This article was originally published in Antique Trader
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Jewels of the Yule aren’t just pretty and profitable; they can serve as clever proclamations of your own collecting passions
For the Tea Set. Connoisseurs of tea pots and tea services couldn’t imagine a translucent Lucite holiday arbor filled with loose tea – and attached by fine chain to a smaller pin (creating a chatelaine) that looks a little like Lipton’s. Taken together, the brilliant design serves as a sort of jewelry teabag; pin the label up higher on the lapel, as if letting the “treebag” steep in style. This was a limited edition created by the Manhattan designer Stuart Freeman; $159.
As December lumbers with lightning speed to the top spot on the calendar, jewelry, not sugarplums, dance in most heads. Whether you’re a guy deciding on a diamond or a girl looking for bling to ring out the old year, jewels of all kinds are definitely the commodity of the moment.
Whether it’s ever dawned on you to pick up a holiday tree brooch while out doing your consumer-spending duty, if you do, more choices grow in emporia than simply sparkling Christmas brooches. Whatever it is you love in the world, you likely can find a holiday tree that represents that hobby.
Here are just 14 of many hot collecting categories – and a Christmas tree pin that delivers the spirit the category’s all about.
Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Want to Collect Vintage Christmas Tree Pins
1. Once you own some, they’re hard to let go, so caveat that or you could wind up with a new collection.
2. The niche isn’t foolproof. Everything from the economy to a rash of repros and fakes in the 1990s and new millennium put the kibosh on a rush to hug all trees in the enormous forest, so you have to be creative. If you’re buying just for the enjoyment of making a profit rather than your own aesthetic joy, don’t get discouraged if one fails to attract attention. Group with others and sell in a lot, or change your selling venue.
3. Plenty is fun but scarcity’s the score. Take the most famous (and at one time most desirable) Christmas tree pin: a mid-1960s Weiss confection of colorful stones and milky baguette candlesticks. It came in three sizes, evidently was bought by every child and husband in America for mothers, teachers and wives. As Internet offerings expanded, every Weiss tree kept for 40 or 50 years came flying out of dresser drawers, forcing values down. Still a great tree, but a beautiful commoner. The same goes for 1972’s first Eisenberg tree, with rhinestones and molded-ball overlay. Karl Eisenberg says over the years more than a million sold, so while the Eisenberg name still sends chills up many spines, the tree itself is merely a collection staple and a historic footnote in jewelry.
4. If you’re new to this branch of jewelry and just want to invest in vintage, be aware pretty much every seller fibs about the age of pine pins. Let’s just call it wishful thinking. And since oldies are most wanted, dealers also flip dress clips upside down so sconce shapes become tree shapes but aren’t really.
5. Don’t plunk down hefty sums toward an arboreal acquisition before reading all you can about conifers. The niche is both merry and scary. You don’t want to star in any version of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Kathy Flood is a journalist who succumbed to the charm of Christmas tree jewelry in 1993, when she was ambushed by works of art in Vogue magazine. All of her books for Krause Publications, such as Warman’s Jewelry 4th edition, have featured some holiday loot for the lapel. Her big book on signed holiday jewelry comes out next year. (An unsigned-pins book is on the market now.) To join a club or to talk trees with Kathy, you can needle her via Kathy@ChristmasTreePins.com.
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