Thursday, September 11, 2008

UnSigned Sherman FACT or FICTION? Part II

Today's post continues with the never-ending debate regarding "Unsigned" Sherman jewelry and I have a feeling there will be a Part III and Part IV coming up, maybe even a Part V.

Continuing from Part I, let's now examine brooches.  The two that are pictured (please pardon my reflection and that of the light fixture in the backs, these are both so shiny!) are exact replicas of one another; in design (they are actually stacked, made with three entirely separate components joined together to create dimension and height), weight (each weighs exactly 32 grams on an electronic scale), plating, polish, quality and attention to detail. One is signed Sherman, the other has no signature.  No collector or expert would pick the unsigned one out of a lineup uncertain of it's origin, especially after handling it. If you spotted it across the room at a flea market or at a yard sale, you would swear it was a Sherman and make a run for it LOL!!  

Unfortunately for me, it's the purple one that is unsigned although the perfectly matched earrings are signed Sherman.  Both the earrings and brooch were acquired from the same person who swore they were purchased together years ago securely tucked inside their original "Jewels of Elegance" case.  Don't forget that 50 years ago, the authenticity of it being a Sherman (if they did manufacture it) would only be intended to be proven once at the retail level. As I mentioned in my last post, it would have been highly unlikely at that time to foresee how collectible it would become decades later as a "second-hand" item. As collectors and dealers alike know, not having that permanent Sherman stamp decreases its value by about one half, possibly more, regardless of its quality, even with the signed earrings.

One explanation could be that the three components (don't forget it's stacked) for the unsigned piece were purchased from B. A. Ballou & Co. in Rhode Island which is where Sherman settings were manufactured. The rhinestones are Swarovski whose rhinestones were used in the production of the very finest costume jewelry by several high-end companies, including Sherman.  Perhaps this unknown company used the same process of excessive heavy rhodium, highly polished plating, joined the exact same three "separate" components in this unusual way and hand set the exact same colors of rhinestones that Sherman used when manufacturing the matching  earrings at the exact same time. After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to combine deep amethyst marquises and chatons with mauve aurora borealis. Unfortunately, fifty some years later, we will never be able to prove where this pretty brooch originated.

As a collector, I have examined jewelry from several companies who were manufacturing rhinestone jewelry during the time Sherman pieces were being produced in Montreal.  I have owned  pieces of Coro, Trifari, Vendome, Jay Flex, Triad, Weiss, Boucher, Continental, Richelieu, Miriam Haskell, Sarah Coventry, Lisner and Le Couture just to name a few.   The majority of these companies operated in the USA and were not overly familiar (and never were) or threatened by the jewelry being produced in Canada.  I am sure they were all very successful in their own right without secretly copying and producing perfect Sherman look alike jewelry. To be quite honest and I hope I don't offend anyone, none of the companies mentioned were able to produce anything that even closely resembled Sherman quality with their name on it let alone secretly churning out perfect "unsigned" copies. Boucher, LeCoutier and Miriam Haskell created outstanding jewelry, however their rhinestone designs were so unlike Sherman, it's hard to believe we would ever be confused by them.  So, if not a top notch jewelry factory creating these perfect impostors, then who?

If anyone or any factory was able to produce the quality, weight, color, heavily polished rhodium plating and unique multi-stacked designs mimicking Sherman creations, then we owe them a huge round of applause.  I wish they would step forward and take a bow because they deserve to be recognized for their outstanding achievement in excellence. To be honest, if they do exist, I wish I knew who they were so I could collect more of their superior rhinestone jewelry!! Funny how their secret identity has been safe for all these years!!!


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