Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vintage Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet

Sterling Silver makes up a very small portion of my jewelry collection. Yes, I still have my high school graduation ring and a lovely little engraved locket that was the only gift I can remember receiving from my grandfather who has since passed away, but the star of my sterling silver jewelry is my vintage charm bracelet.

I can remember receiving it back in the mid 70's when I was 13. It was a gift from my mother who probably didn't realize at the time, what a wonderful role this simple sterling silver charm bracelet would play in my life. Now in my late 40's (yikes, how did that happen so quickly!), this bracelet is loaded with charms that symbolize wonderful milestones and events from the first charm which was "13", to pets I had growing up, graduation, first job, birthdays (I guess I'm going to have to start watching for a 50 now!), wedding, anniversary, the birth of my lovely daughter, hobbies, places my mom travelled, places I have traveled to, methods of transportation, just to name a very few. Some have movable parts like the unique clock my mom purchased during a trip to Switzerland, some have turquoise beads, rhinestones or enamel. This may look like a standard charm bracelet to everyone else but for me, it is a wonderful and wearable journal. I can look at each charm and remember well the event that was so meaningful at the time, it was worth symbolizing in a delicate silver charm. I now have a charm on every link and am working my way around this old bracelet for the second time. Just for fun, I checked and it weighs 108 grams!

When my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to give her this same gift so we can document events in her life that are meaningful. So far, it starts with a little Kiwi bird from New Zealand symbolizing the 4 months of my pregnancy spent there, an April charm with birthstone for the month she was born, a charm of the city where she was born, one for her first big trip at the age of 3 months to meet her grandfather for the only time since he has since passed away, one for a province she has visited and the last one was for a trip she took when she was 1 1/2 to meet a niece who had just been born (this stuff happens when you have children in your 40's LOL!!). We now have a vacation booked in January and she will be getting another charm to symbolize that trip. I hope when she is older, we can sit down together and explore each charm on her bracelet and talk about what events in her life are represented by each one.

One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give are these wearable "life journals". Luckily they can still be found online and at flea markets although it is getting harder and harder to find ones that have not had charms on them at some point. There are lots of charms available in online stores so even if you can't find a charm at the time or place you want to represent, there are other options for finding the perfect one later.

To my mom, thank you so much for starting this wonderful tradition between mothers and daughters, I hope my own daughter will do the same for hers one day.

To everyone else, next time you see a vintage charm bracelet, remember that it isn't just a lovely old piece of vintage jewelry, it's a totally unique and wearable history of someone's life!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Delightful and Chunky Bakelite Bangle Bracelets

So far, my jewelry collecting has covered Sherman rhinestones, Coro thermoset and Boucher crystal beads so now it's time to take a closer look at the fun and fantastic bakelite bangles that were all the rage during the 30's and 40's. 

My collection of bakelite bangles was not a conscious decision I made, the bakelite chose me! I had a 12-month spell a couple of years ago where I was finding bakelite bangles whether I was looking for them or not!  They seemed to be everywhere, second-hand stores, charity shops, yard sale tables, flea markets and all at ridiculously low prices.  Funny thing about this though is that at the exact same time, a friend of mine who also buys jewelry in the same town and checks the same places I do couldn't find a single piece.  I guess I had them all LOL!!

The wide chunky butterscotch one with the carved diamond pattern was purchased at a charity shop for $1, the smooth orange one with the copper flower detail was purchased at Value Village (this is a second-hand chain store in Canada) for $1.49, the diamond faceted one in rich carmel was found in a box full of jewelry I had paid $25 for, the two large marbled brown ones were found by my mother at two different yard sales (on the same day!), at a flea market, I purchased a sandwich baggie that had four or five different color spacer bakelite bangles, all for $2.  I could go on and on and document how little all these gorgeous bracelets were purchased for but I think you get the message. These bracelets show up all over the place and for next to nothing if you take the time to look.

The only bakelite bracelet in my collection that was purchased from a dealer is the super wide chocolate brown carved rose one.  I paid $65 for it which was still an incredible price considering it is a book piece documented time and time again in books on vintage plastic jewelry.  

I love the smooth, chunky feel they have and the way they clang when they are worn.  They look fantastic with a warm turtleneck sweater or with a tailored long-sleeve blouse and jeans.  These colorful and beautiful bangles can provide the finishing touch to any long sleeved-casual top and pants in your wardrobe. Colorful, elegant and sophisticated, they have a place in any jewelry collection, vintage or not! If you don't already own any, keep an eye out for them, they are still plentiful and priced at a point that anyone can afford!

PS: I think I might be back on a bakelite roll!  Yesterday I went to our local flea market and found the marbled orange/brown and marbled mustard bracelets in the last photo for 10 cents each! They were mixed in a shoe box full of children's jewelry!!  See, they are still out there!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Glamorous Pink & Charcoal Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

Back in September, I did a post on the rigid cuff bracelet that I have in my collection of Sherman jewelry. Today, I am going to talk about my other big splurge which is this exquisite pink with charcoal grey rhinestone brooch with matching clip earrings.

This brooch is the largest Sherman I have seen thus far.  It is super wide at a full 4" across and features the most beautiful large pink and charcoal marquise-shaped rhinestones. There is one tiny round cut pink rhinestone to fill in a gap in the design on the very top.  Typical of Sherman, no detail was ever too small to make the finished product perfect!  It is two layers high which creates depth and dimension when worn.

The matching clip style earrings feature the exact same stone colors in the same shapes with several more of the tiny pink ones.  They are also large being just under 1 1/2" from top to bottom when worn.

All pieces of this exquisite demi-parure are in excellent, unworn condition and clearly marked Sherman.

I purchased this set from a seller I had contacted through eBay and I knew at the time I was overpaying for it but it was one set I just couldn't resist.  I talked the seller down in price as low as she would go and ended up purchasing it for a price that was still too high.  No way to ever recoup but it wasn't purchased as an investment or to resell later but as part of a collection that is constantly changing.

Sometimes when you collect, you just have to bite the bullet and pay what a seller is asking when you love the design and know it will enhance your collection.  This was one of those times.  Luckily, most of my collection was purchased either well below or right around a fair price so to incorporate a couple of expensive pieces isn't such a big deal.

As I continue to add to my collection, other pieces are sold off to make room which gives all of you the opportunity to add new and exciting pieces to your own inventory. .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Outstanding Coro Thermoset Plastic Parures

Those of you who are familiar with my jewelry blog know that Sherman is by far my favorite manufacturer of vintage costume jewelry, however one other style I am always on the look out for is Coro thermoset.

This wonderful and colorful jewelry was made back in the 50's and 60's and featured the most beautiful moulded plastic pieces glued securely into place on rhodium and gold plated backings. The sets I am documenting today are all of the same leaf style that I find myself drawn to time and time again.  There is so much of this unique jewelry available that I found it necessary to limit my collecting to specific styles.  

The first set featured today is a magnificent deep red bracelet with matching clip style earrings. The bracelet features a secure fold-over clasp with red inserts that almost resemble a whale's tail pattern.  It is wide at 1 1/8" and done in a shiny gold plated setting with tiny, raised floral clusters down the center.

The matching earrings are large measuring a generous 1 1/4" from top to bottom when worn.  I have the matching brooch, however it has lost one of it's beautiful moulded plastic inserts but I am always on the hunt for a pair of matching earrings or another red brooch so this wonderful parure can be perfectly restored.

The deep inky blue set is identical in style and design, however it is set in shiny rhodium plate.  This lovely parure is in exceptional, original condition.

The last two sets are done in the exact same style and feature the brooch with matching clip earrings only.  So far no bracelet but I'm always looking! One set has inserts of a brown/rust shade while the other has the same rust/brown but mixed with redish/orange and a brownish shade.  These brooches are super large measuring 2 1/2" x 2 3/4" and in exceptional condition.

The blue, red and orange/rust combo sets where all purchased as part of Edie's jewelry (you can read more about Edie in my post of September 17) so have a special place in my collection. The rust set was purchased online for a mere $9.99 with about $2 shipping which is incredible value for such large and beautiful signed pieces.

For anyone who doesn't believe they have the means to start a nice vintage jewelry collection, think again.  These Coro thermoset full parures can easily be purchased for under $50 with some being well below that figure depending on the color and design.  They are well worth the investment and just because there are lots to go around today doesn't mean the supply will be endless.  They are magnificent and very underrated among collectors which makes them such an affordable option.

For those of you who find yourself getting interested in this wonderful style of jewelry,  I have several pieces listed in my store right now (Island Vintage Jewelry in the right margin) that are offered at great prices.  You can chose to collect by color, style, design, manufacturer or whatever catches your fancy.  They can be found at great prices right now but as the supply eventually goes down, you can bet that the prices will have no where to go but up, up, up!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beautiful Boucher Vintage Beaded Jewelry

I have been collecting Sherman rhinestones for a long time but when it comes to the crystal and beaded necklaces, Boucher and LeC are by far my favorite. Unfortunately, I don't know a heck of a lot about either company other than their beaded pieces are exquisite.  My understanding is that LeC was the Canadian branch of Boucher and operated out of Montreal as did Sherman.  

In this post, I will document the two lovely Boucher signed crystal parures I have collected.  The first is a double strand featuring amber colored multi-faceted crystal beads in graduated sizes each separated by tiny yellow spacer beads.  The clasps are magnificent, this one done in  shiny gold plate peppered with pave set yellow rhinestones. There is an additional rhinestone spacer that allows two different lengths, one a choker style, then a more relaxed fix when the rhinestone extender is used. The inside strand is 13" in length with an additional 3 1/4" of fold-over clasp and spacer.  

The matching earrings are circular clips featuring both beads and measure 7/8" in diameter.  

All pieces including the removable extender are clearly marked BOUCHER.

The second set today is remarkable made with the prettiest tear-drop shaped clear crystals. The necklace is very similar to the amber one except in a triple-strand design.  The pave set rhinestone clasp has the same removable extender and is set in shiny rhodium plate.  This one is more of a choker style with the inside crystal strand being 11 1/2" in length with a total additional length 4 1/2" when you include the fold-over clasp and extension.  

The matching bracelet is made using the same combination of unique shaped clear crystal beads in three strands that equal 1 1/4" in width.  The pave rhinestone clasp is an exact match to the necklace and there is a fold-over clasp with safety chain.  This bracelet will fasten to the necklace as an extender if desired.

The matching earrings are exquisite with pave set rhinestones at the lobe and in the cone shaped drops that connect to the beautiful unique crystals. Overall, these gorgeous earrings are shoulder dusters being 3" in length and are in excellent, unworn condition.

The earrings are unsigned, however, they still have the original Marcel Boucher hang tag with a price of $25.00 on the reverse.  I don't know if that was the price of the earrings on their own or of the entire parure.  

These are the only two Boucher signed beaded sets I have although I will be documenting my LeC jewelry in a future post.  For those of you who collect Sherman beaded parures, check out those made by Boucher and LeC.  If you love quality and weighty pieces, you will love these and they are usually priced much lower!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unique Stones Used In Sherman Rhinestone Jewelry

As I look over my blog, I noticed that time and time again, the majority of my Sherman pieces are similar in that they use brightly colored crystals, some with and some without an aurora borealis wash. Rarely did I find I was attracted to the more unique style of stones which is probably not a good investment considering they would be the most rare LOL!!

The first set photographed today is a beautiful wide bracelet featuring large milky white marquises down the center set in the North/South style.  These have been embellished with large round smoke colored crystals down either side.  The overall width of this unusual bracelet is 1 1/8" making it one of the wider flexible style.  It is set in shiny rhodium that is in like new condition with a secure push-style clasp and safety chain.

The lovely brooch that was purchased with it (both as a Christmas present from my mom a couple of years ago) is made up of mostly marquise white and smoke stones but with a large oval-shaped milk glass recessed center. It measures more than 1 1/2" across and is also set in perfectly shiny rhodium.

The delicate clip earrings that are a stand-alone part of my collection feature faux pearls which were not that common in Sherman designs although absolutely elegant when accented with beautiful sparkling marquises.  I expect at some point to find a matching brooch or bracelet for them.

The last set photographed today has beautiful amber-colored stones accented with the prettiest aurora borealis washed stones.  They show flashes of pink, orange, red, yellow, teal and purple and the large center ovals are outstanding.  This set is large with the brooch being a full 2" across and clip earrings that are more than 1" from top to bottom when worn.  These unique stones are mounted in a gold plated setting.

All pieces documented for today's post are in excellent condition and all are clearly marked SHERMAN.

For anyone who collects Sherman jewelry, it's nice to have an assortment of colors and styles but including some of the pieces in your collection that are made using less common stones will enhance that collection even more!