Since Victorian times, people have worn decorative jewelry to show their excitement and affection for the Christmas season. Some wear brooches with trumpeting angels, while others favor pins sporting silver bells, red-nosed reindeer, or depictions of Saint Nick.
Since the 1940s, the most popular form of vintage Christmas costume jewelry in the U.S. and abroad has been the tree pin. Usually made of gilt metal with green and red rhinestones, tree pins wish everyone you meet a Merry Christmas, while also showing off your sense of style.
One of the most renowned designers of Christmas tree pins was Stanley Hagler, who began his career as a business advisor to Miriam Haskell before starting his own jewelry company in the late 1950s. Hagler Christmas tree pins ranged from squat, triangular pins dripping with Murano glass beads to trees made of mother-of-pearl and red-glass flowers.
Another former Haskell associate to excel in the art of Christmas tree pins was Larry Vrba. As with his non-Christmas jewelry, Vrba’s tree pins were wonderfully outrageous, resembling medals honoring yuletide achievements more than jeweled depictions of actual trees. Vrba’s pins were often studded with fat, teardrop cabochons or large aurora borealis stones, with rhinestones stars crowning their tops.
Trifari Christmas tree pins were more traditional, combining jade glass for branches with ruby rhinestones for ornaments. Some Trifari pins played up the tree itself, such as the tree-shaped pins made of brushed gold with a minimal number of faceted beads for decoration. One particularly nice Trifari pin shows an enameled partridge sitting in a gilt-pear tree.
Other costume jewelers who produced glorious Christmas tree pins included Hollycraft, whose pins sometimes featured polychrome rhinestones set within gilt-metal boughs. Eisenberg Ice captured the spirit of the season with pins that were sometimes covered with frosted white enamel and ruby and emerald rhinestones. And Cristobal of London was known for its "X-mas Collection" and use of 1940s and ’50s Austrian crystal beads, which the company’s designers used to create crisp outlines of trees with both straight and rounded sides.
Finally, those who love Christmas and the sterling silver jewelry of Taxco can combine their passions with a piece of vintage Christmas jewelry from Mexico’s famous silver-mining center. Examples of Taxco Christmas silver included a trio of working bells that dangled from a bow with three holly berries at its center; a solid silver tree with a brass star at the top; and a single bell than hung from four tooled silver holly leaves.
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