Monday, March 14, 2011

Collecting Jewelry: 1940's Necklaces

Todays post is by guest blogger Laura Ortega-see below for her bio. Thanks Laura! 

I began my collection of vintage 1940s Baar & Beards, Inc. “a ‘Top Hit’ fashion or creation” handmade collar necklaces in a slightly roundabout way.  I was on Ebay one late night in 2010, looking and sighing longingly over vintage faux pearl necklaces, when one particular necklace caught me.  Caught like a fish in a net, I twisted around in my chair, alternately telling myself that I had to have this necklace!  and No, I didn’t need this necklace!

The seller’s picture showed the necklace draped on one of those cloth busts that some jewelers display necklaces on.  “It’ll drape enticingly over your shoulders,” the little devil on my left shoulder whispered in my ear.  “The auction ends tomorrow at midday, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to bid during your lunch hour,” the little angel on my right shoulder counseled.  I went to bed, deciding to listen to the little right angel shoulder.

The next day, I re-viewed the necklace. No bids.  I raced to work.  Lunch hour.  I raced home and put in a bid.  Bidding soon became fast and furious.  I raised my limit twice and won the necklace for $60.

This is the necklace:

It doesn’t have any tags of any kind and doesn’t drape enticingly on my shoulders.  Still lovely and in perfect, clean condition.  I’d wear it during a date with my fiancé, to complement a vintage faux pearl clutch that I bought on Ebay. 

Months later, I was on Ebay one late night when I spotted a silver-beaded collar necklace by Baar & Beards, Inc.  “‘Top Hit’ creation” made in Italy that captured me.  I have loved beads and beaded jewelry since I was 12 years old.  It also reminded me of Art Deco and how I’d recently discovered that he loves anything sparkly and had posted a picture on Facebook of a fractal with the comment, “Pretty!”  I realized that I, too, like sparkly--my favorite precious gemstone is the diamond.

This is the silver-beaded collar necklace: 

I paid about $40 for this one.  Initially, I was disappointed that the seller hadn’t disclosed that the beads on the last ¼-inch were darker than the rest.  It doesn’t make any difference when the necklace is worn so I’ll be wearing it during an Oscar party one of these years.  Glamorous!

Another prized piece in my Baar & Beards, Inc. Italian beaded collection is a similar necklace, made with white beads.  It’s an interesting piece because in sunlight, the beads appear pure white, resembling milk glass, while in softer lighting at night—like that given off by the two side table lights I have in my family room—the beads exhibit pearlescence. 

This is the necklace with the white beads:

I paid about $20. I’d wear during almost any season (except Fall when I’d wear the amber leaf-shaped earrings I bought in St. Petersburg).  Classy!

The latest Baar & Beards, Inc. top hits that I have were made in Japan.  I’m fascinated by anything and everything related to Japan so these faux pearl necklaces are prized.  I found these vintage sweater collars on Ebay.  I prefer the one with the lesser amount of rows as it’s more my style of generally demure and understated. 

This is the four-row sweater collar: 

I paid between $10 and $20 for this one.  Unfortunately, my camera didn’t allow for a close-up showing the tag—on the underside--which tells of the necklace’s provenance.  Beautiful!

The other necklace is stunning.  It arrived promptly and is, amazingly, intact given the many, many faux pearls, round and skinnier, on it. 

This is the other sweater collar: 

I paid $10.  This is another one which I couldn’t show the tag of, unfortunately.  I may gift to my mother as I tried it on again recently and realized it’s too much for me.  Beautiful too!

 Laura Ortega was born in the heyday of disco yet retains a softspot for the mairzy doats-flavored cheesiness and whole milk-wholesomeness of 1950s domestic and women's culture.  She credits her father, rest in peace, for bringing home a rental of "Back To The Future", her mother for her stories of entertaining and fashion in the 1950s, and her sister for roleplaying Ozzie and Harriet-era siblings on their endless trips and dates to and at the soda fountain.  She thanks her fiancé for his enduring support and encouragement of her writing and her dream of being his retro-modern wife. 


  1. Thanks Laura for this fabulous post! I have seen such beautiful necklaces but never knew the name of the maker. I'll keep my eyes open now. I can see how stunning these would look on a solid colored outfit.

    You have a great eye! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Thanks for sharing your collection Laura. Its always a treat to read about someones personal collection, and why they love what they love. These necklaces are stunning, they must look fabulous with a little black dress.

  3. Nachokitty: You're welcome and thank you for your compliments! I've found the great majority of these necklaces on Ebay, at friendly prices. I'll be adding to my collection for years. Yes, these'll look gorgeous with a black top or outfit or for "that something different" I'll try it with a black and white outfit.

    I find that by taking into account my taste and my petite size, my eye develops. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience.

    Suuzi: You're welcome and thank you! I very much enjoyed writing and photographing my collection. The necklaces are very pretty and made well. I'll wear them with either a black top or an outfit that's black or is black and white. My best to you!

  4. Hi,
    I liked your blog and I personally invite you to join - The World's Free Collectors Zone.
    We will also be happy to cooperate with your blog such as adding its link to our site.
    All the best,