Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Some things I have learned about plastics. :)

Thermoplastics will melt/deform when heated. They are much more common than thermoset plastic.

Thermoplastics used in jewelry include: Acrylic, Celluloid, Vinyl, Nylon, Resins, Lucite, etc.

Lucite is a brand of acrylic and can be transparent, translucent, opaque or have a moonglow effect.

Lucite and Bakelite are brand names and should always be capitalized.

Thermoset plastics don't melt when heated but will burn under very high heat. Thermoset plastics are much less common than thermoplastics.

Thermoset plastics used in jewelry include: Bakelite.

The plastic used in Lisner, Coro, etc. that is so commonly referred to on eBay as thermoset is not thermoset but is thermoplastic.

If it doesn't test positive for Bakelite, it's not thermoset! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Types of Vintage Clips

Dress Clip

A dress clip typically looks like a brooch from the front and is usually adorned with rhinestones, fancy metal work or a carved design. Instead of a pin back, a dress clip has a metal clip with a hinge that opens and closes with enough pressure to hold the fabric snugly. The clip is also lined with small "teeth" that grip the fabric. It is common for dress clips to be found in pairs.

Fur Clip

A fur clip is similar to a dress clip but instead of a metal piece with points underneath, a fur clip has two long metal prongs on a tight hinge designed to pierce a fur stole and hold it closed.

Shoe Clips

A shoe clip or shoe ornament is a decorative piece of jewelry similar to a brooch but with a clip that allows it to be attached to a shoe. The clip part itself is shorter than a dress or fur clip and does not usually have a hinge. It does have small points on the back to grip the shoe but the clip must be pinched together to attach to the shoe and pried back apart to remove. Shoe clips are of course most commonly found in pairs but are collected individually as well as they can be used to decorate purses and other items.

Scarf Clip

A scarf clip is another piece of jewelry that looks similar to a brooch but does not have a pin closure. The back of a scarf clip typically has a hinged ring type clip to thread the ends of the scarf through. Some scarf clips only have a loop and others have multiple hinges. There are many different ways to use a scarf clip and some people also use them with fabric or ribbon belts. This website has illustrated instructions on how to use a scarf clip.

Sweater Clips

A sweater clip is usually a strand of beads or chain attached to two alligator style clips. Some are more elaborate with rhinestones or carved designs.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Types of Earring Backs

Pierced Earrings

Pierced earrings have been in use off and on since as early as 2500 B.C. For the jewelry collector, it is uncommon to find antique pierced earrings because they had become unpopular by the 1850's and did not regain popularity until the 1970's. At this point they were mass produced in every shape, color and material.

Screw Back Earrings

Screwback earrings have a threaded screw at the back that tightens or loosens to attach/detach the earrings from your ears. These were invented in the early 1900's and were popular until the 1930's when clip-on earrings were invented.

Clip-On Earrings

Clip on earrings have a metal spring loaded clip back that fits the earring snugly to your earlobe. This type of earring was popular from the 1930's to the 1970's and is still in use today.

Brooch Clasp Types

C Clasp

A C clasp is a piece of metal or plastic in the shape of a C that catches the pin on a brooch. Most C Clasps were used pre-1900 as the rollover or safety clasp was invented and in use by 1910. The use of a C clasp usually indicates an older piece of jewelry, especially when the pin part also overhangs the side of the brooch. However, because c clasps are still occasionally used (usually in plastic), you should not rely on the clasp alone when dating a piece of vintage jewelry.

Safety Clasp

A safety clasp (AKA rollover clasp or locking C clasp) is essentially a C clasp but has an additional metal piece that rolls over the opening to lock in the pin. Rollover clasps became popular around 1910 and are still used today.

Trombone Clasp

A trombone clasp has a piece of metal on one end that slides in and out, like a trombone, to secure the pin. Trombone clasps are primarily found in European jewelry and have been in use since the 1850's.