Vintage Jewelry | Q&A with Lucite line Circa Sixty Three
I don’t know one vintage dealer or collector who doesn’t fantasize about walking into someone’s basement and finding a room full of hardly used, or never used, vintage fashion. It’s the stuff urban legends are made of. But in the case of Circa Sixty Three designer, Danielle Insetta, it was an incredible twenty ton find that led to a fashion forward, vintage jewelry line.
I was able to snag an interview with Danielle of Circa Sixty Three who is gracing the pages of WWD Accessories and Marie Claire with her colorful baubles. I love plastic jewelry and collect it myself – Bakelite and Lucite mostly. Many jewelry designers are highly influenced by vintage plastic jewelry including Alexis Bittar. Danielle talks about the big score, her inspiration, and how to find and care for Lucite.
How on Earth does one acquire 20 tons of Lucite jewelry?
You have to search for it and know what you are looking for. There are plenty of vintage beads out there, but to find a stash this big you have to do some research. All of the beads and bangles in our collection originate from the same plastics factory in Providence, RI. I first found the beads in a bead store. I dug around a little online and in a few collectors’ books and found the name of the original company, Best Plastics. The dead stock had been stored in the warehouse of a wholesale bead dealer who I came across in my research. Not only did I find the rest of the dead stock in Rhode Island, I found some of the original factory workers. They were able to verify my research on the company. It turns out the company made parts and jewelry for Trifari, Missoni, Diane von Fürstenburg, Lanvin and Givenchy.
Can you describe the collection?
We named this collection “Frontier” because it is inspired by the future and science. It is inspired by the shape of molecules and planets. There is an element of sci-fi throughout the collection. The color palette is sophisticated with a touch of whimsy. For example, we use a bit of neon here and there. The pieces are definitely statement pieces that can be worn for any occasion, whether it be to a dinner, a night club or even to work. They are very versatile. Definitely collectors’ pieces, especially due to the fact that the beads are vintage and that the pieces are extremely limited and completely handmade.
Not everything in the collection is original dead stock Lucite. Some pieces are new pieces made from vintage Lucite. What inspires your designs?
I design 100% of the beaded jewelry. The bangle bracelets are the only pieces not designed in house. They are original. I am generally inspired by the space age and the 1960s. I am inspired by the designers of the day such as Paco Rabanne and Andre Courreges. I want to be true to the era in which the beads were manufactured and the designs that were being produced in the day.
Vintage fans will always love Lucite jewelry. How has the rest of the fashion world reacted to the collection?
The collection is novel. There is nothing like it out on the market. It does incorporate trends and is relevant to what is happening now in fashion, but it truly is unique. The main buyers of our wholesale jewelry are high end luxury department stores in the US, Europe and Japan. They are looking for something new. I think that we have seen the same look for several seasons now, and it is time for a change. It does not hurt that Lucite is insanely popular right now. Many, many designers are using the material in their jewelry.
Can you tell us a bit about how to identify Lucite and how to care for it?
Lucite has a certain weight to it as well as a special optical quality. It is not like Bakelite in that it is synthetic. Lucite can be distinguished from ordinary plastic in that it does not have seams. Plastic is poured into a mold which leaves a slight seam on one side. Lucite is carved out of a chunk. It is sculpted using lathes and similar machines so there is no seam. One great thing about Lucite is that if it is scratched, that scratch can be buffed out very easily with a plastic polish. Polish can be found in any hardware store. Lucite is also known as acrylic.
Check out the entire collection and prepare yourself to be mesmerized by pages of candy-like vintage Lucite jewelry. Visit www.circasixtythree.com