[ Livin' La Vida Vintage ][ Vintage Jewelry ]

Big Bang – Small Bucks Jewelry

Big Bang – Small Bucks Jewelry.

1963 Pennys Jewelry ad
JC Penny’s ad from 1963

You see them piled up at estate sales and garage sales, unloved and unwanted.  But before you walk away take a good look. These little pieces of jewelry pack a big design punch for the money. These are cluster bead earrings.


With seemingly an unlimited amount of variations, these clip earrings from the late 50s and early 60s are hard to beat for style. Designs include pearls, aurora borealis crystals, glass, plastic and metal beads plus mixtures of all of the above.

Some of the best quality beaded earrings imported from Japan and Hong Kong, both well-known at the time as centers of intricate hand beadwork on jewelry and handbags.  Madge just loves these deep purple earrings from 1950s Japan.  Look at the gold metal chain threading through the gold-tipped beads.


Purple Cluster Earrings from Japan
Purple Cluster Earrings from Japan


The earrings below include pearl-style beads in several shades of blue with larger silk wrapped and foiled beads.

Blue bead earrings
Gorgeous Japanese blue bead earrings


In addition to pieces from Japan and Hong Kong, if you get lucky you can also find beaded earrings marked with the names of prominent costume jewelry companies of the day.  Hobe’, one of Madge’s favorites, is one of many companies that excelled at these designs.  Parisian Jacques Hobe’, jeweler to the French court, founded the company in 1887. His grandson William Hobe’ immigrated to New York City in the mid 1920s and established Hobe’ et Cie, a company manufacturing high quality costume jewelry. Broadway empresario Florence Ziegfeld commissioned Hobe to make stage jewelry for the Ziegfeld Follies leading to Hobe’s long association with the theater and film industries. By the 1940s, Hobe jewelry billed itself as “Jewels of Legendary Splendor” advertising in magazines with movie stars such as Bette Davis and Carole Lombard as models. The family stopped producing jewelry in the 1990s, but a Hobe’ company still produces jewelry today.


Hobe sea shell earrings
Small painted shells make a unique look


Hobe’ made some masterful cluster earrings. These beauties are a design that includes real sea shells, plus faceted goldtone and cream beads.




Hobe' green cluster bead earrings
Earrings with translucent green beads
with goldtone & frosted accents by Hobe’










Of course most earrings weren’t marked but that doesn’t give them any less style points.  Crystal or plastic bead jewelry with an aurora borealis (AB) coating were very popular in the late 50s and early 60s. This coating refracted light creating a rainbow of colors reminiscent of the phenomenon of the Northern Lights hence the name aurora borealis.  This unmarked AB set is in a radiant green, perfect for Christmas parties.


Green ab earrings
The AB coating makes these earrings really shine.


Some of Madge’s favorites to wear are mixed materials like these beauties.


Black Clear bead earrings
Wonderful combination of faceted crystal and black beads with ribbed metal beads for added style.

From a few bucks to twenty-five dollars these earrings are cheap enough to start your own collection and also make fabulous gifts. Madge loves the versatility of these little gems that go from understated to sparkling and work just as well with jeans and crisp white shirt as with cocktail attire. Now I can just hear some of you saying “but Madge, I have pierced ears”.  No worries, you’re legally allowed to wear clips, we’ll never tell.

So start your own hunt for these little earrings with the big punch of style. We suggest you begin at Madge to see her current collection.


See the entire beaded earring collection

at MadgesHatbox


MadgesHatbox top vintage blog


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