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Costume Jewellery in Fashion History

By Pauline Weston Thomas for

Famous Names in Costume Jewellery

Some of the famous names in costume jewellery include both the high and low priced brands from Trifari, Dior, Chanel, Monet, Napier, Corocraft to Coventry.

You can still buy many of these names today, but truly interesting authentic period examples can be found amid the vintage jewellery market.  There is something about a real vintage piece that captures the spirit of an era.  Ask grandma what she has in her box in the attic or pushed to the back of a drawer, or browse some of the wonderful vintage jewellery sites online.  Most vintage jewellery sites have a mixed selection of goods such as those shown here from Glitterbug.


Photos of some very different and unusual costume jewellery pieces that have a modern yet retro feel at the same time.  All thumbnails enlarge.

 All pictures courtesy Glitterbug

Fashion-era picture of starwberry gold costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug Fashion-era picture of Haskell turquoise costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug Fashion-era picture of Monet gold tone costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug
Trifari Strawberries Pin and Earrings Miriam Haskell Turquoise Set Monet Gold rope Necklace and Bangle
Fashion-era picture of Matisses Renoir costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug Fashion-era picture of Matisse Renoir copper tone costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug Fashion-era picture of copper costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug
Matisse Renoir Pin and Earrings Matisse Renoir Copper Set Copper Necklace

Fashion-era picture of Marvella enamel costume jewellery pieces from Glitterbug  This stunning Marvella set features enamel leaves.  What a statement maker. The clip earrings scream 1950s style.

Check Glitterbug the vintage costume jewellery website for current availability or similar items.

Brooches add a perfect textural contrast to the collar of this season's tweed jacket.  Pins are big news 2004/2005 and can be attached not just to a garment, but also to a bag or even a cushion as you add to your collection. 

Glitterbug also has a good selection of crystal/glass earrings and brooches as shown in the headers of both these vintage costume jewellery pages. 

In the 1960s more unusual costume jewellery was popular using modern plastics and ethnic pieces to achieve a look that was both futuristic and chunky on the one hand and looking back to ancient designs on the other, using the tiniest of fine beads. 

The 1980s saw another revival of costume jewellery under the huge influence of Dallas and Dynasty programmes seen worldwide.  The pieces were lavish and opulent.  By this time cubic zirconia was easily available and made for great imitation pieces.  Smart enamel pieces were also very popular in contrast to the glitz of diamante. 

By the 1990s less became more and unusual was the catchword.  So that now in the noughties of the twenty first century we see a huge interest in vintage costume jewellery pieces as buyers strive to acquire the unusual.  Those buyers want to have individual pieces that have a difference to that worn by their neighbour.  Meanwhile manufacturers do their best to copy old pieces giving modern pieces a vintage look, making the vintage look the perfect accessory for vintage designs in clothing whether true vintage or designer retro.

Many good department stores now have a section within their jewellery department that sells and buys vintage cocktail jewellery.  You can of course buy costume jewellery online over the internet at a store such as Glitterbug.

Please note I have no vested interest in Glitterbug - I just think the stock is very varied and attractive of its type as the range of pictures on these two pages shows. The owner has been kind enough to allow me to show some of her very interesting stock here, enabling you to understand the full range of items that come under the term cocktail and costume jewellery.


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About looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or indirectly.  This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.

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