This is a fascinating subject, and something that perhaps I can
respond to with some experience. I have been a dealer since 1970,
and started by selling Victorian, Edwardian and Deco-before I
learned of the popularity of ‘Costume Jewelry’ of the late
I think what you are seeing on Ebay, in some regard, is partially
due to dealers and collectors of ‘Vintage Costume’, that appreciate
the design and construction of certain manufacturers like Renoir,
Matisse, Rebajes, the Arts and Crafts movement, the De Lizza &
Elster, old Trifari, Boucher, Haskell, Mazer, Har, Chanel, and de
Lillo, (who was designing for such prestigious companies as Tiffany,
Cartier, and Winston). When you have a background working in
precious metals and gems, and then start designing only a handful of
collections a year, by special order, and hand set the stones, and
hand make the jewelry, using quality crystals, then it becomes very
popular and very sought after by collectors. Price seems to be no
object. Much of its desirability is driven by finding it in
excellent condition and a few voracious bidders.
Many of the designers like Hattie Carnegie and Nettie Rosenstein and
Elsa Schiaparelli, developed their jewelry lines while they were
designing and making couture clothing lines. The jewelry augmented
the clothing. Finding jewelry by these designers-some of whom sold
clothing WITH brooches attached, almost as an afterthought, have
become wildly popular with collectors and dealers. Chanel, St.
Laurent and Dior used the House of Gripoix, making fabulous poured
glass jewelry some of which sells in the four digit range.
There is also the matter of price for many, and having jewelry that
is attractive and made with quality, that costs less than the fine
jewelry using precious gems and metals, allows one to have more of
My conclusion, and it’s just my humble opinion, is that, while it
will never be ‘fine jewelry’, it has a niche in the market that
isn’t going away.