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Big Profits Await Those Who Collect Vintage Costume Jewelry

Feb 3, 2008
Authentic costume jewelry actually originated on the stages and theatres in Europe before becoming popular in the U.S. Shortly after the popularity exploded during the 1920's, American companies began setting up shop and soon dominating the industry. These same companies produced some of the most coveted collectible vintage costume necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other jewelry. Some popular American manufacturers to keep an eye out for at the flea markets include:


But what truly makes costume jewelry unique and potentially valuable? The very first true costume jewelry appeared on theatres throughout Europe before being brought back to the States by American G.I.'s returning home from World War I. American manufacturers began dominating the industry from the 1920's onward. Signed vintage costume necklaces, rings, and other pieces are worth more money. Some popular American companies known to produce high quality and highly collectible pieces include:


If you know what you are looking for and can distinguish the worthless knock-offs from the genuine Eisenberg necklaces and other top pieces, then you can literally make a great living--while having fun in the process! Value is determined by:

Rarity of Piece
Quality of Construction and Materials
Current Condition

The supply of vintage jewelry varies greatly and this affects pricing in a big way. The jewelry itself was supplied by dozens of manufacturers. Batch sizes could vary dramatically from one company to the next. Larger companies like Coro and Trifari would commonly produce thousands of pieces of each design. Barclays, DeMario, and many of the smaller companies had limited facilities and thus tended to have far smaller batches. Because signed or stamped pieces from the smaller companies like McClelland are rarer, they tend to sell for more than similar pieces from the larger manufacturers like Coro. But, the other four factors will also affect price but supply is definitely a big factor in the equation. Yet even large manufacturers conjured up a small specialty batch for holidays and other special occasions. In most cases, the specialty pieces will be of higher value than others produced by the very same outfit.

A piece of jewelry can be rare but command little demand for some reason or another which will greatly affect value. While you can't give away pieces people don't want, those in demand can command several times their original purchase price. Despite having some rather odd designs, signed Miriam Haskel jewelry is in high demand right now. Potential investors need to do a little homework on the Internet to find which designs are hot and which are not in order to identify the best pieces to buy. It doesn't matter whether you like the popular designs or not--just remember that they will make you more money!

But what actually affects market demand? Without question, the design itself is one of the biggest factors that affect the demand for any piece of jewelry, costume or otherwise. While novice investors tend to focus exclusively on the signed vintage costume pieces, the unsigned one featuring unique and compelling designs are often the most profitable to collect. Collecting vintage costume jewelry for profit is complicated by the fact that most of the pieces are actually unsigned. Simply knowing what makes a great design great can actually help you identify the unsigned pieces and optimize profits. Unsigned pieces by companies like Bergere and B. David are highly prized by collectors and can be identified by their distinctive but high quality designs.

The quality of construction and materials used to make a piece of jewelry ultimately vindicate or condemn any design. The gemstones are typically the most relevant materials when it comes to the value of a particular piece of jewelry. There were some companies that were famous for using gemstones of exceptional quality though none of them would be considered precious. Bogoff, Eisenberg, and Weiss are all great investments because they almost always had great designs made with high quality stones.

Without question, Eisenberg costume jewelry is renown for being of exceptional quality and design. This makes it very hard for collectors to buy and sell it for a profit. If you are trying to find some profitable pieces to purchase at cheap prices but still command a lot with serious investors, look for jewelry made by these companies:


Ultimately, the overall value of any piece of costume or fine jewelry is assessed based upon its current condition. Excessive signs of wear, lost stones, and discoloration are all factors that can lower the value of a vintage necklace, ring, brooch, or any piece of jewelry. But while some degree of wear is expected, it is not the only factor that determines price. Collectors who do their homework can still make a tidy profit off of damaged or excessively worn pieces by knowing how to spot the hidden gems.
About the Author
Sandi Kapiszka is a vintage costume jewelry collector specializing in period sets.
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