There are many things that I love about vintage, and specifically vintage jewelry and even more specifically, vintage costume jewelry: it has survived against the odds. Who would imagine that a delicate necklace or bracelet that perhaps didn’t cost all that much, would last 70, 90 years? Obviously, many don’t. It still amazes me that we have all of these gorgeous pieces with stones intact, working mechanisms and metal as shiny and unblemished as the day it was sold.
Maybe it was a cherished gift or something bought on a whim. Maybe it sat in a box for decades or someone wore it constantly and it was her signature piece. Was it the equivalent of going into Macy’s (or, perhaps maybe even Macy’s, literally) or Marshall Fields or even a local department store and seeing something that would complete an outfit? Hard today. I enjoy seeing contemporary ads for the jewelry I see or covet, and most of the time what they are selling is glamour and the notion of being someone special. Not so different from today. In fifty or seventy years from now, will people see the jewelry we buy new now in the same way?
The HAR Brooch illustrated above is an example. I can tell by the wear that it was handled often, and carefully. This was a part of someone’s life, and it's easy to see why—the colors are gorgeous and it’s so well made that it can stand up to constant wear.
Some people may disagree, but I especially enjoy the pieces which someone has clearly loved. I imagine the enjoyment and the sense of “Ok, I’m ready to go out now,” as the clasp was fastened and the last look in the mirror taken. I’m not a fan of seeing perfume stains on beads and imitation pearls, because that’s just wrong and easily avoided. But imagine, accessories on and that whiff of Shalimar or Ma Griffe or even Enjoli being applied!
Of course getting a mint piece or something that looks never worn is a huge thrill. You see it just as it was eighty years ago, maybe. What’s contemporary in your collection that you think will be around then?