Posted in Gift Ideas, Vintage Collectibles

by Ruby Lane

The Whimsical World of Vintage Jewelry Boxes on Ruby Lane

While it isn’t about a jewelry box or romantic love, Joe Hill’s novel Heart Shaped Box manages to get one thinking of boxes, which during Valentine’s Day, usually contain chocolates or jewelry. Jewelry collectors will gladly share their experiences of finding storage for their treasures.  They often have to think outside the jewelry box to find the right box to store jewels.  Valentine’s candy boxes, usually heart shaped do the trick nicely, so do vintage sewing baskets, small wicker baskets, lithographed paper boxes, vintage tins, Tupperware, jewelry Armoires, and really anything else that will make a roomy jewelry casket [yes, that’s what they used to be called!]

Vintage Valentine's Heart Shape Jewel Case

Vintage Valentine’s Heart Shape Jewel Case

German Candy Container Trunk for All Bisque, Ca. 1900

German Candy Container Trunk for All Bisque, Ca. 1900

Vintage Valentine Candy Heart Box

Vintage Valentine Candy Heart Box

1920's Valentine Heart Shaped Straw Basket Box

1920’s Valentine Heart Shaped Straw Basket Box

Jewelry is often a favorite gift for Valentine’s Day, so the scramble to find places to keep jewelry intensifies.  No doubt, a few have kept the boxes from their long-stem roses to store long necklaces or large pins.

There is, however, no need to panic, because there are lots of great vintage boxes to choose from, all tried and true and well-suited to the task of giving a home to your jewelry.  Whether you plan on storing statement necklaces or delicate charms, vintage jewelry boxes are there for your jewelry storage pleasure.

1970s Repoussé Domed Heart Shaped Jewelry Trinket Box of Love

1970s Repoussé Domed Heart Shaped Jewelry Trinket Box of Love

Elegant Brass Jewelry Box from Old Istanbul

Elegant Brass Jewelry Box from Old Istanbul

Favorites with box and jewelry collectors are Italian wooden marquetry boxes with intricate inlaid designs.  Some are made of small tables and play music when their lid is lifted.  Also from Italy come gold gesso covered boxes, some made like miniature dressers with drawers.

Antique Russian Marquetry Jewelry Treasure Box

Antique Russian Marquetry Jewelry Treasure Box

Antique 1800s French Kingwood & Ormolu Jewelry Box

Antique 1800s French Kingwood & Ormolu Jewelry Box

Miniature Tunbridge Jewellery Cabinet, mid-19th century

Miniature Tunbridge Jewellery Cabinet, mid-19th century

Those who love doll furniture and miniatures appreciate vintage boxes made to look like mini armoires.  These often have velvet lined drawers and music mechanisms.   Vintage doll wardrobes and doll trunks are also excellent places to store jewelry.  Fashion dolls and doll house dolls also have tiny boxes full of their own jewels.

French Faux Bamboo Armoire

French Faux Bamboo Armoire

Dutch 23

Dutch 23″ Miniature Marquetry Doll Cabinet Armoire

French faux bamboo miniature mirrored wardrobe

French faux bamboo miniature mirrored wardrobe

19th c. French Miniature Armoire

19th c. French Miniature Armoire

Hand Painted Kashmir India Papier-Mache Box with Lioness
Kashmir India Papier-Mache Cache Box Hand Painted in Bright Floral Design

For smaller pieces and spaces, colorful Kashmir papier-mache lacquer boxes from India do the trick.  These often have colorful hand painted portraits, landscapes, and designs from Indian folklore. Brass boxes from India sometimes are inlaid with precious stones or are etched with traditional designs.

Vintage Japanese lacquer boxes are shaped like pianos, or small dressers as well.  Some open on several levels and have tiny ballerina dolls that dance and turn when the lid is lifted.  Some Japanese wooden boxes resemble Japanese houses.

Art deco boxes are great choices for jewelry and small objects.  Victorian velvet covered boxes, silk lined with metal findings are also great.

Vintage English Sterling Silver and Green Guilloche Enamel Jewelry Box

Vintage English Sterling Silver and Green Guilloche Enamel Jewelry Box

Art Deco Spelter Bronze Jewelry Box

Art Deco Spelter Bronze Jewelry Box

Art Deco Jewelry Box

Art Deco Jewelry Box

Antique German Ormolu Jewelry Box
Limoges France Forget Me Not Bluebell Flower Hand Pained Signed Trinket Box

China boxes or porcelain boxes, glazed and unglazed, come in all shapes and sizes.  Enesco has even made a red heart shaped box with a cupid fixed on the lid.  Enamel boxes by Halcyon Days and Limoges boxes are great for rings and tiny pieces. Meissen, Sevres, Bone China, Staffordshire and Belleek boxes are also interesting.  Crystal boxes are beautiful and let you see your precious objects inside.  Waterford has created very nice ones.

Nephrite jade boxes are jewels in themselves.  Vintage Victorian ring boxes, often lined in worn, soft velvet are popular collectors’ items in their own right.  Tiny Italian mosaic boxes look great in miniature and jewelry collections and would house a tiny, gold heart shaped locket very nicely.

Nephrite Jade Jewelry Box Jewelry

Nephrite Jade Jewelry Box Jewelry

Antique Chinese Silver and Enamel Jewelry Box with Jade Plaque

Antique Chinese Silver and Enamel Jewelry Box with Jade Plaque

French Jewelry Box, Casket in Rosewood, Velvet Interior

French Jewelry Box, Casket in Rosewood, Velvet Interior

Antique Rosewood Brass Chinese Make-up Vanity Mirror Jewelry Box c1900

Antique Rosewood Brass Chinese Make-up Vanity Mirror Jewelry Box c1900

Those who like wood will enjoy cedar boxes or miniature hope chests. Chinese rosewood and brass jewel boxes also serve as terrific room accents. 

Dresser dolls or half dolls whose bottom half is a box are made in Japan and Germany and are china. Some of these held powder puffs, but they make lovely ring boxes.  Line them with a vintage or antique handkerchief.  There are even vintage Valentine’s handkerchiefs that are printed with the image of a heart-shaped candy box.  How perfect is that?

Darling RARE Kewpie on Heart-Shaped Trinket Box

Darling RARE Kewpie on Heart-Shaped Trinket Box

German Half Doll Sitting on Box ca. 1920

German Half Doll Sitting on Box ca. 1920

Some love Victorian metal boxes, often enameled, that are lined in silk or velvet and embossed with pastoral scenes or inlaid with cameos.  Victorian milk glass dresser boxes decorated in gilt look elegant in any style décor and take a lot of jewelry.

Extra Large Wavecrest C.F. Monroe Egg Crate Mold lace enamel hinged jewel box hand enameled pansies and gilt mounts

So this year, if you give or get jewelry for Valentine’s day, think outside the jewel box, and try vintage.  Vintage boxes in any material make wonderful jewelry caskets and cases.  They are an interesting collection in themselves, yet serve a very practical purpose.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Antique French Kiln-Fired Enamel Jewelry Casket, Box, Raised Enamel
Antique French or Russian Champleve Enamel Box, Casket, Cigar? Server - Superb!
Antique Battersea Kiln-fired Enamel Snuff or Patch, Jewelry Box, Casket

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