To constitute a true parure, a set of jewelry must have at least three matching items. A set with only earrings plus a necklace, brooch, or bracelet is not considered a parure, but a demi-parure.

Deriving from the Old French verb for “to adorn,” a parure once referred to an entire wardrobe or suite of jewelry, often designed to be worn all at once. The concept has its origins in the flamboyance of Baroque and Rococo-era France, when aristocrats—men and women alike—adorned themselves with elaborate ornamentation, sky-high wigs, and makeup.

By the mid-17th century, jewelry stopped being individual works of art intended to convey personal meaning and became surface decoration, designed to convey one’s status and wealth. Women’s fashion featured plunging necklines and upward-pushed bosoms, creating décolletage begging to be decorated with sparkling jewels. Even though the French Revolution was reaction to the decadence of the royals, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte loved to gift his wife Josephine with magnificent parures.

These wardrobes could consist of a necklace, comb, tiara, diadem, bandeau, pair of bracelets, pins, rings, chandelier or cluster stud earrings, brooch, aigrette (headdress adornment), and belt clasp. Originally the only uniting theme in a parure was the use of one or two kinds of stone. By the 19th century, however, the exact motifs were replicated in every piece of the parure. In 1878’s “The Art of Beauty,” Mary Eliza Haweis express disdain for this trend, which she blamed on industrialization.

Relatively affordable and pretty paste glass emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries as a substitute for rare gems, permitting the first costume jewelry, which was more accessible to the middle class than the real thing. During the Victorian era, it was customary for a groom to present his bride with a “corbeille de mariage,” or a casket containing at least part of the parure that her social life would require. This might contain a jeweled necklace, bandeau, tiara, cestus or girdle, armlets, bracelets, brooches, and shoe knots.

The proper Victorian lady would also have a more modest set of jewelry for daywear, usually made of plain gold. Often these types of parure would only consist of matching brooches, earrings, and a pair of bracelets—considered the respectable amount of jewelry to wear during the day. The daytime set could also include practical items like fine gold chains meant to hold eyeglasses, fans, and a châtelaine, which was worn suspended from the waistband of a dress and was designed to hold various useful objects like a watch, notebook and pencil, scissors, or a small perfume container known as a vinaigrette.

An antique parure still in its case is twice as valuable as a parure without one—the cases are often as opulent and elaborate as the jewelry they contained. It’s extremely rare to find a parure from the 18th century in good condition, while 19th-century sets are slightly more common. As costume jewelry grew in popularity in the 20th century, so did small parures and demi-parures, which is why these vintage sets are much easier to acquire.


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    

Antique Crown Trifari Rhinestone Sterling & Rhodiumed Necklace Demi Parure!Outstanding Large Vintage Christian Dior Rhinestone Brooch & Earring Demi ParureVintage Juliana Ab Pink Rhinestone Necklace Earring Set Demi ParureVintage 1960's Weiss Demi Parure Color Green Brown Yellow Orange Brooch EarringsSchiaparelli Demi-parure Necklace Earrings Faux Coral GoldtoneVintage Kramer Of New York Vintage ParureVintage 3" Florenza Gold Peridot Aurora Borealis Brooch & Earring Demi Parure Sarah Coventry Leaf Necklace, Bracelet And Clip Earrings ParureKramer New York Sparkling Parure / Suite,necklace,earrings,bracelet,vintageVintage Signed Joan Rivers Orange Crystal Necklace Earrings Bracelet Parure SetVintage Silvertone White Enamel & Ab Stones Demi-parure - BskVintage Signed Crown Trifari Silver-tone Metal Pin & Earrings Demi-parureVintage Lisner Amber Rhinestone Ab Demi Parure Necklace Bracelet Earring SetVintage Sarah Coventry Gold-tone Multi Chain Necklace & Bracelet Demi-parureVintage Plastic "fruit Salad" Flower Bead Necklace Bracelet Earrings Set ParureVintage Renior Sauteur Enamel Gold Flower Pin Brooch Earring Demi-parure SetVintage Parure Leaf Necklace Bracelet Earrings Trifari Lisner CoroSarah Coventry Parure~ Necklace/earring/bracelet Set ~ "windsong" ~ 1959~ SilverCute Vintage Orange Yellow Rhinestone Demi Parure 60s Flower Metalwork QualityVintage Juliana D&e Navette Rhinestone Black & White Brooch Earrings Demi ParureVintage Anne Klein Lion Logo Matte Gold Scroll Necklace Bracelet 3pc ParureVintage Signed Lisa Silver-tone Metal Faux Pearl Pin & Earrings Demi-parureSigned Sarah Coventry Designer's Bracelet And Pendant Necklace Parure With BoxVtg Lisner Crystal Demi Parure Necklace Cluster Earring Set Clip On Green BlueRare Vintage Pink Rhinestone Enamel Demi Parure Brooch Pin Clip On Earring LotJewelry Vintage Demi Parure Aurora Borealis Pin & EarringsVintage Signed Trifari Black & Gold Necklace & Bracelet Demi Parure Set Vintage Park Lane Red Rhinestone Necklace & Earring Set Goldtone Demi Parure