Designer Information

There are 1000′s of designers across the world through the 1920′s to the 1980′s.

Many of those in the 1920′s through to the 1960′s, apart from the top Jewellery House’s didn’t always mark their jewellery. Many designers produced gems for various houses, these sometimes took on the House name or were unmarked.

These designers each had a particular style and theme and therefore many pieces can be attributed to these original designers although they may have either no mark or carry the name of the ‘House’ i.e. Juliana jewellery was designed for various houses one of those being Sara Coventry.

A great site to refer to is Illusion Jewels where you will see alphabetically thousands of designers jewellery marks and the date when these were used. I don’t plan to replicate this information, but just to mention a few of my favourites.

Jakob Bengel

Jacob Bengel

Jacob Bengel

Jakob Bengel began making watch chains in his factory in Idar-Oberstein, Germany in 1873. The chains were made from silver, brass and other alloys known as Tombac and Double Americaine.  He was a success and in the 1920’s went on to producing geometric costume jewellery using chromed chain, tubes, findings and Galalith (this is a type of early plastic similar to Bakelite and Catalin).  He also created complicated constructed chain known as brickwork, this was cold painted in reds, blues, blacks and greens.

The majority of Bengel jewellery is unsigned/unmarked (the Bengel mark is a pyramid stack of cannon balls and a cannon) especially those that were exported. In some cases because of Germany’s lack of popularity in the 1930’s, items exported to France were marked ‘Made in France’.

The factory closed on the outbreak of World War Two in 1939 and lay closed and undiscovered until 2001 when collectors discovered the factory and its catalogues.

The Jakob Bengel factory is now a museum.  Two reference books have been published featuring the original drawings and pieces.

“Art Deco Schmuck”  Christianne Weber  –     Arnoldsche

“Bengel Art Deco Schmuck”  Wilhelm Lindemann & Others – Arnoldsche

Source Wikipedia

Neiger Brothers

Max and Norbert Neiger were two brothers living in Czechoslovakia who made wonderful jewellery with figural glass components in Gablonz, Czechoslovakia, from 1905 to the 1930s.

As the Germans advanced near Gablonz in 1939, the two Jewish brothers left their factory and escaped to Bohemia, where they continued to produce jewellery in a scaled-down operation. They were later arrested in Prague and, in 1942, were exterminated by the Nazis at Auschwitz.

Neiger jewellery is characterized by beautiful Czech glass beads, and detailed metal bead caps & findings. The Neiger Brothers took advantage of the Egyptian Revival craze, beginning with the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922.

They further added more “exotic” lines, with Chinese and Indian motifs. They produced hypnotizing brooches, beautiful beaded necklaces and fascinating bracelets, all of the highest quality. Today, collectors have rediscovered Max and Norbert, and their tragic end has come back into the public eye, as buyers snap up their stunning wares.

Erwin Pearl

Erwin Pearl made his name a brand for jewellery of lasting beauty. He has made and loved jewellery for over 50 years. Every single piece of Erwin Pearl jewellery is produced from a design he has has made, or held in his hands, tested for drape over his arm, held up to the sunlight, improved with his care.

Erwin Pearl was born in Vienna, Austria, considered by some at the time as the cultural center of the world. He reveled in Vienna’s sophisticated life until chaos in Europe forced him to journey to America alone as a young teen. At 16 he apprenticed to a diamond cutter in New York while still in school and began learning the world of fine jewellery.

In the 1950’s he united with several craftsmen who fashioned his jewellery designs into reality. Working in the finest and most expensive materials, Erwin Pearl brought innovation and artistry to the industry, winning the Diamond International Award five years in a row.

The challenge of designing for a much wider audience brought Erwin Pearl to the fashion jewellery world. In the mid-seventies, he realized ‘not everyone could afford his work in diamonds and gold’.
“Fashion jewellery should be fun!! Easy to look at and comfortable to wear. This is a beautiful business. If a woman feels beautiful wearing my pieces, then I know I am doing something right.”

Erwin Pearl remains the only major jewellery designer with 30 eponymous jewellery stores throughout the USA, as well as his own factories, which allow the best possible control of quality and the best environment for artisans to innovate. The factories, located in Rhode Island, include the largest chain factory in the world and a jewelry factory where he creates most of his unique jewellery.

Erwin Pearl ‘s signature designs are worn by actresses on top rated shows such as THE GOOD WIFE, and movie box office hits such as, “UP IN THE AIR,” starring George Clooney.

When you purchase Erwin Pearl jewellery you should know in most cases it is MADE IN THE USA, and a person with integrity stands behind each piece.

Weiss

The Weiss Company was founded in New York City in 1942 by a former Coro employee, Albert Weiss. The company flourished during the 1950′s and 1960′s period, offering high quality costume jewellery with excellent Austrian rhinestones of exceptional quality and clarity.

Weiss jewellery has somewhat traditional designs, including floral and figural jewellery. Also desirable is Weiss “black diamond” jewellery replicating the German smoky quartz, set in typical Weiss designs. Weiss jewellery, is comparable to Eisenberg and Bogoff jewellery. Without a doubt, the company manufactured some of the most beautiful jewellery and appealing rhinestone jewellery of the post WWII era. In the mid 1950′s, an expandable rhinestone bracelet by Weiss sold for $10 to $15.00. Weiss prices are rapidly rising. Weiss jewellery is usually marked with the company name however they also marked their jewellery A.W. Co. with the large central letter W in the shape of a crown. After Albert’s retirement, his son Michael Weiss assumed the leadership of the company, but the firm ceased operations in the early 1970′s.

Vendome

Vendome was established as a subsidiary of Coro…however Vendome was the SUPERIOR line of jewellery as you will see as you become familiar with their jewellery. The mark was used as early as 1944 on charm bracelets and faux pearl jewellery, but the Vendome line which began in the 1950′s did not become popular until the early 1960′s, largely due to beautiful designs introduced by Helen Marion, Vendome’s principal designer.

Basically, Vendome replaced Corocraft which up to that time marked the higher quality jewellery made by Coro.

Vendome jewellery used the best of imported rhinestones. The clarity and brilliance of the stones and top quality metalwork combined in artistically expressive designs were the main factors behind Vendome’s success. The jewellery is highly collectible and should continue to RISE in price.

Trifari

The vintage designer Trifari is one of the most well-known and collectible designers. Trifari designs are synonymous with quality. The designs are elegant and have a timeless quality about them that makes them perfect for today’s fashions. Even their brushed gold-tone and silver-tone designs have something special about them.

Gustavo Trifari, an Italian, learned the jewellery business from his grandfather. In 1904, he immigrated to the USA to earn his fortune and start a new life. He partnered with his uncle, Ludovico Trifari to produce a company called Trifari and Trifari in 1910. Two years later, Gustavo left this business to start his own business which specialized in accessories. In 1918, he partnered with Leo F. Krussman and founded the Trifari and Kussman Company. Krussman was the marketing man and Gustavo was the designer.

The next step in the Trifari partnership came in 1925, when the two men combined resources with Carl Fishel to form Trifari, Krussman and Fishel. The jewellery marketed by this company used the mark KTF with a taller T than the other letters. (There was also a line stamped KTF with a crown over the T made in 1954, but it is not as valuable as the earlier KTF pieces.) These early KTF pieces are very rare and hard to find.

Between 1930 and 1968 Alfred Philippe was the top designer for Trifari jewellery. He had formerly been a designer for Van Cleefs and Arpel, so he came with a rich designing history behind him. Beware – many online sellers label any early Trifari designs as Alfred Philippe designs, when this is not the case. Some of his early designs are marked Trifari Pat. Pending and a patent search will give the design specifications.

Trifari introduced a very successful line which they called “Jewels by Trifari” in 1938. A few years later, metals became scarce for manufacturing jewellery, due to the war, so Trifari used Sterling silver for many designs during this time. A few years later, in the 1940s, they patented a plating process called Trifanium. This plating method made the material look like real gold or silver and helped to maintain the condition of the metal over time. Trifari pieces are extremely well made and continue to stay in wonderful condition generations later.

One of the most well-known and collectible of the Trifari pieces are the Lucite Jelly Belly pins. Once again, many jewellery sellers’ market a wide variety of jewellery as jelly belly, but true Jelly Bellies have DuPont Lucite clear acrylic bellies. These pieces are figural, such as birds and fish and are very rare and highly valued.

Trifari continued manufacturing during the 1950s and 1960s. After this, it traded under the names a variety of companies. The company was sold to Hallmark, Inc. in 1975 and then again to Crystal Brands Jewellery Corporation in 1988. Finally, in 1994 it was purchased by a division of the Monet group. This group was finally sold to Liz Claiborne industries and Trifari jewellery continues to be made by this company, although the jewellery is no longer manufactured in the United States.

Sherman

Gustave Sherman was one of Canada’s finest costume jewellery designers. He began his company in Montreal, Canada, in 1941, producing high end, quality costume jewellery. He used only the best Swarovski stones, crystal beads and findings. He favoured aurora borealis coatings and long marquise cut stones.

Sherman used stunning navettes, chaton and baguette shaped stones with heavy plated rhodium, gold-tone or japanned settings. By the 1970′s the glitzy jewellery styles of the 50s and 60s had fallen from favour. Shortly thereafter that the company ceased production. In recent years the appreciation for the fine craftsmanship of Sherman jewellery has grown. Sherman’s fiery bracelets, brooches and parures are highly sought after by today’s collectors.

 

Selro/Selini

Paul Selenger was born in Odessa, Russia in 1911. In 1927, he immigrated to the United States with his mother Rose and sister Fannie. Selenger became a U.S. citizen in 1942 and served his new country as a Staff Sergeant in North Africa during World War II.

Early in his costume jewellery career, he worked for H. Pomerantz & Co. in New York. The company was in business from approximately the late 1940s until about 1975. Selenger married quite late in life at the age of 52 and never had any children. He died at the age of 79 on Dec. 16, 1990.

Designer and manufacturer Leo Geller manufactured some of Selro’s stock between 1960 and 1975. Geller also said that Selenger designed a line for Hattie Carnegie.

Selro/Selini is best known for amazing figural, often depicting Asian and African faces, these unique pieces were designed by Selenger himself. It is interesting to note that even some of the plastic pieces themselves are stamped “Selro Corp ©”. Selenger must have had a copyright on some of the Asian faces that are so unique to his jewellery. There are basically three different figural faces that are found in Selro/Selini jewellery: An Asian woman face (Often called ‘Thai Girl’), an old Asian man face and an African face. These faces can be found in numerous colours and textures (i.e. pearlized), plus are often over painted and embellished with elaborate headdresses that are part of the metal settings.

Much of Selro/Selini jewellery is unsigned and may have been originally hang-tagged. There are some clues, however, to identifying unmarked Selro/Selini jewelry. First, the heavy, herringbone chain that Selinger used on his lariat necklaces is distinctive and unique. A finer herringbone chain can often been seen on the smaller pieces. Secondly, many pieces have a unique bracing structure on the back of the jewellery that can also lead to its identification.

Finally, Selinger’s settings are extremely complex and detailed, Selinger liked to use very decorative prongs in his settings with large, glass cabochon stones or heavily carved plastic stones and dangles.

Often, figural jewellery from Selro is confused with that of the manufacturer Har. Many wonder if there was a connection between the two companies. Faytell said that Selenger had hundreds of pieces of Har in his personal collection. Geller, however, says there was no connection whatsoever between Har and Selro. Geller also manufactured jewellery for Har.

Selro merchandise was distributed through a New York wholesaler called Fran & Co., which placed jewellery from such manufacturers as, Art, JJ and American Chanel, in department stores such as Marshall Field’s, Wieboldt’s, and Goldblatt’s.

The original Fran and Co. price tags denoted the wholesale price to the individual department stores. Many in the costume jewellery industry remember Selenger as a “jobber” (or independent manufacturer’s representative) in the costume jewellery industry for a number of companies, including Florenza and Capri. In the 1970s, after he closed Selro, he served as this bridge between the factories and the wholesalers.

The Selro Company itself was always based in New York City. Selenger also manufactured jewellery under the name Selini and possibly, under the name Selan, but the main company was called Selro Corp. According to Faytell, the telephone at the company was answered “Selro”. For a time, Selro and Selini were produced simultaneously. Occasionally, jewellery can even be found featuring both the Selro and Selini marks.

Sarah Coventry

The Emmons Co. was incorporated in Feb. 1949 and then Sarah Coventry came into being 8 months later in Newark N.Y. It was only sold at home parties—mostly in the 50′s and is now collectible and getting scarce.

Sarah Coventry had a Lifetime Guarantee…the cards stated “may be sent back for repair to: P.O. Box 7899, Warwick, RI 02887. Please include handling charge of $1.50.” I’m not sure if this is still being honoured. Sarah Coventry discontinued operations and home parties in 1984. The better sets and pieces are expected to rise in price and every collector should have a few pieces of Sarah Coventry in their collection.

Sarah Coventry MARKS:

“Coventry” and “Sarah Coventry” – First used 1949

“SC” – First used 1950

“Sarah” – First used 1951

“Sarah Cov” – First used 1953

Miriam Haskell

Miriam Haskell jewellery, 1924-present – is known for its elaborate and innovative design as well as the attention that is paid to detail in the construction of a piece. Miriam Haskell took many cues from the artists of the Art Nouveau period. You can see in her jewellery, natural motifs, the intricate flowers, natural materials and complex construction. These items undoubtedly took a long time to produce. It is therefore easy to imagine why a Miriam Haskell item will command such a high price.

Miriam Haskell was born in Indiana in 1899. In her twenties it is said that she ran a gift shop in New York City where she began making jewellery with great success. Each piece was handmade and so elegant she gathered quite a following.

In 1926 Miriam Haskell goes into major production. Frank Hess becomes the chief designer. In the beginning of the 1930s Miriam Haskell establishes retail shops at Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC and Harvey Nichols in London. Miriam oversaw all aspects of production. Most of the jewellery created at “Haskell” was unsigned at this time. In the late 1940s most of the jewellery began to be marked.

Haskell purchased materials from only the best sources. For example, beads from Italy and France and faux pearls from Japan. Haskell purchased faux pearls from Bohemia until the late 1930s. After WWII, the faux pearls were purchased from Japan. In the 1950s Miriam retires from her company. Miriam Haskell died in 1981. The company was sold again in 1983 and 1990. It is still in business today – so be wary of later designs.

Marvella

Marvella is the trademark initially used by Weinrich Brothers Company, founded about 1911 in Philadelphia. The Post WWII Marvella jewellery consists primarily of simulated pearls, and plain and faceted bead jewellery. In the mid-1950’s, the earrings sold for $10.00, single strand necklaces for about $15.00 and multi-strand necklaces for $20 to $30. Marvella also offered simulated pearl jewellery set with quality goldstone findings and settings.

Marvella was purchased by Trifari in 1982 which itself became a subsidiary of Crystal Brands Jewellery Group in 1988. Marvella used many different trademarks, most of which include the company name or Marvell in a longer name such as Marvellesque, Marvellette and Marvellier.

Lisner

Vintage Lisner pieces have become collectible over the last 25 years. In the 1990s, collectors realized that the clever shapes and bright colours of the company’s cheaply made plastic leaves and baubles possessed a unique beauty. Currently, one of the most coveted vintage Lisner lines is the moulded plastic oak-leaf jewellery, which was only produced for five years in the ’60s

For nearly 30 years after its 1904 founding, Lisner imported and sold Elsa Schiaparelli’s Parisian jewellery in the United States.

They produced the bulk of their costume jewellery items in the 1950′s and 1960′s creating many intriguing resin and Lucite parures. Many of the designs were inspired by nature and consisted of leaves, berries and flowers. These gorgeous resin pieces are often referred to as Jellies. These lovely sets are sought after by collectors with some full sets commanding several hundred dollars in today’s collector’s market. They also created many quality designs which included quality rhinestones and Lucite cabochons.

Marks used:

Lisner – in block letters, first use 1935

Lisner – in script, first use 1938

Lisner – block letters with elongated L, first use 1959

Lisner purchased Richelieu-Jewellery in 1978 and became Lisner-Richelieu Corporation but shortly thereafter the company was sold again.

Juliana – Delizza & Elster

Founder (s): William DeLizza and Harold Elster ~ 1947 New York – William’s son’s Frank and Anthony joined the company soon after its inception. In the 1960s the company began to produce the costume jewellery that so many have come to know and love – Juliana.

These early pieces with colourful rhinestones were not marked in any way at first. During the early years the company also produced buckles and buttons and clear rhinestone jewellery. In 1967 Juliana Originals was created and the paper hang- tag made its appearance. The hang tag said “Juliana Original”. Not all Juliana jewellery had a hang- tag. The jewellery had a limited run. But, oh what a run! Juliana is only one of the lines produced by this company. The company also produced costume jewellery that had other hang- tags attached. These read, “Tara” and “Gloria”. I believe these were for other companies/shops rather than their own lines.

Many jewellery companies had their jewellery produced by D&E including but not limited to the following: Weiss, Alice Caviness, Ciro, Coro, Kramer, Kenneth Lane, Talbot’s, Victoria’s Secret, Parklane, Karu, Hattie Carnegie and Yves St. Laurent. Some jewellery produced by this company for others was also unsigned. This is important because, your unsigned piece could be a D&E! Frank DeLizza is currently producing copies of some of the old jewellery designs.

Identifying Designs: Clear rhinestone jewellery in the beginning. Large and colourful rhinestones. Navettes were used a lot, especially the thin ones. Art glass and other unusual stones. Kite shaped stones, intense colour, five link bracelets and necklaces. Layered designs, and a term coined by a member of the Discovering Juliana Jewellery Group, “puddling”. This refers to the extra plating that would mound up together between some of the joints on the reverse of a piece of jewellery.

Judy Lee

Judy Lee is the trademark belonging to the Blanch-Ette Company, founded in the late 1950s. Sold through party plan.

Some of the pieces have interesting traditional designs set with top quality rhinestones. Although collectible, Judy Lee jewellery has not yet captured the interest of many collectors, but as with most this will become highly prized in the coming years and the cost will reflect this.

Judy Lee jewellery is usually marked Judy-Lee (in use since 1958), but another mark, Judy-Lee Jewels, may also be used.

Jomaz/Mazer Brothers

Joseph and his brother Louis, founded Mazer Brothers in New York in the 1920s.

In 1946 Joseph left and formed Joseph J. Mazer Company. The trade mark was Jomaz. Some early pieces were created by Marcel Boucher. Louis left Mazer in 1951 but the company did not close until the late 1970s.

Adolfo created some of these later pieces. The pieces were produced with high quality, sometimes special order stones. A fitting description for the jewellery they produced was elegant.

Jewelcraft

Jewelcraft was a logo and name used by Coro from 1920 – 1950′s, produced by a company in England. Please refer to Illusion Jewels for in depth information.