Figural costume jewelry is such fun to collect, and animal figures are at the top of the list.
Think of any mammal, bird, fish, insect or reptile, and you can be sure to find many pieces in many styles. Designed with rhinestones, gold, silver, enamel, precious metals and stones, lucite, bakelite and other plastics, the variety is virtually endless.
Do you have a favorite breed of dog? There's the start to a fascinating collection! During the 1930s Scottie wholesale jewelryw as a popular design, influenced by President Franklin Roosevelt's dog, Fala. In the 1950s poodle jewelry had widespread appeal. My grandma Bella wore a set of poodle scatter pins with rhinestone eyes and collars.
Cats are very popular in figural jewelry, in both vintage and contemporary pieces. Whimsical kitties play with rhinestone balls, peek at their reflections in glass mirrors, and cuddle together in enamel baskets.
Vintage costume figurals range from exotic animals like cheetahs, giraffes, elephants and gazelles, to gorgeous birds, fish, bees, lizards, and even crabs, lobsters, frogs and turtles. Black onyx inset into gold tone made the spots on leopards. Silvertone and rhinestones gave life to elephant jewelry. The infinite variety of bird colors came alive with the use of enamel and colored rhinestones. Lucite "jelly belly" animals included turtles, birds and fish, the rounded "bellies" forming their bodies.
Imagine a vintage seal pin balancing a pearl or rhinestone on his nose - he's out there, and you just might find him. Picture a flamingo pin covered in pink stones, a seahorse covered in pearls, a turtle with a lucite "jelly belly" for its back. Red rhinestones make a lobster pin glow. Green enamel covers a frog's back. The infinite colors of bakelite made for stylized and animals. Lucite dolphins frolic as if under water.
Check out estate sales, thrift shops and yard sales for the best prices, and, as always, examine every piece closely for condition of the stones or the workmanship. If you're buying for yourself, you can be a bit more lenient with flaws than if you're buying for investment.
Whether you specialize in one type of animal jewelry, or spread the wealth around, you're sure to enjoy the hunt and capture of remarkably beautiful animal figural jewelry.