heirloomed: Are there any particular designers or hallmark pieces you should keep your eye out for when shopping vintage jewelry?
Deirdre: Some great names and signatures to look for are Trifari, Napier, Avon, D&E (also went by Juliana). Ciner, Panetta, Givenchy, Sarah Coventry, Joan Rivers, Kenneth J. Lane and CHANEL of course. These designers and design houses all make great pieces.
heirloomed: Is there anything you should avoid or be cautious of when buying vintage jewelry?
Deirdre: I examine pieces pretty carefully. I make sure there is not a lot of wear to the finish (with vintage costume jewelry once the finish wears off there is no way to polish or replate). I test clip earring backs on my ears because sometimes the backs can loosen with age. I avoid screw back earrings because they do not sell well and are uncomfortable to wear. And with pins and brooches I always make sure the little pin mechanism opens and closes easily and hasn't rusted or worn out. I also test out all the clasps on necklaces and bracelets.
heirloomed: What are some of your favorite vintage details in jewelry? (i.e.: clasps, design features, finishes / stones / colors, etc)
Deirdre: D&E/Juliana vintage jewelry was really known for its stones. Their beautiful, complicated rhinestone pieces are often set with stones you would be hard pressed to find anymore - with gradients of color or cut in interesting shapes. Also, any costume jewelry made pre-1980 generally had a much higher grade plating than contemporary jewelry - so you are really buying pieces with a better finish and a higher gold content when you are talking about vintage. There is a mechanical brooch I have in my collection that was known as a "Night and Day Brooch" and is a metal flower that can open and close as if going from night to day. It really is an amazing piece of micro-engineering! There is also a genre of jewelry called "Tremblers" where little springs are soldered under details like flower petals or insect wings and make the pieces appear to move or "tremble."
heirloomed: What is popular these days in terms of vintage jewelry / trends you’re seeing now or for the upcoming seasons?
Deirdre: I was recently in LA and there is an amazing exhibit down on the bottom floor of the Griffith Observatory of celestial jewelry. There are hundreds of pieces of celestial themed pieces of costume jewelry, starting in the 1920's and going all the way to the present as you walk along the wall where the exhibit is. I think celestial jewelry is starting to have a moment again - especially with the recent eclipse - and we will see more and more of it in the months and year to come.