Florida - It would seem like the so-called experts have been making this pronouncement for years now, but the truth does appears to be in the numbers, with costume jewelry ringing-up impressive stats amongst decorative arts collectors and buyers - even when stacked against the overall popularity of today's mid-century modern genre.
Sites such as Kovel's (and this one), along with other information based online knowledge forums that track searches and research requests, all seem to be in general agreement that costume jewelry is taking the lead when it comes to the decorative arts popularity contest. Vintage costume pieces that were once thrift-store specials a decade or two ago, have escalated quickly in price over recent years, with those displaying the makers name, like Alice Caviness, Hattie Carnegie, Trifari or Haskell now bringing in top dollar.
Some companies such as Ciner, which was founded in New York City in 1892, are still producing costume jewelry to this day. Marked with various insignias or the company's name, this jewelry is also experiencing a boom in market value and online interest currently.
Not to be left out, the mid-century modern craze also makes its presence felt in this category with early designers of the movement, such as William Spratling, whose Mexican inspired silver pieces, which became a staple in such stores as Montgomery Ward during the late 1940's, now commanding many thousands of dollars at shows and galleries. In general though, most costume jewelry from this period is not as popular as that of other mid-century modern objects.
Pieces of costume jewelry that are racking up impressive search results, and seem particularly popular on the larger discussion boards and forums, range from long chains, large colored stones, cocktail rings, broach-pins, bangle-bracelets and pearls. Deb Smith, owner of a vintiques (antiques & vintage store) in Portland Oregon, noted that her online sales of vintage costume jewelry began to skyrocket earlier in the year. "By September I was having a hard time sourcing inventory for my listings," said Smith.
While fads seem to come and go more frequently now in the decorative arts scene than they did before, it appears that costume jewelry may be experiencing a longer shelf life than many other items found in online search archives. Whether this is simply due to the tremendous availability and volume of styles produced over the years is hard to say. However, one thing that does seem certain is the price and popularity - both of which are continuing to rise.
A.I.A. Writer's Staff
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