Sunday, May 2, 2010

Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale, Part deux

So the second semi-annual Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale April 24 at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens was a resounding success; we must have had at least 600 people through the doors throughout the day.

Here's Olga, club member who also sells at Toronto's St. Lawrence Antiques Market on Sundays. She's holding a bracelet made of Lucite, an acrylic resin that was a popular vintage costume jewellery material in the 1920s to 50s. There are lots of different types of Lucite - Bakelite is a more rare form that is often carved.

Lucite vintage costume jewellery isn't uber rare, from what I can tell, but Bakelite - often called 'fakelite' because there are so many bracelets and such masquerading as Bakelite out there - is more rare, and heavier. It was developed in the early 1900s for industrial use but became popular during the war for jewellery makers as it was relatively inexpensive.

For some reason there are more Bakelite bangles out there than, say, pendants, and most are a butterscotch hue but that can also range to orange, red, and green. Bakelite, fyi, is technically a trade name as it was originally developed by the Bakelite Corporation, but now the term seems to be used to describe any vintage piece that has the same chemical composition.

Jewellery buffs have different ways of identifying the stuff. One way to determine if an item is real Bakelite is to rub the piece until it heats up, then take a whiff. If it smells like formaldehyde it's real. Another tip I've heard from the club is to run the piece under hot water to see if it smells.

Here's a truly lovely piece by Miriam Haskell, an American designer who had her own company that still exists today under the name Miriam Haskell, though the designer died in the early 1980s.

Vintage Miriam Haskell pieces are highly collectible and are known for their beautiful handcrafted details, like the tapestry beading technique you see here.

Dealer and Newmarket, Ontario retailer Karla Wilson specializes in Miriam Haskell pieces in her decor and furnishings shop, Haven Contemporary Decor.

I can't recall the price of this piece exactly but I think it was around $400-$500.

Pictured here: a collectible Sherman set for $395. Gustave Sherman was a Canadian costume jewellery designer who designed from 1947-81. His Swarovski crystal brooches, earrings and pendants were always prong-set and for that reason have stood the test of time.

Though some Sherman diehards say that all Sherman pieces are signed there is a debate raging in the bling universe over that statement. Truth is, the designer's pieces were never documented so it's hard to tell.

All I can say: bewareth the fakes. I was in Value Village a few weeks ago and was drawn to a set of clip-on earrings made in the bright hues Sherman was so well known for. They were indeed signed "Sherman" on the back in a signature I identify with Sherman, but they 'gems' were plastic beads, not Swarovski crystal, and they weren't set using a prong method but rather had what looked like along pin going through the beads. Never seen a Sherman like this so I left 'em there, even though they were only $9.99.

According to dealer Melanie this brooch is by Coro, a popular maker of vintage jewellery from the early part of the 20th century to the late 1970s - though the Canadian branch existed into the early 90s.

Coro made various levels of jewellery, Coro Craft being on the high-end. The Coro Craft and Vendome lines are most collectible.

Melanie told me this brooch wasn't signed but is still a rare and well-known Coro piece - that explains the $300 price tag.

I can't comment on the Coro signature piece as I'm still learning, but that's the thing that I've learned with collecting vintage costume bling: a signature is desirable but not not always an indicator of value, and unsigned pieces can be valuable too.

TVJC Club founder and president Patricia Gostick, pictured here with an amazing chunky Lucite necklace from the 1980s, would concur, I think. This piece isn't signed but is lovely and original.

I always heed the rule that if you love it and can see it fitting into your life (and you're not necessarily in the biz to sell), buy it.

I fell in love with this chain necklace, which is actually made of tiny tiny beads. The dealer was really eclectic and didn't have uber 'collectible' pieces per se, but she just had an eye. Everything on her table was different, and had a certain look to it, if you know what I mean.

It was only $45 and I really should have picked it up as I have never seen anything like it - and it totally suits my rocker-inspired look these days. But I left it there, sigh.

I opted for this signed bracelet and choker set from the same dealer for the same price, marked "Sperry."

Can't find a ton of info on it online, other than the maker was known as the Sperry Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island that started in 1947. No details on how long the company lasted nor how valuable its pieces are, but apparently it's hard to find a set such as this.

No matter: I love it so well I've worn it every day this week. The necklace really popped against this Kelly green turtleneck.

I couldn't resist this retro carpet bag - only $25! I have a thing about vintage carpet bags since buying one two years ago at Toronto shop The Bead Goes On (a fave shop for vintage bling and bags off Mount Pleasant Rd. in Toronto). At the November TVCJ Club sale I bought another one from Patricia Gostick. Now I have a nice little collection going. And I do use them.

It says "JR Florida" inside. I'm off to Florida for my best pal's wedding in a month so I'm taking it as a sign from the Shopping Gods that this bag was meant for me.

I'm showing my bag off with my new pal Genny Iannucci, whom I met the week previous to the sale at a media round table event for Linea Intima in Toronto. Genny's a fashion contributor and spokesperson and you can see her on the Steven and Chris show on the CBC.

As you can see, Genny found a fab 1970s leather bag at the show that was made in Vancouver, British Columbia. It's bootiful, and Genny, you look marvelous modeling it!

All in all, the Toronto Vintage Costume Jewellery Club Show & Sale April 24, 2010 at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens was a great success. We got shout-outs in the blog and online world from local journalist Nathalie Atkinson, style writer at the National Post; personal style coach and boutique shopping tour diva Wendy Woods of The Refinery in Toronto; Toronto fashion blogger extrodinaire Anita Clarke of I Want I Got; She does the City and Yay, thanks to every one for getting the word out!

One last look at my retro purple shades picked up at the sale for $5, and my signed Sperry set.

Last week I wrote about the Toronto Bottle Show
with Rob Campbell of Toronto's Dumpdiggers, and as you can see here Rob dropped by to check out the TVCJ Club Show & Sale. He's chatting here with club member Patricia Stark.

Rob's no stranger to vintage costume bling. In fact after I found those fake Sherman clip-ons at VV I Googled "How to spot a fake Sherman" and his Dumpdiggers site came up as he did a post on Sherman. Talk about blogging Karma! Looking forward to reading his take on the show soon.


  1. Great to read your blog! and see the super pics! i'm trying to hunt up where to find the TVJC, when their Sept. meeting is. anyone know? heather b.

  2. Heather, you can email to get info on membership and dropping into a meeting. I couldn't make the Sept meeting, which has already happened. So glad yo hear you're interested in the club!