Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vintage B David Rhinestone Jewelry The Breakup

Have you ever wondered what event or special occasion inspired the original owner of your vintage jewelry to purchase it?  I hadn't really given it much thought until I acquired this B. David set that was still in its original box and in mint, unworn condition. You have to wonder why a set this pretty wasn't worn very much, if at all. It wasn't until I examined the box itself that I found out why.

Carefully folded and tucked under the box liner was a handwritten letter on hotel stationary, a small envelope containing a greeting card that would have accompanied a bouquet of flowers and a large tag from the florist shop with the name and address of the unfortunate recipient. First though, the jewelry.

The necklace itself is beautiful combining faux pearls with sparkling aurora borealis rhinestones in both round and marquise cuts. The matching bracelet has the same combination of rhinestones with faux pearls and is just over 1/2" wide. Like Sherman, it has a hidden clasp with safety chain. The clip earrings, although not a perfect match, were made using a combination of round and baguette rhinestones with a generous 2" drop. All pieces are signed B. David, and are in excellent, unworn condition preserved in the original B. David case. Now the history behind the purchase of this pretty rhinestone jewelry!

The stationary was from a hotel in a small town in Georgia and was written by a married man to his mistress. It starts out "Dear Darling" and he begins by apologizing for hurting her stating that his love for his children is the reason he can never leave his wife. He tells her that he was jealous of another man she was seeing and was very hurt by that. He reaffirms his love telling her he wishes he could make her his wife but that it can never be. He writes that someone once told him that one day he would get hurt by losing someone he loved dearly and that this was that day. Of course he ends it with the standard "I'll always be around if you ever need me" line that we've all heard before.  He signs it "Loving you always".

Accompanying this letter was a bouquet of flowers with an old-fashioned cardboard insert with three deep red roses "Love John" and this B. David rhinestone jewelry set. Personally, I thought the letter sounded a lot like something out of the movies from the 40's or 50's, the last scene in Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman comes to mind.

So there you have it, the reason why this pretty set is in mint, UNWORN condition.  I certainly wouldn't want to set eyes on it again if I were her and those flowers would have found themselves either in the trash or mangled from hitting him over the head. Because I purchased this set online, I have no information about "Maggie" or what happened to her after "John" ended their affair (not their real names).

In my version, "Maggie" meets a tall, dark, handsome and SINGLE man who sweeps her off her feet.  They travel the world together and he showers her with precious jewels and magnificent Sherman jewelry (of course!!!!).

She lives a wonderful and exciting life and doesn't give "John" a second thought until 45 years later when she finds this box of B. David jewelry tucked away up high in the back of her walk-in closet. She chuckles to herself when she sees it relieved to have made such a lucky escape.  She carelessly tosses it over her shoulder and in to the pile of her discarded designer clothing. From there it makes its way to a charity auction where it was purchased and then sold online to me. 

Here's looking at you, "Maggie"!!!!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sherman Jewelry with Aurora Borealis Rhinestones

Introduced by Swarovski in the 1950's, Aurora Borealis finishes would transform costume jewelry. Once a polychrome metallic coating was applied to crystals and rhinestones, they would reflect a colorful aurora similar to that produced by the Northern Lights. All of a sudden, the color options were limitless and no one could combine colors like the designers at the Sherman Factory. These outstanding designs would be copied time and time again by other companies but very few were of the quality and beauty that Sherman produced. Anyone who is familiar with his pieces can spot them a mile away.

Any rhinestones that have an aurora borealis finish will require more care when being stored. The coatings are fragile and can be scratched or flake off  easily giving them a very dull appearance. Like all rhinestones, they should be stored without contact with other jewelry and gently polished with a soft, lint-free cloth to maintain their outstanding reflective quality.  

The two sets I have photographed for today's post were acquired online and are perfect examples of the quality Sherman is famous for. Both sets are done with Champagne aurora borealis stones in both marquise and round cuts but with two totally different looks. They reflect a rainbow of shades from yellow to pink to green to purple. The gold plate is in excellent condition and the stones are clean with very few, if any scratches.  

All pieces are signed Sherman with the exception of the screw back earrings.

These "plain" aurora borealis sets are so versatile and will compliment any color in your wardrobe. Their sparkle cannot be surpassed and the stones produced by Swarovski and used in Sherman jewelry will more than last a lifetime when properly cared for. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Striking Color Combos Vintage Sherman Jewelry

Of all the rhinestone jewelry that was manufactured during the 50's and 60's, Gustave Sherman was by far the most talented when creating striking color combinations. Using all cuts and shapes of rhinestones, it is documented that Swarovski of Austria manufactured unique colors ordered by the designers at the Sherman factory. This accounts for the breathtaking array of color combinations that are so sought after by current collectors. From the most basic pieces to the most ornately decorated bibs and collars, these Jewels of Elegance were created using the most beautiful rhinestone cuts and colors available. To this day, I have not found another manufacturer who can create such outstanding, visually pleasing jewelry. 

The two demi parures documented today clearly demonstrate the talent exhibited by Sherman and his designers when combining unique colors. The pretty pink aurora borealis stones are stunning when combined with the beautiful olive green. 

The first set is from my own collection and was purchased a couple of years ago online. Using a basic combination of marquise and round rhinestones, there is nothing basic about the end result. This set is fabulous! The stacked fashion and curved lines of the brooch create a 3-D affect that is so unique to Sherman designs. 

The second set is from my mother's collection and was purchased as a Christmas gift a few years ago. The basket-style brooch combines marquises and round rhinestones with the addition of beautiful baguettes. The unusual use of stone shapes and colors make this one an absolute showstopper! 

All pieces documented today are in mint condition with shiny rhodium plate and clearly marked "Sherman".

Using superior findings and the best rhinestones from Austria enabled Sherman jewelry to surpass all others in quality, but it was the unique color combinations that made these designs outstanding in beauty. If you have the opportunity to acquire one of his unique color combination pieces, please do so, they will more than hold their value and always be near the top of the list of Sherman collectors.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yard Sale and Flea Market Vintage Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

We've all heard about that "amazing find" at yard sales and flea markets but my mom has to be the champion when it comes to finding Sherman Jewelry at ridiculously low prices.

Early one Saturday, she and my dad were heading to their cottage which is about a 45-minute drive from their home.  About a mile down the road, they happened upon a yard sale where two neighbors were busy unpacking boxes and setting up yard sale tables along their driveways.

Sometimes it pays to be chatty and my mom is always very friendly when she meets people whether on the street or at a social event. She was chatting with the ladies and during the conversation asked if either of them had any jewelry for sale. One lady mentioned she had some in the house that she wouldn't mind getting rid of.  She then went inside and came out only a minute or two later with a small box and lifted the lid to show mom a rhinestone pin and earrings. My mom glanced at it and asked how much. The lady thought for a few seconds and said she would like to get at least $3 for it. My mom took the box, put the lid back on and quickly handed her $3. She then slipped the box into her purse (after showing the other lady who had become curious). She then left without inspecting the pin or earrings. She knows very well not to draw attention to jewelry at yard sales in her area, everyone is "gunning" for it, some so urgently that they will actually go to houses that have advertised yard sales the night before and ask for it in advance.  

They went to a few more yard sales and a little while later stopped at one where mom noticed a known jewelry dealer leaving.  She didn't expect to find any jewelry at this one but thought should would take a look anyway. As she was leaving that yard sale, she noticed that the children had set up their own table of items for sale; Barbie dolls, books and other toys. She took a walk by that table and noticed a large rhinestone pin that was missing one stone with a 10 cent sticker.  Thinking the stones would be good to have on hand, she decided to purchase it. She paid the 10 cents and slipped that pin in to her purse and left.

About half way to the cottage, they were at yet another yard sale where my dad was talking to the man there about an item he had for sale. Since mom was waiting for him in the car, she decided to take a closer look at the jewelry she had purchased earlier that day. To her utter amazement, both brooches were clearly marked "Sherman".

The gorgeous champagne brooch and earrings pictured were $3 while the large fuchsia wreath-style brooch was purchased for 10 cents. It had originally been missing one of the large round rhinestones but luckily a jewelry dealer I know was able to repair it (for free!) having the exact match to that stone in her inventory. To this day, mom and I can't be certain which stone was replaced so this pin is now perfectly restored. The rhodium and gold plate on the brooches is mint which is amazing considering the fuchsia brooch found its way into the hands and toy box of a child.

The earrings pictured with the champagne brooch and purchased with it are not marked but are in excellent condition and compliment it nicely. The box still has the old-fashioned Christmas tag tucked inside having originally been a gift to a favorite aunt.

The Sherman earrings that are pictured with the fuchsia brooch were purchased separately at a flea market in my area for $5. Being a great companion to the brooch, they are now in my mother's collection.

Both of these brooches were incredible finds and only my mom could be such a "Sherman magnet" to have found two in the same day. For those vintage jewelry collectors who don't think that it's worth the bother to go to yard sales looking for jewelry, take a lesson from my mom and get out there and see what's around. Like my mom, don't be afraid to chat with the sellers and don't ignore the children's tables.... You may be pleasantly surprised!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ice Blue Vintage Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

Of all my Sherman jewelry, the bracelets are the pieces that I wear more often than any other; to the theater, out for dinner, to parties or any celebration or social event where I need that extra glitter to dress up my otherwise, classic suits.

When I first started collecting, I was more interested in the color rather than the actual size of each bracelet. What I found was that I kept reaching for the longer bracelets when making my selections. Anything under 7" would fit my wrist but there was no extra length allowing it to drape gracefully down over my hand.  It didn't take long before I realized that in order for me to actually enjoy wearing the bracelets I was collecting, I would have to be more selective about their length. This does restrict the number of bracelets I can purchase but does mean that I will end up with a collection that will be worn and enjoyed.  Now I won't even consider purchasing anything under 7 1/4" in length and less than 3/4" wide. If I can find one that is longer or wider that suits my budget, all the better but I know from experience, anything smaller will just sit in my jewelry box.

If you are particular about the length of your rhinestone bracelets and are buying online, be sure to inquire about the width and length being certain to have the seller either include or exclude the tongue portion of the clasp in the length measurement (this can make a 1/4" to 1/2" difference). I find that my money is better spent on Sherman jewelry that I will actually wear although everyone has their own preferences when selecting which Sherman jewelry to buy. 

The pretty ice blue bracelet pictured today was the perfect fit for me measuring 7 1/2" in length and being 1 1/4" wide.  I love the super flexible lacey style and marquise stones set in a North/South fashion.  This lovely bracelet combines both marquise stones in medium blue with medium blue aurora borealis and round rhinestones in a medium aquamarine with larger blue aurora borealis.  Considering how common blue is, this bracelet is exceptional in style and condition.  The earrings are a perfect match and also in mint condition.

The blue necklace and earrings pictured are probably one of my best eBay buys so far.  This beautiful set was listed with a low starting bid and I ended up being the only one who bid. Somehow, other collectors overlooked it, perhaps because of its more common color or because the auction closed mid afternoon.  Whatever the reason, this necklace is my favorite blue one to date and also in exceptional, unworn condition.  The center is large and combines deep blue with aquamarine blue marquise rhinestones with a combination of dark blue and medium blue round rhinestones, some with aurora borealis but most without. The earrings are the perfect match and are in mint condition.

Everything featured today is set in heavy rhodium plate, in unworn condition, and all pieces are clearly marked Sherman.

I know that blue may not be that highly sought after by Sherman Jewelry collectors but these two sets clearly demonstrate the classic beauty and elegance Gustave Sherman designs are famous for. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vintage Black Alaska Hematite from the 1950's

As a young child, I remember admiring the huge Black Alaska Diamond ring my mother would wear whenever she and dad were going out to enjoy an evening away from us children. She would get dressed up and just before leaving the house, she would slip that stunning ring onto her right hand. We didn't see it any other time, it remained safely tucked inside her jewelry box where we couldn't reach it.

More than 15 years later, my mother and I decided to take a drive and stop by some yard sales in her neighborhood. Attending yard sales had not been one of our usual activities but on this Saturday morning, we were looking for an excuse to go out and enjoy the sunshine. About three miles down the road, we happened upon a yard sale and there on the table was a huge Black Alaska Hematite ring (it is the one pictured in the navy blue ring case).  I tried it on and it was a perfect fit!  What made that find so special was that I had been looking for one like my mothers but the jewelry stores in the 1980's were carrying smaller versions, not nearly as elegant and beautiful as the 1950's originals.  I purchased that ring for $15 and as anyone who knows me can confirm, it has hardly left my right hand.  I have worn it almost every day; all day, in the shower, doing dishes, housework, and to the office. Contrary to what most people believe, these stones can take a lot of wear and tear. This ring is just as beautiful today (20 years later) as it was when I purchased it.

Over the years, I have picked up two more of these elegant rings (I have to have at least two spares!) from antique shops for excellent prices.  The one in the green case is identical to mom's and the one in the blue case is the same only done in white gold which is more rare than the yellow gold. 

The pretty drop earrings were found in a full Buxton jewelry box that mom and I purchased at an auction for $5 during the early 1980's.  They had originally been screw backs, however, I had a jeweler convert them to pierced so I could enjoy wearing them.  They are done in 10kt gold, just like the rings.

My mother purchased the large pendant and clip earrings about five years ago among other costume jewelry and although they are not genuine gold, they compliment my many rings perfectly.

During the 1950's, these large marquise-shaped hematite rings were all the rage, as popular then as the Mood rings of the 1970's or Slave rings of the 1980's. I have had more compliments on my Black Alaska ring than any other. If you have the opportunity to pick up one of the 1950's originals, go for it!  They make your hand look graceful and elegant and believe me, no one who sees you wearing it will be looking past it to check your manicure!

PS:  To My Mom:  Thank you for introducing me to these gorgeous Black Alaska Hematite stones and for sharing my love of vintage jewelry and most of all, "Happy Birthday, I Love You"!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sparkling Hematite With Clear Rhinestones Sherman Jewelry

For those of us who reside in small towns, the best source for buying specific color combinations of Sherman Jewelry has to be online vintage jewelry websites or on eBay.  I know that some people shy away from setting up Paypal accounts uncertain of how secure their personal banking information will be. From my own personal experiences, I have not had any problems thus far, (knock wood). Overall, the majority of online sellers are friendly, professional, honest and prompt in mailing out their items.  Online is also a great place to find the "perfect match" to a Sherman piece already in your collection.

Both of the beautiful sets posted here today were acquired through eBay.  To date, I have not been able to find any Sherman with hematite at flea markets or antique stores in my area. Anyone who knows me well can vouch for my love of hematite.  I will be devoting my next post to this magnificent stone used in jewelry all through the 1950's. 

The first demi parure pictured was purchased about two years ago and is a large "Shrimp" or "Pinwheel" with matching earrings.  Combining hematite with clear sparkling marquise style rhinestones is the perfect way to accent the deep grey color of these marvelous stones.  This set is a showstopper and has been worn by me more than any of my other Sherman pieces.

The large open-style wreath brooch with identical earrings was also purchased on eBay around the same time as the first set and again combines clear with hematite.  This time, Gustave Sherman designers used large round rhinestones to offset the slender hematite marquises. Brilliant!

All pieces are in excellent condition, clearly marked Sherman and are presented in heavy rhodium plating.

Both sets featured today with hematite are perfect examples of popular 1950's style and are as wearable today as they were then.  Both are timeless, elegant and beautiful and I am certain will remain that way for the next generation of Sherman Jewelry collectors! 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Magnificent Siam Red Rhinestone Sherman Jewelry Demi Parure

Without a doubt, this is my favorite Sherman brooch and earring set to date. I found it on eBay one night while cruising around checking for all kinds of vintage jewelry items listed for sale. Imagine my surprise to come upon this magnificent set and notice that the inexperienced seller had neglected to use that magical word "Sherman" in his title.  This meant that this beautiful set would only be found by a handful, if any, avid Sherman jewelry collectors. I waited until there was less than 30 seconds left in the auction and typed in my bid which was more than double what the price was currently at (this takes nerves of steel for those who do not have access to a sniper program).  One other collector must have been at their own keyboard since in the last 15 seconds, both of our bids hit this set but luckily for me, mine was the highest and I found myself the proud owner of this truly incredible set at a mere fraction of its actual value.

The brooch itself is large measuring 2 1/4" across and features long and slender sparkling siam red rhinestones accented by red aurora borealis ones.  By far one of my favorite Sherman brooch styles, I know that many collectors and dealers call it a pinwheel but I see a porcupine when I look at it. It is nicely domed and is presented in the highly sought after black japanned setting.

The matching clip-style earrings are large and also domed combining both the deep red with red aurora borealis rhinestones in both marquises and chaton styles. 

As usual, all three pieces are clearly marked Sherman and in excellent condition, worthy of being photographed for any jewelry book on exquisite costume jewelry.

Check the photographs to see the original "Jewels of Elegance Sherman" metal hang tag as well as the "Jewels of Elegance"  storage box.  

If you are looking for a bargain on Sherman jewelry, this set proves that they are still out there, even on eBay but you have to take the time to look for them.  Good luck in your hunt, getting these at bargain prices is by far the most fun I have in collecting these truly magnificent "Jewels of Elegance"!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Clearly Elegant Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

In my opinion, one of the most underrated and under appreciated styles of Sherman jewelry has to be these elegant, clear rhinestone designs.  These can be snapped up on eBay and on other sites for a fraction of the price their colorful counterparts command.  I agree that they were made in much larger numbers and are more plentiful but there's a reason for that.  These pieces can be worn with just about any color and look fantastic on nearly everything from the most basic denim all the way to the most formal evening or bridal gown. Gustave Sherman knew this and manufactured these clear timeless pieces more often than any of his other styles.

What bride wouldn't be thrilled to have this beautiful necklace and drop earrings to embellish her wedding dress? The mass-produced bridal sets today are usually more expensive and made with stones of lesser quality that are sometimes glued rather than delicately hand-set like Sherman jewelry.  The sparkle and reflection Sherman jewelry emits is as close to the "real thing" as you will find at Red Carpet events.  Every serious jewelry collector should have a wardrobe of clear pieces and because they are so affordable, why not Sherman!  

Not every budget can afford the thousands of dollars that the higher-end Sherman sets go for but when you buy clear like the fancy bracelet and drop earrings featured in this post, the price drops dramatically. This particular set was purchased for less than $100 only a couple of years ago and is absolutely gorgeous!  I love how the long, slender marquise stones are set at an angle to add drama.  The matching clip-style earrings are a perfect match and measure 3" in length. Stunning!!

The last set showcased today is what I like to call the "Shrimp" pin with matching earrings all done in heavy rhodium plating with sparkling clear Swarovski rhinestones.  The bracelet features 5 rows of alternating marquise and round rhinestones and is over one inch in width. This pretty bracelet can be worn as a match to either the brooch set or necklace and earrings.   

As usual everything is in near mint condition being heavily rhodium plated and clearly marked Sherman. For some reason, no matter how many photographs I take of clear Sherman jewelry, the crystal clearness just can't be captured and they look dull (this could account for why these pieces go so low on eBay so take advantage!!).

Overall, please don't overlook these timeless clear rhinestone beauties. They were manufactured using the same quality and attention to detail that Gustave Sherman used when designing all of his fabulous jewelry.  Anyone can easily put together a full parure using any combination of their favorite rhinestone styles (all of these pieces were purchased separately with the exception of picture #2) for an amazingly affordable price.  I promise anyone who wears their vintage jewelry that they will reach for these "clearly elegant" pieces time and time again!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Passionate About Purple Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

Since creating this blog, I have been going through lots of Sherman jewelry and I have to say that purple is one color I wish I had more of.  I once met a woman who collected Sherman but "Only the purple ones!!!" and I think she was definitely on to something. The colors are amazing. The deep amethyst colored rhinestones look like precious jewels on their own and when done in groupings with aurora borealis and paler shades, they just seem to come to life.

This pretty necklace and earrings, although not a perfect match, were purchased together at a flea market by my mom as a Christmas gift for me several years ago.  Nothing screams Christmas louder than a beautiful Sherman glittering under the Christmas tree! The necklace combines deep amethyst ovals with pinkish/purple marquises in perfect rhodium plating.

The large clip-style earrings have the exact same colors but incorporate marquise cut stones instead of ovals plus have the additional beautiful long baguettes on one side.  Absolute showstopper set! 

The gorgeous brooch pictured with the necklace and earrings was purchased at an auction on eBay for a ridiculously low price considering it's color, quality and condition.  The unfortunate seller had a terrible picture of it that looked like it had been taken from across the room.  I was familiar with this particular style so felt confident bidding in spite of the blurred image on eBay.  What a joy to receive it and see that it was in factory perfect condition!  The rhodium plating shows no signs of wear and the Sherman signature is crisp.  The stones combine an almost aquamarine blue with amethyst and are offset by long, slender marquises in a pink/mauve shade.  Splendid and I love the large emerald-cut center.

As usual, all pieces are clearly signed Sherman.

Lastly, the large purple with aurora borealis brooch and earrings were purchased on eBay with the buy-it-now option.  All pieces have super shiny rhodium plating and the earrings are clearly marked Sherman.  The brooch, although unsigned, mimics Sherman's styling having been made in three tiers and having the exact same rhinestone color combination as the signed earrings.

As mentioned earlier, I will be doing a post down the road giving my opinion on Signed versus Unsigned Sherman pieces so check back often.  I welcome your comments!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fabulous Rootbeer with Champagne Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

One of my favorite thrift store finds so far has to be this large and fabulous signed Sherman brooch. This was purchased at between 1/4 and 1/3 of its true value.  
Typical of Sherman designs, it is three tiers high and heavily gold plated.  The chubby rootbeer colored marquise rhinestones are accented beautifully by the slender champagne marquise-shaped aurora borealis stones.  Three open horseshoe shaped rings on top of aurora borealis chatons add that extra sparkle that set Sherman designs apart.  

The pretty signed earrings shown were purchased on an eBay auction and are the perfect companion to the brooch.

The exquisite butterfly-style bracelet features a similar color combination and was purchased at a flea market.  Although unsigned, it is made with the same attention to detail and quality that Sherman used.  I like that it is extremely flexible and flows elegantly over my wrist without being stiff or awkward.  It is large for this style measuring almost a full inch in width. I had previously owned a black bracelet like this that was signed Sherman, however, it was much more narrow.

The earrings pictured with the bracelet and purchased with it are signed Sherman and are identical in color although feature different shapes of rhinestones.

In a future post, I will be discussing my opinion on the ongoing debate of signed versus unsigned Sherman pieces.  

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Welcome to my blog of Sherman & Other Vintage Jewelry

Hi, thanks for stopping by.  I have been collecting anything 50's for about five years now at yard sales, flea markets and anywhere else these retro goodies are available.  Of all things 50's, the gorgeous rhinestone and costume jewelry have become my passion.  I created this blog to document and share my finds.

Of all the rhinestone jewelry I have collected thus far, my favorite designer is Gustave Sherman who manufactured from 1947 to the mid 1970's in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  My first Sherman Rhinestone piece was acquired at a local flea market and I can't believe I actually bargained the seller down to $5 for this beautiful crescent shaped blue rhinestone brooch shown here.  It was only later after talking to other collectors that I realized I should be checking for the manufacturer's mark on the piece itself to determine the value.  This gorgeous brooch is heavily rhodium plated with the most brilliant sparkling rhinestones and on the back is the signature "Sherman".   That was it.   I am now the proud owner of about 100 Sherman rhinestone jewelry pieces along with lots of other costume jewelry, some signed by other manufacturers, some not signed at all.   

I have also been accumulating purses, linens, pyrex, and fireking from the 50's to 70's and fiesta dinnerware from any time period.  

Hope you stop by often to see what's new and to share your own stories of collecting.