“When I want a ridiculously extravagant pair of shoes, I find a way to buy them.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex & the City
If Carrie Bradshaw lived through the pandemic, she would’ve cut her spending on designer shoes. Why drop nearly $900 on a new pair of Manolo Blahniks if you’re simply walking from the couch to the kitchen, and back again?
Designers are trying to entice us with out-of-this-world sales, but we’re still not biting because we know we can get better deals with designer resale. Plus, we’re investing in items people can see on Zoom calls…like designer and fine jewelry.
The pandemic changed people’s shopping habits and instead of dropping money on a trend, consumers are investing in jewelry since it’s viewed as a hard asset and a tangible form of wealth. This explains why the sales of fine jewelry have outpaced every other luxury category this year. From engagement rings to the Cartier Love Bracelet, and a Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Necklace to a Chanel CC Brooch, 2020 was the year of fine jewelry.
Chanel jewelry has been trending more than ever before. In fact, just a few months ago I decided to hop on the train. While I was researching for a Chanel blog I wrote back in October, I stumbled upon a vintage Chanel Gripoix Bracelet and I was literally sold. It’s bold and colorful—a total statement piece—and despite being considered costume jewelry to some, the value is skyrocketing. So, this gorgeous bracelet spurred many late nights Googling Chanel jewelry…I wanted to know more, including how much I could get if I decided to resell it.
"Costume jewelry isn’t made to provoke desire, just astonishment at most. It must remain an ornament and an amusement." – Gabrielle Chanel.
In the 1920s, Coco Chanel introduced the concept of costume jewelry. She wanted to give women another way to dress up without displaying their wealth, and let them accessorize and accentuate their entire look, and not just one piece of clothing. Chanel's first jewelry line was created by a designer named Etienne de Beaumont and it was exclusively available only to select Chanel customers. Needless to say, these pieces are extremely rare and if you can get your hands on one, you've got a gold mine!
The Roaring 20s were all about dresses, fringe, long pearl necklaces, and Art Deco-inspired jewelry. In 1927 an artist by the name of Fulco di Verdura introduced us to Chanel's famous black enamel, Maltese Cross cuff bracelets. In 1932, Chanel began experimenting with her first fine jewelry collection, dubbed the Bijoux de Diamants.
Chanel also worked with other designers like François Hugo, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Suzanne Gripoix to jointly create some of the highest-quality costume jewelry the world had ever seen.
The House of Gripoix made Byzantine-inspired jewelry, and Coco Chanel was so impressed with the artful use of colorful, poured glass designs, she commissioned a partnership with Gripoix that lasted for decades. Check out some of our favorite Gripoix pieces below.
During World War II, Chanel closed up her 31 Rue Cambon shop and move to Switzerland.
In 1954, Coco Chanel moved back to Paris and reopened her 31 Rue Cambon shop. This is when she began adding a signature CHANEL stamp to her pieces, or attached the signature to a hangtag. For her most exquisite pieces, three stars were stamped directly below the CHANEL logo. She also began producing Camellia Brooches, multi-strand and beaded Sautoir Necklaces, and faux pearl clip-on earrings.
Then she hired a Chief Designer of Jewelry, Robert Goossens, who introduced the fashion house to luxe pieces crafted from gold and diamonds, which were then replicated as bijouterie in her collections.
Coco passed away in 1971.
Following Chanel's death, Alain Wertheimer and his brother Gerard took ownership of Chanel (and they're still in control). They recognized the importance of preserving Chanel's name and therefore began to trademark the jewelry. This was the introduction of the CHANEL plaque with copyright and registration marks along with the interlocking CC logo and 'MADE IN FRANCE'.
Say hello to Karl Lagerfeld! In 1983 he joined Chanel as Head Designer and a year later, he hired Victoire de Castallane to run the jewelry design. While at the helm, she created some of Chanel's most collectable and memorable pieces to date. She also introduced a new dating system, moving from a specific year to a season.
There have been a few more changes with Chanel jewelry, such as the addition of a double-digit figure featuring the year (on the left side of the logo) followed by the letter ‘P’ for the Spring collection, ‘A’ for Autumn or 'C' for Cruise to the right. This method is still used today.
Is Chanel jewelry worth the investment? While it is costume jewelry, it's also a collector's item and won't lose its value because...hello, it's Chanel. It really depends on your personal taste. Do you prefer real rubies and emeralds, or the artful and increasingly rare Gripoix glass beads? Chanel had a few fine jewelry lines that featured precious metals and jewels, but they were discontinued in 2010.
Some of the materials currently used to make Chanel jewelry include:
- Faux and semi-precious stones
- Gold- and silver-plated metals and sterling silver
- Glass beads and cabochons (Gripoix)
- Faux pearls
- Leather, ribbons, fur, lace and velour
- Rhodium and stainless steel
Looking to invest in Chanel jewelry? Check out some of our favorite pieces...