Collecting Christmas Jewelry

  • 01 of 05

    The Appeal of a Holiday Jewelry Collection

    Hollycraft Santa Claus Pin
    Hollycraft Santa Claus Pin. Photo by Jay B. Siegel

    One of the appealing aspects of collecting Christmas jewelry comes with the affordability of the hobby. There are still lots of vintage items from the 1940s-1960s on the secondary antiques market available for less than $25-30 apiece, and some that are even less expensive than that. Contemporary Christmas jewelry can be equally as collectible, and some of those items are very reasonably priced as well. Even the most expensive pieces usually won’t cost much more than $200-300 each, and those falling into this upper echelon are quite rare.

    But this is also a fun collection, and it’s wearable. Both attributes that attract many devoted holiday jewelry fans. Some people even wear a different piece each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Others decorate with this type of jewelry pinning it on pillows, hanging it on trees and just generally expressing their creativity with wearable art.

    Learn about What to Look for in Christmas Jewelry on page 2.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    What to Look for in Holiday Pieces

    J.J. Swirl Gold Christmas Tree Pin
    J.J. Swirl Gold Christmas Tree Pin. Photo by Jay B. Siegel

    First, buy things that appeal to you within your price range. Since you'll likely be wearing some, if not all, your Christmas jewelry during the holiday season, you want these pieces to reflect your pride in ownership and perhaps your personal style as well. These pieces range from elegant (like the J.J. brooch shown here) to kitschy and cute. Plus, it's fun to get compliments on the really unique pieces you've carefully selected for your collection while you're wearing them.

    Next you'll want to consider quality. Some lower priced holiday jewelry is going have the dime store inexpensive look. If that bothers you, don't buy those pieces. If you have a limited budget, it's better to wait until you run across a great bargain on a fantastic piece than spend your money on something you won't enjoy owning. Finding great bargains could happen in this area of collecting if you're a diligent shopper. Just be sure to examine the safety clasps for damage, make sure the plating is in great condition, and look for missing rhinestones or those that have been haphazardly replaced before buying. A bargain's not a bargain if you buy something broken.

    Look for marks on pieces you run across, too. You might find unsigned pieces you like a lot, and it's perfectly fine to buy them. But the most valuable pieces will have a manufacturer's mark on them and they're more likely to hold their value better over time.

    Finally, don't shy away from pieces in colors other than red or green. You'll be surprised just how much you'll wear your pink, blue or amber holiday jewelry. After all, your entire December wardrobe isn't made up of clothing that coordinates with red and green.

    Learn about Marked Vintage Christmas Tree Pins on page 3.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Marked Vintage Christmas Tree Pins

    Hollycraft Candle Christmas Tree Pin
    Hollycraft Candle Christmas Tree Pin. Photo by Jay B. Siegel

    When it comes to highly collectible Christmas jewelry, vintage Christmas tree pins are high on everyone's list. This is especially true for marked examples.

    Common names found on tree pins from the 1960s are Hollycraft, Mylu, J.J. and Art. All of these makers produced many different designs and some are harder to come by than others. With some study and experience, you'll soon learn which ones are out of the ordinary and worthy of a higher price tag.

    For the most part, Hollycraft Christmas tree pins sell from $45 and up. Mylu and Art examples start at about $25 or so. Some even have matching earrings. Rarities by these companies will, of course, cost you considerably more to add to your collection when sold by a knowledgeable dealer.

    Other manufacturers made Christmas jewelry as well. In fact, some well known costume jewelry companies that didn't necessarily specialize in holiday jewelry - Hattie Carnegie, Trifari, Regency, along with other companies - made at least one or two examples. These generally sell for far more than common trees and are prized by collectors. Consider doing a completed item search on eBay or visit a site like to see what signed vintage trees have been selling for before overspending though. More money in your pocket means more left for holiday jewelry to add to a collection.

    Also keep in mind that demand for holiday jewelry ebbs and flows just like other collectibles and what's hot now isn't necessarily going to stay hot. Weiss candle Christmas trees are one example. For a while these were selling for well over $100 apiece, and more than $200 each for the large five-candle examples. The demand seems to have fallen off now and these can be purchased through online auctions much more affordably now.

    Christmas Tree Pins: O Christmas Tree (Schiffer) by Nancy Yunker Trowbridge offers a good point of departure when studying both vintage and newer holiday jewelry (contemporary jewelry is discussed on page 5 of this article).

    Learn about Other Types of Holiday Jewelry on page 4.
    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Other Types of Holiday Jewelry

    Mylu Santa Boot Poodle Christmas Pin
    Mylu Santa Boot Poodle Christmas Pin. Photo by Jay B. Siegel

    Wreaths, Santa Claus, reindeer, candles, tree bulbs, ornaments and adorable little boots holding cats or dogs (like the one shown here) are just a few of the miscellaneous Christmas-related objects translated into jewelry by clever designers. There are even menorahs to commemorate Hanukkah available in this collecting genre. These pieces range in value from just a few dollars each to a hundred or more depending on which company made the piece and the desirability of the style.

    One of the most popular non-tree motifs is the partridge in a pair tree. These clever pins always sell quickly when priced right whether marked or unsigned. Cadoro made some very clever examples as did Art, Mylu and Tancer II.

    What a piece is made of can also affect the desirability and value. From wood to Lucite to sterling silver, holiday jewelry has been made from many materials and all those varied types have their own unique fan base when it comes to collecting.

    Learn about Contemporary Christmas Jewelry on page 5.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Contemporary Christmas Jewelry

    Lawrence Vrba Vintage Turquoise Christmas Tree Pin
    Lawrence Vrba 4 3/4" Christmas Tree Pin, ca. 1990s. Photo by Jay B. Siegel

    There's a huge market for contemporary Christmas jewelry made since the 1990s. From the glittering designs marked Dominique to oversized pieces by Lawrence Vrba (like the one shown above), these sparkling creations almost always have an audience with collectors if they can be had at the right price. Look for other clever contemporary designs by Bauer and Von Walhoff as well. These highly collectible pieces will all hold their value over time since they were made in low quantities when compared with department store jewelry.

    That's not to say that some lines sold widely in retail outlets won't have some value. Eisenberg Ice pieces can also be collectible, and these were sold in department stores like Dillard's and Kohl's so they sometimes turn up at garage sales. The quality of older examples made in the '90s tends to be better than those made in the 2000s. Some were made in more limited quantities as well, so that has a bearing on price today.

    Swarovski has made many holiday jewelry pieces as well, including the series that commemorates the Rockefeller Center tree in New York each year. These trees are made in limited quantities and Swarovski's respected quality helps these pieces hold their value as well. In fact, one particular Swarovski tree made in 1999 for Nordstrom's can be worth $500 or more to the right collector. Most, however, sell from $75-200 on the secondary market.

    Christmas Tree Pins: O Christmas Tree (Schiffer) by Nancy Yunker Trowbridge offers a good point of departure when studying both vintage and newer holiday jewelry.