Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vintage vs. Reproduction: Boring Post

This is a topic that I am very interested in. And you probably don't care, but I'm going to write about it anyway. When I started Darlybird 3.5 years ago, I didn't know anything about the vintage jewelry scene. Nothing. And then I ran across some fabulous jewelry that seemed unlike anything I'd ever seen before. Feminine, floral, sometimes a wee-bit overstated, but mostly perfect. Not afraid of color. And guess what? Most of it was from the 40s-70s. (The 80s started a blight in the fashion/jewelry world as far as I'm concerned, with a few exceptions. No, I don't care for skinny jeans, shaker sweaters, and the neo-80s styles.)

I started buying pieces, a few at a time. Little plastic and glass baubles that I could transform into anything I wanted. Or nothing at all. Just look at them like little specimens in their aluminum cases with windowed lids. I am embarrassed to say that I've amassed quite a collection. A huge walk-in closet-full of curiosities . . . . enough vintage pieces to make jewelry with for the next 50 years. And I keep buying, with a little more trepidation since the closet is full.....because who knows when this stuff isn't going to be around anymore?

About a year and a half into my jewelry-making and amassing habit started full speed, I saw a shift in the available supplies. Suddenly every vintage piece was now being reproduced in mass quantities in China. No longer were the little floral cabochons curiosities. They were available in every color, size, shape. They were in Forever 21, Target . . . . every etsy store had them. BUT, they weren't the real deal. Because as far as I'm concerned, if it isn't vintage, it lacks something huge. History. A life of its own. Craftsmanship.

Before I bag on all reproduction pieces, I will admit that I do buy and sell some reproductions. Some pieces that I used to be able to source from vintage stock are not available anymore. Gone. So I've purchased reproductions of those pieces. I will never call something vintage that isn't vintage. And that's where I get a wee bit perturbed. The majority of what you see being called vintage really isn't. And that's silly, because most people don't care. If it's cute, it's cute. But I guess I do care. I love to catalog the origins of each piece. Strange, but true.

I've learned a lot about old jewelry in the process. Did you know that the capitol of American jewelry making used to be Rhode Island? Still is, but it's diminished since most everything is outsourced overseas now. I'm dying to take a trip there and go to the remaining factories, close-out places, but I know if I do, I'll come home poor and in need of a new home and husband. So I'm waiting on that one until I clear out some room in my closet, and butter up that Jonnie of mine.

A huge portion of vintage plastic and glass comes from Western Germany (pre-war and post) and Japan (even during occupation during WWII). I love imagining the designers, the producers, the people that used these intricate and feminine pieces in their work. It's amazing. If you ask me, nothing new compares to the old.


AzĂșcar said...

This was not boring in the least. Bad title!

jessi said...

I found this quite interesting as I have recently purchased a few sets of what sellers claimed to be vintage cabochons from Etsy shops. Nice to know - maybe it will help me decide if I've got the real deal or not.

Geo said...

Oh, Rachel! It's YOU! I just responded to your sweet comment over at my blog, not realizing you were one of my very own Rachels. (I have a couple or three. I like Rachels.) Here's a link to the dress, though it's not in black:

And the shoes are no longer being made (by Naturalizer) but I feel sure you of all people can scare up some even lovelier than the ones I found.

You would rock that 40s look, sister. xo

RAchel D. Arndt said...

I love this post too because you just imparted a little bit of history and wisdom to my day:) Thanks!

From one Rachel to another...

Mrs. Arndt

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Nanda said...

Thanks for a brief education on the topic - I found it very interesting! And I love anyone who has a real passion for what they do. It's great to see that here!

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