Attwood & Sawyer
Attwood and Sawyer are the best costume jewellers that Britain has produced, and have provided glamorous costume jewellery for Dallas, Dynasty and Miss World competitions. A&S were founded in Wales in 1956 and produced some of the best British rhinestone and enamel jewellery up until the 1980’s when they closed. Once carried in the very best London department stores, this jewellery is becoming harder and harder to find.
Austria was a major source of rhinestones and crystal for costume jewellery throughout the 20th C. One major supplier, of course, was the famous Swarovski Corporation established by Daniel Swarovski in a small mountain village in Austria, Wattens, in 1895. Most of the jewellery is of a floral design, and uses top quality rhinestones. The large and elaborate pieces were only made for the European market, so for once the Americans did not have the monopoly! The brilliance of the stones in Austrian jewellery makes it a glamorous and a much sought after addition to a jewellery collection.
Marcel Boucher, possibly the greatest designer and producer of costume jewellery in America, was born in France and trained as an apprentice to Cartier. He emigrated to America in the 1920’s and established his company there in 1937. Boucher produced the most exquisite jewellery, unsurpassed by any other, utilising wonderful rhinestones resembling gemstones. In fact his costume jewellery can easily be mistaken for the real thing! All his jewellery is highly collectible.
Butler & Wilson
Butler and Wilson started off as an antiques stall in the Antiquarius Market on the King's Road in 1969 and were the first to really love and understand the jewellery of the Art Deco movement, a love which rapidly spread to their customers. In 1972 they moved into their first shop but struggled to find enough vintage Art Deco jewellery to satisfy the demand. Three years on, in 1975, the duo added their first original designs to the Art Deco collection and they haven’t looked back. 40 years after the stall in the King’s Road they now supply customers from all over the world, but it is their early pieces that are much sought after by collectors.
Hattie Carnegie was born in Vienna in 1886 as Henrietta Kanengeiser, but while she was still a teenager, the family emigrated to America and adopted the name Carnegie. In the early 1900’s she started a chain of Parisian-style dress and hat boutiques in New York that sold Carnegie-designed clothing. She also began making jewellery to complement her dresses and by the mid 1920’s her dresses and accessories were sold in all the leading department stores. From the beginning her shops were frequented by the rich and famous, among her clientele were many prominent film stars and aristocrats including Joan Crawford and The Duchess of Windsor. Her jewellery epitomises the glamour of Hollywood!
Emanuel Ciner founded his company in 1892 and was a maker of expensive fine jewellery. He began producing costume jewellery in 1931 and his pieces were sold in high priced shops. Ciner jewellery is characterised by beautiful designs, superbly executed and employing high quality small stones, often in turquoise and pearls, combined with superior gold plate metalwork. Always sophisticated and tasteful his pieces are gorgeous for both day and evening wear.
If as a child you looked in your grandmother’s jewellery box, you would probably have found a signed piece of Coro jewellery, the company was a prolific producer of thousands of designs at affordable prices. The history of Coro dates back to 1901 when Emmanuel Cohn and Gerald Rosenberg opened a small shop in New York selling jewellery, taking the first two letters of each other’s name and calling the venture Coro. They employed a great designer, Adolph Katz, and a dynamic master salesman, Royal Marcher, and expanded rapidly. By the mid 1920’s Coro was the largest manufacturer of costume jewellery with a workforce of over 2000, and even during the Great Depression in America they were building new factories and extending their empire to England, Canada and Mexico. The range and price of their jewellery is vast, but the rhinestone studded jewellery in particular, compares with the best in the industry. They patented a design called a duette, which was two figures (often birds) together, that could be worn as one brooch (or fur clip) or two, and these are highly valuable and collectable as well as a very attractive and unusual thing to wear. With their flare for design Emmanuel and Gerald certainly knew how to entice a lady!
Founded in Chicago in 1914 by Jonas Eisenberg who emigrated to America in the 1880’s, the company initially produced ready-to-wear clothing complemented by jewellery from other companies under contract to Eisenberg. They soon found that the sparkle of the jewellery bedazzled the customers, and so began producing their own about 1930. By the late 1950’s they had abandoned the clothing industry and were concentrating solely on producing beautiful jewellery. Eisenberg jewellery not only has magical and elegant design, but also quality materials and superior workmanship and the best shimmering stones in the industry. Quite simply gorgeous!
The history of Hobe jewellery can be traced back several generations to mid 19thC Paris and to Jacques Hobe, a celebrated master goldsmith. His son William Hobe, worked as a representative for a German theatrical costume company , and came to New York in an effort to sell his costumes to Florenz or ‘Flo’ Ziegfeld for his famous ‘Ziegfeld Follies’. Ziegfeld placed a large order and also asked William to create inexpensive but real looking jewellery to go with the girls’ costumes. In fact it is said that the term ‘costume jewellery’ was first used by Ziegfeld. So began William Hobe’s adventure in America and the founding of his costume jewellery firm. Hobe jewellery has excellent design with high quality stones and high quality silver or gold plating. He was especially known for his reproductions of the jewellery from the European Courts, and during the 1950’s his jewellery was the choice of many designers and movie stars in Hollywood. Beyond doubt Hobe was among the best of the costume jewellery manufacturers in America, and his work is still some of the most glamorous today.
Emma Caimi Pellini was one of the first firms to distinguish itself in the years following the war when it introduced its Venetian glass jewelry. In 1951, the firm was invited to participate in the exhibition of the Italian fashion organized by Giorgini at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. From that moment on, the firm expanded at a remarkable rate, thanks to a large number of orders from the United States, where, in 1952, Emma Caimi Pellini participated in the New York Fair of Italian Manufactures. At present, the firm is managed by the founder's grandchildren, Donatella and Ernesto, who have raised their products to an international level, especially in Japan.
Anton Michelson founded his company in the mid 1800’s in Copenhagen, however his son, Carl, and grandson, Poul, have maintained the firm’s reputation as one of the major gold- smith and Insignia manufacturers in Denmark. The A. Michelson firm is Crown Jeweller to the Royal Court, and won the coveted Lunning Prize in 1956. It was acquired in 1968 by the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain, and celebrated its 155th anniversary in 1996.
Monocraft, now known as Monet, was founded in 1929 by brothers Jay and Michael Chernow in Providence, Rhode Island. The company began by making Art-Deco style gold monograms for handbags, but started making costume jewellery in 1937, producing simple gold and silver-tone designs. Monet was responsible for several technological advancements in jewellery, such as the development of the friction ear clip, which adjusted to make it more comfortable to wear, and the barrel clutch for pierced earrings which in now standard in the industry. From 1981 Monet produced jewellery for Yves Saint Laurent. It has continually adapted to changing fashions and remains successful today. Early pieces are much sought after by collectors.
Sarah Coventry, started in 1950, was named after Charles H. Stuart's granddaughter, Sarah Ann. Stuart had opened Sarah Coventry's sister company, Emmons Jewelers, Inc., during 1949. Neither company sold jewellery through department or jewellery stores, but direct to customers via parties hosted by "Fashion Directors." Fashion directors could move up the ranks and become Unit Directors then, later, Area Managers, with the ultimate goal of becoming National Sales Manager if they chose that path. Sarah Coventry became quite popular in its time because of the quality of the jewellery as well its designs. Interestingly, it was not designed or manufactured in-house, but was made by other companies in Rhode Island. The company was sold in 1984.
Flamboyant, eccentric, outrageous, Elsa Schiaparelli commands some of the most colourful adjectives to describe both her work and her personality. In her day she shocked and delighted in equal measure. Today, Schiaparelli is a design icon. Born in Rome in 1890, and rebellious from an early age, her marriage to Franco-Swiss theosophist William de Wendt did not last, leaving her a single mother to their daughter, Gogo. Determined to succeed independently, and with a passion for the arts and fashion, she moved to Paris in the 1920’s, where top designer Paul Poiret introduced her to the world of couture. She opened her first couture house in 1927, and played a significant role in the development of the fashion industry for several decades, becoming the archrival of Coco Chanel. During this time she became friends with Surrealist Salvador Dali, and incorporated the philosophies of Dadaism and Surrealism into her work. The concept she developed centered on the Surrealist idea of splashing the ‘black cocktail dress’ with vivid and outrageous colour. Her jewellery often used bright, exotic stones, and ‘shocking pink’ became her signature colour.
Like Chanel, Schiaparelli extended her business into manufacturing fashion jewellery and accessories, which she successfully continued in the US after leaving France in 1940. Although she returned to France after the war, she was never able to re-establish her pre-war fame and prominence, and was forced by the mid-1950’s to discontinue her enterprises and limit her business to licensing agreements for the use of her name on accessories for several more years. She died in Paris in 1973.
Canada’s most renowned costume jewellery designer, Gustave Sherman, set up his factory in 1947 in Montreal. Previously he had been a jewellery salesman, so he knew his market well and created superior pieces for sale in department stores and boutiques. Sherman used high-quality Swarovski rhinestones and crystal beads, set in gold tone, rhodium or japanned settings and his pieces are relatively scarce and hard to find. In the 1970’s fashion trends turned towards silver and gold, and he began to make pieces in precious metals set with gemstones. The company closed in 1981 but Sherman’s jewellery remains some of the most sought after and glamourous one can wear.
The history of the Trifari name can be traced back to the mid 1800’s in a small workshop in Naples founded by Luigi Trifari, His grandson, Gustavo Trifari, learned his trade from his grandfather before emigrating to America in 1904. For several years Gustavo worked as a designer for Weinberg before founding his own company. By the 1930’s he had two partners, Leo Krussman and Carl Fishel, and had taken on a new designer called Alfred Philippe. Alfred had previously worked for Cartier and was largely responsible for the creation and development of Trifari’s distinctive and classic look. Early Trifari in particular is highly collectable, but every piece graces its owner with its quality, elegance and artistry.
The Warner jewellery company was established in the 1950’s and closed in the 1970’s. During its time in operation Warner was known for its intricate workmanship and the brilliance of its stones. Warner jewellery is not very common and being of high quality and great design is not only extremely elegant to wear, but is highly collectable.
The Weiss company was founded in 1942 in New York by a former Coro employee Albert Weiss. During the 1950’s - 60’s the company made high quality costume jewellery with excellent Austrian rhinestones of exceptional quality and clarity. The company had two specialities which are now in great demand. The first, its beautiful, rhinestone studded figural jewellery, often of butterflies and insects, and the second, it’s “black diamond” range, replicating the German smoky quartz. Without a doubt the company manufactured some of the most beautiful and appealing rhinestone jewellery of the post WWII era.
Gianni Versace was born in Italy in1946. After an apprenticeship at his mother's dressmaking business, he began working as a freelance designer. At age 25, Versace was creating collections for top fashion houses of the time, but in 1978, with the help of his brother, Santo, he founded the Gianni Versace company, and later that year, the first Gianni Versace collection was shown in Milan. He quickly earned international praise for his bold and innovative designs both for his clothes and his jewellery. Versace also worked as a theatre designer with Teatro della Scala, designing costumes for many operatic productions, and this engagement with the theatre sparked a passion that would span his career. He was an ardent patron of the performing and visual arts and an esteemed member of the international artistic community. In 1993, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded the American Fashion Oscar to Versace, and he was honoured by the Italian and French presidents. Gianni Versace was murdered outside his home in 1997 in Miami, Florida. Not often found, all vintage Versace jewellery is of exceptional design and is highly collectible.
"JJ" is a registered trademark that stands for "Jonette Jewelry Company.
Jonette Jewelry is a family-owned business and has been making collectible costume jewelry for over 60 years. It was founded by Abraham Lisker in East Providence, Rhode Island and was originally called the "Providence Jewelry Company." The company changed its name to "Lisker & Lisker" when Abraham's brother Nathan joined him in the business. Production ceased temporarily during World War II. After the war, the company reemerged as "Jonette Jewelry" in honor of the Abraham and Nathan's parents -- "John" and "Etta."In 1970, the company began marking its jewelry with the distinctive "JJ" trademark on all pieces. In 1986 they registered the popular "Artifacts" mark. Additionally, the company markets a pewter line of animals of the American west under the "Santa Fe" mark.