Jewelry has been around since the early stages of civilization. In the beginning, it was used for magical protection, good luck, and warding off evils, but also for aesthetic purposes – we humans have been vain since the dawn of time! Considering how long jewelry has been around and the popularity it has enjoyed through the centuries, there is plenty of it on the market (although you won’t find any 75,000 year old beads on eBay…).
There are many people who collect vintage jewelry from all eras, and I have to say it is a pretty addictive hobby. For those just starting out (or even just shopping for a single piece), knowing where to begin can be tough. Where do you shop? What should you look for?
The First Steps
Going online to look is a natural first choice for many, and you can get a good start on educating yourself simply by browsing around. Vintage jewelry is hugely popular both among collectors and “regular shoppers” and there are plenty of forums online where you can learn a lot just from reading old threads, and of course also ask questions.
What Am I Looking For?
There are many that sell vintage jewelry on the internet, but the multitude of choices can be overwhelming. I find it helpful to decide on the style, material, designer and maybe even decade I want to focus on to help narrow things down a bit, for example: silver necklaces from the 1940s; Miriam Haskell bracelets; enamel Coro brooches; or maybe March birthstone charms in any material from any era.
Research, Research, Research
It always pays to be cautions, no matter where you shop. There are many fakes and “faux vintage” pieces out there, and sometimes not even the seller knows if what they have is the real deal or not. The best way to ensure that you get a true vintage piece is to learn as much about the design / designer / era as you can beforehand. Learn about materials, marks, signed and unsigned pieces, telltale signs, common fakes, etc. And remember that “vintage inspired” and “vintage style” is NOT true vintage.
Read as many books as you can; visit local antique shops and ask questions; surf the net and read up on tips and advice at sites like Vintage Costume Jewels and Collectors Weekly. If you find a piece of jewelry you want to buy but are unsure about when it comes to authenticity, ask in a forum. People are usually more than happy to help and offer advice.
Also check out the rating and reviews of the seller you are considering buying from. Do they offer any sort of proof of authenticity? Do they accept returns? Are the photos on their site clear and crisp, and are there closeups of each part of the piece (including hallmarks)? Contact the seller and ask questions about the item, and to see more photos. If the seller doesn’t get back to you, or doesn’t answer your questions directly, it is best to stay away.
Always pay with a credit card or PayPal. That way you are protected and there is a record of the transaction (and your money can be refunded). If the seller won’t accept either of these payment methods, I would not do business with them.
As long as you do your research and make sure to buy from a reputable seller, buying online is a great way to add to your vintage collection. And if you happen to end up with a fake piece that the seller refuses to take back, consider it a learning experience (as long as you didn’t pay a ton of money for it – in that case I would suggest contacting a lawyer).
And, most of all, have fun with it. It’s important to enjoy the process, and want to learn more, otherwise it’s just another job.
Pretty, powder pink rose quartz is THE gemstone when it comes to love, so I thought this would be a good time to feature it, with Valentine’s Day around the corner.
Rose quartz is (obviously) part of the quartz family (which also includes, among others, amethyst, opal, and citrine) and comes in colors ranging from very pale, translucent pink to dark rose. Some have rutile needles which gives the stone an asterism effect, and you can find transparent stones as well, but they are much more rare, and so pale in color that you can hardly tell they’re pink. (more…)
With holiday travel fast approaching, I thought a post featuring charms that protect travelers would be a timely subject. Travel insurance is all well and good, but with air travel becoming more of a hassle every time, gas prices constantly fluctuating, and fall hurricanes and winter snow storms are on our doorstep, those of us who travel can use all the added protection we can get!
All cultures have their own special way of doing this, and as we saw in the black cat charms post, in certain parts of England, having a black cat on a ship is believed to help keep storms away, and having one in the house is thought to bring fishermen back safely.
Here are a few other charms, amulets and talisman believed to help get you to your destination (and back) without hiccups (read about the protective properties of each below the images):
Runes are characters (often thought to have magical powers) from several different alphabets that were used by Germanic people around the 3rd – 13th centuries. This Nephrite pendant (which also comes in other materials) has a hand carved bind rune (a combination of two or more runes) of Raidho (symbolizing the journey of Life, means of transportation, street smarts, travel, movement) and Elhaz (symbolizing protection, safety). Handmade by Carine of NYC Spellbinder
2. St Christopher
While not formally a saint any more, St Christopher has long been considered a protector of travelers, and is carried by Catholics (and others) all over the world. Vintage silver and enamel St. Christopher charm with a 1940’s sedan on the reverse side. From Eleanor Brown Boutique
3. Traveler’s Prayer
The Traveler’s prayer (Tefilat HaDerech in Hebrew) is a traditional Jewish prayer recited at the beginning of a trip for a safe journey. Black Italian braided leather bracelet with a 14k gold and sterling silver charm inscribed with a part of the prayer. From Most Original Gifts & Jewelry Most Original Gifts & Jewelry
Moonstone, a member of the feldspar group, is associated with much folklore. including attracting passionate love, aid in gardening, balancing emotions, and providing travel protection, especially on water and at night. All useful things to get help with for sure! Vintage (1930s-40s) 14k gold and moonstone pendant from Arnold Jewelers (via Ruby Lane)
Malachite is a green copper carbonate said to help the wearer be comfortable in changing situations, assist with releasing negative experiences, and provide protection from accidents, especially in air travel. Handmade Malachite and sterling silver pendant by Alysha Bushey
Amber, fossilized pine tree sap from millions of years ago, was carried by travelers for protection in ancient times. Today, Amber is more known for clearing negative energy, and anybody who has been at an airport lately knows what a valuable property that can be! Cognac-colored Baltic amber pendant set in 925 sterling silver by Amber Regina
Milagros (“miracles” in Spanish) are small charms that have been used in Spanish folk culture for centuries. They are traditionally used in religious offerings and for healing, but are also carried for protection and good luck. Donkey sterling silver charm. with a turquoise flower on an oxidized chain from Sundance Catalog
8. Kotsu Anzen
The Japanese Kotsu Anzen omamoris are traffic safety charms, amulets that protect travelers from accidents while for example riding a bike, motorcycle or driving. Polyester and rayon Kotsu Anzen from IKI Japan
No, not the fancy brand with the gorgeous orange boxes. This time, we’re talking about the ancient Greek god of of roads and travel. Hermes had a lot on his plate, and among his numerous duties was being the patron god and protector of all travelers. Black onyx amulet engraved with the Star of Hermes by Best Amulets
With Halloween around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time for a post featuring black cat jewelry. I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of Halloween myself; I actually think it’s kind of creepy (I know that’s the point, but I still don’t like it). But I do love cats!
Cats as symbols have a long history, as long as civilization itself. Through the ages, there have been many powers attributed to them – they have been considered good and evil, gods and witches, healers and bringers of disease, and some of the things that were done to them are too horrible to even think about (Google “France cat burning” and you’ll see). Black cats in particular were and are viewed with suspicion – we all know that a black cat crossing the street in front of you is supposed to be bad luck, and even to this day, rescued black cats are only half as likely to find new homes as their white, calico, gray, etc. siblings.
But, fortunately, they have also been considered good luck. In ancient Egypt, the cat Bastet was a goddess of love and protection; killing a cat was a crime that brought a death sentence, and many cats were mummified and buried in coffins, just like humans (archeologists found a cemetery in the city of Bubastis with over 300,000 cats in it!).
In England they were thought to bring fisherman back safely from the sea, and sailors believed that a black cat on the ship kept storms at bay. Receiving a black cat as a wedding gift is good luck, and there is an English proverb that goes “Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack”.
And in Japan, Maneki Nekos, very popular cat figurines that come in all kinds of materials, shapes, sizes and colors (including black), are believed to bring good luck and protection to their owner.
As I mentioned above, I personally love cats, and certainly think they are good luck, whether black or any other color. And their grace, beauty and air of mystique have always made them perfect models for artists of all disciplines, including jewelry. Here are some of my favorite recent cat charm and pendant finds:
In the modern tradition, the birthstone for March is the gorgeous Aquamarine (in the mystical tradition it’s Jade and in all others Bloodstone – more on those in separate posts).
Morganite, Aquamarine and Heliodor
Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family, which also includes Emeralds (green), Morganite (pink – purple), Heliodor (yellow), Goshenite (Clear) and Bixbite (red, very rare). Pure beryl has no color – these stones get their different hues from impurities, and in the case of Aquamarine it comes from iron. The stones are also almost always heat treated which enhances the blue color by removing some of the green and/or yellow that may be present.
The word Aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua (water) and mare (sea) and it certainly is an apt description of the colors of these stones, which range from a pale light blue to deep greenish hues. They are fairly abundant and are mainly mined in Brazil, but also in Madagascar, India, Nigeria, Russia, China and the US.
The stones can come in huge sizes and it is not unusual to see large cut aquamarines of 40 – 50ct. Aquamarines can be quite affordable, but the price of course depends on size and quality. Greenish-blue ones with lots of inclusions are at the lowest end of the price scale, while clear (no inclusions), intensely sky and dark blue stones usually fetch the highest prices. Having said that, beryl sometimes have inclusions that produce rare asterism (star) and cat’s eye effects, and aquamarines with either of those can be quite costly.
Aquamarine Healing Properties
Aquamarines are said to protect seafarers, enhance communication, help you stick to your goals in life, become less self-centered, alleviate depression and anxiety, calm fears, promote tranquility and a light heart and boost creativity and intuition. Holding an aquamarine while meditating helps you focus and go deeper into the meditation. It is also believed to help with the immune system (allergies), the thymus gland, spleen, heart, throat, lymph nodes, eye inflammation, arthritis, and varicose veins.
In addition to being the birthstone of March, it is the planetary stone for Pisces, the state gem for Colorado, the birthstone for October in the Roman, Hebrew and Arabic tradition, and the 19th wedding anniversary stone.
I love aquamarine and always carry a small rondelle with me when I’m not wearing aquamarine jewelry – I find it calms and centers me, especially when I hold it in my hand. Give it try yourself and see what you experience.
As usual, I have selected a few favorite aquamarine charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine necklace pendant by Colorado-based artist Nancy Green
2. Sterling silver Donatella flower charm with an aquamarine dangle. From Macy’s
3. Handmade sterling silver and aquamarine Tree of Life pendant by Florida-based artist Miss M. Turner of Phoenix Fire Designs
4. Vintage 14k gold bracelet with amethysts and aquamarines from Ross-Simons
5. Handmade silver and aquamarine owl charm by British silversmith and artist Caroline of Little Bird Studio 22
6. 14k white gold necklace with an aquamarine and diamond flower pendant from Angara
7. Copper, tin and brass Hamsa hand talisman with aquamarine, glass and Swarovski Crystals. From AmuletGifts.com
8. 14k gold and aquamarine bead charm from Pandora
Amethyst is a member of the Quartz family. Quartz is a mineral, the most abundant on earth, and not only does it make up around 12% of the earth’s crust, it is everywhere. Even those of us who are not living under a rock have quartz all around, perhaps without realizing it. Your TV, computer, watch, cell phone and granite kitchen counter top all contain quartz.
Quartz is commonly divided in two groups – Macrocrystalline (which has visible individual crystals) and Cryptocrystalline (which has crystals you need a microscope to see, sometimes also called Microcrystalline). Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, and it is part of the Macrocrystalline group.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February (except for in the Mystical tradition, where it is Bloodstone. We will cover Bloodstone in the March birthstone post, because it is the birthstone for March in several other traditions), the astrological birthstone for Aquarius, Pisces, and Sagittarius and the 4th, 6th and 17th wedding anniversary gemstone. It has been known and used “forever”, and it was one of the stones in the breastplate of Aaron. It is mainly found in Brazil; other locations include the US (Arizona), Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, Germany, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Namibia, Zambia and Russia.
Amethysts range in color from pale pinkish purple to deep violet and they are the most popular of the quartzes. In spite of that, they are very affordable (the darker the stone, the more expensive it is, generally), and if you’re shopping for the high end variety, you want to look for nice, clear transparent stones without inclusions (i.e. things like bubbles, crystals, graininess, cracks etc. inside the stone). In jewelry, you most often find them faceted or cabochon cut.
Amethysts are sometimes heat treated to alter the color slightly, and when lighter varieties are exposed to heat, they “turn into” citrine (so most citrine on the market is amethyst that has been heat treated).
The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could prevent intoxication and instill a sober mind. The name comes from the Greek “amethustos”, which means “not drunk”. In traditional dramatic Greek fashion, there is the story of Bacchus (a.k.a. Dionysus) and the young maiden Amethyst. A mortal had insulted Bacchus, who as revenge decided to let tigers go after the next human who happened to come along. It turned out the be Amethyst on her way to worship the Goddess Diana. Diana knew of Bacchus’ plan and to spare Amethyst turned her into a quartz pillar, which made Bacchus so remorseful that he wept tears of wine, which turned the now quartz pillar Amethyst purple.
Amethyst Healing Properties
Amethyst is one of the most important stones in crystal healing, believed to get rid of negativity and promote a more positive view on life, protect its wearer, aid in meditation, help when going through major life changes, heal a broken heart and make the wearer able to trust others and fall in love again.
It also helps with addictions, stress, nightmares, insomnia, anger, grief, and feelings of being victimized. On a physical level, it alleviates arthritis and balances the thyroid, helps with headaches and strengthens the skeleton.
And it might be worth it to invest in some amethyst jewelry even if it’s not your birthstone. Crystal Energy Therapist Karen Ryan says “If you could choose only one crystal to wear for healing, Amethyst is the one – it heals all things at all levels”.
Luckily, there are tons of gorgeous pieces to choose from. Here are some of my recent favorite amethyst charm and pendant finds:
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought a post about heart shaped jewelry would be in order.
The Heart – An Ancient Symbol
The heart as a symbol was used as far back as 10,000 BC, although scientists are not exactly sure what it symbolized at that time. In more recent civilizations, it was long believed that thoughts, reasoning and the soul were housed in the heart, and in ancient Egypt, the heart was not only the center of life, but morality and character as well, and your heart was judged to determined your future in the afterlife. The Egyptian Book of the Dead illustrates how after death, a person’s heart is taken to the judgment area and put on a scale opposite the feather of Maat. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the person was all set to enjoy whatever came after, but if it was heavy with sin, the heart would be eaten by the demon Ammit and the person would cease to exist. (so dramatic!)
But why is the heart symbol shaped the way it is? It doesn’t look anything like an actual human heart. And why do we associate that shape with love?
There are many (possible) explanations: Some say it’s because it resembles several different female body parts (use your own imagination here); some claim it is because of a vision Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque had in the 1600s (although that one doesn’t really hold up, because there are stained glass windows with heart symbols that way predates that – maybe she was just commenting on the decor!); it has also been suggested that it’s the heart in the Book of the Dead that inspired it (although I personally think that looks more like an urn or sometimes an actual anatomical heart, but…).
Then there is the theory of the Silphium plant. The seeds from this now extinct variety of wild fennel are shaped just like the heart symbol we use today, and they were widely used as a natural contraceptive. The plant grew in Cyrene (an ancient Greek colony where Libya is today), and was a great source of income for the area. It was extensively commercially traded and the seed pods were even depicted on their coins. It also had a slew of other health benefits (Pliny the Elder wrote that it could be used as an antidote for poison, re-grow hair, cure leprosy, sore throats, etc.), and unfortunately, demand was larger than supply, and it was picked to extinction.
And why it’s associated with love – well, we all know what the heart feels like when you’re in love (or going through a breakup). No mystery there.
Time for the visual part of the post – my selection of some favorite heart charms and pendants:
Collage by Charms Guide
1. Sterling silver filigree heart charm by Rembrandt
3. 10k rose gold charm with set with a red stone (they label it garnet, then say it’s labradorite in the text. Red labradorite has been much debated and a source of both great controversy and lawsuits in the professional gem world. I just wanted to mention that so you can make an informed decision about the piece. Regardless of the quality of the stone, I like it, and I think it’s pretty, so I included it). From Sundance.
There was much excitement when it was announced that Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection was going to be sold at Christies, and expectations were high. The auction, held Tuesday, did not disappoint. The total sum for the 80-lot collection came to a record-setting $115,932,000, making it the most valuable privately owned collection of jewelry ever sold at auction.
The most expensive piece ended up being the Cartier-designed necklace “La Peregrina”, a gorgeous pearl, ruby and diamond piece, which went for close to $12 million (Richard Burton bought it for $37,000 in 1957 – talk about a great investment!).
Elizabeth Taylor of course loved jewelry (check out her fabulous book “My Love Affair With Jewelry”) and amassed a great collection during her lifetime, in large part thanks to her generous (and plentiful!) husbands. The collection is just breathtaking – gold, diamonds, pearls, countless other precious stones – and it also included five charm bracelets, for which she collected charms throughout her life, all with special meaning and memories.
The first item sold last night was this gorgeous loaded, and very personal, gold and multi-gem charm bracelet (to the right), which was estimated at around $25,000 and ended up selling for $326,500! It includes charms like a locket with her children’s names inscribed, a directors slate inscribed “The taming of the shrew”, etc.
This charm bracelet (to the left) was estimated at $15,000 sold for $194,500 and has fewer personalized charms, but is obviously spectacular nevertheless. It does include one saying “Happy Anniversary, 1971, Raymond”, but my favorite on this bracelet is the rabbit charm.
And this one (to the right), which is my favorite, has (among other charms) one heart inscribed “Elysabeth, Alexandre, Love Fevrier 1972″, another saying “E.T. Happy Anniversary, 1974, Raymond,” and a locket with two photographs of Elizabeth Taylor’s father. It was estimated at a pretty affordable $4,000 – $6,000, but it also went for $195,400.
This bracelet (left) includes a key charm inscribed “To Elizabeth, with Love, Poker Alice, 1987″ another key with the inscription “Elizabeth” and a sombrero charms with several gemstones and the inscription “Easter 1970, With Lots of love, Raymond”. It was estimated at $12,000 and sold for $158,500.
And last, but not least, this one (right), which includes a charm inscribed “To Elysabeth, Love from Claudye e Gianni”; another with “Just to Remember Palm Springs”, and a Star of David charm with the inscription “Love Sophie” ended up at $116,500
Pretty amazing, and of course people are willing to pay these prices not just for the jewelry, but to be able to own a piece of a legend. But even if you’re not Elizabeth Taylor, it’s worth taking good care of, and holding on to, your charms! You never know what will happen one day.
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
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!