Gorgeous collectible vintage costume jewelry can add a wow factor to any outfit. Not only are the pieces beautiful, but they're more affordable than their fine jewelry counterparts.
What's more, some highly collectible brands may also be pretty valuable. So before you give your vintage costume jewelry to your kids so they can play dress up, check through your collection for these famous makers.
Most Valuable Costume Jewelry Sold Recently
Like all vintage items, prices of costume jewelry can fluctuate quite a bit depending on demand. Still, it's fun to look at some of the most valuable pieces sold recently. Really exceptional items can go for thousands of dollars. These are gorgeous and unique costume jewelry pieces by some of the most coveted brands and designers.
|Valuable Costume Jewelry Piece
|Approximate Sold Price
|Trifari "Fruit Salad" fan-shaped fur clip
|Chanel by Maison Gripoix brass cuff bracelet
|Hattie Carnegie lion bracelet and earrings
|Coro "Carmen Miranda" duette brooch
|Eisenburg Puss in Boots fur clip
It's common to see costume jewelry sold in lots, or groups of a bunch of pieces together. The prices of costume jewelry lots vary depending on the number of pieces, whether there might be any valuable brands, and the age and condition of the items. If you're not looking for something specific, this can be a good way to find a treasure.
Valuable Brands of Vintage Costume Jewelry
Faux pieces of jewelry have been around for hundreds of years. This jewelry style began to gain traction in the 1920s when Hollywood utilized costume pieces in movies. Prominent women, such as First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and stars like Marilyn Monroe, wore various designers' costume jewelry in public. Many designers created costume jewelry during the 20th century, from Napier to Sarah Coventry and more.
While you can buy many unknown vintage jewelry pieces at yard sales or thrift stores for a few dollars or online for around $20 to $50, there are some brands with pieces worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the designer and style. If you're building a collection or checking through jewelry you inherited for treasures, these are some of the most valuable costume jewelry brands you want to look for.
Hattie Carnegie was an immigrant to the U.S. from Austria. Her jewelry designs feature Swarovski crystals, gold mesh, florals, and animals. The Carnegie logo is stamped on pieces made both by her company and those commissioned outside her company; the logos may simply be her name, her initials, or even Miss Hattie. These costume pieces tend to sell for hundreds if they're interesting and in good condition, and some are super valuable. A set of three sea-based pins was sold at LiveAuctioneers for $200.
A bracelet and earrings set in a rare and striking lion design by Hattie Carnegie sold for just under $2,400. It was from the 1960s and had cream-colored enamel, gold plating, and red and green glass gems. The signed pieces were in very good condition.
Coco Chanel's 1920s creation of statement jewelry and accessories that were more artful than expensive kicked off the fashion jewelry craze. Coco Chanel costume jewelry is a classic brand iconified by gorgeous brooches and, in later years, gold-plated and faux pearl pieces. Vintage Chanel pieces sell for several hundreds of dollars, especially necklaces. Look for the backward and forward "C" letters with overlapping backs to identify a Chanel piece.
A Chanel brass cuff bracelet from the 1980s sold for just under $5,000 at auction. This piece, which was made for Chanel by Maison Gripoix, was in perfect shape and had red and green glass "chiclets" (glass gems shaped like Chiclet gum) and lots of sparkling rhinestones. It was clearly marked as a Chanel piece.
Emmanuel Cohn (Co) and Carl Rosenberger (ro) started Coro, although they employed designers to create the jewelry. The company went through several name changes, from Coro to Corocraft to Vendome, and most pieces were marked with Coro. Vendome pieces are considered better than the rest, although they can all be valuable. The line is famous for the Duettes pin, figures, and patriotic pins, among other more common designs. If you find a rare piece, then it may be worth hundreds.
A duette brooch in the "Carmen Miranda" design by Coro sold for just over $1,800. It was clearly marked and probably dated to the late 1930s. Despite having some condition issues, such as darkened rhinestones, this brooch is valuable because it's a piece of rare vintage costume jewelry.
Christian Dior used Swarovski crystals in costume jewelry, especially the "aurora borealis" rainbow stones. Many famous designers worked in the costume jewelry division of Dior, including Kramer, Henkel and Grossé, Josette Gripoix, and more. Marks would feature the designer's name, often with "for Christian Dior" or "Dior by" and similar notations. Sometimes, the country of origin was included as well, depending on the designer. Florals and fine-looking pieces are common. Vintage Dior pieces commonly sell for a few hundred dollars.
Jonas Eisenberg immigrated to Chicago and began a clothing company. With each article of clothing came a jewelry accessory. The costume jewelry became popular enough to be sold separately by his sons, and the clothing line was eventually discontinued. Enamel jewelry and rhinestone Christmas tree pins are very popular. Early jewelry doesn't have a mark, but in later years, the mark was the name Eisenberg or a letter "E" on pieces. Some pieces can be valuable. For example, the Experts on the Antiques Roadshow valued a set featuring brooch, bracelet, earrings, and necklace at around $1,300 in 2013. Generally, pieces sell for around $15 to $100, but some are worth far more.
A totally charming vintage Eisenberg fur clip in the shape of Puss in Boots sold for $1,675. Despite a few minor condition issues like enamel that was chipping slightly, it was extremely valuable because of its unique shape, quality, and large size.
Hobé costume jewelry is known for being tasseled, beaded, and having floral designs. Jacques Hobé started the company in Paris, but his son William moved the company to America and is most well-known for designing costume pieces used in Hollywood and worn by actresses. The marks for this jewelry have undergone several changes. Early 1900s marks feature very tall letters "H" and "b" in various shapes from triangular to oval. On pieces from later years, the name may be a more standard size and simply stamped on the back. The pricing depends on the piece, but they'll usually sell for a range of up to a few hundred dollars.
Miriam Haskell's jewelry highlighted floral designs using Swarovski crystals, faux beads, and other popular materials of the time. Many pieces also had nature motifs. Electroplating was a common feature of Miriam Haskell's jewelry, and pieces can be worth hundreds. Haskell was not a designer; instead, she hired experts to make pieces. Few costume jewelry designs in this brand carry a maker's mark. If there is one, it's rare and features a horseshoe. Otherwise, it would be identified by the Haskell name.
Elsa Schiaparelli started as a fashion designer, but she also made costume jewelry pieces. Often, her pieces were Surrealist, and some of her more famous ones were part of the "Shocking Pink" collection. Large pieces, nature motifs, and animals also factored in. Early 1900s pieces were not signed, while later ones had her last name. Though Schiaparelli quit making jewelry in the 1950s, it was manufactured through the 1970s since the company name and rights were sold. Pieces on eBay regularly sell for at least $40, and many are around the $80 to $120 mark. Sets go for more.
Many Trifari pieces were designed to look like more valuable fine jewelry. Designer Alfred Philippe created Trifari crown pins and Jelly Belly animal brooches, which are highly collectible pieces today. Some pieces are sterling silver, while others are made from a material known as Trifanium. Expert Judith Miller considers pieces by Philippe for Trifari highly collectible.
Trifari is still in production today through the Liz Claiborne company. Its original mark included a small crown, which evolved into the name with the copyright or trademark symbol. Rare and well-preserved Trifari pieces and collections regularly sell at LiveAuctioneers for anywhere from $600 to $2,000 or more, while eBay pieces can garner anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars.
A Trifari "Fruit Salad" fur clip in the shape of a jeweled fan sold for $5,000 at auction. It dated to the 1930s and featured imitation moonstones and rhodium plating. In addition to being in pristine condition almost a century after it was made, this was a large piece that measured nearly three inches.
How to Spot Vintage Costume Jewelry Worth Money
If you're collecting costume and rhinestone jewelry or thinking about selling a piece you own, you should know not only the brand but a few key factors that will add to the value. Keep these tips in mind to find valuable pieces.
- Good condition - Look for pieces that are in excellent condition with no repairs; determine whether jewels or beads were glued in or are held in with prongs. Missing parts and rust (green in vintage pieces) are a bad sign.
- High-quality materials - Vintage jewelry is made out of a variety of materials, including glass, plastic, resin, Bakelite, and various metals, of which brass was common. Faux pearls were popular in the mid-1950s, and vintage rhinestone jewelry often included faux diamonds. Even though the materials aren't precious, they should be high quality for the piece to be worth a lot.
- Rare and/or well-known - Like other vintage and antique items, the fewer pieces produced, the more collectible it is. Additionally, well-known pieces used in Hollywood movies or worn at famous events are valuable.
- Matched sets - Something else to look for are matching sets; this means the earrings, bracelet, necklace, pin, and/or ring all have a similar theme and were sold together in pairs or larger groupings.
- Desirable brand and design - Checking for vintage costume jewelry marks is the best way to tell who made it and whether it's collectible. However, you also want to look for more unusual designs, especially those that represent various style movements like Art Deco.
You can find the maker's mark on the inside or back of your vintage jewelry. It's usually a stamp that has letters, numbers, or symbols and can help you decide what brand the piece is.
Learn to Tell a Treasure From a Fun Accessory
Whether you're looking for a vintage brooch or you just want beautiful and unusual necklaces, vintage jewelry can be incredibly fun to collect. It's also awesome to know a bit more about pieces you've inherited or deals you scored at a flea market or yard sale. If you can spot valuable vintage costume jewelry, you'll be able to sort out what's a treasure and what might just be a pretty accessory to wear (both are awesome).