By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Costume jewelry was first produced In the 1920s. Coco Chanel and other trail blazers of haute couture desired costume jewelry pieces to be inexpensive and disposable accessories for the clothing they designed. I think Coco Chanel and her fellow fashion trailblazers would be surprised to know that many of those “disposable costume pieces are still worn and highly collectible today in the 21st century.
Indeed, the costume jewelry market is alive and well today and there are many collectors (myself included) of the original pieces made in the 1920s and 1930s and beyond. But many of these faux treasures are falling into disrepair. After all, many of them are soon to be 100 years old. That means you will soon be able to collect antique (100 years old or older) costume jewelry!
So are these old pieces of costume jewelry worth repairing? Here are three questions you should ask yourself to determine the answer:
1. Is the piece from a sought-after designer and/or of high quality?
If you can answer “yes” to this question, it’s likely that a proper repair should be considered. However, you still should determine if the piece isn’t too far gone to repair. Examples include heavily corroded costume jewelry where the base metal is crumbling away and costume jewelry with ornate patterns like filigree that need so many solder repairs that the piece would end up looking like a patchwork quilt. Repairs lessen the value of a piece of jewelry. Bad repairs destroy value!
2. What does the piece (in good repair) go for on the market today?
If you are considering putting time and/or money into a repair, take time first to do a search on ebay for similar pieces of costume jewelry. What is the going asking price? Read some descriptions. What are others getting for items with repairs and items in less than perfect shape? It may not be cost effective to even bother with a repair.
3. Will a repair restore the piece to near original condition?
Or will a repair be an obvious and/or ugly? These outcomes will destroy the value of the piece of costume jewelry in question. Also consider how easy it will be to repair. For example, can you easily find matching stones in shape, size and color for the originals that are missing? For more info on this, see my article on replacing stones in costume jewelry.
If you answer the questions above truthfully, you will quickly realize that some pieces of old costume jewelry are just not worth repairing. On the other hand, perhaps an old piece of costume jewelry is beautiful or holds sentimental value for you, and it would be heartbreaking to throw it away.
For example, perhaps the clasp mechanism broke off your grandmother’s costume brooch. It’s not worth repairing but as far as sentimental value goes, it is priceless to you. Repurpose it! Yes, find a way to use it in a craft project. I have many ideas for such crafts made from old costume jewelry on the Treasure Box Antiques’ Pinterest Board: Favorite Crafts.
One of my favorite ideas is shown above. I love the idea of costume jewelry book marks! They would make great gifts, wouldn’t they?
I hope this article helped you determine what costume jewelry should be repaired and what should be repurposed. I never throw these old treasures away! Do you have a fresh idea for repairing or reusing old jewelry? If so, please share it in the comments section and be sure to sign up for this blog so you don’t miss a single discussion about jewelry!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!