You have a thirst for knowledge and would like to know more about the old costume jewellery that you have. What book should you buy when you live in the UK?
There are numerous reference books available and many of them have been made in the US by authors with a collection based on the US. What is the relevance to those of us living here in the UK?
This is a short list of 12 books that provide an overview of the knowledge available starting from Victorian through to in the 80s and on. There are actually more than 12 books in this list, as some authors have written multiple books that can be useful.
This guide will cover general unsigned pieces and certain signed jewellery pieces. However there are no specific books ever written for the majority of mass-produced signed costume jewellery created by UK companies or specifically for the UK market, apart from Wilson and Butler.
1. Costume Jewellery: A Collectors Guide by Caroline Behr (Miller’s) (ISBN 1-84000-373-1)
It is a good starting point by providing a general overview and time line of Victorian, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, 1950s, Czech, Austrian and certain designers. It is easy to read and contains great photos. Size of the handbag is ideal to read while on the train
2. The Vintage Jewellery Collection: A Love For fabulous Fakes written by Carol Tanenbaum (ISBN 1-85149-511-8)
A must to purchase and comes with the time line, which is expanded with details. It includes Art Nouveau, Birmingham silver machine, introduction to Bakelite and plastic , as well as the glossary. A lot of great photographs, but there are no backs (a necessity for identification, however, it is not often included inside any publication)
3. How to Collect Jewelry How to buy more at a lower cost! Written by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-89689-180-1)
Another time line and overview through the history, however it is an absolute treasure because it showcases the mechanism and backs of items that are vital to making a Jewellery Jobs distinction between jewellery and its date. This book looks at style and the materials, with particular photographs. Art plastic, prom jewellery and retro manufacturing techniques, Scandinavian, cameos. The majority of information is short, but a great visual guide. US book with price in dollars guidelines (2005). Another fantastic publication to be read while on the bus or train as fits into your bag.
4. Jewels as well as Jewellery Clare Phillips (V & A) (ISBN 1-855177-535-4) or Jewellery: The Decorative Arts Library edited by Janet Swarbrick (ISBN 1-902328-13-2)
I was unable to decide between which one of the UK books was more informative. So have I have included both?
Jewels and Jewellery comprises items, a chronology of designs and production and distribution. Images of museum pieces and. It includes silver filigree Berlin Iron, pearls, enamel and glass. Faith jewellery and cut steel. Also mourning and love jewellery that is not just bog or jet oak. Lalique, Ashbee, Liberty Cymric, Wilson, Gaskins and a timeline from pre Victorian to the year 2000.
Jewellery is a visual representation of the world’s most renowned jewellery making techniques. From the ancient world to 1989. A wealth of information and images and more specific details about Jewellery from the UK.
5. Popular Jewelry of the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s by Roseann Ettinger (ISBN 0-7643-2470-5)
Three decades of jewellery that illustrates the latest trends in fashion and politics that influenced the designs. US guide with price in dollars guide (2006) The majority of vintage jewellery found originates from this time and this makes the book a must-read. The book is beautifully illustrated and contains jewellery that is recognized within the UK. The book includes Mod jewelry, oriental influence, Pop Art, novelty pieces, revival pieces, love beads, Art Metal, jade plastic, wood, and pave. The author has produced other references on different decades that are worth the price of.
6. Collecting Art Plastic Jewelry by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-87349-954-9)
It is not often found in jewellery with the same amount and varieties as you can find in the States. It is important to identify and observe the various designs made of plastic as well as other materials. Celluloid, Lucite, thermoplastic, laminated, reverse-carved are the most common used in the UK and easily over looked. This book will make the reader think about plastic items in a whole new light. The book is not complete enough on galalith, the early plastic type that is most common across the UK. To find out more, check out books on Jakob Bengel.
7. Collecting Costume Jewelry 303: The flip side , exploring costume jewelry from back by Julia C Carroll. (ISBN 978-1-57432-626-0)
This book goes through the basic have knowledge of vintage costume jewelry. The various components, including stones and cabochons that can help in dating as well as hardware clues that are easily missed. Cameos, rhinestones, signed jewelry and photos of the signatures of pin backs, art glass and so many more. I read this book and often discover something I’ve never noticed before. It is one of my top books for knowledge. It also includes a section on designers including Jonette Jewelry Co (JJ) that aren’t usually found elsewhere in books. US book with $ price guides (2010)
Julia Carroll has produced other books like Costume Jewelry 101 and 202 in this serious. These two books are both useful for reference and also.
8. Baubles, Buttons and Beads: The Heritage of Bohemia by Sibelle Jargstorf (ISBN 0-88740-467-7)
Another gem of a book; because we have a lot of antique jewellery imported into our country from Bohemia through during the Second World War and then in smaller amounts following. Still available to find and collect but prices are increasing. Sections on buttons, glass beads, plastic and glass cameos of the 1930s, enamel and , most importantly, the background. This book has helped me date and locate filigree, cameos and vibrantly colored rhinestone jewellery of the 20th and 30th centuries. Machine and hand-finished dress clips and the different kinds of finishes utilized.
Sibylle Jargstorf has written other books about glass and beads that are valuable.
9. Cameos: A Pocket Guide by Monica Lynn Clements and Patricia Rosser Clements (ISBN 0-7643-1728-8)
Although there are many books on cameos, this little contains a wealth of cameos that are not made of shell. Shell is probably the most sought-after cameo jewelry, however to me, it didn’t attract me. I wanted to learn more about the plastic, glass gemstone, metal and cameos that I saw. How can I tell which materials were that were used and how they were created. The book is full of photographs that showcase a large amount of cameos in the materials mentioned above and, more importantly, recognized for their use in the UK market. US book with $ price guide (2003) For more detailed information about cameo jewelry, purchase one of the versions from Cameos: Old and New by Anna M Miller.
10. Victorian Jewellery by Margaret Flowers (No ISBN)
It’s not a book about antique jewelry, but it is a book on vintage jewelry that is out of print but still accessible in various editions. It was published in 1951 and is an interesting read. An insight into Victorian influences, as seen in the revival of pieces. Birmingham’s role in mass-produced jewelry. The book is frequently mentioned in later books as being influential. The book covers the Victorian period broken down into 3 sections and each one is filled with the most commonly used designs from the period. I laughed at the snobby attitude of the author at times but is definitely worth reading. Some photos and mostly black and white which are not clear enough.
11. Scottish Jewellery: A Victorian Passion by Diana Scarisbrick
Scottish jewelry is abundantly in the UK. From the mid nineteenth century when the popularity of Scottish jewellery grew factories were operating situated in Scotland and England producing designs and pieces in the thousands. This continued to be the case until the middle of the twentieth century , mostly in Birmingham. This book is a great introduction. It’s not as thorough as it would have been, and do not expect details on antique Scottish souvenir jewellery like Miracle, The Ward Brothers, Exquisite or Hollywood. Pages of photos of agate and silver brooches and bracelets. The book is a bit complicated due to the photo guide at the end of the book. A great book to begin for recognizing Scottish patterns.
12. Warman’s Jewelry: Fine & Costume Jewelry 4Th Edition by Kathy Flood (ISBN 1-4402-0801-8)
This is the 4Th edition of the Warman’s Jewel Identification and Price Guide. So 3 other books to read and acquire. In this edition two centuries are covered with pearls, cameos, figural Art Nouveau, Art Deco and even plastic. The difference among Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian jewellery. Again page after page of jewellery photographs. Nice mix of new vintage, antique and contemporary jewellery. A variety of international styles that I felt are relevant with the UK. US book with $ price guide (2010)
This is just a brief list of books that are general in nature for vintage jewelry that will change as more books are added to the market, or as I come across out of print books. Then there are even more specific books about Bengal, Avon, Sarah Coventry, Egyptian Revival jewellery, Haskell, D & E, Wilson & Butler and so many more to read
With this much details, I am still feeling like I’ve only scratched the surface. In the past, I have mentioned that there is a dearth of details on the jewellery of Ciro Pearls, Sphinx, Exquisite, Miracle, Hollywood, Thomas Le Mott and many other companies that mass produced jewelry in this country during the 20th century, that are now very sought-after around the world.