March 19, 2009

Costume Jewelry Books by Brunialti

Everyday I learn a little more about all the things I collect. Whether it be on the web, reading books, talking to friends, going to flea markets or antique shows, it always amazes me the information that is available to us and much of it is free.

The second book I ever bought discussing vintage costume jewelry was written in Italian and I was a bit skeptical about buying it but I have never been more happy with a purchase and refer to this book frequently. The book is called "American costume jewelry" written by husband and wife team Carla & Roberto Brunialti. It covers the "golden age" of costume jewelry manufacturing 1935-1950. Even without understanding a word of Italian the way it is layed out actually gave me quite a bit of information, and of course I could not stop looking at the photos.

The first part of the book gives a biography of the jewelry manufacturers that are featured in the book through photos and information about each individual piece. I used babblefish to translate any text that I was interested in and although it might not have been exact, I certainly was able to understand the concept. Where applicable the patent number is identified.

Before 1955 designers filed for U.S. patents for their designs as in the beginning they found their designs being copied and produced by their competition. Around 1955 the now familiar copy right (c) symbol was used to protect their creations. Here is a link to a great site where you will find only jewelry patents. It is arranged by manufacturer and I use it quite frequently. It is fun to browse through just to see the designs of the period.

The Brunialti's next book called "A Tribute to America" is written in English and is not a rehash of their first book, but shows different individual jewelry pieces from each of the designers all of whom are highly collected today. Each book has tons of high quality photos of the most desirable vintage costume jewelry on the planet as it is collected around the world and not just the U.S.. Names like Coro, Trifari, Boucher, Joseff, Haskell, Reja, Staret and more. When I go antiquing sometimes I can't sleep at night thinking about which fabulous piece I might find tomorrow.

In both books, the photos are divided into sections by manufacturer. Every other page has a group of photos of individual jewelry pieces, each is numbered and the next page has a description about the piece including name and patent number where applicable. Many times you have a piece that will say Pat Pend which means a patent application was submitted and they were waiting for approval and the patent number. Many times I was able to determine the patent number by finding my piece in one of these books. If you want to look up the actual patent go to the website: and type in the patent number. Please note that if there are only 6 digits, you most likely will need to put a D in front of the numbers to designate the patent is a design patent.

I have included a brief slide show to show you the covers of each book, a small sampling of the photos and descriptions you will find in each book.

There are two new books out that you can get through Amazon, but I have not seen them so I am not sure if there is different pieces pictured and discussed or a rehash of their previous books. If anyone has these books would you please comment on this blog. Unfortunately Carla is no longer with us, but her passion lives on in print.
I hope you have enjoyed this.
Have a wonderful day!