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Vintage Costume Jewelry: An Investment You Wear?

Nov 2, 2007
Collecting vintage costume jewelry for profit is a great way to enjoy wearing high quality pieces in the present while acquiring pieces that only appreciate in value making them the ideal investment: practical and profitable! Originating in Europe at the end of the 19th century, the styles and market came to be dominated by American manufacturers like Trifari and Eisenberg from the 1920's onward. These luxurious knock-offs feature exceptional design complemented by high quality materials and craftsmanship.

Almost all costume jewelry was priced under $10 prior to World War II. The Great Depression and poor sales caused some of the jewelry manufacturers to go out of business. Still, a large number managed to hang on and made it through to the glory days of the 1950's and 1960's. Sales were boosted to all-time high's in the 50's and 60's thanks to television and a boom in advertising. Today, high quality costume pieces are more popular than ever and make a great addition to the jewelry box because the right pieces will appreciate in value--after all, they aren't make any more of it!

While cheap to buy when first released, vintage fashion jewelry manufactured between 1920-1970 are the treasures in a growing market of collectors but shrinking demand. A large part of this explosion in both growth and value is not expected to shrink until the Internet has 4 billion surfers or more--in about 5 years. But with a continually shrinking inventory, vintage pieces by prized manufacturers will continue to appreciate in value for the foreseeable future.

There are many pieces being sold in flea markets for a few bucks while being worth hundreds! When hunting for vintage investment opportunities, remember that there are three main things that help determine the value of vintage costume pieces: Quality of Materials, Craftsmanship, and Rarity.

Despite dozens of companies producing thousands of pieces annually, they produced jewelry in varying quantities. On the one hand, you had large players such as Florenza and Coventry launched several thousand pieces for each new line. However, on the flip side of things were manufacturers like Barclays, McClelland, and Coventry who only produced much smaller volumes creating a smaller supply and also making pieces from them both rarer and more valuable in the eyes of true collectors. Perhaps the largest single factor determining value of costume pieces is the quality of the stones. It is certainly true that none of the stones would be considered precious it is still true there were companies that used high quality stones and gemstones to make their jewelry, such as:

Hollycraft
Bogoff
Eisenberg

Eisenberg costume pieces are renowned for having superior quality stones so it is hard to find something by this company that is not already high-priced. However, if you search in the flea markets and even on many vintage jewelry websites, many pieces are drastically under-valued--especially the unsigned ones!

Keep your eyes out for signed pieces made by these manufacturers because they are very likely to appreciate in value in coming months and years:

Eisenberg
Trifari
Kramer
Money
Danecraft
About the Author
Sandi Kapiszka is a jewelry expert specializing in vintage costume jewelry .
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