Tag Archive | design

What’s in a name…

A while ago we featured a post about the history of “costume” jewellery, as promised we will now feature a few of the “names” from the costume jewellery era of the 20th century. There has been an upsurge of interest in all things Vintage in the last few years and jewellery is no exception. Much of the jewellery created during this period were of good production quality and design and have survived the test of time to become a big collectors area, they represent a slice of period life at a relatively affordable price when compared to jewels made from precious metals.

Signed jewellery are the most sort after examples of costume jewellery, as they can be researched and often dated to within a few years as a result of the marks displayed, prices depend on the name, dates, rarity, and materials used. Below we will look at just a few of the many collectable costume jewellery manufacturers.

Trifari

A highly successful and probably the best known costume jewellery designer whose pieces are still highly collectable today, they have designed jewellery that have been worn by countless high profile figures from Mamie Eisenhower to Madonna.

Gustavo Trifari was born in Naples in 1883, he trained as a goldsmith under his grandfather. He emigrated from Italy to New York and worked with his uncle making costume jewellery. In 1910 they set up Trifari & Trifari, but Gustavo went on to set up his own company Trifari in 1912.

The success of Trifari, and the reason for its collectability today, is often credited to the French designer Alfred Philippe, the company’s chief designer from 1930 until 1968. His use of invisible settings for stones, which he originally developed for Van clef and Arpels, added a level of craftsmanship and technique that had not previously been seen in costume jewellery.

Amongst Philippe’s many designs were the Trifari crown pins from the late 1930s to 1950s. The crowns were so popular that Trifari started to use a crown in its mark in about 1937. Authentic Trifari jewellery is typically marked with ‘jewels by Triafai’, ‘TKF’  (for Trifari, Krussman & Fishel) or ‘Trifari’ depending when it was made. Pieces made after 1952 bear the copyright symbol, as this is when the US government allowed jewellery designs to be protected by copyright.

Trifari Jelly Belly pins of seals, poodles, roosters, and other animal’s ‘belly’ consists of a solid Lucite ‘pearl’ with settings of sterling silver or gold plate. Jelly Belly’s are highly collectable and command a high price especially poodles – which are rare.

The company was sold to the Hallmark Corporation in 1975 and subsequently to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 2000.

Below is a Trifari brooch, with the visible mark – made after the copyright symbol was added in 1952.

 

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Lisner


Only recently have vintage Lisner pieces become appreciated and collectable, they still have relatively low prices and the company’s cheaply made plastic leaves and baubles have a beauty of their own.

For nearly 30 years after it was founded in 1904, Lisner imported and sold Elsa Schiaparelli’s Parisian jewellery in the United States. In the 1930s the company finally started selling its own designs that employed Dupont’s new coloured acrylic plastic called Lucite, as well as clear and coloured rhinestones, chrome, plated and black japanned metal. The pieces produced were not of the calibre of some other designers but they reflected the design trends led by the high-end brands.

The company used “Lisner” mark in block capitals on its own pieces for the first time in 1935. In 1938 the “Lisner” mark in script was introduced. From 1959, “Lisner” in block capitals with an elongated “L”, was used. However some dies and molds were used later so the mark is not always a reliable indicator of the date in this case. The company ended production in 1979.

Below is an example of a necklace and earrings set, the marks visible including block lettering and the copyright symbol.

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Coro & Corocraft

Coro, a partnership between Emanuel Cohn (the “Co”) and Gerald Rosenberg (the “ro”) began producing jewellery in New York in 1901 and continued through to the 1970s under the marks of Coro, Coro Craft (later Corocraft) and Vendome, amongst others. Although Vendome was the high end line, today some of the most collectable examples are Coro pieces.

The reason for much of its success was due to Adolph Katz, who became design director in 1924, and Gene Verri, who designed for Coro from 1933 until 1963.

Amongst the most collectable vintage Coro pieces today are the Coro Duettes from 1931 to the 1950s. The Duettes utilized a frame based on one designed by Cartier in 1927. Like the Cartier frame the Coro version had two openings in it, one for each pin which could be attached to the frame and worn together or separately.

Corocraft was the next step up in quality and price from Coro, under this brand they produced a line of Jelly Belly pins, that were similar to the those made by Trifari right down to the Lucite “belly”. Were Coro used metal frames Corocraft pins and bracelets were often made in sterling silver or gold plating. Vendome, was introduced in 1944 and replaced Corocraft in 1953 as the top of the Coro line.

The company ceased trading in the US in 1979, but Coro Inc. Continued production in Canada until the mid-1990s.

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Monet

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Monocraft as it began, now known as Monet, was founded by brothers Jay and Michael Chernow , in 1929 in Providence, Rhode Island. The company started making metal monograms and then Art Deco style purse adornments progressing onto making costume jewellery after the Chernows hired designer Edmond Mario Granville in 1934. Edmond had a background in fine jewellery from working at Cartier. He remained sole designer until the late 1950s and was executive designer until his death in 1969. Producing simple gold and silver-tone designs, they developed a friction ear clip which made its earrings more comfortable to wear. From 1981, Monet produced jewellery for Yves Saint Laurent. It has continued to adapt to trends and changing fashions and remains successful to the present day.

Today, Monet is particularly prized by collectors for its quality, thanks to its triple-plating. It is not unusual for Monet pieces to last for decades without showing signs of wear to the finish, and as most of the jewellery is name marked, they will continue to be collectable.

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So if you want to start buying vintage costume jewellery there are specialists shops and online stores, but I find it’s more fun having a look around markets and car boot fairs, where you can often find quality pieces at affordable prices. As with most things there are some fakes of the big names around, so beware, but if you buy what you like and at an affordable price, maybe you will end up with a fascinating piece of jewellery that could last another 60 years or more!

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The most precious of metals…?

Gold and silver have been the “go to” metals for jewellery for a long time, but there are alternatives (we’ll be taking a look at some of the newer ones in future posts) but we thought we would look at that premium metal which is becoming ever more popular with wedding jewellery…Platinum.

Platinum Nugget, picture from Wikipedia, copyright  Heinrich Pniok.

Platinum Nugget, picture from Wikipedia, copyright Heinrich Pniok.

The history of platinum dates back more than three thousand years, beginning with the ancient civilisation of Egypt. Archaeologists have found Egyptian gold pieces from as far back as 1400BC that contain traces of platinum.

Platinum came to the attention of European scientists in the mid 1700’s but remained fairly obscure till the 1890’s when French jeweller Louis Cartier started using it. It became more popular in the 1920s and 30s especially in Art Deco jewellery. It also became popular for engagement and wedding rings a trend that continues still today. It is the most expensive precious metal due to its rarity; platinum is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, above gold and silver. It is dense and hard wearing, which makes it the strongest and best setting for precious gems; it also requires only minimal cleaning.  Unlike silver, it does not tarnish and it has the advantage over rhodium-plated gold, in that it does not wear away with time.

Platinum & other materials pin set by Lacloche Freres, from the V&A Collection, bequeathed to the museum by Miss J.H.G. Gollan

Platinum & other materials pin set by Lacloche Freres, from the V&A Collection, bequeathed to the museum by Miss J.H.G. Gollan

Due to its desirable characteristics, there has been more of a push in recent times to have the metal seen not just for classical wedding jewellery but as a metal used in innovative design and trend based jewellery. The Lonmin Design Innovation award was set up 11 years ago to recognise and reward outstanding design in platinum. A previous winner of this award in 2012 was Laura Strand the head designer at Purejewels for their Platinium Heritage Collection, this range asks up-and-coming designers to submit platinum design ideas for the PureJewels range, and the collection is something to behold so please do check out the link!

Platinum has it all beauty, rarity, longevity and purity (nothing else has to be added to ensure its high shine and whiteness) but it also has a hefty price tag! Of course this means that we area always on the look out for an alternative and a strong contender can be found in the form of its cheaper relative Palladium! More about this lookalikey metal in a future post….

Am I a Jewellery Maker?!

When we saw this opportunity we just couldn’t say no – Jewellery Maker are offering bloggers the opportunity to win a strand of gemstones by writing a post about our top 5 choices from the site under the hashtag #blog2win.

This is rather appropriate for us, as one of us has a small addiction to the Genuine Gemstone Company Ltd, the umbrella company who run Jewellery Maker and sister channel Gems TV, and a burning but unfulfilled desire to create her own pieces of jewellery (I’m not telling you which one of us it is….)  Having only recently discovered Jewellery Maker it was a good opportunity to explore the website, so here are my top 5 Jewellery Maker gemstone strands:

  1. 65 carats of Smokey Quartz graduated drops – anyone who knows me will know why I’ve picked this!  Aside from being one of my favourite gemstones (I have a fabulous smokey quartz ring which is one of my most prized possessions) the graduated sizes of this strand mean that it would make a very straightforward yet striking necklace.  I would probably team this with a brightly coloured wire such as this purple coloured copper wire – although I can’t tell from the website what thickness would be best for these drops…a quick call to the freephone number should resolve that though!
  2. 140 carats of multi-colour fluorite diamonds – I love the unusual shape of these and the mix of colour.  I feel I should probably pick something more expensive as this is a particularly cheap strand!  But I just couldn’t skip over this strand, I am a great one for crochet and I have been aiming to start my creative journey with some jewelled cuffs and these would be the perfect thing.
  3. 480 carats of red jasper puffy coins – these look amazingly tactile, I can imagine lots of them on a layered statement necklace (although I fear they would end up spending far too much time in my son’s mouth) or think what great earrings they would make.  I can imagine them really standing out against even the chunkiest of winter clothes.
  4. 140 carats of labradorite graduated plain drops – labradorite is such an amazing gem and often overlooked so I couldn’t resist these huge pieces.  The labradorescence given off by this gem means it looks fabulous in pretty much every light and is sure to attract attention.  I also think this strand is great value – you could get several pieces of jewellery from one strand.
  5. 75 carats of amethyst graduated plain marquise – I am a huge fan of amethyst and chose this particular strand to highlight the unusual cuts available.  It’s not a cut I would usually go for, so it’s a bit of a risk, but I think these would make amazing earrings.  If you, like me, enjoy amethyst do check out the cabochons and puffy coins which look good enough to eat.

Well, there you go, my top 5.  I wish it had been top 10 because I didn’t get to tell you about the larimar pearls, green aventurine, real blue sapphire, slabs of chalcedony and ruby nuggets to name but a few (moonstone, agate, turquoise coins, sunstone rondels and crackle quartz to name a few more…Jewellery Maker, you may have created a monster!)

I promise if I do #blog2win I will do a blog about creating my first piece of jewellery…although I may have to enlist the help of my favourite co-blogger/jeweller/gemologist!