Tuesday, 24 December 2013

VINTAGE CHRISTMAS TREE BROOCHES

It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve just unearthed my vintage diamante Christmas tree brooch, that I reach for every year when I start preparing the feast of all feasts.

Wearing something so beautiful and extravagant always gets me in a Christmas mood and adds a bit of glamour to stuffing the turkey and peeling endless spuds. I forgot to put the brooch on one year and my daughter quickly reminded me, so wearing it has become as much of a festive tradition in our house as assembling my late parents’ 1950’s Christmas lantern and decorating the tree with vintage decs.


Happy Vintage Christmas!
Photo credit
The brooch is unsigned, but I’m pretty sure it’s an Eisenberg piece from the 50’s, when a lot of the highly collectable brand’s designs were unmarked, and it's very similar to a couple of other Eisenberg brooches in my collection. I fell for the brooch because it's such a simple design, featuring clear diamante stones set in silver with just the flame of the Christmas tree candles highlighted in scarlet diamante. Quite blingy by my standards, but perfect for getting Christmas on the road.


1950's clear diamante Christmas Tree brooch, thought to be by Eisenberg

The popularity of Christmas tree brooches can be traced back to Victorian times, but they really gained momentum in the 30’s and 40’s when leading costume jewellery designers started introducing festive collections.  The USA and Austria led the way, with Eisenberg, Trifari, Anthony Attruia and Hollycraft among the leading purveyors of Christmas tree brooches in an array of multi-coloured and clear diamante designs. Swarovski crystal components were also highly prized and used in the more exclusive designs.

Tear sheet from Harper's Bazaar US, December 1963, showing
an  intricate Albert Weiss Christmas Tree Brooch
 Photo credit

 Today, these intricate designs are sought after by serious vintage costume jewellery collectors and can sell for several hundred pounds. The good news is that you can pick-up a lovely piece for around £30 upwards – less if you are lucky.

If you are interested in collecting Christmas brooches, other names to look out for are Monet, Avon, Kramer of New York and Swoboda, plus Stanley Hagler and Dominique. As the pieces are vintage, it’s worth checking that all the stones are intact and taking a look at the state of the pin and catch before purchasing a brooch, as these can become worn with age.

Pinning a shimmering Christmas tree brooch on your dress or lapel was seen as a tribute to the festive season, a tradition that’s well worth continuing today. These brooches also make beautiful Christmas decorations and look lovely pinned to linen napkins or used to embellish gift wrapping.

I recently spotted a 1940's Czech clear diamante Christmas tree ornament with bright pink diamante detail in the back of a cabinet in a vintage emporium, that I had to buy for a dear friend. It was much larger than the traditional vintage Christmas tree brooches, but was designed along the same lines and the stones had a really bright sparkle; the perfect Christmas centrepiece.

1940's Czech crystal Christmas Tree ornament

Vintage markets and emporiums are good hunting grounds and I’ve found a couple of great designs on eBay in the past, including my current brooch which I’ve had for 20 years. It’s a real keeper and hopefully my daughter will continue the tradition of wearing the brooch one day.

Have a Happy Vintage Christmas!

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