Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lost in Translation: What is Vintage?

Last summer I wandered into a local "vintage" store to check out the styles and what type of jewelry they might carry. I had a lead from a friend that the owner might consider selling some of my designs. I left a few samples and came back a few weeks later. She had sold a piece or two and asked if I'd consider designing a line for the holidays. Would I! Yes!

So I got to work on a vintage line. Let me ask you, when you think about vintage what comes to mind? For me (and jewelry) I think of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, or simply the 1940s-50s. 
I decided to use marcasite as a main element as it was very common during WWII. Diamonds were being used in military manufacturing.  Not only is a diamond the hardest substance known, it also has the highest thermal conductivity; tremendous heat can pass through it without causing damage. So women gave up their diamonds and started wearing marcasite because it gave a similar diamond sparkle. I also used colors that I thought represented a vintage look such as olive green (jade), cocoa brown (smoky quartz), eggshell white (pearls) and black (onyx).  I used large focals on the necklaces, and plenty of dangle on the earrings.

When I returned with samples her response was "my clientele is really more 60s, do you have anything more like this?" as she pointed to a 'groovy' multi-strand, beaded get up .... wow, didn't see that coming.  Especially when you look at how she positions her store called Vintage Virtuosa.  We agreed that she would look through my Etsy site and give me a call with items she wanted me to bring in.  She never called.  No surprise there.

So my question is ... what is vintage?  I looked it up and the best I got was from wikipedia. Vintage (for clothing) usually refers to 1920s up to 1960 and has been worn by someone. Retro are those items made to imitate a previous style. So while I feel I was right with my understanding of the word vintage ... it didn't really help in delivering a sale with this store owner. Sigh.  

Bracelet (top): marcasite slide clasp, Miyuki seed beads
Earrings: marcasite triple connector, onyx, silver chain, silver leverbacks
Necklace (left): jade, hematite, marcasite, emerald quartz, vintage loop toggle
Bracelet (center): onyx, pearls, chalcedony, silver spacers, pearl slide clasp
Necklace (right): smoky quartz, tiny pearl chip spacers, Chinese enamel, vermeil toggle


  1. When Im checkin polish e-shops, everything there is "vintage" ;D It's like people love the word, but dont quite understand its meaning...
    Btw, I adore your necklaces :)

  2. I find the same here! I think they use it because it sounds good. And if you look at their site the woman looks like she is a 'flapper' from the 1920s.

  3. In looking at the website, I think the pieces you've presented here would be a very nice fit with may of the vintage clothing choices she offers. They are classic and timeless - her loss... :)

  4. Vintage can be a little subjective I think depending on taste. Jewelry has evolved a lot over the decades. I tend to thing pearl and marcasite myself but apparently that shop owner liked younger vintage items. She should have been specific with you on time period and like Cindy's her loss.

    P.S. Morena Baccarin's gown at the Globe was fantastic and daring! Love that!

  5. exactly ... wasn't it daring and fantastic! not too many could wear that dress! And thanks for the comments on the vintage. I still really like this style and might make it part of my regular inventory on Etsy.

  6. I hear you...I considered myself an antique and curios dealer for the longest time, and then "vintage" became the pc term. Funny, in my etsy shop I just fill in the description and let etsy tell me whether it is vintage, as I am still trying to figure it out. However I like the description you found, makes sense to me...and yes, your creations would have been perfect for her look, hard to figure that one out. Your work is beautiful! Also, thank you for following me, I so appreciate it!

  7. Wow beautiful!!!
    Have a nice day!

    Besos, desde España, Marcela

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