One of the most sought after styles of Sherman rhinestone jewelry is that which is set in the black japanned or "gun metal" casings. The majority of Sherman jewelry was set in shiny rhodium plate followed by gold plate, however the japanned settings are by far the most rare. Usually seen on pieces with deeper colored rhinestones like black, red and fuchsia, this unique color setting can make even the palest shades pop by providing a black outline around the rhinestones.
The coating on a Japanned setting is done by applying a derivative of coal tar to create a matte or glossy black colored finish. First used when manufacturing mourning jewelry, this process soon found its way into many lines of rhinestone jewelry.
The three examples I am documenting today show both the glossy and matte finish. The amazing earrings feature more than a 2" drop and combine both marquise and round cut smoke colored rhinestones. This is the only glossy japanned setting I have seen to date but fingers crossed, I find a brooch, bracelet or necklace to match them someday.
The round open-style brooch features the more common matte finish of japanned setting, however the champagne colored rhinestones which are an unusual choice, come to life with the black outline. Like the earrings, I hope to match this lovely brooch with either earrings, a necklace or bracelet sometime down the road (wouldn't all three be nice LOL!!).
Lastly, the jet black "shrimp" brooch with clip earrings is a striking combination of black rhinestones with the matte finish of black japanned setting. Again, these "shrimp" or "pinwheel" designs are by far my favorite Sherman style.
All items documented today are clearly marked Sherman and in very good to excellent condition.
As collectors, it is sometimes wiser to invest your money in a few very collectable pieces rather than several more common pieces. Investing in any Sherman japanned jewelry is indeed a wise investment certain to more than hold its value!