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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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Antique Rhinestone Costume Jewelry Brooch Collection
Jun 26, 6:00 PM EDT
Antique Rhinestone Costume Jewelry Brooch Collection
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $10,000
$2210 Bids
Antique Costume Jewelry Brooch Collection
Jun 26, 6:00 PM EDT
Antique Costume Jewelry Brooch Collection
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$127 Bids
27pc Costume Jewelry Bracelet Lot
Jun 23, 3:00 PM MST
27pc Costume Jewelry Bracelet Lot
by Ace Of Estates
Est: $0- $0
$306 Bids
Vendome Runway Couture Multi-Stone Bib Costume Jewelry Necklace
Jun 22, 9:00 AM CDT
Vendome Runway Couture Multi-Stone Bib Costume Jewelry Necklace
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$455 Bids
42 Pairs Costume Jewelry Clip-On Earrings Lot
Jun 23, 3:00 PM MST
42 Pairs Costume Jewelry Clip-On Earrings Lot
by Ace Of Estates
Est: $0- $0
$204 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Costume Jewelry - General


Ripley Auctions

Ripley Auctions

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer

Apple Tree Auction Center

Apple Tree Auction Center