Collecting Costume Jewelry: Three Resource Books for Beginners

I love antique and vintage jewelry, both costume and fine. In my business, I am constantly buying and selling both. You might ask why I don't focus on just fine jewelry or just costume jewelry. Well, before the arrival of costume jewelry, plenty of antique jewelry combined precious metals with fake gemstones, not just real ones. So there has always been a gray area between fine jewelry and costume jewelry, a fact that is well documented.

Once you become familiar with the history of jewelry in America, you will gain a deeper appreciation of this gray area. I learned the history of costume jewelry in America by reading and studying several books on the subject. I have over two dozen books in my jewelry reference library which is still growing, as I just can't resist a good book about any kind of jewelry, especially if it has awesome color photos! There are, however, three books I highly recommend to the beginning collector of vintage costume jewelry. If you read no other books on the subject, earnest study of these three books will make you a junior expert on the subject! I list them in the following order because reading them in this order will provide a good understanding of the history of the costume jewelry industry in America and its offerings:

1. A Collector's Guide to Costume Jewelry, by Tracey Tolkien and Henrietta Wilkinson. (1997). Firefly Books, Ltd. Willowdale, Ontario, Canada. This wonderful book gives a thorough history on the evolution of costume jewelry from the fine jewels of European aristocracy to the fantastic catwalk couture pieces of the 1980's and 1990's. In addition, Tracey Tolkien and Henrietta Wilkinson hired a professional photographer to take the color photos of the fabulous jewelry they display in these pages which only makes their book more spectacular!

2. Popular Jewelry, 1840-1940, 3rd Edition, by Roseann Ettinger. (2002). Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. Atglen, PA. Roseann Ettinger’s love of jewelry is obvious by the enormous volume of historical documentation and advertising she has taken the time to amass for inclusion in this informative book. She mixes color photos of antique and vintage jewelry with many old black and white advertisements and illustrations. She is a pretty good photographer, too!*Roseann Ettinger is coming out with a fourth edition to this wonderful book in February of 2011. It will contain an updated price guide.

3. Collecting Costume Jewelry 101, 2nd Edition, by Julia C. Carroll. (2008). Collector Books. Paducah, KY.Julia was a teacher for many years and this talent is not lost in her books which give a thorough history of the subject matter. All of the photos are in color, and she is a really good photographer, too!

*If you like Collecting Costume Jewelry 101, be sure to check out her subsequent books in the series!I think the passionate beginning costume jewelry collector will learn volumes in these three books. By the way, I still look at all of them several times a month, they are that good! Happy reading and collecting!

Written by Danielle Lapidus of Treasure Box AntiquesSources:
2. Personal Experience

Danielle Lapidus
Treasure Box Antiques

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