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How-tos given for collecting costume jewelry

Greenwood Flea Market photo/Flikr Creative Commons

Those just starting to collect costumer jewelry will appreciate the new publication of Collector Books, Collecting Costume Jewelry 101. Written by Julia C. Carrol, it gives the basics of starting, building, and upgrading a collection.

Chapter 1 gives tips on when to buy and when to walk away. As in any collectible, condition is important. It’s easy fall in love with the sparkle and glitter of colorful rhinestones, but if the fittings are in poor condition — walk away.

Are the stones all present? If the answer is no, or if there is a little glue showing that indicates the stone may not be original to piece — walk away.

Does everything appear to be in order? Try the piece on and make sure the fasteners work securely. If they do, it’s a buy. Otherwise — walk away.

Are there any extras on the piece that make it more interesting? That might be a time to buy. Otherwise — walk away.

This chapter is an excellent lesson for the beginning collector and a good review for the more experienced one.

Chapter 2 discusses four recommended designers for the beginner: Coro, Kramer, Trifari, and Weiss. They produced quality jewelry over long periods of time, so there is a reasonable availability and, while not inexpensive, most pieces are reasonably priced.

The largest section of the book, nearly 200 pages, pictures designer-signed jewelry, arranged alphabetically. In addition to photographs, each included the dates of operation, a brief history, the marks used, the signature “look”, and some recommendations.

The final sections are on uptrading a collection, cataloging, repairing and cleaning, and storing and securing.

Once you’ve gotten the basics down, Carrol has offered two follow-ups: Costume Jewelry 202 takes students through the basics of dating, while Costume Jewelry 303 “The Flip Side” will help collectors distinguish pieces by exploring the back of costume jewelry.

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