Time Is Right For Costume Jewelry

November 01, 1990|By Deborah Hofmann | Deborah Hofmann,New York Times News Service

New York Once costume jewelry was throwaway stuff, piled on dresser tops and eventually in shoe boxes. Now vintage reproductions or novelty designs of base metals, paste, rhinestones and coated glass beads add knowing chic to tweed jackets and evening clothes.

"Costume jewelry has gone from being a collectible to a fashion story, from the province of antiques collectors and flea markets into department stores," said Harrice Simons Miller, whose "Identification and Price Guide to Costume Jewelry" (House of Collectibles, $10.95) has just arrived in bookstores.

Prices, she said, may reach $3,000 for a set of earrings, necklace, bracelet and brooch by Schiaparelli. A 1965 dragon pin of pave rhinestones and fake pearls by Trifari goes for $300. Unsigned scatter pins from the 1940s and '50s, a small bug, butterfly, turtle or frog, are $10 each.

Pearl-dipped glass beads in gold-plated settings by Miriam Haskell are in high demand. Four-piece sets from the '60s sell for as much as $950, and Barneys New York has a multistrand Haskell choker of costume pearls ending in a rhinestone bow from the '30s for $4,000.

A large assortment of Kenneth Jay Lane pieces is also popular. Mr. Lane started making costume jewelry in 1963.

A Lane "headlight" choker, circa 1968, is about $200. His rhinestone-encrusted hoop earrings and cabochon buttons sell for $100 to $225, pins for $225. Gladiator-inspired cuffs are about $225.

A hinged cabochon cuff with multi-colored rhinestones is about $150. "Necklaces I once made are impossible to make anymore, there's so much labor involved," said Mr. Lane, who often sees such pieces priced at $2,000.

At Malvina Solomon, young girls ogle bridle buttons and Scottie pins inspired by Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt's dog. Their mothers inspect copper jewelry in characteristic '50s shapes, like boomerangs, by Matisse.

"They wear the bridle button pins on tweed jackets," said Mark Solomon, a store owner.

Matisse copper earrings, about $38, are converted to pierced posts free. Plastic or copper Scotties on brooches sell for $38. Horse-bridle buttons from the 1920s, converted into brooches, are $38 to $48.

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