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!