Posted in Jewelry

by Ruby Lane Social

The Northern Lights in nature is a spectacle of color and light found in the northern areas of the world. The wonderful stones referred to as Aurora Borealis in jewelry making also have dazzling display of color and shimmer. They sparkle and have a myriad of stone coatings to give us this nature in jewelry look.

If you look on line you will find a whole range of sellers who will try to convince you that the piece of aurora borealis jewelry they are selling is from the Victorian, or Edwardian, or even Art Deco period. Don’t be fooled. It isn’t. There were no aurora borealis stones in those time periods. You may occasionally find a piece from this time period with AB rhinestones, but that only means that the stones have been replaced.

In the early to mid 1950s, the Swarovski Company began experimenting with rhinestone coatings to produce a lustrous aurora borealis coating on crystals to make them more radiant and full of color. The process was meant to simulate the effect of the Northern Lights – the celestial Aurora Borealis. This process was perfected by 1955 by Swarovski. The well known rhinestone maker worked closely with Christian Dior in the design of jewelry with these stones,

The first jewelry designs made from the stones with this shimmery coating was only available to the very wealthy. However, the process was soon licensed for use by other manufacturers such as Corocraft, who used it in their Vendome line, and soon started to become more affordable. Year later, when plastic beads with this finish became all the rage, the jewelry became cheaper and able to be purchased by the general public at reasonable prices.

When you examine a rhinestone or glass bead with the aurora borealis coating, you are in for a treat. You will see shimmering colors radiating from the beads in a variety of shades. Glass beads with an aurora borealis finish, particularly, pick up the colors around them. Early colors had mainly a bluish coating, sometimes called meridian blue, but over the years more and more variations in the coating color was perfected and the stones now have a wide variety of colors available. There are even charts which show all the coatings available today.

Aurora Borealis stones and beads used in jewelry making were very popular until the mid 1960s, when the used of them tended to fade from the manufacture of jewelry, only to have a huge resurgence in the later years of the last century when vintage jewelry collecting started to become so popular with the advent of many online selling venues. Although one can acquire jewelry from many time periods with AB stones, for investment purposes, the 1950s is the time period on which to focus. Aurora Borealis stones were fashioned into all types of vintage jewelry – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, pins and brooches are all found with these stones.

So, when you find a piece of jewelry with original aurora borealis stones, don’t be fooled into believing that it dates from the 1930s or 1940s or earlier time periods. Occasionally, you may find a patent number on the back of a piece which will specifically date it, but the patent will never indicate a piece earlier than 1955 unless the stones have been replaced.

Carol Speake

My Ruby Lane Store:

2 Responses to “The Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry: How Old is Aurora Borealis Jewelry?”

  1. cinsababe

    This is one of my pet peeves. It amazes me how many sellers do not know these simple facts. I find myself repeating this same information over and over to supposedly reputable and knowlegable dealers. I even had one lady tell me that her grandmother had brought her aurora borealis earrings with her in a stage coach to California in the 1800s!

    This is one of the first things I tell new store owners I am helping. It is vital that we as RL shop owners know what we are talking about, it helps the entire site maintain its exceptional reputation when we do our research and know our stuff.

    Cindy of Cinsababe’s and Cinsababe’s Too on Ruby Lane

  2. labarker

    My 3-strand aurora borealis necklace and earring set dates from about 1962/63. I assume it’s not made from Swarovski crystals or I wouldn’t have been able to afford it, but it’s amazingly colourful, shimmering and flashing with just about every hue in the rainbow. I have a memory of it costing me over a week’s wages. It is fitted with a box clasp set with two large AB crystals surrounded by small crystals. The crystals are graduated, with the largest ones being about 13mm in length. The crystals are more or less oblong (but not flat).

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