Vintage brooches are trending and making a fashion statement. These jewelry pins of the past are being worn by those who are young at heart and like a bit of whimsy, and by those who love putting on glitz and glamour, and, finally, by those who love just a bit of sparkle.

Are brooches something you have always wanted but never thought you could afford? Well, with a bit of imagination, some help from your local antique dealer, thrift and consignment shop owners, along with just a few dollars, you can start your own collection.

Find ideas of when and how to wear these pins in magazines, or go to www.pinterest.com and enter "vintage pins brooch."

Kinds

Some of the whimsy pieces can be costume jewelry -- not the same as fine jewelry, but colorful, possibly with a figure like a bird, butterfly, cat or frog, or a floral design mixed with metal, enamel or rhinestones.

The more glitzy and glamorous pins are perfect for that classic look, also on the lapel or collar. These pins are more in the line of the Sarah Coventry, Coro and Monet popular during the 1950s and '60s. Some of these pieces were sold through home parties.

The sparkly brooch, I still consider to be a classic that can be worn on a denim jacket or to a dinner party with matching earrings. According to Collectors Weekly, one top-notch costume jewelry maker was Gustave Sherman Costume Jewelry, in Montreal, Canada. "Using Swarovski crystals, special-ordered to his exacting specifications, Sherman often copied examples of fine jewelry with his pieces going for as much as $50. And selling for the same today."

A good go-to book is “Warman's Costume Jewelry: Identification and Price Guide," by Pamela Wiggins. She writes, “Costume jewelry is a great collectible. It is jewelry that didn't cost much yesterday or even today, but certain pieces can fetch hundreds of dollars. But you do need to know your pieces. As a collector, a little knowledge goes a long way and helps you avoid paying too much for a common piece or missing out on that jewel in the rough at auction.”

Collector

Susan Waughtal, of Oronoco, said, “Oh, you hit a subject dear to me! I have a few favorite brooches. One of my favorites is the gold lion that is huge and heavy, with small rhinestone eyes and a large rhinestone in his mouth. I love him and sometimes wear him pinned on a wide vintage gold metal choker. Kind of over-the-top, but brings me delight. I often wear gaudy or whimsical pins on a sweater or jacket. But have been known to pin them to a purse or hat (or to strategically hold a too plunging neckline together!) I think I inherited the "crow" gene from my grandma -- I have her same fondness for sparkly objects.”

Where to find

Treasures Under Sugar Loaf, Winona has a great collection, according to owner Brenda Jannsen. “Kristen Dickenson, Max Boutique, and Angie Pehler, Angie's Vintage Rust, have the pieces if you are looking for that one of a kind, blingy, spectacular statement pieces in prices $3 to $25," she said.

Joan Thilges, New Generations of Harmony, said, “We have a couple vendors that specialize in vintage costume jewelry. Most are unmarked and very reasonably priced. Currently both vendors have prices from $5 to $25."    

Betty Butters, owner of Catch My Thrift, Stewartville: “Folks love coming to my store and saving dollars, as our jewelry ranges from $1 to $3 each to add to a trendy wardrobe."

Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques, St. Charles: "I have a lot of brooches that range in price from about a dollar on up. The ladies love to wear the jewelry and use it in different displays, such as bouquets for weddings, on old dress forms and other uses.”

Penny Bracken, Kismet Consignment Fashion and Home Decor, Rochester: “Yes, we have brooches and finding a trend right now is to adorn knitted hats with colorful brooches.”

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at life@postbulletin.com.

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