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Costume Jewelry - General

Before the 20th century, women wore jewelry made of precious and semi-precious stones largely to show off the wealth of their husbands. The term “costume jewelry,” born in the 1920s, introduced a significant change in that way of thinking. New non-precious materials became more widely available with industrialization, and women began to wear jewelry as a means of expressing themselves creatively and stylishly.

The concept of fashionable costume jewelry truly took off when Coco Chanel introduced bold “statement” accessories in the late 1920s. The “Golden Age” of costume jewelry took place from the late ‘30s to mid ‘50s. Bakelite, a hard plastic material invented in 1907, became popular in the ‘30s and ‘40s as an inexpensive material for beads and bangles.

In 1941, Pell Jewelry Company was founded, and its costume jewelry products were sold in lower-end department stores like Sears and J.C. Penney. Then, in the late ‘40s, high-end designers like Dior started creating costume jewelry pieces, finally able to creatively steer away from restrictive fine jewelry and appeal to a wider audience with more affordable pieces. In the ‘50s, there was a high demand for “parures,” or sets of at least three matching pieces.


Quick Facts

  • While widely popularized in the 1930s, the concept of costume jewelry has actually been around since the 17th century, when jewelers started making pieces out of inexpensive glass
  • Makes of costume jewelry didn’t intend for pieces to be passed down through the generations – it was considered fashionable for a short time and a woman would by a new piece when she bought a new outfit
  • Kenneth Jay Lane was widely known in the 1960s for creating faux jewelry for Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn

Recommended Items at Auction

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Schreiner huge domed brooch with huge faceted crystals and 2 1/2"diam, 3/4"H (at dome)
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Schreiner huge domed brooch with huge faceted crystals and 2 1/2"diam, 3/4"H (at dome)
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$2258 Bids
Schreiner large domed dimensional shield form rhinestone pin 2 3/4"H x 2 1/2"W x 1"D
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Schreiner large domed dimensional shield form rhinestone pin 2 3/4"H x 2 1/2"W x 1"D
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$2258 Bids
Christian Lacroix abstract textured gold tone heart pin with faux branch coral, 2 1/2"H x 2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Christian Lacroix abstract textured gold tone heart pin with faux branch coral, 2 1/2"H x 2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $140- $250
$1607 Bids
Schreiner faux diamond earrings with triple teardrop ruby dangles 1 1/2"H x 1"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Schreiner faux diamond earrings with triple teardrop ruby dangles 1 1/2"H x 1"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $140- $250
$705 Bids
Natacha Brooks sterling figural elephant pin brooch 1 1/2"H x 2 1/2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Natacha Brooks sterling figural elephant pin brooch 1 1/2"H x 2 1/2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $100- $160
$1805 Bids
Christian LaCroix enamel Brutalist earrings with pink rhinestone accents. 1 3/4"H x 1 3/4"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Christian LaCroix enamel Brutalist earrings with pink rhinestone accents. 1 3/4"H x 1 3/4"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $100- $160
$804 Bids
Lunch at the Ritz festive happy hour martini glass and shaker earrings 2 3/4"H
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Lunch at the Ritz festive happy hour martini glass and shaker earrings 2 3/4"H
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $80- $120
$404 Bids
Christian LaCroix silver tone asymmetrical jeweled butterfly pin 3 1/4"H x 2 1/2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Christian LaCroix silver tone asymmetrical jeweled butterfly pin 3 1/4"H x 2 1/2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $140- $250
$404 Bids
Miriam Haskell large brass layered flower pin with huge faux pearl 1 1/4"H x 2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Miriam Haskell large brass layered flower pin with huge faux pearl 1 1/4"H x 2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$404 Bids
Miriam Haskell 2 pr. earrings: brown marbled glass cabochon
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Miriam Haskell 2 pr. earrings: brown marbled glass cabochon
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$704 Bids
Les Bernard lapis melon resin iron cross pin / pendant necklace 30"L (necklace), 3"H x 3"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Les Bernard lapis melon resin iron cross pin / pendant necklace 30"L (necklace), 3"H x 3"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$303 Bids
Yellow Bakelite Elephant pin with hand painted detail 1 3/4"H x 2 1/2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Yellow Bakelite Elephant pin with hand painted detail 1 3/4"H x 2 1/2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$303 Bids
William DeLillo red glass bead, seed pearl, rhinestone festoon necklace Adjustable 15-17"L
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
William DeLillo red glass bead, seed pearl, rhinestone festoon necklace Adjustable 15-17"L
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$1803 Bids
Two Wood/Bakelite Scottie brooches, tortoise and butterscotch 3"H x 3"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Two Wood/Bakelite Scottie brooches, tortoise and butterscotch 3"H x 3"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $160- $250
$403 Bids
Carved maroon Bakelite leaf pin with dangling red berries. 3"H x 2 1/2"W
Dec 06, 3:00 PM EST
Carved maroon Bakelite leaf pin with dangling red berries. 3"H x 2 1/2"W
by Ripley Auctions
Est: $160- $250
$303 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Costume Jewelry - General


Ripley Auctions

Ripley Auctions

Dees Auction Company,LLC

Dees Auction Company,LLC

Auctions By Moldenhauer

Auctions By Moldenhauer