12 Excellent Reference Books for Collecting Vintage Costume Jewellery in the UK

You are hungry for knowledge and would like to learn more about the antique costume jewellery you have in your collection. What book should you buy when you live within the UK?

There are a myriad of books on reference available and the majority of them were created within the US by authors with an archive of books based within the US. What is the relevance to those of us living here in the UK?

Here’s a quick overview of 12 books that will give you a an overview of the knowledge available of the period from Victorian through in the 80s and on. In reality, there are more than 12 books in this list, as certain authors have published more than one book which is helpful.

This guide will cover all general non-signed items as well as certain signed jewellery pieces. There aren’t any specific guides written specifically for the majority of the large-scale, signed costume jewellery produced by UK firms or designed to the UK market, excluding Wilson and Butler.

1. Costume Jewellery: A Collectors Guide by Caroline Behr (Miller’s) (ISBN 1-84000-373-1)

An excellent place to begin with an overview and time line of Victorian, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, 1950s, Czech, Austrian and certain designers. It is easy to read and contains excellent photographs. Size of the handbag is ideal for reading on trains.

2. Antique Costume Jewelry: A Love to fabulous Fakes written by Carol Tanenbaum (ISBN 1-85149-511-8)

It is a must-have and includes the time line, which is expanded with details. It includes Art Nouveau, Birmingham silver machine, an introduction to Bakelite, plastic and an index to glossaries. A lot of great photographs, but there are no backs (a essential for identification, however, it is not often included within any books)

3. Tips for Collecting Jewelry How to Buy More at a lower cost! Written by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-89689-180-1)

Another time line and overview of the past, however, it is a treasure because it shows the mechanism and backs of discoveries that are crucial to the dating of jewellery. The book Jewellery Jobs examines style and the materials, with particular photographs. Art plastic, prom jewellery and retro manufacturing techniques, Scandinavian, cameos. A brief but excellent visual guide. US book that includes a price information (2005). Another great guide to take on the train or bus and fits in your bag.

4. Jewels as well as Jewellery Clare Phillips (V & A) (ISBN 1-855177-535-4) (or Jewellery: The Decorative Arts Library edited by Janet Swarbrick (ISBN 1-902328-13-2)

I was unable to decide the one of these UK books was more instructive. Therefore, I’ve included both?

Jewels and Jewellery includes items, a chronology of designs and production and distribution. Images of pieces from museums and other collections. Included are silver filigree, Berlin Iron, pearls, enamel and glass. Faith jewellery made of cut steel, mourning and love jewellery that is not only bog or jet oak. Lalique, Ashbee, Liberty Cymric, Wilson, Gaskins and a timeline from pre Victorian to the year 2000.

Jewellery is a visual representation of the world’s most renowned jewellery making techniques. From the beginning of time to 1989. With a wealth of information and photos and more specific details about Jewellery within the UK.

5. Popular Jewelry of the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s by Roseann Ettinger (ISBN 0-7643-2470-5)

Three decades of jewellery illustrating the latest trends in fashion and politics that have influenced the designs. US book that includes a price guidelines (2006) The majority of the vintage jewellery originates from this time which makes this book a must-read. It is well illustrated and includes items that are well-known within the UK. This includes Mod jewelry, oriental influence, Pop Art, novelty pieces, revival pieces, love beads, Art Metal, jade plastic, wood, and pave. The author has also written references on different decades that are worth the investment.

6. Collecting Art Plastic Jewelry by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-87349-954-9)

It is not often found in jewelry in the same quantity and in such a variety as it is in the United States. It is important to identify and appreciate the many designs that plastic is used in as well as other materials. Celluloid, Lucite, thermoset and thermoplastics, as well as laminated, reverse-carved, and other materials are commonly seen within the UK and are often overlooked. This book will make you think about plastic accessories in a new way. It does not provide enough information about galalith, the earliest plastic material that is now more popular within the UK. To learn more about this, read books on Jakob Bengel.

7. Collecting Costume Jewelry 303: The reverse side is exploring costume jewelry from the back of Julia C Carroll. (ISBN 978-1-57432-626-0)

This book provides the fundamentals needed to know about vintage costume jewelry. The various components, including gemstones and cabochons which can help in dating as well as hardware clues that are easily overlooked. Cameos, rhinestonesand signed jewelry and photos of the signatures of pin backs, art glass and so many more. I read this book and am always surprised by something I’ve never noticed before. It is one of my top books for knowledge. It also includes a section on designers like Jonette Jewelry Co (JJ) which aren’t always available elsewhere in books. US book that includes price guides (2010)

Julia Carroll has produced other books, including Costume Jewelry 101 and 202 in this serious. The two books are recommended for reference and also.

8. Baubles, Buttons and Beads: The Heritage of Bohemia by Sibelle Jargstorf (ISBN 0-88740-467-7)

Another treasure of a book because we have a lot of antique jewellery brought into the country from Bohemia prior to after the Second World War and then in smaller amounts after. It is still available to locate and buy, but the prices are increasing. The book contains sections on buttons, filigree glass beads, glass, plastic and glass cameos, 1930s enamel, and most importantly, the background. After reading this book , it has helped me to date and find filigree and cameos and dazzling coloured rhinestone jewelry from the 1920s and 1930s. Machine and hand-finished dress clips as well as the various types of finishes that were used.

Sibylle Jargstorf has written other books on glass and beads which are extremely useful.

9. Cameos: A Pocket Guide by Monica Lynn Clements and Patricia Rosser Clements (ISBN 0-7643-1728-8)

While there are many books about cameos, this little contains a wealth of cameos made of other materials than shell. Shell is probably the most sought-after jewelry type that comes with cameos, but for me , it didn’t seem appealing to me. I was interested in knowing more about the plastic, glass and metal cameos I found. What are the different materials employed and the time they were created. The book is full of photos that cover a vast number of cameos made from these materials , and is also recognized for those in the UK market. US guide with price in $ information (2003) For more detailed information about cameo jewelry, purchase one of the versions that are available of Cameos: Old and New by Anna M Miller.

10. Victorian Jewellery by Margaret Flowers (No ISBN)

It’s not a book about antique but vintage jewelry that is out of print , but available in various editions. The book was first published in 1951, but is it is well worth reading. A look at the Victorian influences, as seen in the revival of pieces. Birmingham’s role in mass-produced jewelry. The book is frequently mentioned in later works as influential. It covers the Victorian period divided into three parts and each one contains the most popular motifs from that time. It made me laugh at the snobby attitude of the author in some instances however it is well worth the read. A few photos, mostly in black and white, that aren’t as clear.

11. Scottish Jewellery: A Victorian Passion by Diana Scarisbrick

Scottish jewelry is all over the UK. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, when the popularity of Scottish jewellery grew there were factories located in Scotland and England producing pieces and designs in the hundreds of thousands. The trend continued until the end of the twentieth century , mostly in Birmingham. This book is an excellent introduction. It’s not as thorough as it would have been, and do not expect to learn about vintage Scottish souvenir jewellery like Miracle, The Ward Brothers, Exquisite or Hollywood. Pages of photos of silver and agate jewelry and brooches. However, the book is made more complicated by the photos guide at the close of the book. An excellent book for beginners to learn about Scottish patterns.

12. Warman’s Jewelry: Fine & Costume Jewelry 4Th Edition by Kathy Flood (ISBN 1-4402-0801-8)

This is the 4th version of Warman’s Jewel Identification as well as Price Guide. There are three other books to get and read. In this edition , two centuries are covered in pearls, cameos, figural, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and even plastic. The distinction in Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian jewellery. Page after page of photographs of jewellery. A nice mix of contemporary antique, vintage and contemporary jewellery. A mixture of international designs that I have found to be applicable for the UK. US book with price in $ guide (2010)

This is a quick list of books that are general in nature for antique jewellery. It will be updated as more books are added to the market or I find out of print titles. There are also more specific books about Bengal, Avon, Sarah Coventry, Egyptian Revival jewellery, Haskell, D & E, Wilson & Butler and many more that you can study.

With this much information , I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. There isn’t much details on the jewellery of Ciro Pearls, Sphinx, Exquisite, Miracle, Hollywood, Thomas Le Mott and numerous other companies that mass made jewellery in the United States during the 20th century, that is now highly collectible all over the world.

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