Rock Crystal Necklaces

Vintage Jewelry & People Who Wore It -- Artifacts and images from the Madison County Historical Society

 

two necklaces
Two faceted rock crystal necklaces, MCHS objects 1988-014-0053 (left, with metal chain) and 1993-058-0001 (right, strung on string).

 

These two necklaces of graduated rock crystals have many similarities and many differences.

Similarities

Both necklaces boast clear rock crystals of graduated size, with the largest crystal approximately 5/8” diameter. Small crystal spacers separate the main crystals. Each necklace fastens via a fishhook clasp.

Differences

The necklace on the left measures 16.5″ long (which is 2” shorter than the necklace on the right), with 25 main crystals (versus 35). The former necklace is strung on a very fine metal chain, while the latter uses a string cord. The necklace on with metal chain has additional metal spacers between the main crystals.

A close-up look at the rock crystal beads reveals another difference. The facet surfaces on the crystals of the shorter necklace (with the metal spacers) are shaped like pentagons. Those on the longer necklace are rectangular.

crystals closeups
Close-ups of rock crystal beads from two faceted rock crystal necklaces, MCHS objects 1988-014-0053 (left, with metal spacers) and 1993-058-0001 (right).


Gladys Riechmann (née Rule) received the shorter necklace (strung on the metal chain) as a high school graduation present from her grandmother, Amelia Herchenreder, in 1931.

The longer necklace belonged to Grace Calvin (née Anderson). She probably first purchased or received it in the 1910s. She later passed it down to her daughter-in-law, Phylomine (née Ervin).

Rock crystal jewelry expressed the Art Deco aesthetic that began in the 1910s and reached its peak in the 1920s and 1930s. Influenced by Cubism and rejecting any art that looked to the past for inspiration, Art Deco explored the clean beauty of materials without fussy ornamentation.

Woman wearing rock crystal jewelry

Lorraine Hinde
Photograph (cropped) of Lorraine Hinde wearing a rock crystal necklace and matching earrings, MCHS photograph 1984-122-0004.


In the undated photograph above, Lorraine Hinde’s rock crystal necklace and earrings accent her flapper fashion ensemble. Lorraine was born in 1906 and grew up in Venice, Illinois, with her parents and brother. Lorraine moved to Council Bluffs in 1928. She taught at the Iowa School of the Deaf until her marriage to Josalyn Raymond took her to Chicago, Illinois, in 1935.

The photograph was taken by Art Carver in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Carver had his own photography studio in Council Bluffs in 1910. He stayed in Council Bluffs until the early 1930s, when he moved to Minnesota.

This information helps to date the photograph to 1928-1935. Lorraine, a woman in her twenties, wears a short, wavy bob that shows off her dangling earrings. Her necklace looks about 18″ long.

 

Sources consulted for this article include the Des Moines Register, the Daily Nonpareil out of Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States census records, and the following books:

  • Bell, C. Jeanenne. Answers to Questions about Old Jewelry: Covers 1840-1950. 6th ed. Iola: Kraus Publications, 2003.
  • Cox, Caroline. Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect & Wear. New York: Lark Crafts, 2010.