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A Short History of Christmas Jewelry (With Photos From My Collection)

I've collected antique and vintage Christmas decorations for years. Two years ago, I began researching and collecting Christmas jewelry.

The most widely collected piece of Christmas jewelry is the Christmas tree pin.

The most widely collected piece of Christmas jewelry is the Christmas tree pin.

How My Christmas Jewelry Collection Began

I kept vowing not to begin one more collection; however, my fellow antique lovers always say that if you have more than five of something, you have a good start on a collection. So, beginning two years ago, I broke my vow and began collecting Christmas jewelry. Since I love Christmas and have several Christmas collectibles, I rationalized that it was only natural that at some point I would begin to collect Christmas jewelry.

I already had six Christmas broaches and two Christmas charm bracelets, so what would difference would a few more pieces make? After all, they would not take up much room or need special storage. I fondly remember my mother and my aunts having Christmas pins. I also remembered that my first attempt to wear Christmas jewelry was tying jingle bells on my shoelaces. I was "busted" at school and home for my jingle bell shoes, as they were quite noisy.

Throughout my time collecting Christmas jewelry, I've learned quite a bit about its history, and I hope to share some of the information I've gathered here for all to see alongside photos of pieces from my collection.

Christmas corsages were the first popular type of Christmas accessory.

Christmas corsages were the first popular type of Christmas accessory.

Christmas Corsages: The Beginning of the Christmas Pin Trend

Several sources claim that during World War Two, women who wanted to show their holiday spirit during the harsh wartime years began pinning festive corsages on their coats and dresses. Other sources point out that women had been pinning sprigs of holly or pine during the Christmas season much earlier. Early corsages were made of fresh leaves and berries, and later, imitation leaves and berries were made from ribbons and cloth to be worn as pins.

Wreaths are a common theme in vintage Christmas pins.

Wreaths are a common theme in vintage Christmas pins.

The Companies Behind Christmas Jewelry

Jewelers soon began creating jewelry featuring popular Christmas symbols. Most jewelers chose to design Christmas tree pins and wreaths. Tiffany, Christian Dior, and Eisenberg created Christmas jewelry with precious and semi-precious stones, but since Christmas jewelry is usually only worn for a limited amount of time, most pieces were created using rhinestones or other materials.

Coro, one of the largest manufacturers of costume jewelry in the United States from 1919 to the mid-1970s, created beautiful and affordable Christmas jewelry. Other companies such as Avon, Beatrix, Bob Mackie, Connie Bennett, Boucher, Carolee, Gerry's, Hobe of Paris, Hollycraft, JJ-Jonette, Kenneth J Lane, Monet, Mylu, Napier, Pell, Swarovski, Torino, Trifari, and Weiss also produced collectible Christmas Jewelry. Some larger retailers such as Nordstroms, Marshall Fields, and others commissioned special Christmas pins as store exclusives each year.

Rhinestones snowflakes are also popular among Christmas pins.

Rhinestones snowflakes are also popular among Christmas pins.

Growth in Popularity and Diversity in Themes

While the Christmas tree pin remains the most popular type of Christmas jewelry, wreaths, angels, Santas, snowmen, reindeer, candy canes, holly, sleighs, toy soldiers, snowflakes, Christmas stockings, and bells are also common. All kinds of animals (cats and dogs being the most popular), gingerbread men, peppermints, mice, packages with bows, and various Disney/cartoon characters have also become more popular as Christmas jewelry themes.

While my collection is mostly Christmas pins and bracelets, a quick check of 2020 Christmas jewelry reveals that Christmas earrings and necklaces are the trends.

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How to Wear and Display Your Collection

Like many collections, Christmas jewelry can be stored in a jewelry display case with a glass front. Some collectors prefer to pin their pins on Christmas fabric or pillows. Pins can also be pinned to vintage Christmas tablecloths, Christmas fabric, or ribbon strips according to age, type, or color.

Display your collection in a prominent place during the Holiday season. Or, better yet, find creative ways to wear it so that people can enjoy seeing your collection. Pins can be worn on sweaters, jackets, blouses, dresses, hats, scarves, lightweight fabric belts, fabric purses, and tote bags. Layer your Christmas bracelets and necklaces.

Learn More About Antique Christmas Jewelry

To learn more about collecting Christmas jewelry pins and their makers and value, I read the following books.

  • Christmas Tree Pins; Oh Christmas Tree by Nancy Trowbridge
  • Christmas Jewelry by Mary Morrison
  • Christmas Pins: Past and Present by Jill Gallino

All three books are slightly out of date in terms of values, but all three had good information about the pins themselves. For current values, it's fun to check antique stores, online boutiques, and auction sites where vintage Christmas jewelry is for sale.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 mactavers


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 06, 2020:

After acquiring much of my mother's, grandmother's, and mother-in-law's jewelry, I had quite a few of these types of items. I have given most of them away to others who would wear them.

mactavers (author) on December 05, 2020:

Thanks Heidi. Happy Holidays to you too!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 05, 2020:

I remember many similar pins that ladies used to wear when I was a kid. I never thought to even make a collection of them. Thanks for sharing your lovely examples. Happy Holidays!

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