The allure and sparkle of high-quality vintage Sherman jewelry has resulted in collectors all over the world searching out special pieces. Sherman jewelry was made in Canada from 1947 until 1981 and was distributed to retail stores all over the country.
Sherman jewelry was and is known for its sparkle. The company used only the best quality Swarovski crystals. Gustave Sherman was a masterful designer and believed in the old saying, “In order to make money, you have to spend money.” Proof of that was Sherman’s willingness to pay top dollar for his Swarovski inventory of stones. Because of this, Swarovski provided him with only the best, which included the unusual process of reverse foiling. This process gave the crystals unparalleled luster and glitter.
The most popular cut stones used in Sherman pieces are the long marquise and the navettes. Most Sherman pieces include one or both of these cut shapes and his round stones include both brilliant cut and chatons. The stones were always prong-set, never glued. This speaks further of the quality of workmanship that went into Gustave Sherman’s pieces and why those pieces bring record prices in today’s secondary market.
The underside plating was heavy and polished to a fine finish. The plating was either rhodium, gold-plated or japanned metal. The Sherman signature on the underside of most pieces is unmistakable. Older pieces have a sweeping and slightly slanted S before the other letters.
There is a disagreement still in play about signed Sherman pieces. According to the book, “All That Glitters” by Valerie Hammond, Ms. Hammond states that while doing her research she spoke with members of the Sherman family. According to the family, all Sherman jewelry was signed. There are a number of people who disagree with this.
The website agigallus.com claims that vintage ads by Sherman prove that not all pieces were signed. This site belongs to Agi Gallus who is a major collector of Sherman and other high-end costume jewelry as well as being an actress. The site didn’t explain how the ads prove this but we assume that Ms. Gallus must own what is an unsigned set of Sherman that appears in one of those ads. Remember that this is an assumption on our part. Perhaps this could be verified by writing to Ms. Gallus.
Also, Sandra Caldwell and Evelyn Yallen, authors of “Sherman Jewellry, The Masterpiece Collection,” believe that quite a bit of Sherman jewelry went unsigned. They list the reasons for this in their book. One of the reasons is a common one. It is one that also applies to quite a bit of unsigned vintage costume jewelry made by other well-known designers.
Early on, many pieces of costume jewelry carried small tags attached to them with the name of the manufacturer. These tags served as a signature of sorts. Such tags were removed once the pieces were purchased. The removal of the tags would then render those same pieces “unsigned.”
The most sought after pieces by collectors are the big bold brooches, bracelets and necklaces in bright colors. Collectors love the aurora borealis pieces, but brooches with deep Siam reds are highly sought after as well. These pieces can fetch hundreds of dollars and larger pieces have brought well in excess of $1,000. The bigger and bolder the piece, the more valuable. Complete sets will bring an added premium. Within these sets, you will usually find most earrings made by Sherman were left and right facing.
If buying and collecting any vintage rhinestone costume jewelry, invest in rare pieces and learn as much as you can about the manufacturer. Other things to consider are color, design and craftsmanship. These are the things that determine value.
11/13/2011 by Anne Benedetto
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