Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aurora Borealis Enchantment

During the opening ceremonies of last night's Vancouver Winter Olympics there was a moment when they simulated the northern lights with special projected effects.  I was reminded of an experience about 20 yeas ago when I walked out of a building around 8 o'clock at night and beheld the most spectacular sight I have ever had the joy of viewing - the northern lights or aurora borealis.  I have never seen them before or since that even came close to that night in southern Wisconsin. 
The many beautiful colors and streaks of light seemed to encircle my location - shimmering and angling toward the center of the sky like I was standing under the circus big top.  It seemed like it should be the second coming or something.  Words cannot describe the other worldly, eerily beautiful experience as I stood there in the silence, stunned and enchanted.

"Enchanted" also describes the feeling I felt when I was a little girl peeking into my mother's jewelry box.  She kept some of her jewelry in an oblong box with a flip open lid that was covered in red plaid fabric.  I loved to carefully examine the crystal or pearl necklaces, brooches, and chunky earrings.  Besides the brooch that looked like a little fox with a mink body, my favorites were her colorful crystal necklaces, bracelets and earrings.  They reflected all the colors of the rainbow - some like the surface of an oil slick.  I loved this jewelry so much she eventually gave it to me.
I still love it.  
The crystal necklace and the wire coiled bracelets are gorgeous.
A close up look shows the many faceted iridescent colors that so enchanted me when I was a little girl.  I always knew this was 50s jewelry, but that was about all I knew... until a couple of weeks ago.  I was visiting one of my favorite haunts and found five pair of beautiful crystal earrings.  I decided to scoop them up and sell them in my Etsy shop.  Three pair of these earrings have those same colorful looking crystals.
I almost can't resist them.  One of them had a name on the back of the clasp - "Coro."  In my research I found out that this type of jewelry was called aurora borealis or AB for short.  I am surprised that I never knew this before now.  Lifelong learning!  Corocraft was a company licensed to produce this type of jewelry in the 50s and 60s.
I say "licensed," because the patent was owned by Swarovski who collaborated with Christian Dior in the early 1950s to develop the process to make aurora borealis crystals.  The multi-colored effect is  achieved by applying a micro thin metallic coating.
This new jewelry was all the rage when it hit the market in 1956 - advertised to be "more brilliant than the starry constellations."  Other advertising:  "Acclaimed in Paris iridescent crystal jewelry!  It's called Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.  Necklaces, chokers, earrings and bracelets recalling the rock crystals of the '30s'."  Another ad claims these shimmering cut crystal stones "flaming with color" are the "season's most exciting inspiration for true glamour" and "blend beautifully with whatever you wear." 

The rage died out by the mid 60s, but for those of us who love "true glamour," we have always been enchanted by aurora borealis jewelry.


  1. I love that jewelry!!!! I miss being able to wear it :(

  2. Kathy, great post! Thank you for directing me to it. I knew what AB was....but it's great to hear the history.
    Your friend from DID,


Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet-
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

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