Vintage Laurel Burch Jewelry Guide

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If you are looking for vintage Laurel Burch jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, jewelry marks, our favorite collectible pieces and where to buy them.

“I live within the vivid colors of my imagination ... soaring with rainbow feathered birds, racing the desert winds on horseback, wrapped in ancient tribal jewels, dancing with mythical tigers in steamy jungles.” - LB

Laurel Burch was known for her visions of “fantastic felines,” mythical animals, colorful blossoms, butterflies, moons, hearts and imagined people, among myriad other fantasies, into colorful enamel jewelry, paintings, T-shirts, scarves, ceramics and tote bags, which were sold in thousands of stores. Forbes magazine in 1985 said she had created a niche between high-volume, low-price costume jewelry and high-priced designer lines like Paloma Picasso’s for Tiffany. Her passion was art, and 90 percent of her designs derived from her original paintings.

History of Laurel Burch Jewelry

Dec. 31, 1945 - Laurel Anne Harte is born in the San Fernando Valley of California. She grows up in a broken home; her father marries three times, her mother twice. As a young girl, she feels emotionally unstable and untalented, but finds her joy in playing the guitar, dancing and drawing.

1959 - She leaves home with only a paper bag of clothing and pays her way cleaning houses and caring for children in exchange for room and board. She drops out of high school and becomes a vagabond, singing and playing the guitar. She never takes an art class.

1964 – Laurel marries jazz musician, Robert Burch but divorces him a year later. While pregnant with her second son, Jay, she is arrested for stealing a piece of meat from the supermarket, because someone tells her she should eat more protein. In addition to receiving welfare payments, she supports the children by hammering junkyard metal into jewelry at her kitchen table.

Early 1970s – Laurel meets businessman Shashi Singapuri in San Francisco. Together they form Laurel Inc. a 50/50 joint venture and attempt to manufacture there by hiring hippies and counterculture types to work for them. This is not successful, as the workers are unreliable and would stay for a few months, then move on.

Vintage Laurel Inc. 1970s Cloisonné Enamel Earrings from Lauriechacha on Etsy

Vintage Laurel Inc. 1970s Cloisonné Enamel Earrings from Lauriechacha on Etsy

1971 – An editor from Vogue is impressed by a necklace she is wearing, which has been made from scraps of metal and hammered out in a cast iron frying pan. Laurel’s work is later featured in both Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Magazines.

Gaining valuable awareness, Laurel is invited to China to show her work. While she is there, she discovers the art of cloisonné, a kind of enamel work, which has brightly colored areas of enamel forming a larger pattern. She makes a dozen paintings and has the designs made into earrings. Mr. Singapuri puts up some money, and eventually, Laurel Inc. begins manufacturing in China and Singapore.

The colorful jewelry is the beginning of her signature look, with cloisonné patterns showing up in many other media, including fabric. She goes on to work in cast metals and wood and to include spinoff products on paper, porcelain and fabric. Laurel ignores fashion trends, preferring to appeal to ‘shy people as well as bold, eccentric ones.’ Her cat coffee mugs are still seen in thousands of kitchens all over the world.

Subsequent trips to Egypt, the Middle East, Mexico and Bali inspire new collections, including hand-carved figurines and jewelry. In the American Southwest, Laurel witnesses the wild mustangs running free through Elk Canyon, resulting in one of her most treasured paintings called The Wild Horses of Fire.

Laurel Burch KUNDUS Horse Button Stud Earrings from VintageOak on Etsy

Laurel Burch KUNDUS Horse Button Stud Earrings from VintageOak on Etsy

1979 – Laurel splits with Mr. Singapuri, and founds Laurel Burch Inc., taking on the role President and Chief Designer herself. Laurel proves herself to be an extremely capable businesswoman. She is the first designer to create a boutique within a Macy’s department store, a business model which many designers follow to this day.

Mid 1990’s- Her designs are licensed to outside companies to make and distribute them around the world.

September 13, 2007 - Laurel passes away in Novato, California due to complications from osteopetrosis, a rare and painful bone disease which she had lived with most of her life.

2012 - Laurel’s daughter, Aarin launches Laurel Burch Studios share ‘the exuberant spirit of her mother’s vision’ and make Laurel’s designs available to all.

Jewelry Marks 

  • Laurel – CA -1960s – present
  • Laurel - 1960s
  • Laurel Burch in script – 1970s
  • Laurel Burch with the name of more recent designs underneath 
laurel burch jewelry mark
laurel burch mark jewelry
laurel burch mark

Materials Used

  • Cast metals
  • Yellow Gold Plate
  • 24 kt Gold
  • Silver Plate
  • Sterling Silver
  • Tian Tsui (type of art featuring kingfisher feathers)
  • Enamel
  • Vermeil
  • Cloisonné enamel
Vintage Laurel Burch Tian-tsui Flower Earrings from MuseumOfJewelry on Etsy

Vintage Laurel Burch Tian-tsui Flower Earrings from MuseumOfJewelry on Etsy

Collectible Laurel Burch Jewelry 

Laurel Burch Jewelry is widely available on the internet at very affordable price points including eBay, Amazon and Poshmark. We have seen a number of interesting pieces on Etsy worth considering:

If you are collecting vintage Laurel Burch jewelry, a good place to start is with her signature cat brooches. They are typical of her whimsical style. Then add to it some animal or bird earrings, a brooch or two, and a necklace to give you a good representation of her work.

Laurel Burch Cat Brooch from ClarasChicBoutique on Etsy

Laurel Burch Cat Brooch from ClarasChicBoutique on Etsy

Laurel’s work has delighted and inspired countless fans throughout the decades. Her jewelry has a unique, fantastical look. You can often recognize a Laurel Burch piece in an instant.

If you are interested to start a collection of her jewelry, search for some of her earlier work. Her designs under the Laurel Inc. name represent her early ventures in the commercial world and as such, are highly collectible. You can then build from there with pieces that catch your fancy. [Check out The Museum of Jewelry on Etsy for a large selection of Laurel Inc. jewelry]

Even though Laurel’s jewelry was made a few decades ago, it still looks fresh and fashion- forward, ready to delight new generations of collectors.

“I refuse to have anything in my life that I cannot turn around into something magical and beautiful.” - LB

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9 thoughts on “Vintage Laurel Burch Jewelry Guide”

  1. Hello. I have loved Laurel Burch jewelry since I first saw it in 1981 at Nordstroms. I splurged on the beautiful gold cat dangle earrings. Then dangle bleeding hearts flowers and birds. I am confused at the different histories. I read where she did 24K yellow gold over sterling silver, and found that some of the gold on my original earrings did wear off to the silver underneath. Then the less expensive designs came out and some sellers say they are 24K over brass, or 24K gold washed, plated, etc. The pair I have now that I found on the internet are great, but not in my opinion of the same quality as my earilier pieces I bought as a young woman. They are tribal suns. Signed "soleil" and Laurel Burch in script. Can you tell me anything about them? Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Shelly, I looked on eBay and found these. They look to be genuine Laurel Burch. It is possible that quality has suffered over the years, much like other industries speed and profit can change things.

  2. Hi Andrea, thank you for your great recap of Laurel's history. I've been a huge fan of her work since the 70's, she truly inspires me because of the whimsy and joy I find in her designs despite the fact that she was in so much pain for most of her life. I too suffer from severe chronic pain, therefore to see what she was able to accomplish is amazing for me.
    My question involves dating her signature on her jewelry. Your guide does not mention pieces that have only her initials, LB in script, not the full signature. I was under the impression that those may be some of the oldest signed pieces. Can you help identify the age range of pieces with only her initials? Thank you, Mary

    • Hello Mary 🙂 It is difficult to find information online about Laurel Burch and her jewelry marks. I did find some jewelry on Etsy that has the LB mark in script, it was on a couple of charms on a charm bracelet. There is also a slew of Laurel Burch jewelry online that isn’t marked and is apparently work from the 70’s that she had commissioned to Chinese jewelry makers, however I am having difficulty confirming this information online.

  3. Hi, a friend gave me a pair of earrings that has the Laurel Burch signature. They are about 1 1/4” height and 1” wide dark blue that comes down to a v with gold on the bottom right and left. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Just wonder if they are really hers. Thank you for your time answering my question.

    • Hi Frances,
      How is the signature written? It should be in a flowing script style, not capital letters or any other type of signature. If you send me a picture of the earrings, I’ll be able to search further for you.

      All the best,

  4. Hi Andrea:

    Like many here, I have long been a Laurel Burch fan, especially everything and anything with her distinctive whimsical cats.

    However, I have a pair of swan earrings that remind me of her cloisonné work, and are marked “S.925” along with a tiny elephant logo. I’m not sure how to attach images, but was wondering if Ms. Burch ever used that logo.

    I’ll be happy to email images of that’s possible.

    Thank you for all of your help.


  5. Hello,
    I am trying to determine a value for a long time possession.
    It is a hair clip, 3 cats, 3 1/2″ long. Dated 1992.
    I believe the material is wood. Is this correct.
    Unable to locate any photos or information on internet.

    Thank you


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