Some readers may already know what I mean by just looking at the title of this post. What I mean is that tingle of excitement when you hold your first Trifari piece of vintage costume jewellery. The excitement comes partly from knowing that Trifari jewellery is really high-quality costume jewellery, but also because you hold in your hand someones’ past. I find that holding any piece of vintage jewellery is a truly sensory experience. Not all of it provides the tingle – sometimes a piece will take your breath away for an instant or make your pulse quicken, dance a tiny jig or make you laugh.
Costume jewellery quality
You may think that all costume jewellery is generally poor quality when compared to high-end jewellery but there is an enormous range in quality. Some of the best-known costume jewellery designers produced high-quality pieces that have lasted well over the years and are highly collectable. Designers working for companies like Trifari, Coro, BSK Sarah Coventry and individual designers like Miriam Haskell (one of my favourites) are very collectable but still affordable. Even with marked or signed jewellery some designers are more highly prized.
A lot of the highly prized designers were from the US but there was some lovely work by UK designers. kikulu is committed to celebrating the British designers – so watch this space for some feature articles about these…
What kind of vintage jewellery would suit me?
Even unmarked vintage costume jewellery from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even the 70s and 80s can give you the tingle. Whether you have a passion for sparkling rhinestones or marcasite, modernist metals, classy pearls, milk glass, cameos or enamels there are some gorgeous pieces which wear just as well today. They really are timeless. You can wear and collect figurative jewellery, cute animals, fun characters, flowers, leaves or abstract designs. If you are new to vintage jewellery you can focus on colour as a way to find things that match your wardrobe or eyes or hair colour. You can wear vintage jewellery with your finest clothes or your most casual outfits. Experiment with cheaper pieces before searching out collectables. Wear what suits your personality.
I would say though that I really believe age or gender to be no barrier to wearing jewellery that you love. I never really got that old thing about pearls being for older women. I know there is a big thing about bridal jewellery and I do highlight in this website if a piece might be ideal for a wedding, but people get married or have joining ceremonies in all colours nowadays. It is interesting that the traditional virginal white still endures.
Experiment and enjoy being playful with vintage jewellery. Woman, man or gender neutral – you can find pieces that reflect your own individuality and style.
How jewellery stimulates the senses
I mentioned earlier in this post that holding a piece of vintage jewellery is a truly sensory experience. Of course, the visual treat to our own and others eyes is the most obvious, particularly when we think of the sparkly stones or how the light plays on some of the more subtle pieces.
Often we use our auditory sense to see what a piece of jewellery is made of. Glass, precious stones and plastic have distinctive sounds when tapped on the teeth. In terms of touch, different materials can have a distinctive feel – think of the difference between touching a piece of amber and a piece of glass. Consider the temperature. I often hold a piece of jewellery when I am researching on the web to find similar pieces or to help date items (often very challenging) and find myself getting a feel for a piece that way. How often do you see someone touching the jewellery they are wearing – almost as if it offers some comfort.
Then there is the smell of jewellery. There is a familiar odour to some jewellery when you first open a bundle – often stale perfume, which is why I clean kikulu vintage jewellery before putting it up for sale. Each piece needs to be cleaned appropriately as the wrong approach can damage some items. I will probably do a guide to cleaning vintage jewellery in the future. I also find that some metals have a distinctive smell – I do have a very keen and unusual sense of smell though :)