Chouchous, if you like your jewelry with a pinch of glitz from the past, you will enjoy browsing through Warman’s Costume Jewelry guide.
Author Pamela Wiggins is the co-founder of Costume Jewelry Collectors International, an antique expert and more importantly, a jewelry lover like us.
The back page of the book says “from disposable bauble to collectible art form“, which is exactly what I feel costume jewelry is: wearable art, and wearable history!
The first section of the book walks us though the various styles of costume jewelry spanning over 100 years, decade by decade, starting with the late Victorian era (1880-1900).
As you browse through the pages, along with the obvious eye candy galore you will read detailed descriptions of several hundreds pieces of jewelry, learn about manufacturers, the evolution of styles and the stories behind some of the most famous creations.
The latest edition of Warman’s Costume Jewelry was printed in 2014, which means that you will find a lot of valuable information about more contemporary pieces as well, which I found very useful. After all, modern costume jewelry is on many levels of collectible value.
This section was a very good read, with illustrations aplenty, but at times I wished that the chosen pictures would actually match the examples described by the author in the text, because forming a mental image is not always easy. After going through all the decades I couldn’t help feeling that a lot of the featured jewelry was of similar style, which makes it more difficult to pin down in history.
Section two focuses on designers and manufacturers, giving insight into the designs of renowned names such as Ciner, Miriam Haskell, Joseph of Hollywood, Napier, Schiaparelli, Trifari and many more. A great deal of behind the scenes and designer identification tips in this section, with a price guide for every documented piece of jewelry.
The supplemental marks guide can come in quite handy for those of us who are interested in finding out the origin of our beautiful pieces of vintage jewelry. This section is not an exhaustive list of marks in the least but it will give you an idea of what to look for in your investigations. This is where you have to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and start making the best out of your Google searches!
Section three, “Dating and identifying costume jewelry“, holds precious information you will need when examining stones. You will learn how Jelly Belly cabochons were made (no, not telling you, haha, you’ll have to find out), what is the difference between Poured Glass and Molded Glass, when was Fruit Salad manufactured and why Margarita stones were so popular.
This section also contains a solid chapter about the various components, findings (clasps, pin closures, hinges, catches, earring screw backs etc…), extremely helpful when trying to identify unmarked jewelry, and my favorite part of the book.
I hope you enjoyed this peep into the whimsical world of costume jewelry! I would recommend this book for anyone who is beginning to collect vintage jewelry, it’s a fine introduction and provides a substantial base to send you off to your own playground with a few tools. The only thing I thought it was lacking was some information about the various types of metals and how they are crafted in vintage pieces. This is something that would be very useful to anyone interested in jewelry, and something I am often researching. But I know that that would probably take a few chapters of a few more books!
Stay beautiful, et à bientôt!