Vintage costume jewelry collectors shouldn't shun Avon jewelry—while Avon may be better known for their cosmetics and beauty creams, their costume jewelry— particularly from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s—has become highly sought after.
Although mass production of Avon jewelry means that many pieces are easy to find, others created in smaller productions, such as collaborations with designer Kenneth Jay Lane and actress Elizabeth Taylor, are not only rare but can also fetch a pretty penny.
All values for Avon jewelry cited here are based on Ebay prices.
Avon began in 1886 as a cosmetics company selling perfume door to door. By the 1960s, perfume was only one of the company's many offerings; cosmetics, bath products, housewares and gifts had been added to the catalogs. Jewelry was also offered sporadically.
In 1971, jewelry became a notable addition to the Avon catalog and was offered during each campaign. Soon, costume jewelry would be one of the company's most popular lines.
By the 1980s, Avon's reputation for offering high-quality yet affordable costume jewelry began to attract notable designers to the line.
The value of Avon jewelry is dependent not only on the quality and vintage of the piece but more so on whether or not a "name" was attached.
"Unmarked" Avon jewelry, or jewelry that was not made in conjunction with a designer, will vary in value depending on the quality of the piece and the originality of the design. For instance, an Avon necklace in fair to good shape from the 1970s will vary in resale price depending on how unusual or how retro the design is; hence, a gold-tone Avon heart pendant will fetch less than an intricate beaded design of the same vintage and condition.
Avon jewelry made in conjunction with famous designers, whether they be jewelry designers or celebrities, often demand much higher prices.
The Elizabeth Taylor jewelry collections—undoubtedly one of the most lucrative Avon jewelry designer collaborations—was produced between 1993 and 1997. These pieces have become the most sought after—and highly valued—of the Avon costume jewelry collections.
The Elizabeth Taylor collections, which were themed around both Taylor's films and her well-known love for jewelry, featured extravagant details and a high-end feel. From the Egyptian cuff bracelet etched with hieroglyphics to the Katarina cross, these were certainly not your everyday costume jewelry pieces, and the prices, both then and now, were significantly higher than other Avon jewelry.
Jose Maria Barberra
Designer Jose Maria Barerra's late 1980s-early1990s collaboration with Avon resulted in some of the most collectible costume jewelry the company produced.
Barerra's bold yet often delicate designs translated well to costume jewelry, and as a result were in demand with Avon buyers for over a decade. Buyers are now willing to pay twice or even three times the original price for vintage Avon Barerra jewelry pieces.
Kenneth Jay Lane
The most enduring jewelry collaboration Avon has enjoyed has been with designer Kenneth Jay Lane. Lane has worked with Avon since the mid-1980s to create sophisticated yet fun costume jewelry that remains highly valuable even today.
Lane's Avon designs ran the gamut from fairly uninspired pieces that were very much of their time to inspired, timeless designs. The prices his pieces commanded when released and the prices they command now attest to that fact—ranging anywhere from under $10 for the less-striking pieces to upward of $100 for the classics.
A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.