Victorian, Vintage, or Retro: What’s in a Name?

From Ebay to Etsy and everywhere in between, the terms “vintage”, “Victorian”, and “retro” are thrown about with reckless abandon. But what do they really mean? Sellers tend to use the words interchangeably it seems, but there really is a difference between the three, based mostly on time periods of history.

Retro-inspired beaded ribbon bookmark with polka dots a la Lucille Ball.
Retro-inspired beaded ribbon bookmark with polka dots a la Lucille Ball.

Going in reverse chronologically, the first term, “retro”, short for “retrospective”, means simply to look backwards. In the buying and selling world, retro usually refers to those items made or popular during the 1950’s-1990’s. They were styles or toys you might have lived through and loved, or at least your parents did.

Stereotypical ’50’s style included polka dot patterns and somewhat simple jewelry. This was the era of sparkling brooches/pins, pearl choker necklaces, and button earrings! 60’s style retained the love of pearls, but began to transition to larger pieces (especially bracelets), and more metallics, while the 70’s emphasized big, bold colors, natural items like wood and feathers, and lots of danglies. The 80’s went neon, layered, and geometric and the 90’s emphasized simple symbols to reflect the wearer’s personality.

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Charm bracelet made with vintage buttons.

Next up, vintage style generally has in mind items from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s, but some will stretch it into the mid-1960’s as well. During this 50 years, Americans went through The Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, and nearly everyone on Earth endured two world wars.

Some of the trends of these eras include the 1920’s/Art Deco/Great Gatsby which featured necklaces and hairpieces that were long, layered, and sparkly to emphasize elegance and modern sophistication. At the same time, costume jewelry made from plastics was introduced, allowing a wider variety and cheaper array of jewelry choices. The 1930’s saw jewelry that was much simpler due to The Great Depression and WWI, but pieces also tended to have international flair inspired from the East. During the 1940’s, jewelry retained their simplicity, but included more florals, brighter colors, and plastics.

Victorian inspired necklace made with vintage beads.

“Victorian Style” refers to the fashion sense of a specific time period: the reign of Queen Victoria of England, from 1837-1901. This was the era of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and Oscar Wilde, but it was also the Age of the American Pioneers. This style is characterized by simple choker necklaces of velvet with Cameo figurines, intricate collar necklaces with dripping beads, relatively simple earrings, and the color black.

*Bonus! “Steampunk” is a modern style inspired by popular films and TV shows that is an interesting cross between Victorian, Gothic, and modern fashions. Gears, watches (especially pocket watches), antiqued metals, and goggles in addition to the aforementioned Victorian preferences sets Steampunk style apart.

Read more about vintage style:

Read more about the history of jewelry:


Tutorial: How to Make a Bird’s Nest Necklace

IMG_0152_1aAdorable, simple, and so much fun to customize, these little bird’s egg nest necklaces have become some of my most popular pieces at Cinnamon and Silver Jewelry.

Back in May, I was commissioned to do a set of these cute little necklaces for a bride. She is an ornithologist (one who studies birds), and her wedding colors were purple and white.

IMG_2114Follow my tutorial to learn how to make your own. These can be easily customized with different colored wire, pearls, or beads.
You will need:



1. About 3′ (1 yard) of 18-20 gauge copper wire in your color choice (this tutorial features egg nests made with 16 gauge wire because I couldn’t find this color in a thicker size).

2. 1-3 pearls or rounded beads of your choice.

3. Necklace chain. You can buy these pre-made at standard lengths, or you can make your own using jump rings, chain, and a custom clasp.

4. 1, 6mm jump ring to attach pendant to necklace chain.


1. Wire cutters

2. Jewelry pliers such as flat nose or rounded. *If you are making the necklace chain yourself, you may need both sets of pliers to open and close the different jump rings.


Step 1. Cut a length of about 3′ or 1 yard, or simply unravel your roll of wire as you go.IMG_0121

Step 2. String your beads onto your wire, leaving a tail of wire between 6-12″. This can always be cut later if too long.



Step 3. Bend the wire around your 3 beads so they look like a triangle. If you are only using 1 bead, simply begin bending the wire around your bead in a circular pattern. You will continue to do this for a looooong time, until your nest is the thickness you like.

The trickiest part is holding the edge of the wire nest in place as you go. Don’t let it unravel! IMG_0126

Step 4. While still holding the wire in place, cut the end (if you haven’t already measured and cut your wire), leaving a tail of about 12-18″.IMG_0129

Step 5. Now you are going to take one of the tails of wire and loop it under the first bend beside a bead, and over the rest of the nest. Pull the wire tight, with pliers if you need to, and wrap 2 more times. You will do this 2-3 more times with one or both of your wire tails, going around your nest in an even pattern. When the nest has been secured with these extra wraps, cut any extra wire and tuck it into your nest so nothing sharp is sticking out. IMG_0133IMG_0134

Step 6. Now it’s time to add a jump ring to your nest pendant. You can open the jump ring and loop it through a single wire, or you can maneuver the jump ring under one of the extra wraps you made. The preference is yours.

Step 7. String your pendant via the jump ring onto your necklace chain. Ta-da! Nicely done!IMG_0147

How-To: Accessorizing for Your Body Type ~ Necklaces

A great article to help you choose accessories that work best for you!


We are all beautifully and wonderfully created in different shapes and sizes. Some of us are petite, some are much taller and some of us just keep staying fabulous somewhere in between. Regardless of the body type you are blessed with, making the most out of it goes a long way in making you feel confident and look attractive to yourself and others. There are no set in stone rules for how to accessorize, however, picking out a piece that is well suited for your body type helps bring your overall look together.

Petite (5’4″ & Under)

If you fall within this range, you want to go for necklaces that are really long. These are pieces that fall below the breast but end before the waist. Styles like this are extremely flattering because they help elongate your look and give you a taller appearance. A great example of this look…

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3 Ideas for Cleaning Costume Jewelry

At Cinnamon and Silver, we proudly make costume jewelry. While all jewelry will become tarnished with wear and age, costume jewelry requires different cleaning techniques.

These are not difficult, nor do they have to be expensive. Here are the top 3 ways to clean your favorite costume jewelry pieces gently and effectively:


1. Toothpaste!

A best-kept secret of grandmas everywhere, and something everyone should have on hand (right?). A few caveats to know before you get too excited. Check out this YouTube video to see how it’s done:


2. Warm, soapy water and a soft toothbrush

Simple, cheap, and not too messy, this would be my first line of defense against dirty costume jewelry. Just be careful not to brush too hard, or you may loosen or outright lose stones.

**Addendum 3/3/2015 

I just successfully cleaned the tarnish from a pair of earrings and a necklace using a soft toothbrush dipped in warm water with a bit of baking soda mixed in. Voila! Shiny again!


3. A jar of jewelry cleaner

Perhaps the most expensive option, but jewelry cleaner usually does last a while. Plus, it can clean your more expensive pieces. Just be sure to read the label carefully to see if it is safe for costume jewelry.