Vintage Costume Jewellery Sparkles Again

Martin Swinton

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Men and women have worn costume jewellery since the Romans developed the ability to cut glass imitations of precious gemstones. Jewellery was worn to enhance appearance, display wealth and affirm love, friendship and loyalty. The reasons for wearing jewellery remain the same today, but the popularity of styles changes. Vintage costume jewellery is experiencing a revival these days as sparkling vintage rhinestone brooches are roaring back in style. Here are a few things you’ll need to know to help you pick out the right pieces.

What is it.

Costume jewellery is defined as jewellery that is made from non-precious materials such as cut glass.


It is a set that includes a necklace, brooch and pair of earrings.


It includes a brooch and a pair of earrings.

Missing Stones.

Steer clear of an item with any missing stones. They are very difficult to replace.

Faux Pearls.

Watch closely any pieces with faux pearls because they chip easily and these chips cannot be fixed. Also, soap, cream and perfume can erode faux pearls.


Pieces with enamel can cause problems. Small areas of enamel damage can be retouched but large areas are very difficult to repair.

Condition Matters.

Good condition is important with vintage costume jewellery. Pin clasps that don’t work, hinges that are suspect may not be replaceable because they may no longer be made. Before you purchase, double check that all the pieces are in original condition and in good working order.

Names to Look For.

The biggest name in Canada for vintage costume jewellery is Sherman and it was usually signed. Other makers to be on the look out for are Trifari, Coro, Schreiner, Hobe and Schiaparelli.


Once you’ve found something you like, you’ll want to take good care of it. Store your vintage costume jewellery separately in small plastic bags to guard against scratching.

Where To Find Great Vintage Costume Jewellery.

Antique shops, flea markets, garage sales and Ebay are all good sources for vintage costume jewellery.


Prices range from under $20 for unsigned pieces to much more for signed sought-after pieces, parures and demi-parures.

Martin Swinton owns Take-A-Boo Emporium located in Toronto, Canada. He has appeared on a variety of television programs; does furniture restoration; caning and rushing repairs; appraisals and has taught courses on antiques at the Learning Annex. Martin can be reached at


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