Friday, September 5, 2008


The battle rages on: is it a Sherman or isn't it? I listed this gorgeous set in my SHOP AT RUBY LANE yesterday. Now those of you who follow my blog know that I'm a bit of stickler for buying only Shermans that are signed "Sherman" for the simple reason that you don't have to prove whether it is or it isn't! Given that according to members of the Sherman family, no Shermans were ever unsigned (see Valerie Hammond's book, "All that Glitters") what do you do when you come across a set like this, fresh from an estate sale of a lady who was an avid Sherman collector, sold to you by a reputable estate seller's firm, and then you discover only the earrings are signed! So is it a Sherman or isn't it?

Well a blind man at midnight can see when you look at this set, that the earrings are a perfect
match to the necklace. The photos are one thing: screens can have different colors. But when you look at the actual items with the naked eye, there's just no way they didn't come together in the first place.

Just after I listed this yesterday, a fellow Sherman collector emailed me and asked where did all this talk of signed and unsigned Shermans originate. I told her what I knew. Now she's been collecting Shermans for years and here was her response to my explanation:

"This is fascinating, Viga. We all know Sherman quality is distinctive. The stones are superior, but I think the metalwork is even more telling. So few manufacturers equalled the quality of Sherman"s metalwork, including most of the really high-end companies. Boucher did, for example, but Boucher designs were so different from Sherman, it's hard to imagine the two being confused. So when you find an unsigned piece that is equal in quality and exactly matches a signed Sherman piece, it's hard to imagine they're not part of a true set, especially if it's one of the more unusual Sherman designs. I have one unsigned piece that has a really distinctive stone and an unusual setting for Sherman. But I have a signed set with the same unusual setting and another signed piece with the same unusual stone. And when I say unusual, I don't just mean for Sherman - other than these two pieces, I have never seen this stone in any other jewellery. Nobody will ever convince me the unsigned piece isn't Sherman. I can believe their intention was to sign all pieces, but mistakes happen, and it's harder for me to believe that they were 100% successful than it is to believe that some pieces made it through without the signature.

I don't know of any Canadian company that came even close in quality to Sherman - certainly not Jay Flex/Jay Kel, Triad, or Continental. Not even their very best equals Sherman. And the Americans STILL don't know Sherman, so it's hard to believe an American company was producing unsigned look-alikes. So who was creating these pieces that are identical in design and equal in quality, if it wasn't Sherman itself?"

Well what do you think of my associate's comments? I found myself agreeing with her. I can no longer hold my rigid stance on this topic. What I have for sale above is a true Sherman, even if only the earrings are signed. I've heard and read that some later Shermans had one piece in a set signed while a hang tag was attached to the other piece. That makes sense. And of course, over the years, if the owner was wearing that Sherman, the hang tag would have been removed and lost ages ago.

Do you own a Sherman set where only one piece is signed? Why not leave a comment for us here and tell us how you came across your Sherman and how you feel about this very controversial subject. And if you're not too busy, do stop by my site at SHERMAN JEWELLERY SHOWCASE and take a look at some wonderful new additions to my collection. More coming soon too!


Deb said...

So the debate signed Sherman versus unsigned Sherman rages on LOL!! I've been thinking about this very topic over for the last few weeks in preparation for a post on my own blog of Sherman jewelry. I have to admit that I too am backing down from the "All pieces were signed" opinion I have held for years. My mom still stands by that but I'm finding that I'm prepared to be flexible, at least where the necklaces (especially the beaded version) were concerned. I'm still undecided but I too have identical brooch settings in different colors, one signed one not with the unsigned one have exact matching signed earrings. Too bad we can't ask Gustave Sherman himself and put an end to the debate once and for all! Thanks for the post, I look forward to reading comments from other collectors and dealers on their experiences!


Thanks for commenting Deb. I am like you right now ie. really starting to re-think this whole issue or at least be a bit more open-minded about it. There's a whole Sherman camp who would disagree with that stance that no Shermans were ever unsigned. I'm not sure about the beaded ones. I've just acquired a gorgeous red glass aurora beaded parure and it is signed Sherman. That area gets rough because there are so many similar sets out there and it leaves it wide open for anyone to call their crystal beaded sets a Sherman. Yeah, I wish Gustave were here to put a stop to this whole issue too. Let's hope we do hear from some others on this topic.

Deb said...

Hi Viga, just wanted to clarify that by unsigned "beaded necklaces", I mean the ones that are made with unique and unusual colors and combinations of beads and spacers that have the signed earrings made with identical spacers and bead colors and combinations. I agree, the unsigned plain crystals could be made by just about anyone they were so popular. Hope we hear from some others about this "hot" topic.


Thanks for clarification Deb. I'm waiting for others to join in on this hot topic too. Where are they all LOL!

Michel said...

Well, I admit that after meeting Valerie Hammond and reading 'All that Glitters" I too, believed that "unsigned Sherman" pieces never left the factory, ever".

About Face! I purchased a brooch and matching unsigned earrings (as a set) in apple green, put them under the UV light and guess what?

They ALL glowed!

This tells me one of two things:

1) the manufacturer that produced the unsigned "Sherman" earrings took the time and expense to add the uranium crystals to the product in their "forgery"

2) the earrings are "Sherman" and did indeed leave that factory unsigned! Probably with the "Sherman" paper tag attached!

What do you think?

I think we've been "dupped" by "all That Glitters!"


Thanks for commenting Michele. It's so hard to know who's right here but I don't think for one moment that Valerie is duping anyone. She's merely repeating what the Sherman family has told her. My question is does the Sherman family really know themselves! Valerie has come back into this debate in another part of this blog HERE and made some very valid points. So I just don't know any longer. The debate goes on and on!

alena said...

I came across your article 'Sherman, or Not'. I have the same set with a broche included as well that I inherited from my grandmother. I know it is a Sherman, because the broche is signed. It's is a set she wore for special occasions.