Bling is back -- and couldn't be more appropriate than during the holidays and on New Year's Eve, when a little sparkle adds to the festiveness of the season.
Today's fashionistas have even rediscovered the bling of the past, making yesterday's costume jewelry big business and a hot collectible, says Judith Miller, co-author of "Costume Jewelry (DK Collector's Guide)" (DK Publishing, $30).
"Costume jewelry is essentially a 20th-century term for jewelry made from non-precious metals, such as imitation gemstones and faux pearls set in silver or inexpensive base metals," she explains in Costume Jewelry. "Costume jewelry was often produced in large quantities, with pieces designed to go with each new season's outfits. Much of it was unsigned and was never intended to last for a long time. However, despite the inexpensive materials used, much costume jewelry is just as beautiful and as highly crafted as its precious counterpart and is now considered highly collectible. All that glitters may not be gold, but it certainly can be addictive."
Many of our mothers and grandmothers had jewelry boxes filled with the types of pieces that now bring top dollar at antique shows. Sharon Kennedy's mother was a fan of costume jewelry, she says, and she is lucky enough to still have many of her pieces.
"My mother was a big fan of jewelry and loved glitter," says Kennedy, of Detroit.
"When she passed away, I acquired numerous amounts of jewelry that she had collected over her years of living and traveling because of gospel singing in National Baptist conventions."
Kennedy brought a number of those pieces to Robert DuMouchelle for evaluation during a recent appraisal session.
DuMouchelle praised the jewelry's "sparkle factor," and its affordability and reinforced costume jewelry's growing popularity in the ever-changing world of antiques and collectibles.
"We definitely sell a lot of costume jewelry these days," he confirms. "While we often sell them in groupings, the individual pieces are collectible and bring varying amounts. The nice thing is that many people can afford to collect costume jewelry, and it's fun to wear."
DuMouchelle says that certain pieces bring a premium. "First, signed pieces are always worth more than non-signed," he says. "Big names such as Miriam Haskell, Chanel and Trifari bring more than later or lesser-known names. Unusual styles and rare pieces also command more."
Sharon brought in five or six pieces, saying she had even more at home. DuMouchelle thought that, although unsigned, her enameled parrot pin could bring $75-$125. The rest varied in value.
Kennedy has considered selling them, but can't seem to part with them.
"I have had some offers, but I haven't really decided what to do," she says. "I'm thinking of making a shadow box out of some of them and keeping one or two to wear. I wore one to an event the other day and got a lot of compliments.