Dress and fur clips first appeared in the 1920s, when the concept of costume jewelry was taking the world by storm. Before then, only royalty and celebrities had access to opulent, ostentatious fine jewelry bedecked with precious stones like diamonds and emeralds, and so most women's adornment was subtle and tasteful.

But in the Roaring Twenties, Coco Chanel introduced the idea of wearing less-expensive costume jewelry as art, as opposed to wearing fine jewelry to indicate status and wealth. Jewelry then became a subject of experimentation as designers created all sorts of large, bold, and inventive pieces for women looking to spice up plain or neutral items of clothing.

Similar to brooches and pins, dress and fur clips were worn fastened to dresses, furs, and other items of clothing, often to accentuate an alluring detail such as a well-cut lapel or deep neckline. They were made out of the same materials as brooches—sterling silver, bronze, rhinestones, enamels, and plastics like Bakelite—and in similar styles, from Art Deco geometric patterns to floral and figural designs.

Eisenberg Originals, which started out as a clothing company in 1914, came up with the idea of embellishing dresses and sweaters by sewing in large, glimmering Swarovski crystals. But the rhinestones were so tantalizing, especially in the aftermath of the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929, they were ripped off of the clothing in department stores. That's why, in the 1930s, Eisenberg launched its own line of jewelry, mostly brooches and dress and fur clips in clear high-quality diamante.

Fine jewelry and wristwatch designer Louis Cartier came up with the concept of the double dress clip, which he patented in 1927, a clever device that let two twin clips attach to each other and worn as one brooch. The pieces could also be worn separately as matching dress clips, for example, on either side of a neckline. This versatile design, known as "clip-pins," was such a huge success that in the 1930s, fashion jeweler Coro premiered its own double clip called the Coro Duette.

Trifari also made its own popular spin on the concept, which were known as Clip-Mates. Collectors should note that sellers will often mislabel Clip-Mates as Duettes. Eisenberg, Miriam Haskell, Leo Glass, Fred Block, Mazer, Boucher, Nettie Rosenstein, Hattie Carnegie, and Vogue all made their own versions of clip-pins.

Early Coro pieces were usually Art Deco style with pavé-set clear rhinestones. But the company’s biggest hit was its figural Duettes, which were shaped like flowers, animals, and human characters, decorated with brightly colored enameling and crystal rhinestones, and often sold with matching earrings. Especially popular with collectors are more complicated pieces such as the “Quivering Camelias” Duette, which features trembler flowers on springs...

Worn well into the 1950s, vintage clips seemed to embody the whimsical and creative spirit of costume jewelry, as they could be worn in myriad ways. They could be attached to collars and labels, worn near the throat or off to the side, or at the cleavage. A matching set might be attached to either side of a sweetheart neckline, or to the breast pockets of a jacket. They could be used to hold a scarf in place, or gather the folds of a Grecian-style goddess dress.

Clips were also attached to ribbons to make elegant chokers and necklaces, and one or more could be used to compliment a rhinestone belt buckle or add whimsy to a plain leather belt. Clips were used on clutches and purses to dress them up for an evening out on the town, while shoe clips gave plain pumps a bit of glitz. They even adorned cloche hats and berets. Glamorous celebrities like Joan Crawford, Hedy Lamarr, Esther Williams, Lana Turner, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, and Barbara Stanwick often led the way, employing clips in new and interesting ways in their fabulous ensembles.

While many people nowadays use the terms "dress clip" and "fur clip" interchangeably, they are actually distinguished by very different clipping mechanisms. Fur clips, also known as "double-pronged clips" or "pin clips," were long, with a back mechanism featuring two sharp prongs attached to a spring. This design let them pierce the fur without wreaking havoc on it. Fur clips were often adorned with rhinestones or semi-precious stones, or metalwork like repoussé. Coro, Eisenberg, Trifari, Boucher, and Kenneth Lane made fur clips that are among the most coveted  today.

Dress clips, on the other had, have a wider and shorter clasp, whose teeth are meant to cling to thinner dress or shirt material. Miriam Haskell, Trifari, Coro, Eisenberg, and Hattie Carnegie were all known for their dress clips. Scarf clips, meanwhile, have stronger hinges but no teeth, while shoe clips are also specialized.

The most valuable dress clips are the ones that come in pairs like the Coro Duettes and the Trifari Clip-Mates. Clip-pin devices that incorporate more than two dress clips are particularly rare. Vintage fur clips with clear stones and high-quality metal finishes are also collectible. Scarf and shoe clips are more common and less valuable, but ones by designers such as Musi are worth collecting.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Very Rare 1930s Art Deco Ktf Trifari Moghul ‘jewels Of India’ Paste Dress ClipVtg Antique Deco Nouveau Rhinestone Cameo Dress Clip Necklace Brooch Lot JulianaAntique Sterling Silver Reverse Painted Glass Essex Crystal Style Fox Dress ClipVtg Antique 30's Crown Trifari Rhinestone Crystal Fur Clip Pin Moonstones WreathGorgeous Eisenberg Sterling Jeweled Brooch 3.5"l~fur Clip Dancing GirlVintage Coro Duette Owls Clip Pin, Gold Tone Fur Clip With Pin ClaspBeautiful 15 Piece Disney Princess Polly Pocket Magic Clip Dress And Doll LotStunning Vintage Estate 1920s Art Deco Silver Tone Dress Clip!!! 2694mVtg Tested Amber Bakelite Bangle Bracelet Green Earrings Dress Clip Scottie Dog Antique Art Deco Fishel Nessler Dragons Breath Art Glass Dress Clip PendantJob Lot Edwardian Art Deco Vintage Jewellery-collar,murano Earrings,dress Clip,Eisenberg Original Clear Ice Rhinestones Fur/shawl Clip Pin Brooch16 Vintage Clear Rhinestone Pins Brooches & Dress ClipBeautiful Disney Polly Pocket Magic Clip 13 Piece Princess Doll Dress LotLively Vintage Fringed French Art Glass Fur Clip Marked DeposeVictorian Chinese Export Carved Cinabar Scarf Clip Fur Clip SilverVintage Art Deco Periwinkle Blue Czech Glass Bow Dress Clip Or PendantVintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Dress Clip (1)Vintage Art Deco Fur Clip Scarf Sweater Clip Green Rhinestones Yellow LuciteEisenberg Original Clear Ice Rhinestones Fur/shawl Clip Pin BroochAntique Chinese Carved Black Cinnabar Dress Clip Or PendantVintage Art Deco Cobalt Blue Glass Fur Dress Collar Clip (brooch) Stunning Vintage Estate Silver Tone Art Deco Rhinestone Dress Clip!!! 2730nVintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Suffragette Dress Clip (1)Gorgeous! Large Vtg Art Deco Emerald Diamante Glass Dress Clip Set!! Mi870Vintage Art Deco Pot Metal Rhinestone Dress Scarf Fur ClipVintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Suffragette Dress Clip (2)Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Lucite Dress Clip Signed Czech (1)Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Dress Clip (6)Antique Trifari Silver Rhinestone Fur Shoe Clip Pin Set Of Two Dazzles!Janie And Jack Lot 4 Piece Set Sweater, Dress, Hat, & Hair Clip!Antique Art Deco Dress Fur Clip Pot Metal Rhinestones Vintage Carved Butterscotch Flower / Floral Bakelite Dress / Fur ClipVintage Crown Trifari Signed Enamel Rhinestone Floral Bouquet Dress Fur ClipVintage Signed Cdo? 1940s Clear W Blue Rhinestone Sweater, Dress Or Scarf ClipArt Deco Sweater Guard Vintage Clip Pin Silver Dress Scarf Jeweled "blue Stone"Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Dress Clip (10)Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Lucite Dress Clip Signed Czech (2)Stunning Antique Victorian Teal Beaded Gold Tone Dress Clip!!! 2709wVintage Signed Coro Sapphire Blue Baguette Floral Trembler Fur Clip Pin CamelliaAnimal Ears Headband Hen Nights Women's Hair Band Clip Party Fancy Dress RabbitAmazing Vintage Amethyst Glass & Rhinestone Flower 3.25" Fur ClipArt Deco Pot Metal Clear & Blue Square Rhinestones Dress ClipVintage Art Deco Ornate Pale Pink Czech Molded Glass Geometric Dress Fur ClipRunway 3x Silver Tree Branch Hair Pin Head Dress Snap Barrette Clip FascinatorVtg Antique Art Deco Victorian Dress Scarf Clip Brooch Green Glass Flowers Stunning Antique Estate Victorian 1800's Cameo Ornate Dress Clip!!! G142pcs Halloween Christmas Dress Up Hair Clip Cat Ear Small Bell Furry Hairpin Animal Ears Headband Hen Nights Girl Hair Band Clip Party Fancy Dress Red Mickey1 Pair Cosplay Cat Fox Long Fur Ear Neko Hair Clip Halloween Orecchiette G1315Vintage Bakelite Necklace And Lucite Bodice Dress Clip - 2 ChickensRapunzel - Disney Magiclip Princess Doll Dress Magic Clip Vintage Round Brown Domed Glass Shoe Clip Fur Clip Fn CoVintage Jewellery Art Deco Diamante/paste Dress Clip (12)Vintage Jewellery Art Deco Lucite Dress Clip (3)Vintage Art Deco Rhinestone Dress Scarf Fur ClipVintage Art Deco Rhinestone Dress Scarf Fur Clip Signed With A SymbolVintage Rhinestone Flower Dress Scarf Fur Clip Signed Ruc F And A # Stunning Antique Estate Silver Tone Clear Rhinestone Dress Clip Pair!!! 7005nVintage Art Nouveau French Brevete Sgdg Green Rhinestone Scarf Dress Clip Pin