Monday, February 4, 2013

Vintage, Valentine, Downton Abbey And The Hunt

Vintage and Valentine just seem to go together.  Not only because both words begin with the letter V and sound good side by side... but it's a style thing.  When else, aside from Valentine's Day, do you have the excuse to lavishly indulge yourself and others with love, flowers, hearts, beautiful jewelry and other delightfully frilly ephemera from days gone by?

The jewelry that I design has always had an element of romance and twinge of yesteryear about it, and vintage style or retro style jewelry in general has become quite popular over the last few years.  This isn't by accident, and there are several factors that have contributed to this growing fashion trend.

First, the increasing popularity of resale shops.  Especially for those who are seeking a less expensive, off beat Shabby Chic, BoHo/Anthropology kind of urban retro look.  Vintage accessories lend themselves perfectly to this style, and many pieces can be found in the resale shops themselves or through online resale sites.  

Another reason for the resurgence is the recent mass market manufacture and distribution of vintage style jewelry findings in the bead and jewelry catalogs. Of course the majority of these pieces are not really vintage.  Just brass reproductions taken from original brass vintage pieces. The brass is often a different grade and also lighter in weight.  The color is also different.  In other words, fake vintage...and you really can tell the difference.

The third element which recently came into play and catapulted vintage style into a completely different sphere, is the popularity of the PBS show Downton Abbey, which takes place in the post-Edwardian era .  For those of you who watch the show, next time you tune in take a closer look at the earrings and necklaces that the characters are wearing.  Look familiar?

Vintage Heart Necklace

So - that leads me to the focus of this blog post.  "Where do you get your jewelry findings Diane"?
The question I am asked over and over and over.

Well first of all, the materials that I use for my pieces are all authentic vintage findings, except where noted.  (and I should note here that the earwires that I use for example, are contemporary gold filled or sliver and not vintage.)

Swarovski Vintage Glass Earrings
Some of the findings I use are overstock purchases from a dear friend who has been in the jewelry business for close to 30 years.  She shops in old manufacturing warehouses and specialty catalogs, and purchases through buyouts and sales of their overstock vintage goods.

Valentine Vintage Heart Collection

My second source is from another friend who does estate and store buyouts for her antique business.  For example she did a huge buyout several years ago from the estate of a well published, deceased New York jewelry designer.  My purchases through her have supplied me with enough vintage jewelry findings to last a lifetime.


Vintage Pearl Glass Earring and Necklace Set
Finally, and most importantly are the actual warehouses and suppliers that I visit myself or contact online. I had the great pleasure of traveling and visiting one warehouse in particular twice this past year - spending hours and hours reveling in the murk, dirt, dull lighting, icky boxes and ghosts - yes, ghosts - to find even more beautiful vintage glass stones and filigree.  Treasure hunting at it's best... and I loved every minute of it!

Quite a few of those vintage glass pieces have ended up in my most recent Valentine jewelry designs, which are available in my Etsy Shop and also in the Noyes Museum of Art in New Jersey.

Peridot Heart Earrings

Quite a few of these pieces have ended up in my latest Valentine jewelry designs, which are available in my Etsy Shop and also at the Noyes Museum of Art in New Jersey.

Vintage Glass Necklaces

~ diane fergurson

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