I often receive questions on the background and history of signed costume jewelry and decided to write a guide for my visitors with an emphasis on figural pins which are my passion! I will try to add a new designer every few days! This is a work in progress so please bear with me while I get it together!
1927 to late 1960s
American Jewelry Chain Co. founded in 1927 and continued until the late 1960s. Gorgeously creative and whimsical pieces at an affordable price. Memorable designs such as "Noah's Ark" and the fabulous "Domestic Goddess" (ever get that feeling on your spring cleaning day?) And who can forget the locket lamp brooch which shows a genie inside! Who left the cat in the washing machine! These darling broochs all seem to hold a secret and are the product of a wonderful imagination. Absolute conversation pieces!
1940s to 1970s
"Treasures to keep or seek" Pave set pieces and those with multicolor rhinestones or unique designs
Art Mode Jewelry Creations Inc. was founded in the late 1940s and continued operations until about the late 1970s. Not much is known about Art or its operations. The mark ART with the copyright symbol was used after 1955. Known for its superior quality jewelry and originality which is not yet fully appreciated. Their pieces have excellent quality, beautifully coloured rhinestones and the figural pins are becoming very collectible. Many pieces are in the Victorian Revival or Renaissance Revival styles. The jewelry produced was similar in style to those produced by Florenza and was also comparable in quality and variety to that of Hollycraft. The medium to high quality jewelry pieces include figural items and Victorian pieces in many different styles. The owner of the company was Arthur Pepper.
1929 to present (Company Headquarters, New York, United States)
Jewelry marked Avon is distributed by the Avon Products, Inc, who are famous for their cosmetic products. Avon started out as the California Perfume Company when Mr David McConnell of New York, USA discovered that the rose oil perfumes he was giving away were the reason people were buying his books. The Avon line was introduced in 1929 and the company changed its name to Avon Products, Inc in 1939 after the river that runs through Stratford-On-Avon in the English Midlands as Shakespeare was Mr McConnell's favourite playright. The company was very successful due to their direct marketing selling its products through local Avon representatives. Avon added jewelry to its long list of products in the early 1970s including figurals. The company did not make its own jewelry but had other producers manufacture and design their lines. A list of some of the designers who have sold and are selling costume jewelry on AVON are: Seymour M. Kent, Louis Feraud, Kenneth Jay Lane, Celia Sebiri, Jose’ Maria Barrera, Shaill Jhevari, Elizabeth Taylor, Coreen Simpson, Luke Razza, Akoya Culture Pearls, Felicia, Marley Simon, Nicky Butler, R.J. Graziano, Susan Lucci, Technibond, Anne’s Eye for Annie Gilbar, Erickson B for Karen and Eric Erickson, Maharaja Collection and Adrienne. Avon jewelry is marked: “Name of designer, made for AVON”. Avon jewelry varies in quality from cheaply made jewelry to interesting pieces, not yet widely collected but sought by collectors of Avon products. Their items are triple plated for lasting beauty and for those with sensitive skin, Avon uses nickle free alloys.
1930s to 1940s (New York)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Early enamel pieces and those with early MB mark
Marcel Boucher was born in France in 1898. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1920s and trained as an apprentice under Pierre Cartier. By the 1930s he was working for Mazer Brothers but decided to establish his own company in 1937 which was known as Marcel Boucher and Cie Company. Boucher produced exquisite costume jewelry, highly creative and imaginative designs using excellent rhinestones. He died in 1965, and his wife, Sandra Boucher who had worked for Harry Winston, managed the company until 1972. The entry of the USA in World War 11 meant that metal was scarce and Boucher began using silver in his work. His talent and creativity places him among the very best of of costume jewelry designers. Boucher's whimsical birds, insects, flowers, leaves, and many other three-dimensional designs are highly prize by collectors. Most Boucher jewelry is signed and carries an inventory number. Some of the earliest marks show Marboux or MB. Later marks are Marcel Boucher and Boucher.
1950s to 1970s (New York)
BSW manufactured costume jewelry in New York in the 1950s through to the 1970s. B for Benny Steinberg, S for Hy Sloritt and K for a Mr. Kaslo. The New York jewelry company was in business approximately from 1946 to the early 1970s. Their more notable pieces were metal pieces decorated with tiger and zebra print. It normally sells at low to middle price ranges, not particularly sought after by collectors. BSK together with ART were competitors with Florenza. The company ceased operations in the early 1970s and not much is known about it.
1920s to 1980s (New York)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Early pieces, interesting figurals, and tremblers.
Hattie Carnegie was born in Vienna in 1886 as Henrietta Kanengeiser. The family emigrated to the United States and adopted the name Carnegie. In the early 1900s she opened several dress and hat shops in New York. Her early jewelry was designed to accent her dresses which were sold at a chain of chic Parisian-style boutiques that retailed her clothing. By the mid 1920s, her fame led to the mass production of clothing and accessories which were sold at other shops and department stores. Her jewelry is usually marked "Hattie Carnegie" or "Carnegie". A less frequently used mark is "HC" within a diamond, framed inside a semi-oval. Whimsical designs that often made the best use of eclectic combinations of rhinestones, enameling, simulated pearls, beads and other materials. Hattie Carnegie's hair ornaments and cases are sometimes marked "Pooped Pussy Cat" or "Pooped Poodle". Her `clientele were among the rich and famous and were popular among many socialites and artists including Joan Crawford. Her jewelry was always relatively expensive and is highly collectible, especially her line of Oriental influenced jewelry and figurals.
1892 to present (New York)
Ciner was founded in New York by Emanual Ciner in 1892. Irwin Ciner, and his late brother Charles, were a driving force in America's move from precious to fashion jewelry in the late 1930's. The 108 year old Ciner Fashion Jewelry Company is the last of the old time jewelry manufacturers to continue as a family business. The business produced expensive fine jewelry and began producing costume jewelry in 1931. The company is still in business. Their jewelry was marketed through exclusive stories and is characterised by exquisite designs, beautiful workmanship and using high quality rhinestones. It often has Art Deco appeal and appears to be the "real thing". The stones were mostly supplied by Swarovski and pearls especially made for Ciner by Japanese artisans. After WWII Ciner costume jewelry is signed Ciner. High quality jewelry that is still in production today.
1922 to present (Solana Beach, California, United States)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Sculpture-like early sterling pieces.
Cini was founded in Boston, Mass., by Guglielmo Cini in 1922. Mr Cini was born in Florence, Italy and by the time he was 12 years old he was already acquainted with the fundamentals of making jewelry. Guglielmo arrived in Boston, Massachusetts from Italy at age 17 and soon his talents as a great designer and craftsman were recognized. He relocated his business to Laguna Beach, California where it remained until his death in 1979. His large clientele included movie and theatrical stars. His jewelry reflects the skill and talents of a master jeweler, with exquisite pieces avidly sought by collectors today. Some of the pieces are reproductions of antique jewelry but many are Cini's original creations with the look of classical and 19th century designs. Cini jewelry is usually signed Cini. The company ceased production around 1970, but it resumed operations in 1993.
1901 to mid-1990s
"Treasures to keep or seek" Jelly bellies, Duettes, sterling pieces, Corocraft and Vendome.
Coro was in business for 79 years with one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world, and was at one time the maker of half of all the jewelry sold in the world. Coro was founded in 1901 when Emanuel Cohn and Gerald Rosenberg opened a small shop in New York and a factory was established in Providence, Rhode Island in 1911. The mark incorporates the first two letters of their names. Coro used many different marks among which Coro in use since 1919 is the most common and was used on both low and high end quality jewelry. Coro Craft in use since 1937 was initially used on higher quality pieces of jewelry, while Corocraft was used after WW11. Coro production ceased in 1979, except for Coro Inc in Canada which was still operating in 1990. Cohn and Rosenberg focused on business operations and growth, but they also had a good eye and sense for the arts, hiring very talented jewelry designers such as Adolf Katz whose career with the company lasted nearly 40 years. He supervised the Vendome line that replaced Corocraft as Coro's top line from the 50s through 70s. The company is known for a wide range of pieces from figural to floral, and they developed different lines at prices ranging from fifty cent pins to as high as hundred dollar pieces offered for sale at exclusive shops. Most popular Coro items are its duettes, enamelled tremblers, and whimsical designs by Adolph Katz.
1920s to present (Providence, Rhode Island, New York)
Danecraft was founded by Victor and Thomas Primavera, who learned the trade from their father, in Pescara, Italy. Mr Victor Primavera, Sr. (1896 - 1977) emigrated to the U.S. in 1910 and later with his brother, Thomas, founded the Primavera Brothers Jewelry Company in the 1920s. After the death of Thomas, Victor founded the Danecraft corporation in 1934 in Providence, Rhode Island, the jewelry capital of the United States. Since 1934, Danecraft has been privately owned and operated by the Danecraft company. Mr Victor Primavera, Jr. is currently the Chairman of the Board and his son Victor is Chief Executive Officer and his daughter Gail, Vice President of Administration. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company developed diversified lines of fashion jewelry takent to department stores and became one of the finest makers of cast fashion jewelry in the USA. Their product lines consist of quality sterling silver, vermeil (24kt gold over sterling), holiday and fashion pins, chain neckwear, sterling charms and slides. It is always marked with the company name.
1940s to early 1960s (New York)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Any marked piece!
DeMario was founded in New York City by Robert DeMario in 1945. The company ceased production in 1960 because of DeMario's decision to retire to Florida. This hard to find jewelry is characterised by beautiful designs and lacy gilded brass filigree and clusters of simulated pearls and glass beads. The jewelry is relatively rare and is eagerly sought by collectors and treasured for exquisite designs. Usually marked with the company name.
1935 to 1955 (New York)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Any marked piece!
DeRosa was founded by Ralph De Rosa in New York in 1935. He was born in Naples in 1884 and arrived in the United States in 1905. Mr De Rosa's daughter Vera became the lead designer after his death in 1942 working together with Mr De Rosa's wife and other daughters including Elvira, Virginia and Theresa De Rosa. The company is among the early manufacturers of very high quality costume jewelry with the major period of production from 1935 to the mid 1950s. The company stopped production in the late 1960s. His pieces are spectacular and exhibit great imagination and superb craftmanship. Some of the jewelry is mounted on sterling vermeil and it is thought that like many costume jewelry designers, De Rosa used sterling during the World War 11 due to the shortage of other metals. Fantastic use of enamelling, outstanding metalwork and remarkable stones with unusual cuts make this jewelry among the most beautiful and highly collectible among the manufacturers of costume jewelry. De Rosa also manufactured jewelry for many companies including Elsa Schiaparelli. The jewelry is marked R De Rosa although much of it is not marked or marked only with paper hand tags. Pieces are therefore rare and command very high prices.
1950s to 1960s (Newark, New Jersey, United States)
Little is known about the manufacturer of the jewelry of Dodds which was produced between 1950s to 1960s. In 1952, William Dodds and Company was a successful plastics industry located in Newark, NJ. Responding to the United States jewelry boom, he opened a subsidiary with a partner. It was called "Jewel Creations." The idea was to offer kits for Americans to make their own jewelry. The kits contained metal frames and a package of brilliant Swarovski crystals in a variety of colors. The array of colors offered allowed buyers to customize and personalize their jewelry. The "jewelry maker" only needed a little time for the project, and glue! The kits were soon very popular, and were sold in 25 stores across the country. Rubber molds were made from the designs, and cast to create the metal castings for the jewelry kits. The Dodds Company was located in the proximity of West 31 Street, with the manufacturing area at 11 W 30 Street. The castings were copyrighted with either the Dodds name or the location address. The most popular kit was the well-recognized and sought after Cat. It has pear-shaped stone ears, a large head stone, a large belly stone, and a collar that could be filled with 4 round stones or faux pearls. Mr Dodds took over as the sole owner of the company in the 1960's and then used "Dodds" after a copy right symbol on a raised portion as the signature on pieces. Dodds jewelry is of higher quality and used multicoloured cabochon and faceted stones mounted on gold plated metal base. It is relatively scarce and is considered rare and collectible.
Late 1920s to present (Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Early figural pieces, sterling silver, Eisenberg Original, early Eisenberg Ice, any set
The company was founded in Chicago in 1914 by Jonas Eisenberg who emigrated from Austria to the United States around 1880. Eisenberg stated business as a dress manufacturer. These dresses were given spectacular brooches as an accessory but were so dazzling that they were being stolen from the dresses and so Eisenberg created a separate jewelry line. The production of Eisenberg jewelry started in about 1930. In the early years the jewelry was not marked but from the mid 1930s until 1945 the jewelry was marked Eisenberg Original. In the early to mid 1940s the jewelry was marked Eisenberg Ice. During World War 11, the jewelry was produced in sterling silver ("white metal", the tin-based alloy used for costume jewelry was restricted by the ban on non-military use of it). Another mark, script letter E was also used during the war years. Eisenberg Ice in block letters was used during the 1945 - 1958 period. In 1958 the company stopped the production of clothing to focus exclusively on jewelry. The jewelry manufactured during 1958-1070 was not generally marked.
In the 1970s the company produced a line of enamel jewelry designed by well known artists of the time such as Chagall, Braque, Calder and Picasso. The company began using Eisenberg Ice in script letters in 1970, but many pieces were not marked and only carried a tag. Jewelry began to be prong set or glued in 1975. Prior to that they had been hand-set. In 1977, it became a division of Berns-Friedman and as of early 90's continued production under the leadership of Karl Eisenberg the founder's grandson who had continued the high standards of design since 1969. The company is now called Eisenberg Classics and in the 2000s and producing a line known as the "Classic Series 2000" which reproduces some of their designs from the 1940s.
The initial or number found on the back of the Eisenberg Original jewelry indicated who had set the stones. Ruth Kamke designed jewelry for Eisenberg for well over 30 years. Ruth created almost all of the Eisenberg Originals made after 1939, and also the Eisenberg Ice until 1972. Among her many renowned designs in the Eisenberg Original "Bucket Lady". Her inspiration often came from the stones themselves. Dealers from New York would constantly travel to Europe looking for stones to import from the dealers. The Eisenberg Original "Gaping Fish" (1943) is an example of designing around an unusual stone. Another source of inspiration was Ruth's architectural and wildlife books from which the Original "Buddha Face" (1940-41) was inspired. Sometimes the inspiration would be a theme that they decided to produce, for example, the flowers that appear in the Eisenberg Original "Ballerina" and the "Moose" (1943). Another inspiration was the animated cartoon where Bugs Bunny dressed as a can-can dancer with frilly panties which led to the Eisenberg Original "Can-Can Dancer" (1943). The Eisenberg Original "Fighting Cocks" (1943) was inspired by a visit to a museum. Among her favourite designs is the "Orchid" (1943).
Eisenberg jewely is almost always recognizable on sight. Swarovski's Austrian crystal rhinestones are used exclusively in Eisenberg's dramatic jewelry. Known for large, high quality rhinestones in very eye-catching settings. Eisenberg jewelry used high-quality materials, superior workmanship and the most beautiful shimmering rhinestones. Eisenberg is highly collectible but the most sought after jewelry is the sterling pieces and the exquisite figural pieces, many of which were created by Ruth Kame from 1940 to 1972.
Late 1940s to 1981 (New York City)
"Treasures to keep or seek" Pieces with sculptured and unusual stones, tremblers, interesting figural pieces, wide bracelets and any set. Not yet recognized as one of the best and most unique well designed jewelry of the post WW11 period and can be purchased at bargain prices. A true sleeper!
Florenza is the trademark used by Dan Kasoff Inc., founded in New York City, around 1952 and ceased operation in 1981. Mr Kasoff had worked at the Speier Costume Jewelry Company for several years before he left to start his own company. His son Larry Kasoff worked for many years in various capacities at the business. The firm designed and produced jewelry which was then sold to jobbers and wholesalers. Florenza was named after his wife Florence from the late 1940s or the early 1950s, although the company was known as The Dan Kasoff Company prior to this. Florenza jewelry is instantly recognizable by its intricate detail with use of antique gold-tone metal and the designs are inspired by Renaissance Revival jewelry from the Victoria era including Maltese crosses and cherubs. It has excellent metalwork with distinct and superior quality rhinestones and some of the jewelry uses cameo or intaglio as the central stone complemented by rhinestones mounted on delicate filigree and antiqued metalwork. Most pieces are unusual with exotic and highly creative designs that have remained beautiful through the years. The Florenza cheetah was one of Dan Kasoff's favourite pieces and it may have been inspired by the "Great Cat" jewels designed by Cartier. The Florenza mark on back of his jewelry pieces is in script with the copyright symbol or it can be found in print style, with the copyright symbol.