The value of vintage costume jewellery

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Louise Ludlam-Snook, jewellery expert at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, says that when it comes to jewellery, it’s not all about diamonds.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but why not consider making friends with vintage costume jewellery too?

Vintage costume jewellery can be very collectable. The right piece could prove a savvy investment; it can also be a way of purchasing an eye-catching piece of quality jewellery without the hefty price tag that often comes with diamonds and precious gemstones.

It is much more prudent to buy a quality piece of vintage costume jewellery set with paste (glass), rather than a piece of modern, low-quality gem set jewellery.

Top fashion houses like Chanel and Christian Dior were making it as part of their collections to sell alongside high end clothing at their boutiques.

Coco Chanel, who made costume jewellery fashionable, cast aside real gemstones in favour of cheaper glass ‘because they were devoid of arrogance in an atmosphere of too-easy luxe’. Chanel set the trend of wearing multiple rows of pearls –  a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls’ – again making fake fashionable: “I couldn’t wear my own pearls without being stopped on the street, so I started the vogue of wearing false ones.” Chanel also made wearing costume jewellery a statement not a compromise: “Costume jewellery is not made to give women an aura of wealth but to make them beautiful.”

Christian Dior launched his fashion house in 1947, and the first collection introducing his famed ‘New Look,’ which celebrated femininity, elegance and opulence. From the beginning he designed jewellery to complement the clothing he created. Like Chanel, he saw costume jewellery as part of everyday wear and an essential part of dressing but, again, believed it should be of a high quality, using only the most talented and reputable companies to manufacture his jewellery designs, names such as Kramer, Mitchel Maer and Grosse.

Buying vintage jewellery at auction is a great way to start your collection – and Richard Winterton Auctioneers often have collectable pieces in their sales.

Buying vintage costume jewellery is a great way of starting a jewellery collection on a modest budget, especially if you are buying from auction, where you get a lot more for your money. This means you can relax and have fun choosing and bidding on items without the worry of a large financial commitment.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers offers jewellery appraisals, insurance valuations and probate advice by appointment at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, and The Tamworth Auction Rooms, Church Street.

Pop-up, drop-in jewellery valuation events also take place weekly at Burton Market Hall, The Hub at St Mary’s in Lichfield and Burntwood Library.

For auction information, to book valuations or to discuss full or partial house clearances, telephone 01543 251081 or email 


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