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Vintage Bead Showcase: Swarovski, Glass, Antique Nailheads & Lucite PDF Print E-mail
What's in Store
Antique Nailhead Beads

Vintage Nailhead Beads

Vintage nailheads or sew-on beads were commonly used in the late 1800’s and early 20th century for adorning dresses, especially mourning clothing and dresses. This is why we tend to find so many nailhead beads in black, gun-metal or darker glass color ways. Most of these glass beauties were manufactured in Czechoslovakia, although some come from other parts of Europe including France and Germany from time to time. What is great about stumbling upon these today is that many of them are in their original packaging or ‘bricks.' A brick refers to the square chunk of glass hanks that were packaged in a solid mass to avoid chipping and breakage. Many of the original cotton thread mini hanks still have original manufacturers tags on them as you’ll see in this photo. For years and years it seems that jewelry designers were not finding applications for these great old beads which is why we are fortunate enough to have access to so many of them still today. However many innovative jewelry designers and beaders are now finding exciting applications for them such as 2-holed bracelets, long elegant lariat style necklaces, and uses for fabric and clothing embellishment – what comes around, goes around. We found our collection in an overstock warehouse in New York. They had imported them back in the mid 20th century and there they sat for many, many years until we scooped a good supply of them up 5 years ago. They are limited in availability.

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Vintage Japanese Glass Pierced CabochonsVintage Japanese Glass Stones 

Also referred to many times as 'carved glass' these stones or cabs or cabochons were actually press-molded. A tool or die would be created (a term that refers to a mold for glass) and the glass heated usually by hand with a torch and then poured into the multi-channeled tool for production. While these captivating glass pieces do not have a 'traditional bead hole' running through its body, many of these pieces have multiple holes throughout the motif which are great for bead-weaving into, wire-wrapping, or harnessing in a multitude of various and innovative ways. The majority of our collection of these great components were made in the 1940's in Japan and many came to us in their original packaging and wrappers. When we first started amassing our vintage collection, these components were not widely used in jewelry applications and were very easy for us to find. However, in recent years many of these treasures have found their way into private collections making their availability more scarce. Following the trend of the Japanese glass houses at the time, many of these glass pieces resemble natural gemstones such as lapis, jade or onyx and are sometimes named as such.

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Vintage Swarovski Pagodas Article 5107Vintage Swarovski Pagodas

Swarovski referred to these as Article 5107 but they've come to be known in 'bead pop culture' as the "potato chip crystals." Swarovski also nick-named them "Pagodas" because their shape closely resembles the upward-curving roof of an Indian or Chinese temple with the same name. These beads were designed to stack or lay face to face with the manufacturer labeling them 'lefts' and 'rights.' This is so that the 2 varying styles had their finish on the 'face' of the bead when you strung them in an alternating pattern. Although Swarovski did do a limited run of this article in transparent colors (we used to have a collection of Lt Rose & Lavender) traditionally you'll find that this style was produced as a coated bead in color such as Volcano, Crystal AB, Crystal Vitrail Med or Vitrail Lt, or Bermuda Blue to name a few. Era designers of 40 years ago traditionally worked with these beads in an interlocking technique with their designs. We have limited colors and sizes, as well as lefts and rights still available although they are getting scarce in today's bead market.

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Vintage Lucite Buttons with ShanksVintage Lucite Buttons

We’ve found a trove of Lucite button treasure. We’ll be adding more in the coming weeks in fact. The Lucite buttons we carry were made mostly by Best Plastics, a company who manufactured Lucite beads and buttons in Providence Rhode Island from the 1960’s through the early 1980’s. These buttons were manufactured for use in the garment industry and you’ll see many of them commonly on cardigan sweaters and shirt-dresses of the 60’s and 70’s. We like to use our vintage Lucite buttons as closures on necklaces and bracelets, or strung in clusters, like you’d string a traditional bead. Most of the Lucite buttons we carry have a moonglow finish, although we also have some nice opaque solid colors and other fun treasures as well.

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