Vintage Costume Jewelry

You might have photos of your female ancestors (mothers, grandmothers, aunts and great grandmothers) wearing jewelry – might be gold or silver or it could be costume jewelry. If the time frame was the 1930s – 1960, there were many new techniques for producing a variety of costume jewelry that looked good. During those years all ladies wanted to be properly dressed with their hat, gloves, a styled outfit and matching jewelry. An outfit wasn’t complete without a little bit of costume jewelry to add sparkle.

One of the most popular types was the charm bracelets. The small charms worn on it could vary from a special theme like dogs, hobbies, children, travel souvenirs, etc. It was always an easy gift to a lady who had a charm bracelet – a new one to add. Many ladies had so many charms, a new bracelet was needed.

Ladies loved to have matched jewelry set, which included the necklace, brooch, earrings, bracelet and maybe a ring – that all matched. Slowly over the decades that style of everything being match has faded.

During the 1930s-1940s and into the 1950s, Bakelite jewelry caught on. It was a form of plastic and also used to make button, light switches and handles. The popular Bakelite jewelry over time could darken or change color. Because asbestos were used in the outer layer of the Bakelite jewelry, it is now considered hazardous because the change to the outer layer.

Having a piece or two of glass rhinestones used in a brooch or earrings was popular since the late 1800s. In 1956, Swarovski company came out with a rhinestone line with an iridescent rainbow finish. It was a special glitzy piece of costume jewelry.

Every lady liked to have a lovely brooch, worn for dressy occasions or to wear to church. A nice brooch could be worn on a dress, a jacket or coat.

A great idea today is to gather any family brooches, especially if not worn much today. Then make a collage design and place in a deep picture frame or showcase to hang. Even if you are not creative for a design, just a display with the many types of brooches would be great to show your family’s heirlooms.

In the 1950s wearing of a cardigan was popular. Sometimes the lady only wanted to wear the sweater draped on their shoulders. So invented was the sweater guard, a piece of jewelry. It would be decorative clips for each side of the sweater and a nice chain in-between. It could be also worn with the sweater completely on.

A trendy type of jewelry in the 1940s and early 1950s was known as fruit salad jewelry. It is just like it sounds, a variety of plastic shaped as a piece of fruit. There were earrings, necklaces, and bracelets each with a cluster of individual fruits, especially with a banana or two.

Photos: Charm bracelets; Bakelite earrings and pins; rhinestone brooch; brooches on display; sweater guard; and fruit salad necklace.

Related Blogs:

Mourning Jewelry

Camphor Glass

Hair Art

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