite color.

The earrings are no less impressive. They feature interesting hand painted milk glass stones and tabac aurora borealis rhinestones in a goldtone setting. Very layered design with open back settings which are typical of the Juliana design.

You can view the two verified Juliana jewelry items on my Vintage Jewelry Lane website. The set is $125.99 and the earrings are $45.99.

If you would like to view the verification page for the two pieces, the D & E Juliana earrings are on this page - (#63 and #64), and the D & E Juliana rhinestone set is featured here - (#196 and #197).

Let's hope I have as much luck with my other two pairs of earrings. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Museum of Natural History Opal Exhibition

I love opals. The fire and color in them is something that doesn't seem to be found elsewhere in nature. And with Fashion Week showing all the bright colors for spring, I thought that it would be nice to feature opals in a blog post.

Opals are commonly thought to be found mainly in Australia, and 85% of them are, but there are many other areas of the world where they are mined as well - The US, Ethiopia, Honduras and Brazil.

On February 26, the American Museum of Natural History will host an exhibition of 25 beautiful iridescent opals for public view, in the Museum’s Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals. The featured opals will be from all the mining locations mentioned and will illustrate the diversity of the gems.

Opals are renowned for their colorful iridescence and they scatter light beautifully. You can read more about the display and view some of the exhibits on the Natural History Museum's website.

Opal Photo Courtesy of the Natural History Museum

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michelle Obama Graces the Cover of Vogue Magazine

It's official: First Lady Michelle Obama is of the cover of the March Issue of Vogue. All previous first ladies, except for Bess Truman, have been featured by Vogue, but Michelle is only the second to appear on the cover. Hillary Clinton was the first.

The cover shows Mrs. Obama wearing a magenta silk dress designed by Jason Wu, who also designed her inaugural gown shown in a previous blog post here.

André Leon reports that From envisioning a more inclusive White House to embracing fearless fashion, Michelle Obama is poised to become the most transformative First Lady in history. Portraits are by Annie Leibovitz.

You can read an edited feature article here. The complete article is in the March issue of Vogue Magazine. The only thing that would have made the article better, in my opinion, would have been to see some of the vintage brooches she loves to wear. Perhaps next time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Collecting Vintage Jewelry Part 8 - Earring Backs

This is another chapter in my ongoing series about what you should be looking for as you assemble a collection of vintage jewelry. In past chapters we have talked about condition, metal backs, types of stone settings, types of stones used, pin clasps, etc.

Today we will examine the types of earring backs which were used in vintage costume jewelry. The most common types of earring backs are the screw backs and clip backs, but there were also several types of pierced earring backs used as well.

EARLY PIERCED EARRINGS were of three types: a threaded stud, a fish hook style and a kidney wire. The kidney wire and fish hooks are still in used today.

In the threaded stud, the post of the earring looks similar to the thread on a hardware screw. The back of the earring twists onto the screw. This type of earring has been used since the 1890s, but it is uncommon today.

The Fish hook is also called a shepherd crook. In this type of earring, the hook is the ear wire and it is in the shape of a hook. It does not have a back. The hook just goes through the ear lobe and rests behind the ear. It is found on jewelry which dates before 1900 and is stil in use today. Earliest forms of the fish hook are permanently attached to the earring itself. Most of those used today are wired to a loop on the earring, but the attached ones can still be found - they are commonly seen on modern sterling silver jewelry.

The Kidney Wire is a thin ear wire in the shape of an upside down letter U. One side of the finding is attached to the earring and the other side goes through the ear lobe. Often the kidney wire is bent at the bottom to form a small hook which will secure the earring wire. Kidney wires have been in use since 1870 and are still commonly used.

The Lever back dates to the 1880s and is still commonly used with newer earrings. The lever back has a fish hook style of wire which has an additional small lever which flips up and folds over the wire to secure it to the ear.

NON PIERCED EARRINGS came in two types: screw back, and clip back. Both of these have several styles which were used on vintage earrings. Many are still in use today, so other design techniques will need to be examined as well to definitely date a pair of earrings.

The screw back earring slips over the earlobe and then a small screw is tightened to secure the earring to the ear lobe. The screw back earrings date from 1894 and were very popular into the mid 1950s.

Clip back earrings have a hinged metal clip on the back of the earring that clips to the ear lobe to secure it to the ear. The clip was patented in 1934 and was also popular in the 1950s and 1960s. They are still popular today. There are dozens of clip designs which were used but here are pictures of a few of them.

Filigree metal clip backs. In this style of clip, the actual clip part is made of a highly filigreed metal design. Damascene from Spain and designer B. David often used these.

The Omega clip is a special type of clip with is formed with a single wire in the shape of an omega which folds over and attaches to the ear. A more modern version of the omega clip has the clip folding over an earring post.

The Comfort Clip Screw back and clip back combination clip dates from the 1950s. It was popular with Miriam Haskell. Napier also used the clip in many of their designs. The clip has a screw back for adjustment but is also hinged so that it easily clips over the ear lobe.

Examining the hardware used on earrings will help you to date your jewelry, so it is helpful to have a good idea of the types used.

Previous blog posts in this series:
1. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Where do I start?
2. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - What is the condition?
3. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Type of Stone settings.
4. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - The Creative Use of Stones.
5. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Metal Settings
6. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Necklace and Bracelet clasps
7. Collecting Vintage Jewelry - Pin Clasps

Check back soon for the next chapter. We will discuss a variety of dress and fur clips which were used on vintage jewelry. Be sure to visit my website Vintage Jewelry Lane. I offer a wide range of vintage earrings and designer vintage earrings with all types of earring backs.


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