Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection At the Museum of Arts and Designs in NY

The first major museum exhibition of jewelry from the personal collection of Madeleine Albright premiered yesterdday at the Museum of Arts and Design. It will remain on view through January 31, 2010.

My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection will exhibit more than 200 of her pins, many of which Secretary Albright wore to communicate a message or a mood during her diplomatic tenure as Secretary of State during the Clinton administration.

Photo credit: John Bigelow Taylor

The exhibition examines the collection both for its historic significance and for the expressive power of jewelry and its ability to communicate through a style and language of its own. The exhibition will be shown in the Museum's Tiffany & Co. Gallery, which is dedicated to the study and presentation of contemporary jewelry from around the world.

The design shown here is by Anton Lachmann and is aptly called "Blue Bird." It dates from circa 1880. The pin is set in 14K yellow gold, silver and enamel and features rubies and diamonds.

Ms. Albright was never shy about wearing her jewelry when she was in office, and she often made subtle statements about the experiences she had. Once, when a poet in residence of Saddam Hussein made a comment about her being an "unparalleled serpent", when she criticized Saddam, she responded by later meeting with Iraqi officials wearing a snake pin.

If you will be in NY for the latter part of this year, the Museum of Arts and Design is a stop that you will definitely want to make. The display of her pins and the story behind them should be fabulous. The combination of the jewelry and the historical statements behind them promisted to make the exhibition very special.

Albright also has a new book out called Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box which also gives a look at the 200 brooches as well as outlining the stories behind them. I'll discuss the book in more detail tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 2009 Jewelry Artist Awards Announced

Jewelry Artist Magazine has been running its annual competion and has announced this years outstanding winners. The contest has been held for the last eight years and produces some wonderful designs each year, and this year is no exception.

The entries were judged for excellence, visual appeal and impact and originality. There were six categories this year: Pins/brooches, Bracelets, Earrings, Pendants/Necklaces, Rings and Miscellaneous jewelry.

Photo credit: Azad

Naomi Sarna was the winner of the Best of Competition and also the First Place winner in the Pins/Brooches category. Her entry is called First Wave, and features an 18K gold and Chinese Freshwater pearl design with diamonds, sapphires, opals and topaz. The stones are all pavé set and give a lot of sparkle and fire to the center pearl.

The magazine will be announcing their 2010 contest in Mid November, so be sure to check back to see details of next years design contest. For more photos of winners in other categories, you can visit the Jewelry Artist website. All winners did a fabulous job and the pieces are just stunning.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Collector's Weekly Visits the Antique Roadshow - Inside Look

Collectors Weekly had the opportunity to visit a taping of the PBS series, the Antiques Roadshow, recently. They are longtime fans of the show, and had always been curious about Roadshow. So when they were offered backstage passes for the show’s August 2009 taping in San Jose, and free reign to wander the set and talk to whomever they wanted, they jumped at the chance!

Photo credit:

If you ever wonder how the show really works and who gets chosen to appear on the TV Show, you will enjoy this article. It gives an in depth look at the henind the scene look and also some viewpoints from the executive producer of the show and some of the appraisers.

My favorite part of the article is their discussion of the jewelry table, of course. While they were there, Adam Patrick of A La Vielle Russie, Inc. examined an Elks fob from the early 20th century. The piece is made of 14k yellow gold, includes a diamond and a sapphire, and holds an elk's tooth. It was appraised at $750 to $800.

For more of this fascinating article about the Antiques Roadshow, you can visit the Collector's Weekly website.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

October Birthstone - Opal

A new month is almost upon us (I can't believe how fast this year has flown by!) and it's time for a discussion of the birthstone for the month of October - the opal. (Tourmaline is also considered a birthstone for the month of October, but more charts mention Opal, so I will discuss this gemstone first.) The opal is also the gemstone for the 13th wedding anniversary.

The opal has often been called the "Queen of Gemstones." It takes its name from the Latin word upala, which means precious stone. This fabulous gemstone has flashes of rainbow-like colors when it is viewed from different angles. This color is created by silica spheres which are contained within the opal.

There are two types of opals - precious and common. The method in which the silica particles form determines the type of opal. Precious oplas have silica particles packed in rows and layers which causes iridescent flashes of color, sometimes referred to as "fire." The common opal lacks this play of light. Black opals are considered the rarest of opals and are just full of fire and color.

Opals have been mined in various locations around the world but, by far, the largest deposits have been found in Australia - with 95% of the world's opals originating there. Other sources of mines include Mexico, Africa, the US, Brazil, parts of the old Soviet Union and a few other areas in South America.

The hardness of opals vary, but they generally range from 5.5 to 6.5 on the Moh's scale of hardness. The gemstone has a chemical formula similar to quartz with the addition of 5 to 10 percent water. This quantity of water for the optimal play of color. Old time miners often used to store their opals in water, thinking this would preserve the color.

Be aware when buying opals that the gemstones are not always whole single stones. Many opals sold are actually doublets or triplets. These are composite stones which are made by positioning a thin layer of opal on top of a layer of glass or less expensive gemstone. To determine this, inspect the sides of the opal, and look for indications that it is a stack of layers. In this case, you have a composite, not a whole stone. You can also see if the stones base matches the top. If it doesn't, it may be composite.
There are many large opals. The Smithsonian is the home of the largest black opal, found in the Royal peacock mines in Australia. The record for the largest opal ever discovered reputedly goes to the "Olympic Australis", found in 1956 at the famous Eight Mile opal field in Coober Pedy, South Australia. It was found at a depth of 30 feet and named in honor of the Olympic games, being held in Melbourne at the time.

Photo credit Opals Down under

This extraordinary opal consists of 99% gem opal with an even colour throughout the stone. It is one of the largest and most valuable opals ever found. It was valued at $2,500,000 Australian dollars in 2005.

There is a great deal of legend, rumor, and folklore attached to the opal. One long standing rumor (as evidenced by the miners mentioned above) is that boulder opals will absorb water. In fact, opals must be treated with extreme temperature change to alter the water content of them.

The Aborigines believe that opals have lived in Australia since the beginning of time. Arabs think that opals fell from heaven as flashes of lightning, and Ancient Greeks believe that opals had the power to give the wearer prophecy and foresight.

For centuries, people have believed in the healing power of opals. They are thought to help with depression and to enable the wearer to find true love and happiness. Some believe that they enhance the positive qualities of those born under the signs of Cancer, Aries and Scorpio.

The care of opals is relatively easy. One of the main things that you can do to preserve your opal is to simply wear it! If exposed to heat (in storage) over a long time, fissures can develop and the color can become dulled. Wearing your opal will give it the humidity it needs to keep its color bright and vibrant.

To clean an opal, just use lukewarm water and a soft cloth. Some jewelers recommend using vinegar in the water. Be sure to dry it thoroughly after cleaning. Do not use harsh cleansers on your opals and do not clean opals with ultrasonic cleaners. Never rub oil on an opal. This may temporarily make the fire brighter, but it can also damage the opal.

Finally, an ode to the opal in this Georgian poem:

“October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.”
Are you an October baby? What a lovely gemstone to have as yours!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Week's Vintage Jewelry Find - Marvella Pearl and Rhinestone Demi Parure

Marvella Jewelry Company is well known for their use of faux pearls and glass pearls in their designs. This week's vintage jewelry find is a stunning set from their collection which has rhinestone accents for a fabulous look.

What an impression this stunning demi will make when worn! The set consists of a double strand necklace which is teamed up with a pair of matching clip back earrings.

The necklace has two rows of 12mm imitation pearls with a large chunky and textured bow front with rhinestone accents and wonderful detail. It is heavy and substantial and feels great when worn.

The earrings have a large pearl cabochon with the same bow design hanging below and a single pearl dangle. This is unsold dealer stock which has never been worn so would make a great Christmas present. Excellent condition.

Signed Marvella on the back of the earrings and back of the necklace bow. The lovely Marvella Pearl and Rhinestone set is available from my Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry Shop on Ruby Lane for $75.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sheila Pamfiloff talks to Collector's Weekly about Collecting Vintage Jewelry

I love the interviews that Collector's Weekly does with various vintage jewelry experts around the country. They are always a good read and full of interesting vintage jewelry tidbits. The latest interview is with Sheila Pamfiloff, co-author of the resource book "Miriam Haskell Jewelry" that I mentioned in a previous blog post about vintage jewelry books. This book is considered the resource book about this fascinating designer.

The interviewer talks with Sheila about her background in collecting vintage jewelry, and also discusses with her, in great length, about the highly collectible vintage jewelry designer, Miriam Haskell, and her jewelry designs. The article is fairly comprehensive and discusses Haskell's collaboration with Frank Hess, her head designer, as well as giving lots of information about her design techniques.

If you love Miriam Haskell designs and want more information, this interview with Sheila Pamfiloff is a great place to start. The Book Miriam Haskell Jewely is also available at leading book retailers as well as many online sites, such as Amazon. I have a copy and use it all the time.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrate Fall with Leaf Motif Vintage Jewelry

The first day of fall has come and gone and it seems appropriate to showcase leaf jewelry in its honor. I love fall. For a start, since I live in humid and hot North Carolina, spring and fall are much more pleasant to me outdoors than summer is. I find myself looking forward to fall all year long. Also, it reminds me of looking forward to the arrival of the JC Penny catalogue when I was a teenager in Maine (many years ago.) So, for me, the arrival of fall is a mix of nostalgia and heat relief!

Anyone who has raked a pile of autumn leaves knows what a fabulous blend of colors and shapes you will end up with. It appears that this could have been the inspiration of many of the well known vintage jewelry designers. Most of them made leaf motif pins.

Trifari is one designer that particularly comes to mind. Their brushed goldtone and silvertone leaf pins are just full of detail. Sometimes enhanced with pearls or rhinestones, like the one shown here, and as always this designer never fails to disappoint.

Adding enamel to the metal gives the color that is missing from a plain metal pin, and this has been done successfully by many designers. This pretty brooch from Liz Claiborne is a fabulous mix of muted earthtone colors mixed with rhinestones:

Other designers used rhinestones, pearls or colored cabochons to enhance the style of their leaf jewelry. With this technique, the sky is the limit when it comes to color. This pretty maple leaf design by Sarah Coventry, aptly called "Fantasy" uses a pretty mix of pearls and colored stones for a unique look.

One of my favorite leaf designs has to come from Norway. David Anderson is famous for his leaf designs set in basse-taille enamel and sterling silver with a gold vermeil wash. They are simple and elegant and very collectible. This pretty demi is a good example of this technique.

If you like nature jewelry, be sure to visit Vintage Jewelry Lane and Vintage Jewelry Mall for more great choices like the ones shown here. You can also click the pictures shown here for more details about these items.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Furry Cat Pins are a Hit with My English Customer!

I recently came across a group of cute little cat pins in a large estate collection that I purchased. The were all very similar and were made of fake fur and hand done with red felt backing and a safety pin clasp at the back. I listed them all in my Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry shop and they all sold to customers in England, but one customer purchased 3 of them - all exactly the same, and one at a time.

When I sold the last one to this customer, I showed the pin (featured here) to my husband, who is English and told him that they all sold to English customers. He just added in his (not a man of many words) way "English people like cats."

When I was notifying my customer of the shipment of the last pin, I added a note to my email saying that I had noticed that she really liked the kitty pins. We exchanged a few emails and she told me the story of her love for them, and agreed to let me share it with my readers. Apparently, she has a whole collection of them!

Melissa, from England, has several of these furry critter pins and she tells me that people stop her in the street when she wears them to ask questions about the pins. Here is a photo of her collection all on one sweater. It is quite a look, but she assures me that she only wears them one at a time! You can see my kitty on the top left in her photo.

She told me that the first one that she received was a present from her then boyfriend, who purchased it at an antique fair. The pin was similar to the tiger cat on the right of her photo. She loved the pin and they called it, simply, "cat." She wore cat one day on a date with her boyfriend, and when she returned home, she put the T shirt inside out in her washing machine, with the pin hiding in the folds, and accidently destroyed her beloved brooch.

You can imagine that her eyes bulged right out when she found his little white hairs everywhere but no bodily remains to be found. After a bit of panic, and a bit more searching, she found just his two little eyes, all alone in the bottom of the machine, staring up at her - so forlorn looking.

Of course, lots of sobbing followed with thoughts of never finding another kitty like "cat." However, about a year later, she found an almost identical one on ebay and purchased it. The cat was hers again! Within a week, she found a wolf, and this started her hunt for more of these furry critters. She has told me that most of them were found on ebay, and most came from American jewelry sellers.

Mellissa was recently in a vintage store in London and a woman exclaimed "oh my god, you're the girl with the things!!' because during here previous visit her boss had called over all the staff to see Lionface (the huge one). She says that she doesn't need to travel more than a few streets or shops in London before she gets asked about the pins.

It is such a delight to know that my kitty pins ended up in the hands of such a lovely collector. Thanks for sharing your story with me and my readers, Melissa!

Do you have a story about your jewelry that you would like to share? Please email me and I'll be happy to feature you in a future blog post.

Look for Big Necklaces Next Spring

Fashion week 2010 was an eclectic mix of feathers, see through mesh panels, and aesthetic neutrals. The lack of color was obvious, and the peek a boo looks insure that we will be seeing an abundance of flesh through the mesh panels that many of the designers have in their clothing.

If the runway photos give us an evidence of what to expect in the jewelry line, then big bold necklaces should be the upcoming spring trend.

Charm necklaces, huge statement necklaces, big chokers, and layers and layers of chains or beads were all in force on the runways for fashion week, held in NY the last few weeks.

None made quite as much of a statement as this huge Vera Wang design which is a total chest covering design. One would presume it is supposed to hide the body underneath which "hides" beneath the flimsy fabric of the dress.

Photo credit: Getty

This Oscar de la Renta design is an example of the layered beaded design. The peek a boo mesh is also evident in this design, so it looks as though this will be a major trend this spring.

What say you readers? Are you a fan of the big necklaces and the see through looks?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Bling was out in Force at the 2009 Emmy Awards Ceremony

I've been following the choices of Hollywood stars at all the award ceremonies for the last few years. One thing that they all had in common was the lack of jewelry at the neckline. Readers of my blog know that I find this look somewhat "unfinished." So, the red carpet photos from this week's Emmy awards was a nice change for me.

The bling was out in force! And not just on the wrists and ear lobes, as the previous events were. This time, necklines were adorned, many with fairly large statement necklaces.

Since I love vintage jewelry, one of my favorite looks was Lindsay Price's plum and black gown, which she teamed up with a stunning Maltese Cross Edwardian brooch. I can't decide whether the placement of the pin appeals to me, or whether I'd like to see it a bit higher on the strap, but the brooch is a stunner.

There were lots of big, bold bracelets in force, and small evening clutches seemed to be the purse accessory of choice. has a great gallery of photos from the evening for those that want to see some of the other choices.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Cloisonné

Today's vintage jewelry word is cloisonné. This is a process in which enamel is applied to metal, by first outlining the metal surface with gold or silver wire into a specific design. Then, the space between the wires is filled with enamel and fired to a highly polished, glassy sheen. It is considered a very high grade of enamelling.

Cloisonné comes from the French word which means to be compartmentalized, to be cut off from one another, to feel cut off, or shut out. It is pronounced clwa-zoh-NAY. The Japanese are very fond of cloisonné designs. In Japan the word is called "shippo" which means the seven treasures gold, silver, lazuli, coral, amber and agate, although cloisonné designs do not have all these materials.

Cloisonné is not a word which pertains just to jewelry manufacturing - it is also used in other decorative ways. It thought to have first been used in either ancient Persia or Egypt. Many researchers believe that it was used in Egypt before 1800 BC. The technique was imported to Japan in seventh century.

There is also evidence that the earliest Chinese cloisonné designs were made in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The best was made during the Xuande period (1426-1456) of the Ming Dynasty. Today, cloisonné designs are considered one of the traditonal arts and crafts in Beijing, China.

The making of cloisonné requires quite an elaborate and complicated process. It involves base-hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, polishing and gilding. In spite of this lengthy process, most cloisonné designs are moderately priced.

Many cloisonne designs feature flowers and butterflies. If a variety of enamel is used, the piece has a very colorful finish. Here are some examples of vintage cloisonné jewelry pieces. What do you think of the look?

You can click the pictures for more details and prices. They are all for sale in my online shops.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jeweler's Choice Awards Design Contest 2010

JCK magazine has just announced that its third annual "Jewelers Choice Awards" will soon be held. The contest is the first industry design competition to harness the internet and allow retailers to vote for their favorite designs.

There are 18 diufferent product categories with several price points in each. No matter the area of jewelry design that is your focus, there is likely to be a category for you with everything from symthetic to natural stones and best of each earring, bracelet, etc category. They even have a bridal design category.

Retailers from around the country will be invited to visit the JCK website to case their vote for their favorites in each of the categories. The winners will be announced in January and they will be promoted in various print mediums.

The design contest rules and regulations are on the website, and you can download an entry form here. Deadline for submissions is September 25.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Libra

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Today's astrological sign is Libra, which is the sign for those born between September 23-October 22. The sign is depicted as a scale and it is an air sign.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of

Those born under the sign of Libra are said to be diplomatic, romantic and charming. They are quite perceptive and intuitive. On the negative side, it is thought that they can flirtatious, and overindulgent.

Thinking about buying jewelry for your Libra friend and don't know where to start? Let's examine some of these zodiac facts for a bit of inspiration.
  • Their colors are all shades of green, particularly jade green
  • Their lucky numbers are 1, 7, 8, and 9
  • Gemstones are coral, jade and quartz
  • Their favorite flowers are daisies and roses
  • One of their favorite foods is strawberries
With the reference to jade as the color and stone, that seems to be the place to start. How about one of these lovely jade jewelry pieces:

Since Librans like roses, daisies and strawberries, how about one of these two choices?

You can click any of the pictures for more details and prices. Perhaps one of them is just right for your libra friend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's Vintage Bling - Pink Rhinestone and Glass Earrings

Some of my favorite vintage jewelry pieces are those that combine glass with rhinestones. I'm not a person who likes over the top rhinestone jewelry - just a simple design with an accent rhinestone or two appeals to me.

But I do love glass. The coolness and weight of the beads just feels right to me when worn. Add to that the fact that glass vintage jewelry is so undervalued, compared to other vintage jewelry stones, and it is the perfect medium for a reasonably priced addition to your jewelry collection.

So, this lovely pair of earrings is right up my alley. It has a pink chaton rhinestone and a long navette stone in a paler shade of pink, as well as a cluster of heavily faceted bright pink beads. I think the look is just spectacular and they would look so well for both daytime and evening wear.
The earrings have clip backs and are 1 x 7/8" in size. These pretty pink rhinestone and glass earrings are available from my Vintage Jewelry Lane Site for only $23.99.

Does glass jewelry appeal to you as well, or are you a fan of jewelry that features more rhinestones in the design?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How did your love for vintage jewelry start?

It's hard to say when I first became enamored by vintage jewelry. I think the actual beginning may have been in the 1970s when I purchased my very first carved shell cameo pin as a young student at college. I have always been a romantic at heart and the carving in the shell attracted me like a moth to a flame. I just had to have that piece of jewelry, even though I could hardly afford my rent. The style was similar to the one shown here, with the heart designed setting, but had no pearls.

Over the years, I picked up pieces here and there, but I was never a person who wore much jewelry. Most of my treasures just stayed in my jewelry box and I would take them out from time to time to admire.

I've always been involved in fashion as a business, and eventually came to settle on vintage jewelry as my main focus.

The years passed and I got married and had a daughter. My precious girl wore her first strand of pearls at the age of 12 months. (actually more like 7 or 8 strands all at once!) Such a far cry from her mom who love jewelry but rarely wears it. She has always been interested in anything glitzy and her babysitters used to play dress up with her. During these sessions, jewelry was always front and center. During her teenage years, I had a hard time keeping any jewelry to resell, since she always wanted first dibs on the jewelry I was sorting.

My tastes in jewelry kept changing, often in step with the styles she liked at the time. We would sit for hours sorting and cleaning jewelry. She opened the box and gave me a few "to consider", all the while stacking up a pile for "herself" as a payment for helping me. Those years are so special to me and are the main reason I'm in the vintage jewelry business today. Every time I sort estate collections that come my way, I am reminded of the special years I spent with Jess.

What is your story? Please share!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tirfari Sweater Guard Does Double Duty as Earrings

I love a piece of jewelry that can be worn more than one ways, such as a brooch which will double up as a pendant. So, finding this sweater guard was a real treat for me, since it is a combination piece I haven't come across before.

The sweater guard was popular during the 1950s and 1960s when two piece sweater sets with a knit top paired with a cardigan sweater were very popular. Wearers would join the opening of the cardigan at the neckline with these sweater guards so that the underneath top would show. They are quite collectible now, and can be worn at the neckline of a pretty blouse by attaching it at the tips of the collar.

The piece is made by Trifari and features two clip back earrings in brushed goldtone which are joined by a textured link chain. It can be worn as the sweater guard, or simply remove the chain for a set of earrings to wear on their own. Double duty in a matter of seconds!

The clip is available in my Ruby Lane Shop - Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry for only $22.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fabergé Introduces New High End Jewelry Line

Fabergé, the company famous for its fabulous ornately jeweled eggs has introduced a high end jewelry line, the first since 1917. The pieces in the collection, inspired by founder Peter Carl Faberge, range from a retail price of 40,000 € to the princely sum of 7 million €. The average price tag is about 140,000 €($200,000 US dollars.)

The South African financial firm Investec, along with other investors has teamed up with Pallinghurst Resources to buy the name with a plan to revive the Russian heritage. They invited Peter Carl Fabergé's two surviving great grandaughters, Tatiana and Sarah Fabergé, to form a Fabergé council to advise the management of the company, so that the family's legacy would be preserved.

The pieces will not be available through third party retailers, but will only be sold via their website and at a single Fabergé store in Geneva, Switzerland. But shopping for your next Fabergé jewelry piece won't be the equivalent of putting your item in a shopping cart at Instead, interested clients will get their own personal sales adviser, who will, if necessary, fly to them from Geneva to show the jewels in person.

And their famous Fabergé eggs? According to the company's CEO Mark Dunhill, "We've no plans to launch them," says Dunhill. The eggs, first commissioned from the House of Fabergé by Tzar Alexander III as an Easter gift to his wife in 1885, and a tradition followed by his successors. were specific to the time and place. For now, Fabergé is all about finding a new self online, as well as around the necks, wrists and fingers of some of the world's wealthiest people."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Antique Photographic Jewelry - Not Just an Ordinary Locket or Keepsake

All jewelry collectors know about lockets and brooches which hold photos of a loved one, but have you ever wondered how this trend started?

Those who collect Victorian jewelry may be familiar with the term "photographic jewelry." This type of jewelry contains a photographic image in place of a cameo or gemstone. It first became popular in the nineteenth century when photography was first developed. Since the first photographs were relatively expensive to produce, this type of jewelry became a fitting adornment for those of relatively well off means.

photo credit: ebay seller goingtolasvegas2007

Actual photos from this period were fairly precious items, since the ability to be photographed wasn't something that happened every day the way it is today when any one who has a digital camera can take instant photos.

The jewelry made from these early photos was made into brooches, cufflinks, pendant necklaces and the ever popular Victorian fob. The photos were often mounted in non gold and non silver settings under celluloid or glass covers for protection. Subjects could be anything, but collectors seem to enjoy pieces with photos of women and children as well as military figures.

Anything special added to the piece, such as a date or sentimental engraving, will make the piece more valuable. Pieces with the addition of locks of hair are especially collectible.

There were several types of photographic jewelry but one of the most popular types is called "daguerrotype." This style, invented in 1839, is one of the earliest photographic processes and the photo was produced on iodine-sensitised silver in mercury vapour for a particularly beautiful image. Other processes include ambrotypes (images on glass), tintypes (on tin) and paper types (images on paper). The brooch shown here is a tintype style most likely dating from the late 1800s to about 1900.

Dating photographic jewelry is done by determining the type of photographic image used. Value of the pieces can vary greatly from relatively inexpensive to very highly value. All pieces from this period are collectible, with cuff links being the most affordable at about $25-$50 or so. A really special find for a collector of this medium would be a daguerrotype ring, which could fetch over $1000 in a specialist auction of Victorian photographic jewelry.

For a look at a large range of Victorian photographic jewelry, please visit Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Michelle Obama Wears a new Brooch for the Joint session of Congress speech

Michelle Obama has a fondness for vintage brooches. She wears them all the time and often combines them in interesting and different ways. It is not unusual to see her wearing one at her waist or a group of several clustered together to make one larger pin look.

At the President's speech on health care reform to the joint session of congress, on September 9,2009, she showed up in a new pin, this time artfully added to the bow of her neckline.

Michelle wore a warm coral - rose colored Moschino suit with interesting back fan pleating to the jacket and a bow at the neck. The matching skirt had kick-pleats as well.

To the neck of this jacket, sitting right on the bow, she wore a large bejeweled shamrock shaped vintage brooch in pretty shades of peacock blue and coral pink. It complimented the color of the jacket beautifully.

What do you think of her latest look?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trifari Patent Pending Vintage Jewelry

Collectors of vintage jewelry are well aquainted with the designer marking Trifari. However, there is a special Trifari marking which may make your piece especially valuable and desirable to collectors.

Early Trifari pieces were often marked Trifari Pat Pend in block letters. This marking was used on pieces made from 1932 to 1954. This mark was used mainly on pieces which were designed by well known head designer Alfred Philippe, who joined the Trifari company in early 1930.

He is considered a top craftsman and previously worked for Cartier and Van Cleef and Arples. The brooch shown here is a design from 1953 and is typical of the Trifari Pat Pend styles from the 1950s with the clear diamante rhinestones and swirling metal style. It's available at Vintage Jewelry Lane for $54.99.

This early Trifari jewelry is very collectable and some pieces are now very hard to find. Pieces marked with the pat pending mark command higher than normal prices for Trifari jewelry.

If you have a piece marked Trifari Pat Pending, there is a website which has photos of all Trifari design patents, with details of the designer and dates of the patent. This site is a great resource to help you identify and date Trifari patented jewelry by Alfred Philippe.

Here are some more Alfred Philippe styles. Aren't they lovely? You can click the photos for more details and additional photos.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Summer Reading - Contemporary Jewelry Making Techniques

Normally, I talk about resource books which are devoted to vintage jewelry which is my main interest. However, there is a great book that I have just discoved which is designed for those jewelry artists who want to create sensational, one-of -a-kind contemporary jewelry.

The book is called Encyclopedia of Contemporary Jewelry-Making Techniques, by Vannetta Seecharran, a London designer. It has step by step instructions with photographs for methods which work with a wide range of materials, such as plastics, rubber, resin, ceramics, glass, leather, textiles and much more.

Each of the mediums is discussed in great detail and design techniques for all of them are featured. The book is available in paperback and hard cover from bookstores or online at

If you make contemporary jewelry using unusual design mediums, this may be a book for you to check out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sculptured ceramic jewelry exhibit by Marblehead artist, Miriam

If you plan to be in Massachusetts this month, the Virginia A. Carten Gallery of the Abbot Public Library's, in Marblehead, is currently running a new exhibit called "Sculptured Jewelry: A Celebration of Femininity." The exhibit features pendants and brooches by Maria Gofshteyn, a Marblehead artist also known as Miriam.

The collection will be on display from Sept. 1 to Sept. 28, 2009 and will also feature a fashion show which will showcase the jewels on Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. in the library meeting room. Miriam's daughter Ming will be one of the fashion models.

The designer was born in Russia and has a background in the visual arts. Her jewelry is made from white clay, which is sometimes colored before being fired and glazed. The designs are colorful, free-form, and immediately attracting to visitors.

For more information on the artist, you can view an article about Maria "Miriam" Gofshteyn on the Jewish Journal website. I wish I could be in Marblehead this month. I'd love to see more of her work.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Art Clay®, Metal Beads, Wire Work & Chain Contest At Fire Mountains Gems

It is almost time for the next contest at Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. They have new contests regularly, and the next one will run from September 22, 2009 until January 12, 2010. Each contest has a different theme as a designing medium.

The contest is called Art Clay®, Metal Beads, Wire Work & Chain. There are categories for Necklaces, Bracelets, Earrings, Home Decor and Doll, Wedding and Holiday, and Fashion accessories (including rings, brooches, hairpieces and accessories).

Each category will have a winner and there will also be overall winners and offer gift certificates with Fire Mountains Gems and Beads. The prizes are:

  • Gold Medal GRAND PRIZE Winner $1,000.00 gift certificate
  • Silver Medal GRAND PRIZE Winner $750.00 gift certificate
  • Bronze Medal GRAND PRIZE Winner $500.00 gift certificate
  • Gold Medal Prize Winner, each category $100.00 gift certificate
  • Silver Medal Prize Winner, each category $75.00 gift certificate
  • Bronze Medal Prize Winner, each category $50.00 gift certificate
If you design in this medium, this might be just the contest for you! Full details of the Art Clay®, Metal Beads, Wire Work & Chain Contest can be found at the Fire Mountain Gems and beads website.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Solje

Today's vintage jewelry word is solje. Solje jewelry is a particular style which is the traditional national jewelry of the Scandinavian country Norway.

The jewelry normally consists of a setting of sterling silver from which hang tear shaped "spoons" in either silver or gold metal. The background piece will often have an interesting edge design, such as a crown, or a scalloped surround. The piece normally has a repoussé finish.

Many of the pieces are marked 830s, or 830s Norway which is a hallmark for the metal content (similar to 925 for sterling silver). Each region of Norway has its own style of Solje.

Solje pieces were used, at one time, to add accenting to the traditional Norwegian costumes, which are called Bunads. The Solje pieces were meant to represent the sun, and were worn on collars and cuffs, normally as brooches and pins.

It was not unusual for a Norwegian woman to wear three pieces of this jewelry at once - one at her throat, one over her heart and another at the bodice opening. The art has evolved over time so that one can now find earrings, necklaces and other pieces of jewelry in the Solje style.
Pieces of Solje jewelry were often given as wedding presents, for Christenings and other special occasions, etc. The size of the piece of jewelry is a good indication of the use that it may have had. Smaller pieces up to about 1" in size, such as the circle brooch shown here, were probably given as gifts to babies and children. Larger pieces were more likely worn by women.

Since Solje jewelry is traditionally made from silver, it will tarnish over time - sometimes quite heavily, although this gives it an aged patina that many vintage jewelry collectors appreciate. This is an example of a piece of solje jewelry with a very dark patina. The tarnish is so strong that, at first, I couldn't make out the 830s mark on the back of the piece. Notice how the setting has much more of a patina than the "spoons." This seems to be the case on most of the Solje jewelry that I find in estate collections.

Some care in storage and cleaning will be required if you wish to keep Solje jewelry looking fine. The first step in the procedure is storing your Solje jewelry in the original box if possible. If the original box is not available, store the piece in anti-tarnish paper, bag or cloth and place in an air tight container such as a zip lock bag, to reduce tarnishing.

I have read many articles discussing the polishing of Solje jewelry and most of them recommend a silver dip. I don't believe this is a good idea, since these are often very harsh and the settings of Solje jewelry can be quite delicate. My advice is to use sunshine cloths if the tarnish is not too great, or a cream style of silver cleaner and a soft, clean cloth, such as a piece from an old soft cotton T shirt.

If your piece of Solje jewelry becomes dirty over time, a gentle soak in a mild detergent and warm water should do just fine. Be sure to dry it thoroughly before storing the piece. As with all jewelry, when you wear your Solje jewelry, put it on after using hairspray or perfume and this will decrease the likelihood of tarnish. With a bit of care, you will be able to keep your Solje jewelry looking good for years to come.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jewelry Scholarship Contest - Revere Academy Master Symposium

My daughter is in college and is majoring in theater arts. I know from experience how hard it is to find scholarships available for those interested in majors outside of the mainstream courses.

So, I was particularly interested in a new scholarship contest that I have discovered. The contest honors Mort Abelson, who was instrumental in raising the awareness of jewelry design and promoting jewelry designers in the U.S. Each year, he brings in a new group of exciting young jewelry designers. Many past winners are now leaders in their fields.

While this scholarship isn't related to college applicants, I still found it interesting because it is intended to be given to someone who is interested in designing jewelry as a career. The contest is open to anyone in the United States and Canada. Jurors will be looking for an individual whose work exemplifies original, innovative, high quality jewelry design.

The contest winner will receive an all-expenses-paid scholarship from anywhere in the US to San Francisco (air, lodging, tuition and fees) for a master class of their choice during the Academy’s annual International Masters Symposium in April 2010. During this symposium, which last for three weeks, prominent jewelry artists, designers, craftsman and experts meet in San Francisco to teach professional skills and techniques in the area of their greatest expertise.

For more details about the scholarship and entry forms, please visit the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts website. This year's deadline for submissions is December 1, 2009.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tutorial - How to Make Art Beads

Readers of my blog know that I love glass jewelry, and nothing is quite so special as art beads. I believe it is very much undervalued when compared with other types of vintage jewelry. The range of colors and shapes present in these beads is enormous and they often have a one of a kind look.

I was looking online to see the variety of these beads and came across an interesting website that has a tutorial about how to actually make what they call "Fantasy Beads. The example here has a whole galaxy of swirls and colors inside the bead.

To make the beads, they use products called Embellished paper beads with OPALS © embossing enamels and Fantasy Film, as well as paper scraps, a heat gun, wooden skewers, glue and a soldering iron.

The site has a step by step guide on how to make these lovely beads. You can view the fantasy bead making tutorial here.

Interested in other ideas about how to make interesting one of a kind jewelry or beads? They also have a whole range of tutorials, including making jewelry from DVDs and CDs, making art glass pins, and using embossing enamels. The finished products are amazing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Find of the Week - Renoir Copper Demi Parure - Laurel

This week's vintage jewelry find is a lovely demi parure by well known designer Jerry Fels, also known as Renoir of California.

The design is called Laurel, and is popular in both the copper set (shown here) and the enameled versions. It is simple and yet very effective in design. Circa mid 1950s.

The size of the pin is 2 1/8 x 1 3/4" and the earrings are clip backs and are 1 1/4 x 3/4" in size. Signed Renoir © on the back. The pieces are shown in the Burkholz book called Copper Art Jewelry on pages 86 and 132.

This fabulous Renoir "Laurel" copper brooch and earring set is in excellent vintage condition and is available at my Vintage Jewelry Lane store for $87.99

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Craft Ideas for using Old Vintage Jewelry Pieces

Craft Lots, Junk Jewelry Lots, Pounds and Pounds of broken jewelry. I see this type of thing offered on ebay all the time. These lots are often full of broken jewelry, or worn jewelry of bits and pieces of old jewelry. Do you ever wonder what people do with the large lots of jewelry sold on eBay and other auction sites which are titled as craft jewelry? So did I so I started looking around the net to see what other people do with odd ball jewelry that isn't saleable in its own right.

Some people buy jewelry lots like this simply to harvest old vintage findings and rhinestones. Since vintage jewelry is old and clasps and stones are no longer available for sale, it can be a daunting task to get just the right stone or clasp to repair a piece that is otherwise sound.

But the use of craft lots doesn't stop there. There are so many creative uses of jewelry that arty people have come up with. has an interesting article about various uses of jewelry for crafts.

Here are some other ideas. Perhaps they will spark your creative juices. If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear about them in the comments section.
  • Harvest charms and pendants from old jewelry to make new one of a kind charm bracelets
  • Take a plain picture frame and add fronts of vintage earrings or pins around the edge to make a sparkly jazzed up picture frame.
  • All an old style brooch to the front of a vintage clutch for a spectacular new look
  • Arrange old pieces of glitzy rhinestone jewelry in a candy dish for an interesting table accent
  • Sparkly strands of vintage beads draped around a pottery piece can add an eye catching look for a center piece.
  • Turn a boring lamp shade into a spectacular one with a few vintage baubles
  • Use old vintage jewelry to jazz up a tablescape for your next party.
  • Decorate the outside of a plain jewelry box with vintage baubles.
  • Give your kids a box of old jewelry pieces and let them go wild. Great for kids parties
  • Add rhinestone jewelry pieces to a large oval egg shape for a one of a kind Easter gift
  • Hang pieces from vintage jewelry in a broken wind chime for a unique glitzy outdoor accent
  • Use bits of vintage jewelry to decorate scrap book pages
  • Use old pices of rhinestone and glass jewelry to make one of a kind Christmas mosaic tree to decorate for the holiday.
An example of the Christmas tree idea is shown in this YouTube video that I recently found when looking for craft idea.

I get loads of this sort of jewelry in the estate collections that I buy. I just stick it in a box in the corner of my sorting room and when it's full, I put it on eBay. Be sure to check out my store Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry. I often have this type of craft collection for sale.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Long Dangle Earrings a Hit at the 2009 Daytime Emmy Awards

The 36th annual Daytime Emmy awards which were seen on August 30 were an odd mix of fashion styles. The range of outfits ran from fairly casual to over the top glam. Jewelry didn't play too much of a part, though.
Photo credit Getty Images

As usual, necklines were unadorned. I spotted a few bangles but the main stars of the night were long dangly earrings. They seemed to have been worn by everyone, including All My Children's veteran Susan Lucci.

No discussion of the night would be complete without the mention of the arrival of Stacy Haiduk from the Young and the Restless, who was accompanied by her character Mary Jane's dead stuffed cat, Mr. Kitty. At least Mr. Kitty wore a necklace!

Image credit AP Photo/Matt Sayles

For more photos from the evening, you can visit OMG for their spread.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin