Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A lady wrote to me recently regarding the glorious set of vintage jewelry shown in the photo above. She was given this set by her mom and believed this was Sherman. The 3 pieces are a perfect match in color and in the cut of the stones used, but unfortunately, only the brooch (on which the pin is broken) bears the distinctive Sherman signature. Neither those fabulous dangling earrings nor the divine 7 inch bracelet are signed "Sherman".
What this lovely lady wanted to know was whether I could put an approximate value on this set. As someone who loves this kind of jewelry, I'd say the set is priceless as an example of aurora borealis vintage stylings. But as a Sherman, this was one tough piece to evaluate. Below is my answer to her and I welcome any comments from other Sherman lovers and experts out there:
"Thanks for your email and for your trust in calling on me to answer your questions. Unfortunately, I find them very hard to answer for one simple reason: 2 of the pieces aren't signed, and the one that is is "broken".
While someone might be able to replace the broken pin, the minute anyone repairs a signed vintage piece, it loses value as the seller should state the piece has been repaired. Of course, you can sell it "as is", and some will buy it to do just that i.e. repair it or use the stones for repairing
The issue on "unsigned" Shermans is a really touchy one. Personally, I just about never buy a piece, whether it's Sherman or some other designer, if it's not signed as there's no way to prove to a hesitant buyer that the piece is an authentic designer piece.
This issue is so "sticky" and fortified in the book published by Valerie Hammond where she states she interviewed the Sherman family and they swore no unsigned pieces were ever released by Sherman. So how then does one explain the obvious match in your pieces? Valerie herself has located my blog on this subject and left a comment repeating what is in her book. You can read that blog and Valerie's comment HERE.
I must confess, that for the sake of safety and not having arguments with customers, I tend to stick with Valerie on this subject and avoid "unsigned" Shermans, even though ebay sellers will say "everyone knows not all Sherman pieces were signed" and that "some came with hang tags that have been taken off over the years". That may well be true but the Sherman family vehemently denies that possibility.
So what are the pieces you have i.e. Sherman or not? I don't know. They sure look like a matched set. But there were other designers at the time who copied Sherman's designs; there was also talk that Sherman's moulds were stolen and hence a pile of unsigned pieces, Sherman look-a-likes, have surfaced.
So now to answer your question: I can't. If you wanted to sell these to me, I could only offer you a price on the bracelet and earrings based on their being "unsigned beauties" and not "unsigned Shermans", meaning I couldn't offer much because I couldn't sell them for much.
As for the brooch, because of the broken pin, the value is down too. As an unbroken Sherman brooch, you could get $45 - $60 for the brooch. As it is, maybe someone would pay $20 - $30. Sets are worth more than individual pieces. Those earrings are gorgeous. If they were signed, you'd probably get up to $30 - $40 for them. Unsigned, $10 - $15. The bracelet is stunning. Signed, it could get $75 -$150. Unsigned, you might not get more than $30.
Another thing: your jewelry is mainly aurora borealis. It's pretty, and many pieces made by Sherman featured aurora borealis. But AB is not as valuable as Shermans made with swarovski crystals ie. no aurora coating."
I hated saying all this to this lady but I was as honest as I could be. I think her set is magnificent. She understood what I was saying and has since decided to keep it in the family for a younger member who might one day appreciate just how fabulous even unsigned vintage jewelry can be.