The world of fine jewellery is one that remains a glamorous mystery to most of us, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't indulge in smaller accessories. Vintage costume jewellery is an affordable way to begin to build a collection that can be as precious as its traditional counterparts.
This article will outline some key pieces and styles that you can look into acquiring that will give you a great base range of jewellery to adorn any outfit. To build up a collection, you might want to consider sourcing some staple items and seeing how you wear them, before honing in on your favourite styles and pieces. For example, I focus on rings as they are easier to wear than bracelets as I work mainly on a computer.
For sourcing these items, we recommend everything from car boot sales to online marketplaces and independent vintage fairs. Your local pawn shop will also have a section of 'estate' or 'vintage' jewellery that will be worth exploring. When you are browsing, remember that most repairs can be undertaken by a professional jeweller and be replacing stones is rarely an issue (though it can be costly) - so do not discount an unusual piece of statement jewellery for such a reason.
Signed items are always worth researching for provenance as the brands tend to be less well known than fashion houses, but can be just as valuable.
Brooches are seeing a revival with the catwalk trends of embellishment and patches, and I couldn't be happier about it! A brooch is often an affordable piece, with a versatility that is hard to beat. Fasten to a lapel, handbag, collar and more to instantly add intrigue to a garment.
Collect a variety of styles, textures and motifs to create an enjoyably eccentric look, or identify a colourway that works with your wardrobe (from pearly pastels to bold polished stones). Look for brooches in jewellery boxes at car boot sales, as they are often an old fashioned item that often slips through people's minds and they can be bought for next to nothing. We love this 1960s unusual resin brooch, and the selection available at eVintique.
Pearls might not be the most obviously fashionable choice for jewellery at the moment, but they are seeing a slow and steady return to popularity as the preppy-but-romantic look dominates the catwalks (think: Gucci). A fantastic base item to pair with almost any style of outfit, it is worth sourcing a few different lengths of necklaces to accommodate differing neckline styles and depths. Pearls are also a common detail on vintage brooches and bracelets as their luxurious creamy colour coordinates with most colours.
3. Semi Precious Stones
Semi-precious stones span a wide range of colours and textures. An essential part of any jewellery collection, their tones are often earthy and timeless, making them appropriate for all seasons and occasions. Semi-precious stones look particularly good against soft, buttery fabrics such as suede and have a bohemian vibe about them making 1970s clothing their natural bedfellow. If you're sourcing these items online, it is useful to use an identification guide so you can use specific search terms for the stones you want.
Bangles are best when they're vintage. Bakelite designs are popular and fit in with the trend for mid-century modern: eBay is the best place to source these as they have become a specialist vintage item!
If you're looking to build up a collection of bangles, you might want to consider a range of widths (from the skinny band to the chunky cuff), and play with colours and embellishments. In this picture, I've included an engraved example which is inviting and elegant in a more traditional way, and a design featuring a gold motif that lends itself to a more modern look. Either way, stacking them is almost an art in itself! Check out this set of Jade bangles and this enamelled Parisian one for some inspiration.
5. Statement Pieces
Statement pieces are unusual, chunky, and unexpected. They are a great addition to any collection as they have the ability to perk up any outfit and create conversation. Look for these pieces in quirky little boutiques that regularly champion local, independent jewellery designers who have less mainstream commercial styles.
Because statement pieces are often unique creations and handmade, they can be harder to find in our world of mass production: but that only makes them more delightful and covetable when you do come across them! We love this unusual tribal mask brooch and these extravagant earrings as one off statement pieces.