When I first started collecting vintage costume jewellery, I was somewhat surprised at the popularity of the Sarah Coventry range that is so widely available today. When I look at the massive collection of pieces released by the Sarah Coventry designers, my feeling is that they were aiming more for everyday wear and versatility, meeting the current trends of the day. When I looked into the history of the Sarah Coventry brand, I started to understand how it became the juggernaut it was, with the women who the jewellery was designed for, selling the product.

After World War II, thousands of women were forced out of their jobs by returning veterans. These women were keen to continue earning their own money as opposed to just being "housewives" and so when the opportunity arose from Sarah Coventry Inc. to sell their jewellery using the "party plan" method, they jumped at the chance. Demonstration kits were offered with no up-front cost, comprehensive training was given, and very generous incentives were on offer. Both men and women were recruited to host the parties. The Sarah Coventry business was cashing in on the very popular, and now affordable, market of costume jewellery, and women themselves were invested in the venture.

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History of Sarah Coventry

Sarah Coventry was created in 1949 by the C.H. Stuart Company. Charles H Stuart first started out working for his father, Charles W Stuart, who had commenced his business in 1853 selling fruit trees direct to the customer. The son was quite the entrepreneur, and developed the business further with many other enterprises. When Charles commenced his own business, he focused on selling door-to-door products.

In 1949, C.H. Stuart's grandson, Bill Stuart became president of the company and soon launched Caroline Emmons Inc. , selling jewellery through a "party plan" model. Later that November, Bill Stuart then created a new business called Sarah Coventry Inc. which also utilised the party plan method of selling.

There are various stories that relate to how the name "Sarah Coventry" came about, some people believe "Sarah" was C.H. Stuart's granddaughter, others believe that "Sarah" was taken from Bill Stuart's niece who was born in 1949. "Coventry" was the location in England that the Stuart family first lived.

From 1949 - 1980 the business continued to grow and become a hugely successful and recognisable brand. The offices were located in New York, and later expanded internationally with Sarah Coventry International opening offices and manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Belgium.

Unfortunately, by the early 1980s sales began to drop, and the women who were relied upon to sell the jewellery in their homes were now returning to the workforce. In 1984 the business was sold after filing for bankruptcy, and the manufacturing of the jewellery moved to China and India. The Sarah Coventry name continued and whilst the party plan method had been successful in the past, this was no longer the case, and there were a number of attempts in the coming years to revive it, including when Lifestyle Brands Ltd acquired the business in 1987.

The company ceased producing jewellery in November 2008 and the Sarah Coventry Trademark was removed from the Trademark Register on 10 February 2011.

Sarah Coventry Signatures

Various signature marks were used by Sarah Coventry Inc and my understanding is that these markings will not help you date the pieces (as many other makers marks do). Sarah Coventry changed their markings, depending on the pieces, in an attempt to stop duplication by other companies. Markings included SARAH, SARAH COV, SARAH COVENTRY, COVENTRY, SC & SAC; some had the copywriter symbol © and others did not. Examples of signatures are pictured below.

If you are looking to date your pieces, you are best to either research online or purchase/borrow one of the many great books on Collecting Costume Jewellery. There are a number of books dedicated to the collecting of Sarah Coventry that can include hundreds of sample pictures with the names of the pieces, matte pages from the various collections, examples of advertisements, interviews with past party planners and collectors, and more detailed history. These books can be invaluable for collectors, and many will include "price guides", but remember, these are only a guide and there are many factors to consider including the condition of the piece (stones in place, faux pearls unmarked, clasps and fittings secure, etc.), how difficult they are to find, if they come in their original packaging, are they a special edition, etc. With the internet now being a huge selling ground, pieces can be more accessible for buyers around the world; this can be risky at times as you are not able to hold the piece in you hand and examine for flaws, so my advice is to stick with dealers that you know have a good reputation and are honest in the description of their items (look at their customer feedback if they have it available), examine photos of the items carefully (use zoom!) and do your homework (the more you research, the more aware you will become of what things are worth and what's a "good deal"). In my view though, a piece is worth what ever you are willing to pay for it!

Examples of Popular Sarah Coventry Pieces

Signed SARAH COVENTRY 1972 "Hi-Lo Elegance" Goldtone Filigree Pendant with Tassels Signed SARAH COVENTRY Late 1960s-70s "Rememberance" Brooch/Pendant

Signed SARAH COVENTRY 1970s "Americana" Brooch Sarah Coventry 1970s "Starburst" Pendant Necklace

Signed SARAH COVENTRY 1960s "Galaxy" Pendant/Brooch & Clip Earring Set Signed SARAH COVENTRY 1970s Goldtone 'Granada' Bracelet


Sarah Coventry Jewelry by Kay Oshel

Due to the high demand of requests for information about specific pieces of jewellery, there is now a small fee charged when requesting age/date, general information, price guide relating to your piece of jewellery.
The price is AU$5 for each piece or 3 for $10 (only add 2 to your cart in this case). Once payment is received you will receive an email requesting photos to be sent.
This comes with a money back guarantee that if you are not satisfied with the information returned to you or I am unable to assist with information for your piece/s, you will have your money completely refunded.
Please note I am not an expert in this field, but I can provide information based on research and experience.
If you have any queries relating to this prior to payment please go to the Contact Vintagecuff page. I am happy for you to send photos prior to payment to see if I am able to assist in the first instance; otherwise please go to the Monet or Sarah Coventry page in Shop Online to make payment. Thank you. - Article - Sarah's Spirit Returns

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