USA vintage jewellery brand Sarah Coventry inspires Lovett & Co...
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, when American suburban housewives were living à la Mad Men’s Betty Draper, and expected by society to be respectable homemakers, a burgeoning costume jewellery range was beginning to make its mark on this homely set of apple-pie fashionistas.
Sarah Coventry was a brand born out of Emmons Jewellery (founded by Charles Stuart c.1948 and thought to be named after his granddaughter Sarah Coventry). Interestingly, it did not target retailers but, instead, fashion jewellery was sold direct to customers via party plan selling. (In the same way as other prominent party plan brands of the era like Tupperware, where party hostesses could enjoy a social occasion and earn income by selling product to friends). In return for their endeavours, hostesses would often receive an exclusive gift, such as the ‘Celebrity’ rhinestone bracelet. Women were positively encouraged via print advertising to host a ‘costume jewellery fashion show’ (1953), inviting them into a world of style and glamour.
With other Sarah Coventry advertising campaigns depicting lands afar (1968), and slogans including ‘Accent on you’ (1955), ‘The priceless look of beauty’ (1962) and ‘Discover the reflection of fashion and jewellery in your own living room’ (1965); the brand promised customers elegance, decadence and a sparkling escape from the humdrum world of white picket fences.
The opulent, affordable jewellery wasn’t generally designed in-house, but instead freelance designers were used and manufacturing outsourced. Jewellery was often beautifully presented as branded matching sets in decorative boxes, with satin interiors and distinctive print designs. Pieces took in all manner of detail such as filigree, multi-coloured rhinestones, moulded glass, enamel and turquoise.
Party guests could select a ‘Silvery Splendour’ or ‘Starburst’ brooch, ‘Dogwood’ earrings or a ‘Cameo Blue’ pendant. Or, maybe objects from the evocatively-named ‘Light of the East’, ‘Shangri-La’, ‘Touch of Elegance’ or ‘Midnight Magic’ ranges? But it is a glimmering pair of water lily like gold and enamel earrings that have been the inspiration for some of Lovett & Co.’s SS16 vintage jewellery collection.
Designer Rachel Lovett used the costume jewellery earrings to influence her S/S16 collection, which features white and gold enamel, along with jet black and crystal starburst. Rachel comments, ‘Sarah Coventry was a jewellery brand which had a real impact on the way mass market consumers purchased and wore jewellery. I was really excited to source these items and by the intricate styling of these earrings.’
Although the Sarah Coventry brand was sold in the mid 1980s and sadly later disappeared from the market, it still has numerous fans today. But it is apparently the vintage jewellery pieces of the 1960s and 1970s which most appeal to today’s collectors (Source: Collectors’ Weekly, US).