Types of Vintage Glass Pendants
Written by Heather DeSimone of The Beadin’ Path in Freeport ME.
Recently Dara, our West Coast Sales Rep, had a Summer series of vintage bead trunk shows across California. We send Dara the best of our vintage finds for these shows. What is great is that we can send her items that have very much or very little quantity available & her customers enjoy the process of digging for a treasure. Our store is like this too where we can put out items that are special and one of a kind, or items that have sold down to levels where there are only a few scarce pieces left. Online, this is more difficult because we have to weigh out whether it is worthwhile to put an item on our website that we will likely run out of faster. It’s frustrating for the customer for an item to sell out before they get any and before we have time to remove the item. And it’s a lot of work for our staff to be putting items online to only remove them the next day or two.
So Dara wound up her Summer bead show blitz and we recently have been combing through what bead stock was sent back to us from her bead show kit. We’ve been finding loads of lovely vintage pendants including some vintage glass lovelies that we haven’t had online in a while because we had thought we sold out, and some we’ve never had online. It made me think about how many unique styles are out there for vintage pendants, particulary vintage pendants made with glass.
Intaglio Pressed Glass
Intaglio refers to a piece in which there is a design impressed or cut into a shape. Many times a collector or dealer might refer to this technique as ‘carved’ which is actually inaccurate. The motif may look like it was carved, but this style is manufactured using a press-mold technique and not a carving or removing of the product. We have a great example of an Intaglio Pendant in our store. You can find these often in circulated vintage jewelry. The trend in the 60’s and 70’s was to simply hang them from a plated chain.
Reverse Painted Glass
This technique goes hand in hand with Intaglio pieces. Only the process is taken a step further by coloring the concave motif either by hand or machine. This process was used not only in jewelry components, but you’ll find that there was a trend in the 1940’s – 1970’s where reverse painting was also used in home décor items such as paper weights and ornaments. This technique was especially popular in Chinese and oriental collectibles from past eras. Here is an example of a darling reverse painted piece made in West Germany ca. 1940’s. I can’t believe we still have any of these left.
This style of glass is not specific to pendants, however it makes for some of the most alluring color combinations in pendants and beads. Givre’ refers to the style of glass where one color is inside or encased by another. Generally it is a color that is encased in clear, however that isn’t always the case. Swarovski made some truly rare givre’ crystals many years ago (but that is another blog topic) and glass is still produced in many gorgeous givre’ colors. This is a fantastic vintage West German pink and clear givre’ pendant.
Foil Backed Glass
Many beads, pendants, sew-ons and stones are enhanced by coating one surface with a metallic foil. Sometimes this is a layer of actual silver or 24k gold. It caused the front surface to have a glowing quality. The only draw-back is that many times vintage foil-backed pendants will show their age with slight scratches or chips to the foil finish. Sometimes they can be re-coated to restore the pendant and other times the scratches do not detract from the piece’s quality. Here is a beautiful foil-backed shell pendant to show you an example of a foil-backed glass pendant. Sometimes just a spot of foil is added to highlight the glass, like in this pendant.
Leaded Glass Pendants
Crystal is also many times, referred to as ‘leaded glass’. Technically, glass doesn’t achieve ‘crystal’ status unless it contains 30% lead. However there are many beautiful pieces containing a lower lead content that are referred to as leaded glass and then they are machine cut achieving the look and feel of a crystal piece. This leaded glass pendant is an excellent example of such a piece that was made in Czechoslovakia ca. 1940’s.
“Carved” Glass Pendants
Again, this term is generally used in error in referring to press-molded glass pieces. However, it has come to be such a common term in glass that it is widely accepted to describe any bead or pendant that has a relief motif. One of my personal favorites is this vintage Japanese glass pendant in “Jade.” The Japanese glass houses of the 1940s’ often strived to replicate authentic gemstones that were considered high-end jewelry at the time in glass such as Jade, Carnelian, Lapis & Malachite. Here is a great example of a “carved” glass pendant.
Be sure to keep an eye out in your travels for these styles as you can often find them in vintage jewelry. Or take advantage of the opportunity to add to your vintage bead collection by snapping up uncirculated glass pieces such as those in our offerings. Either way, you’re sure to look back at your stash a few years later and find that what was readily available at the time, has become more and more scarce on the vintage bead & jewelry market as time goes by.