If you are looking for vintage Yves Saint Laurent jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, most collectible pieces, and where to buy.
On his retirement, Yves said, “Every man needs aesthetic phantoms in order to exist. I have known fear and the terrors of solitude. I have known those fair-weather friends we call tranquilizers and drugs. I have known the prison of depression and the confinement of hospital. But one day, I was able to come through all of that, dazzled yet sober.”
Brief History of Yves Saint Laurent Jewelry
Yves Saint Laurent was born in 1936 in French Algeria. He grew up in wealth with a loving family in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. However, his young years were difficult. He was a sickly, nervous child and bullied at school. He escaped into his mother’s fashion magazines, sketching his own designs, dressing paper dolls and daydreaming about going to Paris. By his early teens, he was designing dresses for his mother and sisters.
At 17, he left for Paris. He attended a fashion school briefly, won first prize in an international design contest, and was promptly hired by Christian Dior as an assistant designer. With Dior’s untimely death four years later, in 1957, Yves was chosen as Dior’s successor.
In 1960, Yves was called back to Algeria to fight for his country’s independence. He eventually was exempted due to his ill health, but he was away long enough to have been fired by the House of Dior, a traumatic, debilitating event in his life. But in a perfect example of the old saw, “One window closes, another opens,” it was the impetus for Yves to open his own design house, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL).
Shortly after taking charge of Dior, Yves met Pierre Bergé, a successful French businessman, who became his personal and professional partner. Pierre took care of all the business details, allowing Yves to tapped into his seemingly limitless creativity. Together, they revolutionized Parisian fashion, scandalized the world, and imprinted themselves permanently into the halls of fashion, including accessories.
Yves’s designs were eccentric and controversial at the time, but became classic styles still seen today. His jewelry was eclectic and eye-catching. Yves had become interested in and skilled in jewelry at Dior. His first tasks were designing accessories, more each season, as Dior featured jewelry specifically for a collection. As Yves later did at his House.
In the 1970s, he created colorful, bold pieces, and those that appeared on runways were in demand. In the 1980s, with the resurgence of costume jewelry, Yves embraced faux stones, sets of matching faux jewelry, and large pieces with large stones or swinging elements. Monet bought rights to mass produce the jewelry. Yves was the first living designer to have a solo exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 2002, Yves retired and closed the couture house of YSL. Reflecting on his career and impact on the fashion industry, he said, “Chanel freed women, and I empowered them.” In 2008, he died. In 2012, Hedi Slimane, a long-time YSL designer, returned to the House as creative director and caused a great backlash by changing the name to “Saint Laurent,” seeming “throwing away” Yves.
The Yves Saint Laurent name and YSL logo remain on accessories, which are licensed to L'Oréal.
- “YVES ST. LAURENT”
- “Yves Saint Laurent for Carnegie”
- “Saint Laurent”
- “SAINT LAURENT PARIS”
- “Conjoined YSL”
- “Conjoined YSL” in cartouche
- “YSL Made in France”
- Gold plate
- Gold-tone metal
- Silver-tone metal
- Grey/black metal
- Glass stones
- Glass cabochons
- Faceted glass stones
- Glass beads
- Poured glass
- Chaton stones
- Faux citrine
- Faux peridot
- Faux coral
- Faux pearls
- Glass paste enamel
Favorite Collectibles: Vintage Yves Saint Laurent Jewelry
1990s. So beautiful it must be seen! Gold-foil glass beads hanging from five strands of tubular hexagonal glass beads with round- and marquis-cut crystals and four strands of smokey faceted crystals. Measurement: 16 ½ inches with a 3-inch extension chain.
Estate. Soft metallic gold leather on outside, black leather on the inside. Measures 7 inches long by ¾ inch wide.
Gold-tone metal set with faceted glass stones (oval, square, pear, round, marquise and octagon) in shades of Tanzanite, Crystal, Black Diamond, Teal, Light Sapphire, Light Rose, Jonquil and Lilac.
1980s. Bib necklace with stylized stones in a variety of shapes and colors. Measurement: 16.5 inches by 4.5 inches.
1980s. Piet Mondrian was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century and a pioneer in abstract art. The simple geometric elements in this necklace mirror and do homage to his art. The artful segments are fashioned from blue, green and lime resin with gold-tone hardware. Length adjustable from 17+ inches to 20+ inches.
Estate. Choker in gold tone with a square white resin cabochon medallion. Necklace measures 17 inches. Pendant measures 1.35 inches by 1.16 inches.
1980s. Oval button earrings in gunmetal grey/black metal with round faux peridots and square citrines for pierced ears. Measurements: 1 3/8 inches by 1 inch. The modernist design is a real find for an YSL collector.
Tips for Buying Vintage Yves Saint Laurent Jewelry
- Yard sales are not usually the best place to find collectible YSL jewelry. If you find yourself haggling over a $5 bracelet, stop! It is not likely an authentic YSL. There is an outside chance that you find a yard sale where the seller is totally clueless about the value of a piece—but those odds are very high. It is not worth your time.
- A flea market is kind of a huge yard sale with multiple sellers, but the sheer number and variety of goods makes it more likely you will find a collectible piece of jewelry. Before you shop, educate yourself so that you know gold from gold plate at a glance. Also, make sure the dealer is knowledgeable and that he/she is a regular at the flea market. Some show up once, rip people off, and are never seen again.
- An antique shop is a great place to find vintage jewelry. The shop owners know their stuff and take great pride in the shop, plus they will be there next week, next month, next year—any time you need to ask questions and learn more about YSL collectibles.
- The Internet has countless vintage jewelry sellers, so you must be careful. Etsy and eBay are sites that have been around for a long time and have good reputations. You will find thousands of pieces of vintage jewelry to browse through. Etsy is famous for their handmade items, but almost half of the site is filled with vintage items.
- Only the most experienced vintage jewelry aficionado should brave the intensity of an auction, where it all goes so fast and you may get caught up in the excitement and overbid on items. Even the experienced auction attendee should make sure to get there early to be able to examine the items.
Searching out the most beautiful and artistically designed of vintage YSL jewelry is not an easy task—but that makes success all that more sweet! Etsy and eBay both have a large collection of YSL and a wide range of prices.