IntoTemptation…..jewellery musings

Thoughts on jewelry, accessories and whatever else takes my fancy

Archive for the tag “Sherman”

Jewel of the day: Sherman red cuff bracelets

Although there were many masterful costume jewellery designers, in my opinion, none did glitzy and well-made better than Gustave Sherman. These three red cuff bracelets are a case in point. The rigid cuffs were only ever designed and made by Sherman and they stand the test of time. Set with Swarovski crystals, in japanned, rhodium plated or gold plated metals, they are decades old and sparkle with a just-new glitter.

If you want to see more of Sherman’s artistry, try the book Sherman Jewellery: The Masterpiece Collection. (Yes, that is a shameless plug.)

Sherman red cuff bracelets



Jewel of the day: Sherman Red Rhinestone Bib Necklace

For me, Sherman is one of the kings of rhinestone jewellery, even though the company closed its doors in 1981. Pieces made decades ago still retail their sparkle, and the plating looks as good as the day it was done.

This red Swarovski crystal necklace is set in blackened metal (known as japanned), which really sets off the stones. Red is one of the most prized Sherman colours, and you can probably see why right here.

Though this piece is from my personal collection and not for sale, you can see it and others photographed in the book Sherman Jewellery: The Masterpiece Collection, which is for sale for $30 plus shipping. Mention that you saw this blog post and I will give you the book for 15% off, until January 1.


An interview with a Sherman craftsman

In 2010, Sandra Caldwell and I, co-authors of the book Sherman Jewellery: The Masterpiece Collection, travelled to Montreal to interview a gentleman who had worked many years for Gustave Sherman. We were fortunate to also have seen some of the pieces he made (including a one-off rhinestone First Communion crown he constructed for his own daughter, complete with the applied Sherman mark).

He was kind enough to spend a few hours with us reminiscing about how the jewellery was made. This was even more special to us because so few records remain (actually, hardly any at all) and it was a huge thrill for us to have been able to hear these recollections from someone who worked for the firm for many years.

We wrote about the encounter in the Summer 2010 issue of the-now defunct magazine Costume Jewelery Collectors International. We’ve made the article available in a rather piecemeal fashion to people who asked for it, but I figured it was long past due to post it here for anyone who wants a peek at the Sherman business and workroom (or anyone who has an interest in the long-gone days of vintage costume jewellery manufacture – so different from the “make it cheap and make it fast” culture we now live in).

The article should be clickable and viewable below. If you cannot access it, please leave a comment with a way to reply or email me at and I will find a way to get the PDF to you.

Sherman article scan

Hope you all enjoy.

Jewel of the day: Sherman crystal bead lariat

Over the decades, beads have developed a bad reputation as too tasteful and granny-like. When the aurora borealis coating was invented in the mid-50s by Swarovski (in partnership with Christian Dior) the shimmery finish appeared on everything. Two and three strand crystal bead necklaces were very fashionable at the time, and you can find oodles of these at any vintage show or flea market. The ubiquity of these pieces didn’t help their style longevity.

But crystal beads have also been used to great and fashionable effect (thinking of Italian masters Coppola e Toppo here), using colour gradations, interesting weaving and knotting, and mixing in plastic and other beads.

Gustave Sherman did many multi-strand necklaces that played it safe, but every once in a while, he produced a design like this one, that looks as fresh and contemporary today as it did when it was introduced, likely in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Sherman worked only with Swarovski crystals and this lariat uses clear and aurora borealis finished beads, as well as making studded beads by combining different sizes (seen in the tassels on the end). The fact that this was wired together instead of using linen or fibre thread also means it has lasted beautifully.

Sherman lariat

Jewel of the day: Sherman bib necklace

For everyone who says it’s impossible to wear rhinestones during the day, this is what I had on the day I had my new passport photos taken. (Well, I was wearing it for something else, actually, but it didn’t occur to me to take it off.)

Sherman made some of the best and most spectacular rhinestone jewellery, pieces that have withstood the test of time. This photo has been enlarged and isn’t showing the piece to its best advantage.  But it’s still clear and sparkling, and the rhodium plated findings are still shiny and pristine.  It is featured in our book on Sherman jewellery, one of Sherman’s loveliest (and biggest!) designs.

So don’t let your vintage pieces sit in their boxes waiting for the next time you go “out.” As I said when my son was little, I remember out fondly, but I don’t get there much anymore. So I decided that every day was a good day to wear my jewelry, and I would just make my clothes suit whatever the accessory du jour was.

sherman necklace

Jewel of the day: Caroline Ballou Scirocco 18k bracelet

Caroline Ballou created this bracelet, inspired by the dusty winds and vistas of the Sahara desert. Interestingly for me, as a collector of Sherman jewellery, Ballou is part of the Rhode Island jewellery manufacturing family in business since 1886; they made the earring backs for Sherman (and a host of other costume jewellers, as well as crafting fine jewellery).

Ms. Ballou offers several lovely collections on; this bracelet retails for USD $7579.

Jewel of the day: Swarovski Louise ring

The Sherman jewellery I adore is set with wonderful Swarovski stones. And while many vintage costume jewellery designers used high quality Czech and other Austrian stones, Swarovski has long been considered the best crystal out there. Which is one reason why I’ve been perplexed at some of the designs they’ve chosen to market in the past. They’re either unbelievably gaudy or puzzling looking mall jewellery designs at Tiffany prices.

But there’s something about this ring that I really like. I tried it in the store and it sits properly on the hand, not too high or too thick on the finger. And it was just the right amount of sparkle without tipping over into a “take me to the disco!” look. As they say on their site, it’s a fun complement to a breezy summer wardrobe. CDN $290.

Jewel of the day: Sherman black and white pinwheel

This is probably my favourite picture from our book, Sherman Jewellery: The Masterpiece Collection. I love the how this probably 1960s pin looks so graphic againt the black and white background. And the colour combination is rare. Sherman didn’t do a lot of opaque black stone work. And, patting myself on the back here, I’m really proud of my photography!

Sherman black and white pin

Chatting with the Sherman family

Sandra and I have been fortunate to have had several discussions with Gus Sherman’s children about our book. We have been very gratified by the kind comments they have made and, since the family does not own a lot of their father’s work, pleased to have been able to provide a visual record of some of his rarest and most stunning designs.

Just being able to hear more about his work philosophy, how he committed to quality throughout his career, and left behind an enormous design legacy, has been wonderful. They are immensely proud of their father as a businessman and a designer and it is, frankly, an honour to be able to talk to them about his work.

Jewel of the day: Sherman pinwheel

This gold tone pin is big, about three inches across. I haven’t come across a lot of very big pieces by Sherman and they tend to be prized by collectors for this reason.

Sherman is known for his use of marquise rhinestones and they give a great sense of movement and undulation here. Finish is aurora borealis, invented in 1955 by Swarovski in collaboration with Christian Dior, and giving a mirrored look to those stones. I’d date this to the late 1950s, early 1960s but as Sherman frequently reissued designs, it’s hard to really know. I’ve seen things I would have sworn would be 50s with a 1970s provenance so there is no real answer unless you’re lucky enough to either know the original buyer or have an original receipt.


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