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RESEARCHING COSTUME JEWELRY
originally created and published by Dotty Stringfield on IllusionJewels.com
From earliest times, men and women have adorned themselves with necklaces. Natural materials were used to make simple pendants, or roughly made beads made of shell, bone and other materials were strung together. As centuries passed, materials and techniques became more refined.
Many women of today recognize the artistry and value in vintage necklaces, whether they be made with rhinestones, glass, wood, ivory, precious or base metals. Vintage necklaces need not be signed to be beautiful and treasured, as many companies and designers failed to sign much of their jewelry. In fact, some of the most striking pieces are often unsigned.
Vintage Glass Bead Necklaces come in such a variety of colors and styles! You can find dainty little chokers or huge collars with hundreds of beads. Look for vintage Czech glass beads with sparkle and charm, West German plastic beads in floral form, tiny seed beads in strand after strand, Aurora Borealis beads to light up the night and art glass beads in marvelous, colorful shapes.
For nature lovers, there are carved ivory and bone beads, rock crystal, coral, mother-of-pearl and wood. Don't forget the marvelous beads made of plastics: Bakelite, celluloid, lucite, acrylic and more.
For today's latest fashion trend, wear layers of bead necklaces or a single necklace with many strands. For a different look, combine a bead necklace with two or three metal chains.
NECKLACE LENGTHS: Lengths sited are often different, depending on the source.
Collar: 12-13 inches
Choker: 14-16 inches
Princess: 17-19 inches
Matinee: 20-24 inches
Opera: 28-34 inches
Rope: 45+ inches
Also called a "Collarette", it is a necklace that fits at the base of the neck and has flowing or draped ornaments in front.
Necklace with folded over square or rectangular links, often engraved or stamped.
A necklace that fits snugly around the neck.
A necklace that fits at the base of the neck, and extends the same distance from the neck at all points along the neck-chain.
Also called a “Collar of Office” or “Collar of Estate”. It usually designates the wearers position in society: Knight, Mayor, Guildmaster, etc.
Also called a "Collier de Chien" - tight-fitting, multi-strand choker.
Necklace of several strands, each strand longer than the next higher, so there is a separation between the strands when worn.
A necklace with swagged drapes; may have additional ornaments.
Necklace with multiple strands hanging from a chain around the neck.
A neck chain suspending a small pendant set with gemstones -- c. 1900.
A pendant that opens to reveal a space for one or two small pictures or to hold a tiny keepsake, such as a whisp of hair from a loved one. Usually suspended from a chain.
Long metal chain worn around the neck with the end attached to the bodice, forming a swag, often ending in a swivel hook for suspending a watch or pendant.
A single strand necklace that is 20 - 26 inches long.
Necklace with two pendants that hang around the neck at unequal lengths and has no closure.
A single strand necklace that is 27-34 inches long.
A necklace with a single stone or ornament hanging from a chain.
A single strand necklace that is 17- 19 inches long.
A short necklace of gemstones of the same kind, with each stone collet-set and linked in a row.
A very long necklace, usually made of small beads, often ending with a tassel or pendant.
A rigid metal hoop or band that has a opening at the rear, which usually has a central design element at center front.
Multi-strand twisted short necklace usually made of beads or pearls.
Much of the above information is from Warman's Jewelry 2nd and 3rd editions, by Christie Romero.
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All RCJ publications and pages were created
by Dotty Stringfield with the assistance of research contributor Pat Seal
and other valued members of the costume jewelry collecting community.