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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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Group of Dominique Aurientas costume jewelry
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Group of Dominique Aurientas costume jewelry
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $200- $300
$3254 Bids
Group of gold tone costume jewelry earrings
Dec 07, 11:00 AM EST
Group of gold tone costume jewelry earrings
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$803 Bids
Vintage Costume Cabochon Jewelry Accessory
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Vintage Costume Cabochon Jewelry Accessory
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $20- $40
$403 Bids
Lot of Kenneth J Lane Costume Pieces
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of Kenneth J Lane Costume Pieces
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$253 Bids
Lot of 3 Designer Costume Pieces
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of 3 Designer Costume Pieces
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $75- $150
$503 Bids
Lot of Costume Rings LOT 1213
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
Lot of Costume Rings LOT 1213
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$62 Bids
Small Lot of Colorful Costume Bracelets LOT 1213
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
Small Lot of Colorful Costume Bracelets LOT 1213
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$162 Bids
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME NECKLACES LOT 164
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME NECKLACES LOT 164
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
Ceramic Costume Frog Brooch
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Ceramic Costume Frog Brooch
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $50- $100
$22 Bids
SuZy T BUDDHA Pendant Necklace w Costume Pearls
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
SuZy T BUDDHA Pendant Necklace w Costume Pearls
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $20- $60
$11 Bid
Lot of Mostly Pins
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of Mostly Pins
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$101 Bid
Turquoise Toned Beaded Pull String Bracelet
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
Turquoise Toned Beaded Pull String Bracelet
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $20- $80
$11 Bid
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME NECKLACES LOT 164
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME NECKLACES LOT 164
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
8 Costume Brooches LOT 696
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
8 Costume Brooches LOT 696
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
10 Costume "Pearl" Bracelets LOT 1213
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
10 Costume "Pearl" Bracelets LOT 1213
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Two costume jewelry brooches
Dec 14, 6:00 PM CST
Two costume jewelry brooches
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $20- $75
$51 Bid
Costume jewelry ring lot
Dec 14, 6:00 PM CST
Costume jewelry ring lot
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Beautiful costume jewelry brooch
Dec 14, 6:00 PM CST
Beautiful costume jewelry brooch
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $40- $140
$51 Bid
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME EARRINGS LOT 164
Dec 04, 5:00 PM EST
LARGE LOT OF COSTUME EARRINGS LOT 164
by Jones Auction House LLC
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Lot of 8 Bauble Style Costume Rings
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of 8 Bauble Style Costume Rings
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $75- $150
$101 Bid
Five costume jewelry necklaces
Dec 14, 6:00 PM CST
Five costume jewelry necklaces
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Three costume jewelry necklaces
Dec 14, 6:00 PM CST
Three costume jewelry necklaces
by Easterly Auction Company
Est: $0- $0
$51 Bid
Lot of 3 Designer Costume Jewelry Pins
Dec 06, 11:00 AM EST
Lot of 3 Designer Costume Jewelry Pins
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $75- $150
$101 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Costume Jewelry - General


Dees Auction Company,LLC

Dees Auction Company,LLC

Greenwich Auction

Greenwich Auction

Easterly Auction Company

Easterly Auction Company

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer