Bringing Back the Beauty


Caryn Krisha gets to wear her collection.

Just about every day, Krisha puts on some of her vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s to the 1970s.

“When I worked everyday, this was my trademark,” Krisha said. “There are people who don’t remember me, but remember the jewelry.”

For the past 10 years, Krisha has collected numerous brooches, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings of various sizes, colors, and shapes; some of the pieces come in different hues. They are made by such companies as Weiss, Regency, Kramer, Hollycraft, Florenza, Schreiner and Miriam Haskell.

“Each one is unique and each one is different,” Krisha said. “It’s a great hobby because it’s small.”

One of her favorite pieces is a large silvery necklace with many clusters of dangling stones.

“They’re all my favorites,” Krisha said. “When I wear it, it’s my favorite.”

The collection began when she received several pieces from her grandmother and mother, including one that featured her mother’s birthstone in the center. Krisha also has Austrian pins in the shape of pears and cherries that she bought when she was younger.

“I kept all my jewelry since I was a child,” Krisha said.

She started seriously collecting jewelry about 10 years ago.

“At first, you buy what you like,” she said. “When you get to my stage, you get more selective.”

Krisha, who was a member of the Houston Vintage Jewelry Club in Texas, finds jewelry at such places as antique shops, flea markets, the Internet auction site eBay, and estate sales. She also travels to the Vintage Fashion and Costume Jewelry national convention in Rhode Island.

“We wear vintage clothes,” Krisha said. “It’s fun, like being little kids again.”

The national group has several criteria for determining if a jewelry piece is welcomed into a collection, including craftsmanship, condition, color, size, demand/rarity, and price.

Krisha uses a true color light to make sure the jewelry matches the color of the clothing that she is wearing.

Sometimes the jewelry set isn’t complete, and Krisha might stumble upon the missing piece during another shopping excursion.

“Not everything is pieced together,” Krisha said. “That’s the thrill of the hunt. If I find a pin, I’ll know there are earrings that go with the pin.”

To aid in her quest, Krisha has several jewelry reference books that feature photographs and histories behind the pieces.

“I can sit and look at the pictures,” Krisha said. “Maybe you didn’t know it has a set until you see it (in a book).”

Wherever she goes, she keeps her eyes open for jewelry pieces to add to her collection.

“It’s in my blood,” she said.