1940s | Accessories

vintage sweetheart jewelry

March 28, 2011

not sewing related per se, but all about the accessories. i discovered “sweetheart” jewelry this weekend while reading janie bryant’s (janie is the costume designer for “mad men”) book on style.

does anyone here have experience with this style of jewelry? know some of the history? i know by the late 40s and through the 60s it was more traditional, the sort of thing you gave your ‘steady’, while in the early 40s, during the war, they were more related to the different branches of the armed services.

  1. Sweetheart Jewelry was basically a way for civilian women to show their support of the war(s).

    Every branch of the armed forces had their own styles, and there were tons of pieces for a mother and wife of a soldier. Pins, brooches, lockets, necklaces, bracelets, you name it.

    The non-desrcript armed services stuff, the V for victory stuff is pretty hard to come by. Ive looked and it can get quite pricy.

    The jewelry comes in all types of materials, shapes, and even homemade. Its a huge collection culture. Just do a search on eBay to get your feet wet in some of the styles.

  2. I heart sweetheart jewelry! I've got a little collection, but I never pass up an opportunity. WWII era jewelry gets the most press, but it was around long before and after that. Anything a boy would have given his girl (or even his mother!) counts – even from non-wartimes.

    As with other jewelry, anything that's bakelite, or highly unusual, or really cute is gonna cost the most. The condition is a big factor too of course (check that the pinbacks are functional before forking over your cash!) Some really neat pieces can be had for less than $10, and if you see something priced high, you can probably find it cheaper if you hunt.

  3. You can find a lot on Etsy as well as Ebay–from the Victorian period on through WWII. Once you start looking at it you can identify it more readily out in the wild. I love the individuality of some of the pieces. I have two pieces of WWII, and I'd love more (I might go to a local shop and see if a bracelet I saw a few weeks ago is still there).

    Here's my V pin http://www.flickr.com/photos/84594169@N00/4005962404/ I found it in an antique store, it's celluloid, which is a type of early plastic.

    I believe my hand-carved aluminum pin will show in my avatar here. I'm not sure, but I think that piece is actually trench art–a piece that was made in the field to be sent back home. It's a piece of aluminum with the blue coating that's been cut and carved into. I sprung on this piece when I found it because LaVerne is actually my middle name.

    I paid $40 for the V, it was worth that to me because of the striking and simple graphics of it. That's about the top end of what I pay for an individual piece of jewelry (I have a substantial collection from the 1940s-1960s). The heart pin was a steal at $25. I would have paid a lot for that because of the personal connection.

    Like all jewelry, something is really only worth what you're willing to pay for it–you know sometimes that you can find something cheaper somewhere else if you're willing to wait, but if you spend enough time looking at it, you get a feel for what you won't see often or what you really want and will spring for.

  4. my grandpa was a us army air corps mechanic, so that is my area of focus. actually saw a piece at my local flea market this weekend that i picked up to officially start my "collection." not a bargain, but not a ripoff at $20, from one of my favorite jewelery vendors.

  5. I collect USN sister jewelry (my brother's Navy), Army sweetheart/wife, and Marine sweetheart/wife (husband is a Marine turned soldier). I love sweetheart jewelry! They even make modern pieces these days, like locket pins.

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