Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rockabilly, Pin Up Girls, Hot Rods and Vintage Jewelry

As I sometimes blog about, we are a racing family. My sweet heart is Cory Lee, an NHRA funny car driver and crew chief and the author of two books on drag racing collectibles.

Right now he is the driver for the Back in Black Nostalgia funny car owned by Dennis LaCharite.
This is the car:

Nostalgia cars are pretty cool and the drags are fun, but the days are long and hot and besides cooking for the pit crew, there isn't much for a girl to do in a place like this:

So, one year we were attending the Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield and there was this booth called The Atomic Kitten. They were doing hair for women that were attending the event. They were creating the most awesome 1950s pin up girl hair dos! It blew my mind. Here we were at this race track, in the dirt and grease, smelling of nitro and ladies were getting their hair done in these fab styles. 

The hairdressers were wearing vintage clothing, 1950s house dresses, mary-jane shoes, tattoos and beautiful hairstyles with pink and purple hair. What was this thing?

I started to interview them about this and that is when I learned all about the rockabilly revival. OMG! I love it!!! It is retro-I am an antique dealer-love it! It is colorful and artistic, I am an artist, love it! Lots of hot rods and music, what's not to love?
Here's some of those beauties participating in a swim suit contest at the Lake Havasu Rockabilly Revival last year. It's coming up again soon.

I recently met a pin up girl working at a local shop. She was wearing a pair of vintage Coro earrings. She told me that she was starting to collect vintage costume jewelry and when I told her that I am an antique dealer, she had so many questions for me. I answered her questions as best as I could, but I am no expert in vintage costume jewelry, rhinestones and such, but I know someone who is.

Denise Dent

Denise was kind enough to grant me an interview about vintage costume jewelry. Here are the highlights of that interview:

Me: Denise, if you were just starting to collect vintage costume jewelry, what advice would you give the new collector?

Denise: I would look for unique, quality pieces, ones that catch your eye. The best jewelry does not always have to be signed. 

Me: With vintage, how much does condition impact the value of a piece?

Denise:  One of the most important things about buying and collection jewelry is condition. Always carry a jewelry loupe when shopping and inspect every piece front and back. Look for things that might have been altered or fixed. Are there missing stones? Does the clasp work properly? Is there minor or excessive wear? These are all things that really affect the value of the piece, whether you are buying, collecting or selling. The more wear, the lesser the value. For example, if you purchased a Miriam Haskell necklace that was worth $200, if it has wear, it could cut the value from 50% to 75% depending on the damage.

Me: Can you tell me what brands or designers that a girl should look for when the intent is to wear the piece? 

Denise: Buying to wear is a lot of fun. I would buy what I liked, regardless of the designer, so I could get in some serious trouble. But great ones to buy to wear would be Sarah Coventry or Monet. They put out a lot of fun and stylish jewelry and there is still a lot of it around. Vintage beads are fabulous, fun to wear and plentiful. Whether you like the colorful multi strand necklace from Japan and Hong Kong, or the nicer knotted Italian glass beads, they all wear good.

Me:What brand will hold up to wear today when it is 50+ years old?

This is the beauty of vintage, there is a reason it is still here. If it has already lasted 50 years, then it will last 50 more. I mentioned Miriam Haskell already, she is one of my favorites. If you take the time to research her, she was very particular about what she used to make her jewelry. Most of her metals were plated repeatedly and she traveled around the world to pick her stones and beads. But there are many great names - Eisenberg, Hattie Carnegie, Elsa Schiaparelli, Kramer, Boucher...

Me: Why should I buy vintage instead of Chinese reproductions?

Denise: First of all, it is a glimpse from the past, it is history. 
Vintage jewelry is environmentally friendly, it is like recycling. 
Costume jewelry from the past is unique, I have never wanted to wear the same thing everyone else is wearing. 
Vintage jewelry  is fashionable, whether you want something for every day or something for the runway, no matter what your fashion, it is there.
The thrill of the hunt! There is nothing more exciting to me than browsing through local flea markets, antique or thrift shops, even Ebay and finding that piece that I just cannot live without.
Chinese reproductions cannot even begin to measure up to the quality of vintage. I consider the reproductions disposable jewelry. It will last a few times of wear and then it is gone. 

Me: The only point that I would add to this is that when you are buying vintage or antique jewelry, buy the very best piece that you can afford. One really good quality piece is better than 5 mediocre or damaged pieces. 

So there you are girls! Get your rockabilly pin up girl on with the real thing! Vintage jewelry.
The cool thing is that these pieces were around being worn by the original pin up girls in the time. How cool is that?

This is one of my favorite pieces in Denise's shop:

This Demi-Parure is amazing!!!! 

I must be in the mood for blue because look at this will you!

These are almost atomic in design.

Denise created a very cool board on Pinterest about Joseff Hollywood jewelry.

You can find Denise on Etsy and Ebay. You can follow her on facebook and her blog

These beautiful pin up girls were found on pinterest. I wish there were links to the websites of origin with these, but they are too beautiful to not share.  If I was a younger woman, I would sure be into this look.

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