You can't beat that feeling when you find a pretty little piece of jewellery, costume jewellery has certainly made it's mark on fashion with a wealth of styles, lavish to elegant, and a great history behind each piece. When it comes to collecting vintage pieces costume jewellery is a great way to start, it's easily found in a variety of places and needn't cost the earth, it's an affordable way to start buying vintage and you can add a wonderful range of styles to your wardrobe.
So where do you start? When buying vintage it's always best to remember that you can find pieces in a range of places so you don't have to stick to just vintage shops and fairs, you can find plenty of vintage pieces at charity shops and car boot sales you just need to have a good look around. The best places to find affordable vintage costume jewellery are often than not charity shops, Oxfam often sells vintage with a selection of costume jewellery in their larger city shops.
I'd recommend starting buying in person at first as this gives you a chance to inspect the items before you buy, but once you've got into the swing of things you'll find a wide range of vintage sites online specializing in and selling costume jewellery, places like ebay and etsy are also great to find affordable pieces of costume jewellery.
What do you need to look for? When you first start buying vintage costume jewellery you'll need to take the time to inspect pieces that catch your eye, what is the condition like? Are there are any stones missing? Is there any discolouration? Does it have a marking on the back? As a new buyer it may seem a little daunting at first but if you are thinking of becoming a serious collector you'll need to research further into the history of costume jewellery and the companies, "Millers Costume Jewellery" is a great book to read through if your thinking of becoming a serious collector, this book takes a look at several of the key companies you may expect to come across when you start shopping for costume jewellery so it's certainly a handy book to have around. Sites like Illusion jewels are great to bookmark also as they're extensive guide of markings can help you to identify and even date pieces you may come across.
There are certainly many different types and styles of costume jewellery out there to collect and adorn, with items varying from precious stones to paste stones which is what you'll find most in pieces of vintage costume jewellery. Paste stones are cut to look like precious stones from a distance but upon closer inspection are actually formed from coloured pastes, glass and plastics which make for far more affordable pieces that are still as stunning.
You'll also find items such as pearl jewellery may be imitation, these are still beautiful pieces to collect but be wary of the condition as these do tend to chip and mark whereas real pearls would stay intact. A great way to test pearls you've bought is to rub two of the pearls together if they feel gritty or sandy, they are real pearls, if they feel smooth, they are not real. You can also test pearls by the feel of the weight, real pearls tend to be far heavier than fake pearls.
Is it vintage or modern? With un-marked jewellery it is at times difficult to tell whether it is a vintage or modern piece, with vintage and antiqued style items on the rise of late how can you be sure that those pieces you like are vintage? Take a good look at the items, inspect the quality and craftmanship in the pieces, most modern vintage styled items tend to be made to look vintage but not necessarily crafted in the same fashion with an attention to detail. Are the stones glued on? Does it feel plasticy? Are there any fastenings?
By looking at the details you can begin to piece together whether it's a modern piece, most vintage costume jewellery tends to have elaborate, pretty fastenings whereas more modern pieces tend to have clasp, extension chain fastenings for instance. Vintage pieces tend to have fastenings and fixtures that are more styled than modern replications so with time you'll start to pick up on what to look out for.
Now that you have your costume jewellery pieces you need to take care of them, keeping them in good condition will ensure that they'll last and maintain their condition for many more decades to come. Silver pieces can easily be cleaned up with a polishing cloth for instance, you may not need to splash out for expensive jewellery cleaners either, warm water and soap can be used to clean beaded and crystal pieces and cotton buds can be used to give intricate delicate pieces a gentle clean and dust.
Collecting vintage costume jewellery is a great way to start collecting vintage, it won't break the bank and you can find some truly wonderful pieces to add to your collection, it won't take up a great deal of room compared to collecting vintage clothing or home wares and you can add an abundance of beautiful pieces to your wardrobe.