The Soigné Side of Costume Jewelry

chanel costume jewlery
Photo by Gabriel Teague

A chance find at a garage sale in the ’90s turned Hector Lopez into a devoted collector of Chanel costume jewelry.

Co-owner of the French-centric boutique #Panache in East Sacramento, Lopez fell hard for the magnificent artisanship he saw in the single earring he purchased that day. His current collection, mostly earrings but also necklaces and jeweled bags, includes 150 or 200 items sourced from across the globe.

“Chanel is a label that has a heritage,” says Lopez. “Anyone who hears the name Chanel knows exactly what it means: things that are exquisitely made. I connect with these pieces because of their artistry. What attracts me to them is that they have been touched by so many hands.”

Lopez is referring to the highly skilled artisans at Paris atelier Maison Gripoix who mastered the art of making bijouterie from poured glass, a signature style that cemented a decades-long partnership with Chanel.

Lopez says earrings are fun to collect “because they fit everyone.” A single pair of vintage Chanel costume earrings can run a couple thousand dollars or more. But their true value lies in their beauty, according to this collector.

“These are just costume pieces with no diamonds or emeralds or anything. But to me, they are very special because they are glass and they are very fragile,” says Lopez. “I’ve homed in on the Chanel label because I believe in it. It’s not just the earring I’m buying; it’s the history and the talent.”