Looking for vintage Fendi jewelry? Learn the history, materials, jewelry marks, our favorite collectible pieces, and where to buy.
Fendi is a luxury Italian brand that started in the leather business, and later expanded into clothing and jewelry. Today, vintage House of Fendi fashion jewelry is highly collectable due to its style and assembled-by-hand craftsmanship, quality and detailing.
Capturing the Fendi Look
Vintage Fendi fashion jewelry designs are statement pieces with a bold look. Crafting works in 18 carat gold plate, designers took their cues from ancient Mediterranean goldsmiths. Think Etruscan-style hammered works, Roman coins, images of gods or goddesses from Greek mythology, along with influences of classical architecture. Often set with cabochon cut glass gemstones, these wearable decorative artworks can resemble jewelry from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. A salute to Fendi’s Italian heritage!
A Brief History of The House of Fendi
Italian born Adele Casagrande opened her first leather workshop in 1918. She was just 21 years old. The Via del Plebiscito, a bustling street in Rome, where Adele opened her business, was teaming with well dressed Italian ladies, ready to buy the latest accessories. The shop was of course filled with Adele’s beautifully crafted small and medium sized leather goods. Furs were sold on the side.
After meeting Edoardo Fendi, they fell in love and married, in 1925. Adele changed the name of her shop to Fendi. Over the course of the next decade, one storefront expanded to seven. And the family grew with the birth of the couple’s five Fendi daughters.
In their teens Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda worked at Fendi, and the stores grew more successful each year. The stylish sisters later took over the family business in 1964, installing a large picture of their late mother directly in the entrance of the new Fendi headquarters, in Rome.
Enter Designer Karl Lagerfeld
As a creative force, the Fendi sisters decided to welcome legendary German born designer Karl Lagerfeld into the business, in 1965. Lagerfeld’s career in fashion began when he won first prize at the competition held by The International Wool Association, in Paris, for best design in the coat category. By 1957, he became the Art Director of Jean Patou in Paris.
Venturing out on his own as a freelancer, Lagerfeld worked for various fashion houses around Europe including the infamous Chanel. His collaboration with Fendi however, would last for the next five decades.
Growth of the Fendi Brand
Foreign buyers quickly purchased Lagerfeld’s first couture fur collection, in 1966. By then, Bloomingdales already carried Fendi’s leather goods. By 1969, Lagerfeld designed a ready-to-wear collection for the modern young woman. Licenses for perfume, fashion jewelry and more would follow.
The Creation of the Fendi Logo
Karl Lagerfeld designed the FF logo known as the inverted “zucca.” Used between 1965 to 2000, the straight black uppercase sans-serif font, made the new Fendi logo instantly recognizable and associated with the brand. Logomania was part of the 80s quest to be fashionable. The logo was often incorporated into Fendi costume jewelry, in creative ways and reached its heights in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fendi Jewelry Mark
Vintage Fendi jewelry is marked with the FF logo on the back, side, or front. The piece may even just be signed as Fendi.
- Poured Glass
- Glass intaglios
- 18 carat gold plate over alloy metals
- Crocodile leather
- Semi-precious stones such as tiger’s eye and onyx
- Faux pearls
Development of Poured Glass
Fendi used poured glass in vintage jewelry designs to replicate the look of real gemstones including rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. This technique involves pouring molten, colored glass into small molds, or directly into the jewelry frame.
What are Glass Intaglios?
In Italian, the word “intaglio” means engraved or incised into an image that is recessed. The technique was popularized during the Renaissance, a period of history that started in Italy, with an appreciation for classical antiquity. Many jewelry intaglios featured Roman heads from coins. Images of Greek mythological gods and goddesses were also engraved.
These traditions carried on in Fendi glass intaglios.
Collectable Fendi Jewelry
Due to the fine craftsmanship, logos and the Fendi stamp of quality, this fashion jewelry is highly collectable.
Tips for Buying
When purchasing vintage pieces look closely at the condition of the jewelry for signs of damage or poor repair. Purchase from a reputable seller and ask about refund policies.
Vintage Fendi Earrings
Vintage Fendi earrings are boldly shaped pieces. Like many earrings from the 80s, Fendi vintage earrings are mainly clip on, due to the weight. Large gold button earrings, jewelry that replicated buttons on fashion, were popular. Regal images included sunbursts, lions, crowns, heads from Roman coins, or Greek gods and goddesses. Giant door knocker earrings were always part of the collections. The inverted F logo was creatively integrated into many pieces.
Poured glass to replicate gemstones were made to look cabochon cut. Black glass was used for intaglios or dangling tear drops. Faux pearls including classic, baroque or mabé were also frequently used.
Vintage Fendi Necklaces
Large Fendi necklaces were crafted to match earrings. Think chunky chains and collar necklaces with glass gems, or triplicate baroque faux pearl strands.
Vintage Fendi Brooches
Once reserved only for Grandmothers, brooches suddenly had a resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s. These large pieces of jewelry art were worn at the throat, as a decorative top button replacement on a blouse, or to adorn a coat or handbag. Circular or oblong brooches were two of the most popular shapes.
Vintage Fendi Rings
You will find Fendi rings in thick, chunky bands of gold plate. Many have cut outs to form the logo.
Vintage Fendi Bracelets
For vintage Fendi bracelets, you’ll find cuffs and chunky bangles. Charm bracelets, made popular in the Victorian era, were crafted with a twist, often incorporating tiny golden handbags, shoes and Fendi logos. There were even charm bracelets created exclusively with dangling, round hammered discs or mabé pearls on rounds of gold.
Fendi jewelry is worth purchasing as collector’s items. Each piece of jewelry is individually made by hand, and exquisitely crafted, providing wearable longevity.