Any high or fine jewelry collection that does not include at least one item of vintage or modern rhinestone jewelry cannot be considered complete.
Vintage rhinestone jewelry is a handcrafted ornament with high monetary worth. They are very desirable jewels that should be in any lady’s jewelry collection.
This beautiful jewelry gives the wearer’s face a stunning glitter and theme. However, less expensive and undesired rhinestone jewelry items are occasionally categorized as “original vintage rhinestone jewelry.”
Luckily, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about vintage rhinestone jewelry, from its history to its many styles, brand types, and monetary value.
We’ve carefully prepared valuable and detailed information to ensure you’re on the right track when it comes to acquiring limited edition, authentic vintage rhinestone jewelry.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Rhinestones: A Brief History
In 1680, jewelers created the first sparkling bead necklaces from Rhine River stones. The rhinestones were finely cut and highly polished, making them a “must-have” for the aristocracy.
The stones dazzled because of their little flaws, which allowed incoming light to ricochet around. They didn’t need any particular assistance.
When rhinestones were first manufactured, they were individually created, with the diamond-like brilliance caused by the reverse side of the glass being covered with a metal powder or metal foil that worked as a mirror reflecting light.
The technique was time-consuming, and rhinestone jewelry was still only available to the rich.
Daniel Swarovski, the son of a Bohemian gem cutter, devised an electric machine in 1892 that allowed crystals to be cut considerably more accurately than by hand.
The machine could mass create high-quality rhinestones with substantially higher lead content than other rhinestones at the time.
The brightness of these rhinestones was unparalleled on the market. Swarovski revolutionized the production of these more cheap gemstones.
Expensive jewelry encrusted with rhinestones was fashionable throughout the Victorian era.
Following a period of more discreet jewelry, the Edwardian era reintroduced the extravagance of rhinestone jewelry, which was commonly worn in place of diamonds.
Costume jewelry, with strong geometric shapes and brightly colored rhinestones, was popular in the “Roaring Twenties.” Even throughout the Great Depression, rhinestones remained fashionable.
They were an inexpensive “treat” that might liven up an aging outfit. By the 1950s, young ladies desired jewelry that was informal, flirtatious, and fun. Some of the pieces were entirely composed of rhinestones.
In 1956, Manfred Swarovski, Daniel Swarovski’s grandson, introduced the Aurora Borealis: rhinestones with an iridescent coating that resembled a shimmering rainbow.
Rhinestones had no place in 1960s hippy fashion, but the mid-1970s introduced the punk aesthetic and the disco movement, both of which put rhinestones back in the spotlight.
Rhinestones are now worn by many types of women, including the fun gal, the bride, the businesswoman, and the mature woman.
Identifying Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry
Rhinestone jewelry has been popular since the late 1800s, making glittering necklaces, bracelets, and earrings affordable to the middle class. While most ladies couldn’t afford to wear diamonds, they could wear the next best thing.
The popularity of rhinestone costume jewelry skyrocketed in the 1920s, and these gorgeous and economical pieces appeared in every color and design conceivable.
Today, you can find them in great shape in secondhand stores and specialty boutiques, as well as yard sales and flea markets. The trick is being able to discern whether an item is authentic or vintage.
Is It Rhinestone?
Daniel Swarovski created hand-cut crystals backed with silver foil as the first rhinestones in the late 1800s.
Swarovski transitioned to machine-cut crystals in the 1890s, but the quality remained consistent.
Rhinestones were originally clear, but producers immediately began making them in every color and shape imaginable. These criteria identify a high-quality rhinestone:
- All of the facets are perfect points with uniformly spaced spacing.
- The crystal or glass has no flaws or bubbles.
- The surfaces are smooth and clean, with no undulating or jagged edges.
- The foil backing is applied precisely and not haphazardly.
Is It Truly a Vintage?
Since rhinestone jewelry has been popular for over a century, judging whether a piece is authentic or a recent imitation can be difficult.
Vintage jewelry must be at least 20 years old to be termed vintage. Several signs indicate that a rhinestone item is not a new rendition of this old style:
- It is not composed of plastic. Earlier rhinestones were composed of glass or crystal rather than plastic. If you softly touch it on a hard surface and it does not clink, it is not that old.
- The surroundings look to be old. The setting should have a patina and be of high quality, rather than being machine-made hastily.
- The design era, such as Art Deco or Art Nouveau, is seen in the style.
Types of Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry
Vintage rhinestone jewelry is available in every shape imaginable, including the following:
- Pins and brooches
- Specialty items such as buckles
Popular Rhinestone Jewelry Manufacturers
Always search for jewelry marking or factory stamps. Hundreds of different companies produced rhinestone jewelry, but a handful stands out as significant and collectible:
Butler And Wilson
This firm created intricate figural brooches and other accessories. Look for pins shaped like cats, top hats, dancing couples, and other things.
Chanel rhinestone pieces are incredibly popular. Chanel is a traditional name in excellent costume jewelry.
The traditional interlocking C logo, as well as pieces with basic lines and plenty of glitters, are popular motifs.
From the 1930s to around 1970, Eisenberg created stunning rhinestone jewels set in precious metals such as sterling silver.
Pins shaped like Christmas trees with glittering rhinestones are available, as are cats with rhinestone eyes and other figural motifs.
Swarovski, the pinnacle in rhinestone jewelry, has created stunning rhinestone creations since its inception.
Trifari jewelry has been adorning Hollywood stars and other high-profile persons for years. Rhinestone jewelry is frequently designed with simple lines to enable the dazzle to take center stage.
In 1918, this American firm began producing clothing. By 1939, Hattie had included costume jewelry, especially rhinestone pieces, in her garment collections as finishing touches.
The jewelry has since spoken for itself. Most celebrities, socialites, and typical American jewelry collectors possess Carnegie bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry Styles And Types
Rings, necklaces, tiaras, brooches, bracelets, pins, studs, earrings, and even buckles are all examples of rhinestone jewelry. Rhinestones, aka paste, may be created to simulate any form you can think of.
Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry Styles
Throughout history, these embellishments have emerged in a variety of fashions. Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Mid-Century Modern are three noteworthy styles.
Art Nouveau items include sweeping lines and natural motifs and date from the late 1800s to around 1920.
Some depict figural features such as ladies with flowing hair, animals, and birds. Only the eyes or other elements are rhinestones in different situations.
Art Deco was characterized by geometric patterns and forms. This period lasted from around 1920 until the 1930s. There will be rhinestone pieces with filigree and plenty of dazzle.
Following World War II, ladies purchased rhinestone jewelry to celebrate their new carefree and enjoyable lifestyle.
These pieces frequently feature enamel with rhinestones, as well as rhinestone snowflakes, stars, and other embellishments.
Vintage Rhinestone Types Depending On The Materials Used
Rhinestones, as previously said, are imitation jewels that have been created after a variety of materials.
Rhinestones Made Of Plastic
These rhinestones are lead-free, inexpensive, and light. They are mass-produced as acrylic or resin jewelry.
According to experts, plastic rhinestones are among the newest things that do not qualify as antiques.
Rhinestones Made Of Glass
These antique rhinestones are composed of glass and cut using a tool. Manufacturers cover the translucent glass with a coating of metal.
In this manner, the stones’ backsides reflect light and glitter almost as highly as diamonds.
Depending On The Method Of Application
This categorization is determined by how the stones are applied to various materials.
This is available in a variety of shapes, including plastic and glass. Sewing is used to attach them to the fabrics. Sewing vintage rhinestone jewelry took hours to accomplish. This jewelry may be connected to a variety of textiles.
Flat Back Hot-Fix Rhinestones:
The majority of these are old glass rhinestones. They are glued and heated to form any design or pattern. They are often tiny in size and easy to deal with.
Mechanical tools such as prongs are used to insert and mount these old gems. This necklace may be worn with leather clothing and shoes.
Based on application methods, other types of vintage rhinestone jewelry include claw rhinestones, glue on flat back rhinestones, and rim set rhinestones.
Value Of Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry
The majority of rhinestone jewelry is around $25, although certain items are far more valuable. If you’re thinking about purchasing or selling a rhinestone piece, do some research on its worth.
That way, you can detect a good deal at an antique store or online auction, and you can also negotiate a reasonable amount when selling vintage jewelry.
Evaluate the Condition
The condition of vintage rhinestone jewelry greatly influences its value. Look for missing rhinestones first, as any missing stones may be tough to match and replace.
Then examine the condition of the silverbacks on the stones and whether any stones are chipped or cracked.
Check the jewelry’s hardware to ensure that it is both appealing and functional. Make certain that the settings are secure.
Check the Level of Quality
When it comes to vintage rhinestone jewelry, the quality varies greatly. Some items were never meant to survive forever, and even if they are ancient, they may be worth nothing.
Others feature high-quality settings and hardware that match the rhinestones and will last for years. A well-made item will always be more valuable.
Famous designers like Cartier, Chanel, Hobé, Dior, and Tiffany frequently leave subtle or visible markings on their rhinestone jewelry.
You’re good to go if you locate proof of one of these designers on an item. Scrutinize your rhinestones thoroughly for the designer’s signature, and keep in mind that this evidence of the designer’s work might increase the worth of your piece from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
Look for Unique Features
The most precious rhinestone jewelry is unique. It might be the brand, like Chanel or Swarovski, or it could be something about the piece itself.
Perhaps it’s a brooch in the shape of a popular symbol, such as a bird or a detailed flower. Its design components may properly symbolize an age. Whatever it is, if it has anything unique, it will be more valuable.
When Compared To Recently Sold Items
A professional jewelry evaluation is the best way to determine the value of a vintage rhinestone item, but not every piece is worth the expense.
You may obtain a fair estimate of its worth by comparing it to similar products that have previously been sold. For example, consider the following recent sales of vintage rhinestone jewelry:
- Rare Vintage Trifari invisibly set emerald rhinestone sold for just over $660.00
- Eisenberg ORIGINAL Fur Clip Brooch Crystal Rhinestones sold for over $127.50
- Butler and Wilson Rhinestone flower brooch sold for about $46.03
Buying Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry
Vintage rhinestone jewelry in excellent shape may be found in thrift stores, specialized boutiques, yard sales, and flea markets.
The following points of interest can assist you in making more effective purchases.
- Rhinestones might be oval, teardrop, square, or rectangular.
- Baguettes are long rectangular stones.
- Chatons are the most common shape.
- Cabochons are half-round.
- Marquises have a diamond form.
- Navettes are very thin marquises.
- Rivoli rhinestones are pointed on the front and rear.
- The margarita, a flower-shaped rhinestone, is a popular shape.
Rhinestone Finishes and Colors
- Iridescent Aurora Borealis rhinestones are typically linked with Swarovski.
- The stone has a delicate shine because of the satin finish.
- A matte finish, which is rarely seen, dulls the base color.
- Comet Argent Light gives the rhinestone a dazzling silver polish.
- Vitrail is another silvery finish with pink flashes.
- Heliotrope rhinestones come in a variety of brilliant blues, purples, and greens.
- A tabac finish imparts a delicate coppery appearance.
- Aurum is a genuine gold finish with an extraordinarily dazzling shine.
Choose The Rhinestones That Are Right For You
Regardless of the numerous rhinestone possibilities, selecting the right vintage rhinestones jewelry for you is the most crucial.
For example, if you require them on textiles, you may select sew-on collections or Hot Fix types. Swarovski will be an excellent choice for a high-end project.
Acrylic rhinestones, on the other hand, will be an excellent alternative for a low-cost bulk project.
We recommend that you select the rhinestones based on how you want to use them, your style, and your budget.
Vintage rhinestone costume jewelry has been around for almost two centuries. They’ve been made into glittering neckpieces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.
Millions of middle-class individuals experiment with old rhinestones to get a feel for what it’s like to wear diamonds.
Because these pieces are mass-produced, the market is filled with fakes and reproductions of vintage jewelry.
Technology has also enabled certain businesses to effectively replicate the gorgeous and enticing patterns of rhinestone costume jewelry.
There can never be too much genuine vintage rhinestone jewelry. The variety of pieces available in stores and family treasure chests will constantly entice you to purchase more.
The traditional charm and affordability are reason enough to scour local estate auctions, online resellers, and even your family’s precious jewelry boxes for an original rhinestone collection you can call your own.