Links of London is a jewelry company based in the UK (as one would assume from the name). The company got started on what can best be described as a whim: in 1990, founder Annoushka Ducas designed some fish-shaped cuff links to be given as Christmas presents to the top customers of her Mothers’ fish business. After the holidays, she still had a number of them left, so she went into the luxury London department store Harvey Nichols and asked if they would be interested in selling them. They said yes, but only if she designed an entire collection, and Links of London was born.
Ducas started the company together with her husband John Ayton in 1991, and it became a huge success and recipient of many awards. In 2006, the couple sold Links of London for £50 million to Greek jewelry company Folli Follie, and in 2009, Annoushka Ducas started a new jewelry business – “Annoushka”.
Links of London continues its success story: their products can now be found in over 300 stores across the globe as well as online; the company was recently asked to create the official London Olympics 2012 jewelry line; and their pieces are worn by many celebrities, including Kate Middleton (or the Duchess of Cambridge as she is known these days) who wore their “Hope” white topaz earrings in the official engagement photos.
Two new collections are released each year, and there are currently 10 different lines of jewelry (each with a very distinct look), in addition to watches, a bridal collection and various gifts (frames, bags, bag charms, etc.):
The Links of London Jewelry Collections
The Sweetie line consists mostly of bracelets (but there are also a few necklaces, earrings, ringsand a watch) and the signature look here is rings stacked to form a bracelet or as part of one.
As you would assume, this line consists of friendship bracelets, made from sterling silver and threads in various colors. There are single and double-wrap versions, most have silver “pins”, some have other silver designs like hearts, strawberries, and a tad startling, skulls. One really fun one that caught my attention is the Wimbledon Tennis Ball Friendship bracelet, which is made from tiny silver tennis balls woven together by thread in that neon yellow-greenish color of tennis balls.
This collection is made up of silver and gold “bubbles” and includes some really substantial bracelets, a few friendship ‘bubble bracelets” (my favorites), rings, earrings and necklaces.
The 20/20 line consists of interlocking rings in various designs and sizes.
The Hope collection is designed to emulate stone shapes and includes earrings, rings, pendants, a charm, and bracelets.
Camden is all about skulls – woven into bracelets, as pendants, charms and cufflinks.
The signature collection is one of the most understated and consists of charms, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and a ring in shiny silver with moonstones in gorgeous shades of orange and grey.
Another discreet collection, this one inspired by bamboo. It’s all sterling silver and includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings.
Love note features hearts, hearts and more hearts in white, yellow and rose gold, and the charms have amethysts and amazonites.
The 2012 collection features the Olympics jewelry – charms, bracelets, necklaces, cufflinks, key rings, earrings, charm beads, rings and more – most celebrating Britain and/or sports in some way.
A new line of friendship bracelets called “Feed” was recently launched. The bracelets are made from different colored cords with a single sterling silver bead in various shapes (water drop, dove, heart, etc.), each supporting a different hunger-fighting program through the FEED foundation. And if you happen to be in London, you can get your hands on one design with an 18k gold heart that is sold only at Harrods and supports food for kids in high HIV/AIDS areas.
Links of London for Men
As you would expect from a company that got started thanks to a pair of cufflinks, the men’s jewelry include a quite extensive cufflink collection in fun, unusual and manly designs such as skulls, moustaches, barbells, etc. The moustache cufflinks were created specifically for “Movember” – a yearly worldwide charity event that help raise money for research specific to men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, etc. – and 10% of the sales proceeds are donated to Movember.
The Men’s collection also include several friendship bracelets, rings, necklaces, watches and accessories (wallets, collar bones, etc.).
Links of London for Kids
There is also a line for kids, which includes jewelry (sterling silver charm bracelets sized for babies and young children), gift items (keepsake boxes, etc.), and these darling little miniature animal couples, each with the most adorable names: Harry and Helena Hedgehog, Percy and Patricia Pig, Orlando and Olivia Ostrich, etc. Too cute!
Links of London Charms
And last, but not least, there is of course their extensive collection of charms – which currently consists of around 350 designs. The charms are made from sterling silver and 18k gold, many are enameled, some have precious stones (diamonds, topaz, sapphires, etc.) and the designs range from cheeky to chic.
I have always loved pretty much everything I see in the Sundance catalog (and have been the lucky recipient of many a birthday and Christmas present from there). I just got the latest one in the mail and was extra delighted to see that there are more charm necklaces and bracelets than I have seen from them in one catalog before. There is definitely a trend going on right now with personalized jewelry in general, and charm necklaces in particular, and there are some of those in this catalog as well.
For those who haven’t heard of them before (oh, are you in for a treat!), Sundance is a jewelry, clothing and home decor company in Utah, founded by Robert Redford (yes, the actor) in 1969. What started as a small local store has grown into a major mail order company (but they still have three stores: one in Utah, one in California and one in Colorado). The first catalog was sent out in 1989 to a small group of people – today the company publishes 35 catalogs/year and they are sent out to millions of customers. And the Sundance Group now also includes the film festival, TV channel, a resort, Sundance Cinemas, and the Sundance Institute.
What I really like about their products (aside from how beautiful they are in their rustic, slightly rough and bohemian way) is that most are handmade by (amazing) artisans. And you can read their bios on the Sundance website, so you get to know a little bit about the person who made your piece of jewelry.
Anyway, here are some of the gorgeous charm necklaces and bracelets from the latest catalog that are definitely going on my wish list (which you can set up right on their site and then share with potential gift-givers. )
The new fall/winter 2011 collections from Thomas Sabo Charm Club – “The Exotic Issue” – is, as you would expect, heavily Asian-influenced. The new designs were presented at cocktail parties in 18 cities across the globe in early August, complete with Asian food and drinks, and even TS-branded rickshaws!
The Seasonal Collection includes new pendants, bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings and charm carriers, and according to Thomas Sabo, it “scintillates with enigmatic lightness, Far Eastern poetry and comic-inspired elements” and ”The positive karma of the Buddhist Great Blessing symbols… overarches the entire collection”. The Asian influence is seen in many of the pendants: fans, Chinese dolls and symbols. My favorites are the pink and white heart and the red fan pendants.
The Classic Collection mixes “boudoir style and cosmopolitan elegance with imagery of the1930s” and includes feathers, masks, and winged hearts in oxidized silver and dark stones. Favorites here include the white cubic zirconia drop and the crown pendants.
The Rebel at Heart is another Asian-inspired collection and is described by the company as “high Asian culture meet urban dandyism and transform Kung Fu fighters into extraordinary gentlemen”. Hhhm. Again, there are winged hearts, feathers, crosses, swords, skulls, Asian fans, dragons and symbols. In this collection, my favorites are the Lantern and locket pendants.
New charms include a bunch of different animals, an adorable globe (which I think is also a little bit funny, it looks like total Thomas Sabo world domination) , a couple of cute high heel clogs, several Asian-inspired charms, and lots of cartoonish designs. My favorites here are the little brown bag and the adorable Westie in a bag.
And, for soccer fans, there is a new Bayern Munich Collection, consisting of charms and small pendants with the club’s slogans and logo.
Tiffany and Co have released their fall and holiday collections, and as usual, there are lots of gorgeous items in all categories, from cute holiday charms to luxurious leather bags and clutches:
This is the beautiful new Paloma Picasso collection, and it consists of scroll-like pendants and earrings in gold and silver (“Luce”); earrings in gold, amethyst and diamond as well as heart pendants in gold with diamonds (“Goldoni”); and star-shaped pendants, bangles, and a gold, diamond and deep blue enamel ring (“Stella”).
A 60s-70s-inspired little collection of sterling silver squarish bangles, a ring and a pendant, with a cutout letter on each side, spelling out LOVE.
There are three new charms, all in sterling silver with Tiffany blue enamel, and all holiday themed: a reindeer, stocking and hat.
These are three solid bangles in silver and gold in different widths, two with cutout lock images, and one with a cute little lock charm in silver and rose gold.
Gorgeous and classic gold, diamond and red spinel necklace and bracelet by Jean Schlumberger (for those with a generous jewelry budget – they sell for $275,000 and $125,000, respectively).
New from Elsa Peretti, a delicate and understated necklace and bracelet, both in relatively thin gold wire with a diamond at each end.
Platinum & Diamonds
The Soleste is a platinum ring set with diamonds; the Grace is a set of platinum earrings and a pendant, all with diamonds, and (this one is my favorite) there is an absolutely stunning new platinum pendant with diamonds and a large sapphire. I’d put it on my Christmas wish list, but I very much doubt I get it – it sells for $500,000…
I know this is a blog about jewelry, but I can’t resist mentioning the absolutely adorable clutches in the new leather collection. The whole bag collection is fabulous, but the clutches… oh so cute! My favorite by far is the “bracelet clutch” in deep red velvet with a bracelet-like handle (and it’s a relative bargain at $995).
For quite some time now, I have been “collecting” names of artists, designers and manufacturers of charms and charm bracelets. Then it dawned on me: perhaps others could also benefit from this list, and find new favorite designers and styles? I asked a few friends, who all said YES! so I decided it would be a good idea to share it with you all.
You will see that it is a wide variety – everything from famous fashion designers to relatively unknown artists working out of their home studio. The list is constantly growing and I keep finding new and exciting designs all the time. However, I don’t put “just anyone” on the list – only original designs and I have to like them. So I guess you can say it’s a “curated list”.
As I mentioned above, this list is by no means complete, and I will keep adding to it on a regular basis. If you have a favorite designer you think belongs on this list (from anywhere in the world), please contact me and I will check them out and if I like what I see, I’ll add them.
Since charms come in several styles these days, I have created a little style “key” so that you can easily find the types of charms you are looking for:
European-style = bead charms Vintage = no longer in production, but can be found at auctions, etc. Traditional-style charms unless noted otherwise Traditional = Regular charms (with jump or split ring attachments. NOTE that traditional does not necessarily mean traditional looking bracelets; it just describes the type of charm Clip on charms = Traditional charms with a clasp attachment Italian charms = Modular link-style Craft = mini charms suitable for scrap booking, etc. Kids = charm bracelets for children Rings = interchangeable charm or bead rings, or rings with charms attached Earrings = interchangeable charm or bead earrings Necklaces = interchangeable charm or bead necklaces Mobile = cell phone charms Pre-made = already assembled charm bracelets, usually with the charms soldered on. Pre-made in parenthesis means it is the only type they offer, Pre-made on its own means they offer that in addition to separate charms Slide = slide charms Watch = charm watches
A Aaron Basha – Traditional (kids) Accessories & Beyond – Traditional (pre-made) Accurist – watch (European-style) Adamantus – Clip on Affinity - Clip on Ajda Lampwork – European-style Alengio - European-style Alex and Ani – Traditional (pre-made) bangles Alex Monroe - Traditional & Pre-made Alex Woo – Traditional (pre-made) Alia Jewelry – European-style Altruette - Traditional & Pre-made Amore & Baci – European-style, Kids Amore La Vita – Clip on AmuletGifts - Traditional & Pre-made (lucky charms) Analece Design – Traditional, Clip on, Anna Rose Jewelry – Traditional & Pre-made Anna Sui - Traditional (pre-made) Annika Bertilsdotter - Traditional, Clip on Annina Vogel – Pre made (from vintage pieces) Anson - Vintage Archive Jewelry – Traditional (pre-made), Vintage Art-Charms – Traditional (custom made from kids art) Ashley Pittman – Traditional (pre-made) Assya - Traditional (pre-made) Astley Clarke - Traditional (pre-made) Aurélie Bidermann – Traditional (pre-made) Avindy - Traditional (pre-made) Avon - Vintage Azendi - European-style, Traditional Azuni - Traditional (pre-made)
B Baby Phat – Clip on, Pre-made Baci Beads – European-style Bacio- European-style, Kids Badgley Mischka – Traditional (pre-made) Baglady - European-style, Traditional, Clip on Barbara Bixby – Traditional Basch - Traditional (pre-made) Bates & Klinke – Vintage Beau Sterling – Vintage Bell Trading Post – Vintage Belleek Living – Traditional (pre-made) Bellina Beads – European-style Betsey Johson – Traditional (pre-made) Betty Design – European-style Beverly K – Traditional (pre-made) Beyond Words – Traditional Biagi beads – European-style, Clip on, Kids Bill Levine – Traditional Bing Bang - Traditional (pre-made) Birdland Creations – Traditional (pre-made) Blee Inara – Traditional (pre-made) Blossom Copenhagen – Traditional Boho Soho – Clip on Bombay Duck – Clip on Bongo - Traditional (pre-made) Bon Bon Charms – Traditional Bonn Bons – Slide Bottega Veneta – Clip on Boxing - Italian Boucheron - Vintage Breadner - Vintage Brighton Charms – European-style, Clip on Bruno Zanetti – Italian Bugard Studio – Rings Bulgari - Clip on, Pre-made, Burberry - Traditional (pre-made)
C Carl Art – Vintage Carolee - Clip on Carolina Bucci – Traditional (pre-made) Carolyn Pollack – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Cartier - Vintage, Clip on Casa d’oro – Italian Cassandra Erin – Traditional (pre-made) Cath Kidston – Traditional (pre-made) Catherine Canino – Traditional (pre-made) Catherine Michiels – Traditional Cathy Dailey – European-style, Traditional Cathy Waterman – Traditional, Pre-made Cellini - Traditional, Vintage Chamilia beads – European-style, Kids Chanel - Vintage, Clip on, Traditional Charity Charms – Clip on, Pre-made Charles Horner – Vintage Charm Barn – Craft Charm Factory – Traditional, European-style, Pre-made Charm It – Clip on (kids) Charmco - Traditional Charmed Memories – European-style Charming by Ti Sento – Clip on Charming Life - Traditional & Pre-made Charmology - Traditional (pre-made) Charms UK – European-style, Clip on Charmworks - Traditional Chelsea Taylor – European-style, Clip on CherieO - European-style, Traditional Cherished Time Designs – Traditional, Pre-made Chim - Vintage Chloe - Traditional (pre-made) Creed - Vintage Christie Martin – Traditional Christy Lea Payne (CLP) - Traditional & Pre-made Chrysalis - European-style, Clip on, Necklaces ChuBo Beads – European-style Clogau Gold – European-style, Clip on, Traditional, Pre-made Coach - Traditional (pre-made), Clip on Coloured Rocks – European-style, Clip on, Pre-made Coro (Corocraft) - Vintage Courtney Simmelkjaer - Traditional (pre-made) Cousin Claudine - Traditional (pre-made) Crea - Vintage Crystalbead888 - European-style
D D for Diamonds – Traditional (pre-made) for kids Damas Jewellery – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Danecraft - Vintage Dangerous Goods – Traditional, Clip on David Andersen – Vintage David Yurman – Traditional DaVinci Beads - European-style Dazzlers - Clip on Dazzling - Traditional (pre-made) De-ani, Inc. – Clip on Deffego - European-style, Italian Diddi Design – Traditional (pre-made), Clip on Dinky Fingerprint Company, The – Traditional, Pre-made, European-style Dinny Hall – Traditional (pre-made) Dior - Clip on & Pre-made Disney Couture – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Dogeared - Traditional (pre-made) Dolce & Gabbana – Traditional (pre-made) Donatella - European-style, Traditional Doriwallace Jewelry – European-style Dower & Hall – Pre made & Traditional Dyrberg/Kern – Traditional (pre-made)
E Edblad & Co – Traditional (pre-made) Ecuus Designs - European-style Elco - Vintage Elle Jewelry – Clip on Elsa Peretti (for Tiffany) – Vintage, Pre-made Elsa Schiaparelli - Vintage Embracelets - Traditional, Pre-made Erickson Beamon – Traditional (pre-made) Essenza Beads – European-style Ettika - Traditional (pre-made) Evolve New Zealand – European-style Extasia - Clip on
F Fabergé - Vintage Femme Metale – Traditional & Pre-made Field & Rose (Laura Love Rose) – Traditional & Pre-made Fiorelli - Traditional (pre-made) Florenza - Vintage Formia Design – Traditional (custom made from kids art) Forstner - Vintage Fort of Providence – Vintage Fossil - Clip on, Pre-made Free People – Traditional, Vintage
G Garold Miller – Traditional (pre-made) George Jensen – Clip on, Vintage George Shiebler – Vintage Gioielli Italy – Mobile, Italian Giorgio Martello – Clip on Glassbeadstudio - European-style Glitzy Girls - Traditional (pre-made) for kids Good Charma – Traditional (pre-made), Necklaces, Kids GP Firenze - Italian Granchelli - European-style Gucci - Traditional (pre-made) Guess - Clip on, Traditional (pre-made)
H Halia - European-style Harrods - Mobile Heather Moore – Traditional, Pre-made Helen Ficalora – Traditional Hellobead - European-style Henry Dankner & Sons – Vintage HighChi – Tradtitional & Pre-made High IntenCITY – Clip on (kids) Hilla Design – European-style Hint Charms - Traditional Hot Diamonds – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Hultquist-Copenhagen – Traditional (pre-made)
I Ideal Jewelry Manufacturing Company (trademark Theda) – Vintage Individuality - European-style Intercast - Vintage Ippolita - Traditional
J James Avery Charms – Traditional Jay Strongwater – Clip on Jayposon - Vintage Jemma Lulu – Traditional (pre-made) Jennifer Zeuner – Traditional (pre-made) Jessica Elliot - Traditional (pre-made) Jewelart Sterling – Vintage Jewellery Tree, The – Traditional (custom made) Jill Schiff - Traditional & Pre-made JM Fisher Company - Vintage Jo for Girls – European-style, Traditional (pre-made) for kids Joan Rivers – Traditional (pre-made) John Hardy – Traditional (pre-made) John Lewis – European-style (pre-made) Jon Richard – Clip on, Pre-made, European-style JouJou - Clip on Joulberry - Traditional (custom) Joy Everly - Traditional, Pre-made, Kids Juicy Couture – Clip on Just Divine – Traditional (pre-made) Just J – Clip on
K K&Company – Craft Kalassmycken - Clip on, Pre-made (kids) Karen Foster Design – Craft Karen Hill Tribe Silver – European-style, Traditional KC Designs – Traditional (pre-made) Kelly Waters – Traditional Kieselstein Cord – Traditional (pre-made) Kinney - Vintage Kirks Folly – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Kit Heath – Traditional (pre-made), European-style (their own version, only fits their chains), Kids, Clip on Konstantino – Traditional (pre-made) Kranz & Ziegler – Traditional
L La Vie Parisienne – Traditional (pre-made) Lacey Ryan – Traditional (pre-made) Lagos - Traditional (pre-made) Landmark Beads – European-style Lauren Sigman – Traditional (pre-made) Les Néréides – Traditional, Pre made Leslie MacInnes – Traditional (custom made from kids art) Lilyme - Traditional Links of London – Traditional Linx & More – Tiny charms to go in their lockets, Italian Liz Claiborne – Traditional (pre-made) Lois Hill – Traditional (pre-made) LOLA of Paris – European-style, Clip on London Road Jewellery – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Loop Collection, The – Traditional (pre-made) Louis Vuitton – Clip on Lovelinks- European-style, Kids LovingTheBead - European-style, Clip on, Rings, Earrings, Necklaces LTD Art Glass – European-style Lucky Brand – Clip on Lulu Guinness – Traditional (pre-made) Lunch at the Ritz – Traditional (pre-made bracelets) Lutrick - European-style Luv Links – European-style
M M & B Vintage – Vintage, Traditional Magdalena Ruiz Pasieka – European-style Maisel’s Indian Trading Post – Vintage Maloa - Traditional (pre-made) Manolo Blahnik (for TOUS) – Traditional (launches in March 2011) Marc Jacobs – Traditional (pre-made) Marcus Max Design – Rings Mark Poulin - Traditional (pre-made), Necklaces MarMalaid – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Martick - Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Maryann Wilkin Designs – Traditional & Pre-made Mathot Design – European-style Me to You – Traditional (pre-made) for kids Medical Alert Link – Italian (medical alert bracelets) Mercedes Salazar – Traditional (pre-made) Mi Lajki – Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Michele Baratta – Traditional & Pre-made Mikey Jewellery – Clip on Milly - Traditional (pre-made) Molly Brown – Traditional & Pre-made Monet (aka Monocraft Products Company) - Vintage Monica Rich Kosann - Traditional, Necklaces, Pre-made Monserat de Lucca – Traditional (pre-made) Moritz Glik – Traditional (pre-made) Muano - European-style Muru - Clip on
Nagara by SeaZen – European-style Napier - Vintage Nelle & Lizzy – Traditional, Pre-made Nick Hubbard – Traditional, Pre-made Nicky Vankets – Traditional (pre-made) Nina Designs – Traditional Nina/STHLM – Traditional (pre-made) Nomination - Italian Nuvo - Vintage
O Oh la la – Traditional (pre-made) using ribbons instead of chains OHMBeads - European-style Ole Lynggaard – Traditional & Pre-made OneJewels – European-style for their own line of rings and necklaces Oriana Jewelry – European-style Oscar de la Renta – Traditional (pre-made) Otis Jaxon – Clip on Oxxo Design – Traditional, Clip on
P P & B Sterling – Vintage Page Sargisson – Traditional, Necklaces Pandora Jewelry – European-style Pastiche - Clip on Paul Morelli – Clip on
Peace of Mind - Traditional Pearl Affection, The – Clip on Pearls for Girls – Clip on Pedro Boregaard – Traditional Penny Preville – Traditional Perlamore - European-style Personality - European-style Personalized Boutique – Clip on Peruzzi - Vintage Pia Jewellery – European-style, Clip on Pianegonda - Clip on Pick Up Sticks Jewelry Co. - Traditional Pilgrim - Clip on, Traditional, Necklaces, Earrings Playboy - Traditional (pre-made), Mobile Pnut Jewelry – Traditional (but very unusual!), Pre-made Polkadot Magpie- Traditional Privileged - Traditional & Pre-made Pugster - European-style, Italian, Clip on, Traditional Puzzle Collection – Italian
Q Queen Baby – Traditional (pre-made)
R Raymond Yard – Vintage ReFlorence - Italian Rembrandt Charms – Traditional, clip on Reller - European-style, Traditional R.L. Griffith – Vintage Romano Passavinti - Italian Rosecraft - Vintage Royal London - Clip on RYLDesigns - Traditional RYRY - Italian
Sacred Charms – Traditional (pre-made), Clip on SarahDipiti – Traditional Saskia Rose Design – Clip on, Pre-made Satya Jewelry – Traditional (pre-made) Scribble - Traditional (pre-made) for kids Seidengang - Traditional (pre-made) Serena’s Beadery – European-style Shane Co – Traditional (w option to add clip on) Shanti - Clip on, Pre-made, European-style Siena Jewellery – Clip on Silver by Mail – Clip on Silverado - European-style, Kids Simstars - European-style Slane & Slane – Traditional (pre-made) SNÖ of Sweden - Traditional (pre-made) Sparkling Sage – Traditional (pre-made) Spencer - Vintage Spinning Jewelry – European-style, Rings Stella & Dot – Traditional Stephen Einhorn – Traditional, Pre-made Storm Jewellery – European-style, Clip on, Necklaces, Pre made Storywheels - European-style Stuller - Clip on, Traditional (pre-made) Style Naturale – Traditional (pre-made) Sundance Catalog – Traditional, Pre-made Suuz Design – European-style Svane & Lührs – Clip on Swarovksi - Clip on
T Talexia - Italian Talkatoo - Clip on (recordable!) Tarina Tarantino – Traditional (pre-made) Taxco - Vintage Tedora - European-style Temple St.Clair – Traditional, Pre-made TerraCast - Traditional Terranova - Vintage Thea Grant - Traditional (pre-made) Theda - Vintage Theo Fennell – Clip on Thomas L Mott – Vintage Thomas Sabo Charm Club – Clip on Three Sisters Jewelry Design – Traditional Ti Sento – Clip on, Pre-made Tiffany & Co – Traditional Timebeads - European-style watch beads Tina Tang – Traditional TLM (Thomas L Mott) – Vintage Tous-Traditional (pre-made), Toric joint Trifari - Vintage Trina Turk - Traditional (pre-made) Troll beads- European-style Truth - European-style, Clip on, Necklaces, Kids (“Truth Cutie”) Tur-Agamo - European-style
U Unodomani - Italian
V Van Cleef & Arpels – Vintage Verdura - Vintage, Pre-made Viva Beads – European-style Våga - Clip on
W Walt Disney Productions – Vintage Walter Lampl - Vintage We Three Designs – Traditional, Necklaces Wells Sterling – Vintage WellsWare - Traditional & Pre-made William Ruser – Vintage
X Xenox - Clip on, Pre-made Xixis Beads – European-style XOXO - Traditional (pre-made)
Z Zable - European-style, Earrings, Necklaces Zoppini - Italian
Costume jewelry can be so many things; expensive designer as well as very affordable “no-name” pieces. Most often when we hear the term “costume jewelry”, we think of classic designer pieces from the 1920s to 1970s – Chanel, Miriam Haskell, Trifari, etc.
But it can also be new pieces – Merriam Webster defines costume jewellery as “jewelry designed for wear with current fashions and usually made of inexpensive materials“. And what could be more inexpensive than recycled items?
We are all trying to be good about recycling, re-using and upcycling these days, and some designers have taken this to new levels. All this creativity so inspiring! You’ll see that pretty much anything can be turned into wearable art, and once you’re done reading this article, take a look around your house – you will probably find plenty of potential jewelry supplies that you may not have noticed before.
I’m straying a bit here – these are not all charms or charm bracelets, but I just could not resist sharing them. Here are some of my favorite recent discoveries:
Chicago artist Betsy Treacy creates necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets from colorful vintage postage stamps from all over the world. Each piece is handmade and unique; no two are identical, and they make for great conversation pieces and gifts (how about a pendant made from a Norwegian stamp for your friend from Oslo?)
The husband and wife artist team behind The Cottage Path Boutique make beautiful bracelets from old silverplate spoons. The spoons are cut and shaped into two halves, and then connected with chain and rings. Some have charms, some don’t. They also make gorgeous pendants, earrings and key rings – all from old spoons.
Michigan-based Joy of Joy’s Jewels turns old typewriter keys (as well as old cash register and pay phone keys) into bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, watch bands and cufflinks. Sometimes the bracelets spell out something, sometimes not. My favorites are (of course) the bracelets with one single key charm – so cute!
Coins have been used as charms for quite a long time. In the 1800s they were often used as romantic gifts or souvenirs and were known as “love tokens”. People would sand one side down and then carve a name or a message into it. Artisan Jessie Driscoll is taking this old tradition to new fabulous heights. Using vintage US coins, she sands one side, create designs by hammering and forging, and shapes the coin into a dome. Some are used “as is”, and on the altered pieces, you will see the original coin on the back. She creates charm bracelets (both loaded and with just one charm), bracelets without charms, necklaces, earrings, pendants, and key rings. I think they’re beautiful, and I’m not alone – her jewelry has been picked up by celebrities like Fergie, Liz Phair, Donna Karan and Avril Lavigne.
These stunning pieces by award-winning Turkish architect Gülnur Özdaglar are made from recycled PET bottles. Gülnur started making jewelry (and home decor items) from PET bottles in 2008, and her aim was to create beautiful objects from discarded products, thereby encouraging others to do the same. If I could create things like these from my old bottles, I’d be thrilled!
Today we are going to talk about one of my favorite types of charms: puffy hearts.
Puffy (or puffed) hearts are also known as répoussé hearts (more on that later) and first became popular in the late 1800s. They stayed in vogue until around 1910 when for some reason they lost their popularity, only to re-gain it in the 1930s – 1950s.
Today, vintage puffy hearts are much sought after fashion jewelry pieces. They are priced accordingly, and you can expect to pay quite a bit for a pristine Victorian heart charm or an enameled heart from the 1940s in perfect condition. Unfortunately, there are many fakes out there, some so good that there are times when even the experts are fooled, so if you are shopping for a vintage puffy heart bracelet, it pays to do a little bit of reading and research first.
Puffy hearts have hollow cores and are made either from two halves put together, or one piece of metal folded over. The designs are either répoussé (aka repoussage – a technique where the design has been hammered into the metal on the reverse, the side that eventually ends up as the interior of the heart, and shows up in relief on the front) or chasing (the design is impressed into the front of the heart, creating depressions).
Victorian puffy hearts were mostly made from silver (or gold filled), sometimes with beaded edges, gypsy set (= flush with the surface of the charm) with precious, semi-precious or glass stones (cabochons or rose cut) vitreous enameled (the “lucky color” turquoise was especially popular and these gorgeous charms are some of my favorites), and often beautifully engraved. They were hung on rigid bangles or substantial link chains with adorable heart and key padlock clasps. Puffy heart locket charms (and pendants) were also very popular, and held pictures or a piece of hair.
Hearts from the 1930s, 40s are usually silver (the other precious metals were used for products needed in the war), and in the 50s silver or gold. They are most often hung on chain bracelets (thinner than the Victorian ones), sometimes with heart padlocks, sometimes with other clasps.
30s-50s hearts are often more “puffy” than the Victorian ones, and have glass or rhinestones, either gypsy set or simply glued in, sometimes engravings (hand or machine), vitreous or cold enamel, and guilloché. This term is often used as a name for a certain style of enamel, but it is in fact the name of the process itself, and describes a pattern or design machine-carved into the metal (and then covered with enamel). It is important to understand this distinction, because you will see many painted and enameled charms erroneously described as guilloché. If they don’t have that machine-cut pattern underneath the enameling, they are NOT guilloché. The machines used for this type of carving are not made anymore, and you won’t find any guilloché charms produced today.
The most prolific charm designer in the 40s and 50s was Walter Lampl, whose catalog at one point consisted of over 750 charms. The charms came in huge variety of designs and were made from sterling silver and 14k gold, often set with pearls, precious and semi-precious stones. The “flower of the month” puffy heart charm series was (and is) extremely popular. Each charm features a guilloché background, enamel, a painted flower and the birthstone of the month set above the flower. The Lampl Company also made amazing movable charms, and the charm bracelets celebrities were given at the end of each episode of “This is your life”.
He was also one of the few who hallmarked his charms, and they are easily identified. If you see WL in a shield (or the more obvious WALTER LAMPL, or LAMPL), you’re looking at a Walter Lampl charm. They are highly collectible and many sell for hundreds of dollars today.
You can also find reproduction puffy hearts from the 70s and on, made with old molds (or molds created from old charms, or just plain copies) but these have little or no value from a collector’s standpoint (yet…). There are many that are quite lovely and beautiful pieces of jewelry in their own right (and honest sellers will label them “repro”, “reproduction” or “vintage-style”), but if you are looking for vintage or antique pieces, it’s good to know that these are out there and be on the lookout for “antique” charms from the 80s…
Also, if you are buying an entire assembled vintage charm bracelet, be sure to inspect each charm, as well as the chain, closely. While some of the charms may be antique, others may be repros. There is nothing wrong with that of course, as long as the seller is up front about it, and you don’t pay premium price for something that is misrepresented to you. How can you tell? As I mentioned earlier, it is not easy. But there are a few clues to look for: anything rhodium-plated is not vintage or antique. Also inspect the embossed designs closely. Victorian ones are crisper, more detailed and deeper than those from the 40s, and modern day reproductions are even less so. Also, many contemporary charms are treated with chemicals to give them that vintage tarnished look. Try scraping lightly with a fingernail, and if the tarnish comes off, it’s a sign that it’s not vintage. This is not a foolproof method however, since you can also tarnish silver with the help of eggs (thanks to the sulphur), which leaves no residue.
But don’t let all this talk about fakes scare you off. Puffy hearts are wonderful little pieces of art, and the more you educate yourself, the more likely you are to end up with a true vintage treasure. To me personally, the more I know, the more I enjoy shopping for them – it almost becomes a sport to “spot the fake”. Happy shopping!
Vintage fashion jewelry (also known as costume jewellery) pieces have become increasingly popular collectors’ items over the past few years. It is easy to see why – there is a huge variety of styles to choose from, many are quite affordable, and it’s a collection you can wear and enjoy every day.
A Focused Collection
You can of course buy any vintage jewelry you like, but sometimes it’s easier to focus a collection around a certain theme and zero in on specific pieces, such as fashion jewelry necklaces, brooches, bracelets, charms, cocktail rings, earrings, etc.; a certain material like Bakelite, enamel, stainless steel, Swarovski crystals, wood, etc.; a particular motif such as frogs, elephants, flower baskets, etc.; a specific designer – Chanel, Coro, Miriam Haskell, Dior, Coppola e Toppo (or lesser-known names); a particular decade – you get the idea.
Signed or Unsigned?
For those who are just starting out collecting, the safest bet is to go with signed items (at least for pricier pieces). There is lots of gorgeous unsigned vintage designer fashion jewelry on the market (many pieces are even made by the most well-known and collectible designers), and they can often turn out to be your most valuable finds, but until you have developed an eye for a designer’s style and know that what you are looking at is in fact an unsigned designer piece, investing a lot of money in it can be risky (this advice can obviously be ignored if you have completely fallen in love with the item and don’t care if it’s the real deal or not!).
The best way to learn to recognize vintage designer jewelry is to study designs online, in museums, and in books. Also make sure to visit antique and vintage shops (ideally ones that specialize in vintage fashion jewelry) and ask questions about the pieces.
Parures, Diamanté, Pavé – Some Common Terms
Once you start exploring the world of vintage fashion jewelry, you will come across certain terms again and again, and it is good to know what they mean. Here are some that I had to look up when I first started getting into this:
Apple Juice – a semitransparent, yellow plastic Bakelite – a type of moldable but sturdy plastic (made from formaldehyde and carbolic acid)invented by Dr. Leo Baekland. Popular in costume jewelry in the 1920s-1940s. Cabochon – a smooth stone or paste with a rounded dome-like top and flat bottom Demi-Parure – a set with fewer pieces (2-3), often containing a matching necklace, pin and earrings Diamanté – diamond imitation made from rhinestone Gilt – gold plated or dipped in gold Japanning – a finishing technique that colors metal a dull or shiny black (an imitation of Asian lacquer) Jelly Belly – a pin or brooch in the shape of an animal with a glass or lucite stone for a belly Lucite – a transparent plastic (acrylic resin) Parure - a set of jewelry (4-5 pieces), most often consisting of a matching bracelet, brooch, necklace, earrings and sometimes a ring Paste – glass that has been cut and faceted to look like gemstones Pate de Verre – also called glass paste or poured glass. Glass is ground into a paste, sometimes mixed with colors, placed in a mold and fired in a kiln, resulting in a dense frosted glass piece Pavé – design term for stones placed so close together you cannot see the surface beneath them (it is “paved” with stones). Pinchbeck – a gold imitation made from copper and zinc, invented by Christopher Pinchbeck Prong setting – a setting where the stones are held in place by metal prongs (claw-like “fingers”) Rhodoid – laminated layers of cellulose acetate, invented by designer Lea Stein’s husband in the late 60s Russian gold – a coppery, matte antiquey-looking gold finish developed by Joseff of Hollywood in order to cut down on reflections from jewelry in films Vermeil – silver with a gold plate coating
Where To Shop
You can find collectible vintage jewelry in many places – flea markets, yard sales, antique shops and shows, estate sales, online, auctions, relatives’ attics, etc. With the vast amount of vintage fashion jewelry on the internet, it is tempting (and easy) to buy online. But beware – there are lots of fakes out there, and many are even stamped with the supposed designer’s name. When starting out, I recommend buying pieces in person rather than online, Find a reputable, well-renowned dealer in your area (and in places you are traveling to – do your research well ahead of time). Buying “live” gives you a chance to closely inspect each item, and learn more about it from the seller.
Having said that, I would like to mention that an inexpensive piece presented to you as designer vintage costume jewelry does not necessarily have to be a fake. Many stunning pieces are surprisingly affordable, especially those that were mass-produced.
Inspect The Jewelry
Always make sure to examine each piece closely (with a magnifying glass) and be on the lookout for cracks, scratches, missing pieces, fading, and obvious repairs. Is it of good quality or does it feel flimsy? Are the stones firmly set (and how – prongs? glue?) or are there loose pieces? Prong-set stones are preferable to glued, because the glue can dry over time, causing the stones to come lose. Make sure the clasp works.
Maintenance And Care
When wearing your vintage jewelry, be careful with it and avoid it coming in contact with lotions, hair spray, soap, perfume, etc. (not easy, I know). Clean it with a soft cloth and use a q-tip or very soft toothbrush to get dirt out of hard to reach places. Store the pieces in jewelry boxes (one item per box, unless you have set, in which case I prefer to keep them together) lined with acid-free paper.
I hope I have inspired you to explore the world of vintage fashion jewelry. Even if you don’t want to turn into a full-blown collector, it is a lot of fun browsing for it, testing your knowledge and see if you can pick out a certain designer’s work, and finding a gorgeous item to be enjoyed for decades. And they make beautiful gifts.
Once you start exploring the world of charms, it’s hard to stop yourself from looking for them everywhere and buying more than you could ever use (which I guess is true of any collection).
The great thing about a charm collection though, is that they are small, light, and wearable, so unlike pottery for example, they are not going to take up a ton of space in your home and just sit on a shelf and collect dust. And even vintage or antique pieces can be very affordable. You can start collecting any type you want, of course, but sometimes, focusing on a particular kind makes things a little bit easier.
Here are a few suggestions:
Since charms have been around for thousands of years, there are plenty of them out there, ranging in price from a few dollars to several thousands. Costume jewellery from the last century is a very popular, and varied, vintage category. Decide on a theme (puffy silver heart bracelets, movable charms, coins, good luck charms, etc.) or a certain decade and hunt for charms from that period.
Cracker Jack Charms
Celluloid charms were made in the 1920s-1940s and there are tons of them available on the market. They can be plain (a whitish color) or painted and some even have small gold accents. To make sure that what you’re buying is an actual Cracker Jack, look for a “Cracker Jack” or CJ stamp on the piece, and you may also want to consult an expert before you hand over a lot of cash.
Charms by a Specific Designer
Focus on just one designer and build your collection around that brand. You can go with vintage/antique fashion jewelry – there are plenty to chose from (for example Coro, Hobe, Kramer), or a contemporary designer (Juicy Couture, Rona K, Sydney Evan, Rembrandt charms). Some have been around for a long time and are still in production, such as Raymond Yard, Danecraft, or James Avery, which gives you the best of both worlds.
A Particular Animal
I love elephants, and it seems many other people do too, because you can find a huge variety of elephant charms from almost every time period in every material. Pick a favorite animal and build your collection around that.
A Specific Material
Focus on one particular material, like bakelite, silver, copper, etc. This is obviously a huge category, so you may want to narrow it down to for example silver typewriters, or 14k gold charms from the 1950s.
Where To Find Collectible Charms
These days, anything can be found online, but flea markets, antique stores and shows, estate sales, auctions and yard sales, both at home and in other countries can be great sources. If you’re traveling abroad, read up on the history of charms in that particular country, so you know what to look for (and check out our “Charms in Other Languages” post so you know what they are called in the country you will be visiting).
Also, don’t forget to tell everyone you know about your charm collecting hobby! They make perfect gifts, and we all struggle with what to buy someone for the holidays and other special occasions. This way, your friends and family will know exactly what to get you.