Costume Jewelry

Dr. Lori provides tips on how to identify valuable costume jewelry.

by Dr. Lori Verderame

The market for costume jewelry pieces by Trifari, Sarah Coventry, Marvella, Weiss, Eisenberg and other makers demonstrates that a piece of jewelry doesn’t have to be a real gemstone to have significant value. There is real money in fake jewelry.

World Famous Designers

Famous designers, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli both designed costume jewelry.

When assessing the value of your costume jewelry, consider what says value. For example, Miriam Haskell costume jewelry pieces are defined by their bright, colorful stones, gold filigree, and seed pearls. Haskell’s nature-inspired pieces featured look-alike baroque pearls, glass seed pods, and shells. Some pieces focused on imagery of the day like mummies, sphinxes, and scarab forms which recalled the interest in ancient Egyptian jewelry. Circa 1950s Haskell pieces featured rhinestones.

Coro was a costume jewelry firm that was established in 1901. Its most famous design pieces are its jelly-belly pins. These pins have a gem, stone, or other element in the belly area of these figural brooches and pins.

A Coro employee named Albert Weiss left the company to start a his own competing design company called Weiss in the early 1940s. Weiss became famous for his “black diamond” jewelry sets made of dark grey Austrian rhinestones.

In Santa Monica, the Renoir company produced jewelry made from copper starting in the 1940s until 1964. They specialized in pieces with modernist, geometric, and abstract forms. Their Matisse line of costume jewelry is marked appropriately.

Trifari designer, Alfred Phillippe offered new and stylish designs drawing upon his training at the premier design firm Cartier. Phillippe used his talents to make fake pieces look like the real thing. Alfred Phillippe set the Trifari firm apart from the rest.

Some of the other well-known costume jewelry designers that mark or sign their work include the Miracle Jewelry Company, Sol d’Or, R.J. Graziano, B. David, Laurel Burch, Burch, Chris Anderson, Lisner, YSL for Yves Saint Laurent, Napier, Monet, Heidi Daus, Giusti, Michael Anthony, Barse, Nicky Butler, Jay King, DTR, and Joan Rivers to name a few.

One of today’s best known costume jewelry designers is Kenneth Jay Lane who established his design firm in 1963. Lane’s costume jewelry pieces were inspired by the jewelry owned and worn by Hollywood celebrities, First Ladies of the United States, and British royalty. His flair for the unique resulted in faux gemstone clustered earrings made of colorful stones and “bib” necklaces with gobs and gobs of rhinestones and fake pearls.

Get an online appraisal of your costume jewelry piece from Dr. Lori.