Prominent Costume Jewelry Makers
Is your piece of vintage jewelry signed? Check the backside of your jewelry for the stamp of one of these prominent jewelry makers. (please note this list is not all-inclusive).
Alice Caviness was a prominent costume jewelry designer who produced high-quality jewelry in the late 1940's. Even though she passed away in 1983, her company in New York is still run by Lois Stein, her business associate.
ART trademark was used in business from the late 1940's to the late 1960's. They offered a broad range of designs that can be likened to Florenza and Hollycraft. They often resemble the Victorian and Renaissance Revival jewelry. Their pieces are of quality and combine fine filigree or stamped metal work with colored rhinestones.
The company started out as California Perfume Company, CPC was their trade mark and they became incorporated in 1886. In January of 1929 the Avon line was introduced and The Avon Company was born. Avon calling became the firms slogan and their products were sold on a direct home shopping with Avon representatives. The Avon jewelry was made for the "Avon Company" by such names as "Krementz", and other manufactures, and the jewelry line became a great asset to the company.
B. David jewelry company began producing costume jewelry in 1945 in Cincinnati, Ohio. They also made gold and silver jewelry.
Spear Novelty Company in Chicago produced high-quality costume jewelry in 1946. They used the mark "Bogoff" and "Jewels by Bogoff". Their jewelry is usually made in small quantity.
Boucher designed jewelry for Mazer Bros. in early 1930s. Established his own company, Marcel Boucher and Cie Company, in 1937. The company became a subsidiary of Dovorn Industries, a watch manufacterer, in 1972. Marcel Boucher died in 1965. Sandra Boucher, his wife, ran the company until 1972. Boucher jewelry is usually signed and carries an inventory number. Early marks are "Marboux" or "MB" in a cartouche. Later marks are "Marcel Boucher" and "Boucher". Marcel Boucher jewelry is high-end and can be tough to tell from the real thing.
Emanuel Ciner founded Ciner in 1895. The company made fine jewelry initially and began making high-end costume jewelry in 1931. They are known for using good quality stones and their faux pearls are coated glass beads with high pearl lusters.
Claudette or C. Claudette are marks first used in 1945 by the Premier Jewelry Company who produced costome jewelry in New York.
The CORO jewelry company started doing business about 1900. It was the largest of all costume jewelry manufactures, and marked the jewelry in many different names. The list is too long to publish here but the top of their line was CoroCraft with Coro in script and with the pegasus emblem in block or out side of block. Later the top of the line would become Vendome, and they could compete with some of the most famous manufactures of costume jewelry. Katz was the famous designer for tremblers and crowns for this company and was head of company in the 1940s. The Coro company went out of business in 1979 after 80 years of making costume jewelry.
Eisenberg actually began as a Dress company in 1914. Large rhinestone dress clips were accessories to the dresses, and became such a hit that they were sold separately. Eisenberg began to market its jewelry around 1930. In 1958, Eisenberg began production of jewelry exclusively and abandoned its clothing line. From 1973-74, Eisenberg created enameled artists pieces. Eisenberg Original clips were produced from 1930-1945. In the early forties a script E was used alone or along with Eisenberg Original. Eisenberg Ice was used from the 40s on with most being rhodium plated. EISENBERG in block letters began in the 70's.
Eugene, a costume jewelry designer, used to work for Miriam Haskell but started his own costume jewelry business in the 50's. His design is elaborate much like Haskell's. He ceased production in the 1960's.
Florenza was in operation from about 1937. Florenza operated under the name Dan Kasoff, Inc. as a manufacturing industry, and did not start marking its own production jewelry FLORENZA until 1950. Florenza went out of business in 1981.
The Garne mark was first used in 1945 by a small costume jewelry company in New York called the Garne Jewelry Company. Their pieces are hard to find.
Hobe' has been in busines since the late 1800s, rich in jewelry history and it seems to be a family tradition. The jewelry items they created in the early years were of museum antiques and quality even though they were costume jewelry. They were considered good enought for queens. Hobe' quit manufacturing jewelry some time in 1992.
Kramer or Kramer of New York was a leader in making fine costume jewelry. They first used the mark around 1943, and produced jewelry using the best quality rhinestones available. The early Kramer jewelry is sought after by most ardent collectors of Kramer costume jewelry. Marked "Kramer of NY" and then "Kramer of NY City" and in the 1950s "Kramer" on oval plaque and after just "Kramer".
Krementz and Company was founded in 1866. They originally manufactured mens jewelry, mainly collar buttons and cuff buttons and later tie clasps and cufflinks. The Krementz and Lester families each owned 50% of Krementz and Co. In 1936 the company split into two separate parts, with each family specializing. Lester & Co. took over manufacturing fine gold jewelry and Krementz & Co. made 10 karat and 14 karat gold jewelry their specialty. From the 1930's on Krementz became known for its gold overlay process which no other company was able to master as they did. In the 1930's when collar buttons were no longer in demand, they started making women's jewelry which did not become popular until the 1950's. Their 10 karat line which sold mainly in department stores is labeled "Diana." Their workmanship, design, and detailing are excellent.
The mark L/N (Little Nemo) is a mark signifying "Nemo Gold Seal Quality" belonged to the Brier Manufacturing Company. This company produced high quality brooches, necklaces, bracelets, dress clips, earrings, tiaras, hair clips, etc. and was located in Province, Rhode Island. The Nemo mark was first used in 1913.
The Lisner jewelry mark was first used in 1935, a mark of D. Lisner & Co in New York. They used their mark in block print and script and it is the mark of Lisner & Richelieu. The quality of the jewelry they made ranged from very good to above average. They made much of their jewelry in the 1950's and the quality was lacking in the lower end of their carded jewelry. They did make some well designed and above average costume jewelry. The Richelieu line of jewelry would rank with some of the best manufactures. "LISNER" in block was the mark first used in 1935. "Lisner"in script was first used in 1938, and then in 1959 the mark used most was "Lisner", in a block type letter with a long L. These marks may appear on jewelry made by Lisner over a period of 55 plus years and it is not possible to date a item by the mark alone. Molds and findings were kept and stamping dies were rarely disposed of and there fore they were used again and again at later dates. Lisner pieces often have colorful rhinestones (including aurora borealis stones) and molded plastic/lucite stones.
Joseph J. Mazer Company was a high-quality costume jewelry company founded in 1927 in New York. Their early pieces are mared Mazer Bros and the later pieces marked MAZER or JOMAZ. The company went out of business in 1970's.
MCClelland Barclay Jewelry is extremely rare and among the best costume jewelry made in America. He created jewelry for only six years. His life ending in World War II.
Miriam Haskell (1899-1981) was an elegant artist who began selling jewelry when she ran a gift shop in 1924 in the McAlpin Hotel at Herald Square, New York. She moved to West 57th Street where she supervised production of her costume jewelry as designed by Frank Hess, and in 1933 moved again to 392 Fifth Avenue where she remained until the 1960's. Miriam Haskell jewelry has always been noted for the detailing, which directly translated into the time it took to make and thus the cost, and for the asymmetry of many of their designs. In the early years, Haskell jewelry was not marked and production was limited. There are distinct characteristics an expert looks for including the design itself which often incorporates surprises or irregularities. Quality is always evident with finer quality materials and all prong set in the design. Haskell jewelry is known for its use of elaborate filigree and careful wiring, all handmade and accomodating a variety of designs. Haskell filigree was typically electroplated goldtone metal in an antique gold finish. She purchased her beads mostly from France and Venice, Italy, while most crystals came from Bohemia. The advent of World War II forced Haskell to sometimes use alternative materials including for the first time plastics, and she purchased more of her beads and crystals from sources closer to home. In the late 1940s, Miriam Haskell jewelry started to be marked for the first time including an incised "Miriam Haskell" on the hook, "Miriam Haskell" in a crescent shaped cartouche and an oval stamp "Miriam Haskell" on the clasp. The company was sold to Frank Fialkoff in 1990 and is still producing today, making some of the older designs such as the Retro line introduced in the early 90s as well as doing custom work.
Monet is a high-quality costume jewelry manufacturer founded by Jay and Michael Chernow and began making jewelry in 1929. The mark Monet was first used in 1937. Monet developed the very comfortable "friction ear clip" for non-pierced earrings and the "barrel clutch" for pierced earrings. This company has been sold many times.
Napier-Bliss was a costume jewelry company which began production in the 1910's. It was headed by James H. Napier from 1920 until 1960. The company was bought by Victoria Creations in the 1980's.
ORIGINAL BY ROBERTS
The firm was founded in New York City in the 1940's by Robert Levy, David Jaffe and Irving Landsman as Fashioncraft jewelry. Irving Landsman left in 1951 and the name of the firm became Robert Originals, Inc. The jewelry was never cheap. In the mid 1940's, a pin and earring set would sell around $50.00. The firm supplied jewelry to the motion picture industry including the 1952 oscar nominated "Elia Kazan movie" Viva Zapata" fearturing Marlon Brando and Jean Peters. Levy retired in 1976 and the firm became Ellen designs until 1984.
Sarah Coventry received its name from Charles H. Stuart, the founder of Emmons Home Fashion. Sarah was named after his grand daughter where as Emmons was named after his wife, Caroline Emmons. The mark for "Emmons" was first used in 1948 and Emmons was incorporated in February of 1949, with Sarah Coventry coming into being, November of the same year. They started their business under home fashion shows and maintained the way they did business till 1984, and were sold to a Chicago based firm who produced jewelry for a Canadian company using the same name. Sarah Coventry continued making fine jewelry with precious gemstones under P&B Manufactures. The home shows were discontinued in 1984.
The first known marks were "Coventry" used in 1949, for both men's and ladies jewelry. The next known mark was "Sarah Coventry" and in 1950 the mark of "SC" was first used. Then sometime around 1951 the mark of just "Sarah" was used and they continued to incorporate the mark into later jewellery. The Mark "SC" was still in use in 1953 for costume jewelry, and in 1960 the mark of "Sarah Cov" came into existence.
The mark of "SAC" has been attributed to Sarah Coventry jewelry but there are no records indicating when it was used but the mark existed in the mid 1950s and was used to the 1960s. This is most likely because the name of of Charles Stuart's grand-daughter was Sarah Ann. Emmons and Sarah Coventry did not design or manufacture their own jewelry but purchased their designs that were manufactured by other producers of costume jewelry around the Providence, Rhode Island area.
The Richelieu mark was first used in 1911 and the pieces were made by the Joseph H. Meyer Bros. company in New York.
Sherman, a Canadian costume jewelry company, began production in 1947 until 1981. Their pieces are high-quality, expensive and very collectible. They use exquisite colorful stones and the pieces are beautifully designed.
The company is founded around 1918 as Trifari and Krussman later in 1920's Carl Fishel joins company and becomes Trifari Krussman and Fishel. In early 1930 Alfred Phillipe becomes head designer after joining the company, and under his leadership the real jewelry look is born. He introduced his famous crown pin in 1941, and the success of the company was almost certain from that time on. It became the second largest company, second only to Coro, but the quality was to belong to Trifari. The crown above the T was to become their trademark.
Albert Weiss. Weiss is one of the premier designers of top quality costume jewelry, on the par with Eisenberg, Boucher and other great designers of the 40's and 50's. Weiss jewelry was a 1940s company and discontinued business about 1971, they were a much underrated name in the costume jewelry business but some of their jewelry was purchased from Hollywood Jewelry Co and Weiss applied their signature to it. Located in New York, NY. they created a low end line and high end line of costume jewelry and also made some high quality collectible items. Their out put was no where near Trifari and Coro but they did maintain a very good line of jewelry. The first mark used was "WEISS" in block print, later came the mark of "Weiss" in script and "Albert Weiss" or A W Co. with the W looking some what like a crown. The later mark was introduced sometime in 1951 and used by the president of the company, Albert Weiss.
D. Vendome was the superior line of jewelry. The mark was used as early as 1944 on charm bracelets and faux pearl jewelry. 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. Vendome replaced Corocraft which up to that time marked the higher quality jewelry made by Coro. Vendome jewelry used the best of imported rhinestones and faceted crystal beads. The clarity and brilliance of the stones and top quality metal work combined in artistically expressive designs were the main factors behind Vendome's success. Vendome jewelry is highly collectible and should continue to rise in prices.
How to Clean & Care for Vintage & Antique Jewelry
Remember, the term "vintage" is loosely applied to jewelry of nearly any age. The term "antique" is more strictly applied to jewelry that is at least 50 years (or 100 years according to purists).
Caring for Vintage and Antique Jewelry.
There are several things to remember when thinking about caring for vintage and antique jewelry. These are all elements which could cause deterioration over time:
1. Scratching. Be careful that your jewelry isn't stored so that the pieces rub against each other. General scratching, at best, and scratching and loss of stones at worst could be the result. Leave room between the pieces and, if they are especially treasured, a soft pouch or cloth around them might be considered.
2. Temperature changes. Any increases or decreases in temperature can affect the glue and cause stones to fall out.
3. Moisture is jewelry's biggest enemy. Moisture can be the breeding ground for "Verdigris" (looks like green gunk) or rust damage, plus pitting of metals. All rhinestone jewelry is also at risk of losing the foil backing of rhinestones and loss of their luster if moisture comes in contact with them. For this reason, it is especially important to be careful wearing jewelry in moist places, i.e. the beach, saunas, pools, even in very rainy weather. Chlorine is particularly damaging to stones and metals. Also important is to make sure that the jewelry is completely dry after any cleaning is done before putting them away.
4. Household jobs. It is important to remove jewelry when doing household cleaning and other jobs, and particularly when doing any heavier cleaning or yard work or gardening.
5. Containers. Not all containers are equal when it comes to storing jewelry. Oak cabinets give off fumes that can damage jewelry, so an oak jewelry box may not be the best bet. Many jewelry pieces come in small boxes, designed to store the piece. Even these can cause damage, in time, because they probably contain sulphur, which can damage the metal in gold and silver jewelry. As stated above, soft pouches or cloths around special pieces are a good choice. Other good choices are metal or plastic containers and zip lock bags. Zip lock bags are especially good for storing rhinestone jewelry; if a stone gets dislodged, it stays in the bag. If you have a large collection of display vintage jewelry, a curio cabinet is fine for storage.
6. General storing tips. Keep items separate from each other, and be sure to store beaded jewelry flat, especially if it is strung on silk, because silk stretches over time. Keep jewelry away from sunlight, heat vents, and hot car interiors.
No matter how carefully you store your jewelry, some dust will eventually get into the storage area and into the jewelry. How do you do this safely? The following will give you some cleaning advice:
1. There are many products available to clean vintage jewelry. Make sure that the one you choose does not contain alcohol, acids or ammonia. If you decide to use a product designed for cleaning jewelry, please read the label and make sure that the product matches the piece. i.e...don't use sterling silver cleaner to clean rhinestone jewelry, for instance.
2. Windex, sprayed onto a soft cloth is a good choice if you do not go the jewelry cleaner route. BE SURE, in either case, not to spray the cleaner directly onto the jewelry, but rather onto a soft cloth first, in a very small amount...just enough to do the job. Soapy water is not suggested because it can leave a residue on the jewelry and can make stones look dull.
3. Before cleaning inspect the jewelry for dust and other grit. Use a magnifying glass or loupe. It will help to see if there are any loose stones or settings, which can be tightened before attempting to clean. In all cases, the softest toothbrush (or make up brush) you can find is a good choice to lightly dust first before attempting to clean the item. (Be VERY careful when cleaning aurora borealis stones, since they will scratch very easily.) For specific tips on cleaning rhinestone jewelry, see this page.
4. Once you have lightly dusted the jewelry, spray a little Windex, or jewelry cleaner on a very soft cloth. Make sure that it is not too wet. It should be just damp enough to get the job done. If there is dirt in small places, a little cleaner on a Q tip will be useful.
5. In all cases, be sure that the jewelry is completely dry before putting it away. Remember that moisture is jewelry's biggest enemy. Why bother cleaning it, if you are going to put it away wet, just to find out that you've damaged it yourself through carelessness. I suggest drying for at least 15 minutes UPSIDE DOWN so that any moisture will flow away from the jewelry, not into the settings.
6. Finally, a soft polish with a special polishing cloth, like a Sunshine Polishing cloth. (can be purchased at many places online, and some jewelry shops.) They are inexpensive cloths and do a wonderful job of polishing a jewelry piece to make it look almost new.
7. How often to clean? There is no general rule of thumb. If it is a piece that you wear often, you could clean it every week or two. If it is a special piece that is used only occasionally, you might just clean it right before wearing it, or when putting it away again for storage. With a little care in storage and cleaning, your precious vintage and antique jewelry will give you years of enjoyment, and will be able to be passed down to your descendents.
The dreaded "green muck" found on vintage jewelry is not only harmful to that piece, but easily spreads to other jewelry in direct contact.
How to clean verdigris from Vintage Jewelry
You get a lovely new piece of vintage jewelry and are so excited about its beauty until, on close inspection, you discover that awful green gunk on it. If you are reading this article, you've probably had this happen to you.
What is verdigris?
Verdigris is the common name for the chemical Cu(CH3COO)2. It frequently occurs when vintage jewelry is exposed to moisture, makeup or other contaminants over a period of time. If not caught in time, it can severely damage your jewelry. The color of verdigris can range from dark green to bluish green. Verdigris can also be passed from one piece of jewelry to another, so damaged pieces should be separated from those that aren't. Be especially careful to inspect large messy jewelry lots purchased from auctions, garage sales and thrift stores to separate any infected jewelry from those which have no damage.
Common places for verdigris to occur are on clasps, on inner parts of chains, on end caps and spacer beads. Any metal surface of a piece of jewelry is a potential host. Surfaces near the neckline are particularly susceptible.
Verdigris means damage
This must be stressed. If you have green gunk...you have damage. How severe the damage is will determine how successful the attempted repair will be. Even if you only have a tiny amount of green on the jewelry, it means that a tiny amount of the plating is damaged. Severe verdigris means severe damage, with the result that the metal is compromised. Verdigris on prongs means that they may not be able to hold stones in place. On clasps, it means that you take the risk of the piece coming apart from brittleness.
Cleaning Methods for Removing Verdigris from Vintage Jewelry
There are several different methods to clean verdigris. Catsup, lemon juice and vinegar are all touted as being good for the job at hand. All are suggested because of their acidic base. But be careful, all of these suggestions should be used with caution...there is no guarantee that the process won't damage the piece in other ways. Whichever method you try, always use a soft bristled brush first to remove any lose green gunk.
Any of these remedies may leave you with a piece of jewelry where the metal has lost its plating. But, it is better to have plating loss than the severe damage that verdigris can cause over time.
Catsup has the advantage of not moving around...it stays where you put it, but it is also very messy and is hard to clean when the repair is finished. Use it in small amounts, preferably with a cotton swab or toothpick, and check frequently. Catsup is better used on rhinestone pieces because it isn't so liquid and liquid damages rhinestone foil backs.
Straight vinegar is very acidic and can also be used. It isn't as messy and is a better choice for jewelry pieces such as glass beaded jewelry and metal jewelry. Soak the piece in straight vinegar for 15-20 minutes and use a toothpick or cotton swab to get into any small areas. You can also scrub the area with a toothbrush to help remove the green gunk. Sterling silver and some gemstones should not be soaked in vinegar. Also, never soak rhinestone jewelry in vinegar, because the liquid will damage the foil backs of the stones. Finally, silver plated pieces shouldn't be soaked in vinegar.
Lemon Juice is used in the same way that vinegar is. I prefer it for some of the same reasons. It isn't messy and is a good choice for glass and metal jewelry. It is also my method of choice for copper jewelry with verdigris. Plus, it has the added benefit of smelling much nicer than straight vinegar.
In all cases, be sure that the piece is very dry when you are done cleaning. Moisture is what starts this problem in the first place. You don't want to do all this work and be back to first base when you are finished.