What Does Costume Mean in Costume Jewelry

My 90 year old Sicilian father and the Pop from Look in Pop's Attic Antiques buys  jewelry at auctions and gives it to me to sell.  What am I supposed to do with this?  I don't even like jewelry.  I never wear it.  I’m too short.  I have all these boxes to go through and separate the good jewelry from the costume jewelry.  That’s when it hit me, what is costume jewelry?  Is it junk?  Where did it come from?  Did somebody one day decided to make plastic bracelets?  My mother was never adorned with jewelry, but we were Italian and from Jersey, so we were different.  There my research began and so did my new love with the significance and history of what "costume" jewelry truly represented.  We wear costumes every day and this was our outlet to make our statement.  Wow.  Costume jewelry has been around a long time, but for me and my research, it started in the 1920’s when women were smoking cigars and drinking whiskey and gin behind locked doors, with the birth of the flapper and women’s right to vote.  About the time my grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in his thirties.  We have come a long way, baby, and you can see it in the jewelry.  Jewelry was no longer an expression of your husband’s worth, but a fashion statement and a naughty one, if you wanted it to be.

Leave a comment