Collecting Advice

Owl Jewelry: Vintage or Reproduction?

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Owls are quite a popular theme these days, as you may have noticed. You can find them all over the place; from home decor and clothing to jewelry and accessories. If you are a frequent online shopper you will find an abundance of “vintage” owls, particularly “vintage” owl jewelry. You may have previously asked yourself “Is that owl jewelry truly a vintage piece?”

Owls were very popular back in the 1960s and especially the 1970s. There were so many unique styles of owl jewelry pieces made during this time that you could wear a different owl necklace or brooch every single day. Here are some tips to help you determine if that owl you have your eye on is actually a vintage piece.

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Let’s start with what I call the “Art Deco” owl pendant. In the picture you can see the vintage version in bright gold tone and the contemporary reproduction is “antiqued”. This “antiqued” finish is common in reproductions because they are trying to make them look old. It’s often hard to tell online but the size of the item is often a factor. The items from the 1970s are usually much larger. Most of the articulated pieces average 4” in length were the new items are usually around 2”. 

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Next we have the faux turquoise gemstone chest owl which can be found as both a pendant and a brooch. The vintage item here is the one with the green rhinestone eyes. This one is quite difficult to tell the difference, the vintage ones have more weight to them but that is impossible to tell online. The new ones are often "antiqued" were as the vintage pieces are usually quite shiny. The proportions are often a key indication as the vintage pieces are more slender and have a larger bail.

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Finally we have one of the most common owl pendants available, both new and vintage. This piece comes in many variations in both gold and silver. They often have rhinestone eyes, beaded eyes or flat dangle eyes; some have enamel along the beak, wings and tail. Again the size and details are the key factors. The vintage version is always at least 4” and the original chain will be rather thick. 

General Features to Look For in Vintage Pieces:

  • Foil Backed Glass Eyes·         

  • Acrylic “Gemstone” Tummies

  • Large Size Pendants (Often 4"-5")      

  • Articulated Segments (Often 3 or more)         

  • Faux Turquoise (“Southwest Look”)        

  • Original chains average 24” (Often a chunky style)