Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beads! Beads! Beads!

by Anne of Vintage Baubles

Although I collect vintage jewelry as well as sell it, I admit to not wearing jewelry on a regular basis (shame on me!). But when I do, you’ll almost always find me wearing a vintage neckpiece. And that vintage neckpiece is almost always a 1950’s or 1960’s multi-strand beaded necklace. I love them! And based on conversations with others who wear vintage jewelry, I’m not alone. Whether the occasion is a formal dinner or dance, a lunch with friends, a vacation outing, or just a work day when you feel like putting on something a little special--a vintage multi-strand choker or necklace can’t be beat. I can’t tell you how many compliments I always get when I wear one—be it a dressy piece or just a fun one. I’m sure this is because they stand out as unique, yet not “old-fashioned.” They are timeless. And, with “Mad Men” everywhere these days, what could be more so than your vintage multi-strand necklace?

Their quality is evident. When I’m in a department store--which isn’t very often, thank goodness--I’ll check out the costume jewelry. I never fail to be amazed at how much money is being asked for how little quality. And how little difference in style. For $15 or $20, or a good deal more, you can get yourself a plain plastic-bead necklace on cheap wire that looks like every other $15 or $20 necklace in the store. When you’re talking vintage pieces, I, in more than 25 years of collecting, don’t think I’ve ever seen two the same! (I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t seen any.) And, for $15 or $20, or a good deal more, you can get a hand strung (and often hand-knotted) necklace with beautiful and varied beads, and very often a clasp that would be at home on pieces costing several times more. The variety of beads in these pieces is awesome: glass “pearl” beads in hundreds of colors, molded Lucite beads, stippled or sugar beads—some of them handpainted, metal beads, art-glass beads, faceted crystal or plastic beads…. Add fancy filigree end caps and a multitude of spacer-bead styles, and you have a plethora of choices!

We see most of these generically marked Japan, West Germany, and Hong Kong. Among named makers, I often see Coro pieces; my own favorite is a Coro double-strand, metal-bead one. Other makers did these pieces (I’ve seen photos of some great ones from Vendome, Coro's upscale sister line), but I find that in this type of necklace, makers generally don’t matter. Some of the loveliest pieces I’ve had have been the generic Japan and Hong Kong ones.

Our selections this week highlight the variety and beauty of these classics!

From Vintage Outlet, this fun
Wood-Bead Double-Strand Necklace & Clip Earring Set


At Catseye Vintage, we have formal:
Three-Strand Faux Pearl and Smoke Grey Aurora Borealis Necklace


And dramatic:
Double-Strand Aventurine Glass Beads Choker Necklace and Matching Earrings


At A & J Esoterica, we have chunky: Coro Matte & Moonglow Lucite Chunky Double-Strand Choker Necklace


And recently sold from My Vintage Cocktail, this lighthearted
Summer White Plastic Beaded Multi-Strand Bib Necklace Choker:


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