Friday, January 30, 2009

Unsigned Beauties Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry

For those of you who cringe at the prices of the signed Sherman, Kramer, Weiss , Eisenberg etc. , there is a more affordable and equally beautiful option.  I have many pieces of vintage rhinestone jewelry that are commonly called "Unsigned Beauties".  A lot of these pieces are so well made and so gorgeous, it's hard to believe that the manufacturer did not take the time to mark the item with their name out of a sense of pride and for a job well done. You can find entire jewelry books devoted to these uniquely beautiful and highly collectible pieces.

Of course, there's nothing better than finding jewelry in the most unlikely of places.  The best story I have about collecting is how I acquired the simple, three-row, clear crystal bracelet shown. This lovely unsigned beauty found its way into my collection in the most unusual way. 

Two years ago, my husband and I purchased a Heritage Home that had at one time been divided into three apartments.  Not unusual for older homes but we decided to take on the expense and challenge of opening it up and making it into a one-family home again. With the blessing and help of our local Historic Society, we went to work hiring all types of contractors and builders to tear out what didn't belong and put it back together in a more-updated style. During the renovation, we found out that the large fireplace in our dining room had at some point been hooked up to the oil furnace causing so much erosion to the bricks and mortar, it needed to be torn out and rebuilt.  Not a small job by any means but we took it on.  During the demolition of the fireplace, this lovely bracelet was found deep inside the bricks where it had most likely fallen down behind the old mantel years and years ago.  It was recovered in perfect condition.   The only thing that would have made this unique find better would have been to see the Sherman signature on it but for me, this bracelet represents a special "gift" from my lovely old home.  By the way, for those of you who cringe at the thought of losing the old, original architectural details in historic properties, we had this fireplace photographed and rebuilt in the exact same style, we even used antique style bricks of the same color.   

Getting back to the other unsigned beauties currently in my collection, the blue set photographed for this post was most likely made by Sherman. There is no mistaking the quality, weight, and craftsmanship we collectors look for in his signed pieces. The earrings were purchased separately for only $5 and again no signature but all the other signs of Sherman are there. I love how the long and slender navettes used in the construction of the bracelet are set in a North/South direction and the large round cut stones combine light blue, medium blue and aurora borealis coated crystals adding lots of depth and drama.  All set in the shiny rhodium plate common in signed Sherman pieces and uses his popular push style clasp with safety chain. It's a full 7/8" wide and curves nicely around my wrist when worn.

The earrings which compliment it nicely use a similar color combination and are in excellent condition being of the same weight and quality used in signed Sherman pieces.

The clear brooch and earrings documented today were also purchased separately but use the same size and style of crystals.  The brooch is heavy and rhodium plated, similar to that of Sherman but for me the jury is still out on whether it is one of his unsigned pieces.  It is a very uncommon style for him so whoever did manufacturer it deserves recognition for producing such a beautifully layered, high-quality piece.  The earrings photographed with it are a great "match" and again, are of the same quality and weight found in Signed Sherman pieces.

Overall, anyone can put together a very impressive vintage rhinestone jewelry collection at a very affordable price.  Pieces can be found at yard sales, flea markets and even hidden in the most unlikely of places just waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated!  

Friday, January 2, 2009

Unique & Beautifully Made Artisan Sterling Silver Jewelry

A couple of years ago, I saw an article in our local newspaper advertising an upcoming  jewelry making workshop. Well, anyone who has been following my blog knows that collecting jewelry is one of my favorite hobbies when I'm not busy taking care of my 2 1/2 year old daughter. Here was an opportunity to try my hand at making something for myself and afterall, how hard could making jewelry be?

Well, let me be the first to tell you that making jewelry is not for the impatient or anyone with a type "A" personality!  There is so much more involved than I realized and I can tell you that through that experience, I certainly have gained a new respect for how perfectly created my Sherman jewelry is!!

The teacher had studied the art of jewelry making for many years, first at the Academy of Art & Design in Jerusalem and then, to further her knowledge and to learn new skills,  she completed a Masters Degree in Fine Arts & Jewelry Design in Japan.  Talk about someone who knows what she's doing.  So overqualified to be wasting her time teaching a beginner like me! The class was for about 2 1/2 hours, one night per week over an 8-week period.  In all that time, all I was able to create was the sterling silver link bracelet and the sterling silver hammered ring with a large, green cabachon, you guessed it, rhinestone.

There is so much involved, just making the tiny loops for the bracelet chain, bending them in a uniform way, filing and more filing and then linking them together took me hours!  I made a large, hollow ball with a textured finish as a charm on the end of the bracelet and again, the amount of work involved was staggering!  It didn't help that I'm terrified of propane and had to constantly use a torch to solder together links and components!  I'm sure this fear goes way back to my Bug's Bunny days when Yosimite Sam blew up his cabin with a propane barbeque! Talk about tramatic for a kid to watch!!  No wonder it's now critized for being too violent for children LOL!!!!

So getting back to the jewelry, I thought you might like a sneak peek at some fabulous new designs from her Spring Collection 2009. I've photographed a couple of her pieces and I have already listed two of her designs in my shop on Ruby Lane if you would like to see more.  She was kind enough to loan me several of her new designs to offer for sale in my shop and I will continue to upload new pieces as I receive them. Knowing what I do about how difficult and time consuming creating these magnificent, one-of-a-kind pieces are, her prices are rock bottom! I hope you enjoy viewing them, they are fabulous!

If any of you have the opportunity to try your hand at creating jewelry, I hope you will give it a go.  Believe me, you will have a newfound appreciation for the beautiful pieces you already have!