12 Excellent Reference Books for Collecting Vintage Costume Jewellery in the UK

You have a thirst for knowledge and want to know more about the vintage costume jewellery in your collection. But which book to buy if you are living in the UK?

There are hundreds of reference books to choose from and most have been written in the US by authors who have a collection based in the US. How specific is that to us in the UK?

So here’s a brief guide of 12 books to give a good over view of knowledge from Victorian through to the eighties and beyond. Actually there are more than 12 books here, because some authors have written more than one book that is useful.

This guide should cover general unsigned pieces and some signed pieces of jewellery. However there are no specific books ever written for the majority of the mass produced signed costume jewellery made by UK companies or made for the UK market apart from Wilson and Butler.

1. Costume Jewellery: A Collectors Guide by Caroline Behr (Miller’s) (ISBN 1-84000-373-1)

A good place to start with a general over view and time line from Victorian, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, 1950s, Czech, Austrian and some designers. Easy to read and has good photographs. Hand bag size and ideal to read on the train

2. Vintage Costume Jewellery: A Passion for fabulous Fakes by Carol Tanenbaum (ISBN 1-85149-511-8)

A must to buy and has the time line with expanded information. Includes Art Nouveau, Birmingham silver, machine, intro to Bakelite and plastic and a glossary. Loads of good photographs but none of the backs (a must for identification but rarely included in any book)

3. Secrets To Collecting Jewelry: How to BUY MORE for less! by Leigh Leshner (ISBN 0-89689-180-1)

Again a time line and over view through history but an absolute gem of a book because it has shows the backs and mechanism or findings that are essential to dating jewellery. This book looks at style and materials with specific photographs. Prom jewellery, art plastic, retro, manufacturing methods, Scandinavian, cameos. Mostly brief information but a very good visual guide. US book with $ price guide (2005). Another fabulous book to read on the bus or train as fits into your bag.

4. Jewels and Jewellery Clare Phillips (V & A) (ISBN 978-1-85177-535-4) or Jewellery: The Decorative Arts Library edited by Janet Swarbrick (ISBN 1-902328-13-2)

Could not decide which of these UK books was the most informative. So have I have included both

Jewels and Jewellery contains materials, a chronology of styles and manufacturing and distribution. Photographs of museum and pieces. Includes silver filigree, Berlin 珠寶網購 Iron, pearls, glass and enamel. Faith jewellery, cut steel, mourning and love jewellery not just jet or bog oak. Lalique, Ashbee, Liberty Cymric, Wilson, Gaskins and a time line pre Victorian to the 2000s.

Jewellery is a visual celebration of the world’s great jewellery making techniques. From the ancient world until 1989. Full of information and photographs with more specific references to Jewellery in the UK.

5. Popular Jewelry of the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s by Roseann Ettinger (ISBN 0-7643-2470-5)

Three decades of jewellery showing fashion and political trends that influenced the designs. US book with $ price guide (2006) The majority of vintage jewellery found is from this period and so makes this book invaluable to read. Well illustrated with pieces that are recognizable here in the UK. Including Mod jewellery, eastern influence, Pop Art, novelty, revival pieces, love beads, Art Metal, jade, plastic, wood and pave. The author has produced other reference books on other decades which are well worth investing in.

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