Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Aurora Borealis

You know those super sparkly vintage brooches and pins, the ones that make rainbows? They are called Aurora Borealis, a name that refers to a special finish  applied to rhinestones and beads  to make them more radiant. In the mid 1950’s designer Christian Dior asked Manfred Swarovski, grandson of the famous Czech cut glass bead maker, to come up with a new idea in faceted crystal jewelry.

Around the same time, a blue metallic coating had been developed  for optical lenses.  Swarovski saw the stunning ornamental effect this coating had and it sparked the idea for a crystal stone with iridescent colors that glowed like candlelight. He experimented with  coating the  facets of each stone with a micro-thin metal sheet. The results caused a dramatic change in the crystal, making it glow with  flashes of rainbow colors. The finish was given a celestial name from the phenomena  known as the Northern Lights. You can see that shimmering rainbow of color  radiating from a treated glass bead or rhinestone.

Aurora Borealis jewelry is very flattering to wear, especially when made into a necklace, since it casts its pretty shimmer on you as you move.

Here is a vintage piece I have in the shop. It was made with a deft hand, mixing just a few of the more dramatic beads with clear (uncoated) faceted crystals and jet beads.

Vintage 3 strand crystal necklace

Vintage 3 strand crystal necklace

With aurora borealis beads

with aurora borealis beads

jet and crystal necklace

mixed with jet and crystal

lovely vintage clasp

and given a lovely vintage clasp

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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