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Friday, September 20, 2013

Snapshot Summary of Major Costume Jewelry Makers


A company whose origins go back to 19th Century Paris and its founder, Jacques Hobe, a master goldsmith known throughout Western Europe.  His sons continued the tradition of excellence and one son (also named Jacques), was intrigued with the use of machinery in making jewelry.  His son, William, made the Hobe name famous for its mass-produced yet very elegant costume jewelry.  Jewelry from this era exhibits superior workmanship with stones hand-set and of the highest quality.  Hobe was frequently the jewelry of choice in 1950's Hollywood.


A Parisian style boutique chain founded in 1918 and selling Carnegie-designed clothing.  The company's namesake, Hattie Carnegie, began manufacturing jewelry to complement the clothing line.  Her boutiques were frequented by the rich and famous, including, among others, Joan Crawford.  Jewelry from this company is highly collectible due to its quality of design and workmanship.

Weiss Necklace

Founded in New York City in 1942 by former Coro designer Albert Weiss, this company flourished during the 1950's and 1960's, offering the highest quality jewelry using Austrian crystal rhinestones.  Design of Weiss pieces is somewhat traditional and the name is well known and highly regarded for its figural jewelry.  Of particular beauty are those pieces in the form of butterflies and other insects.  Without a doubt, Weiss created some of the most beautiful and appealing jewelry of the post-WWI era.

In recent years, there have been issues with fake and reproduction Weiss pieces.  So far, they are easy enough to identify as the quality and fit and finish are poor.


Founded in Chicago in 1914 by Jonas Eisenberg, the company produced high quality ready-to-wear clothing and accessories.  The jeweled accessories were made using the highest quality Austrian rhinestones provided by the Swarovsky Company.

Jewelry production began in the 1930's and continues to this day under the Eisenberg name.  Clothing production was halted in 1958.

Vintage Eisenberg jewelry is highly prized for its elegant design and quality materials.  It is easily identified by its superior workmanship and the use of the very best shimmering stones.  Eisenberg cannot be mistaken for anything else.


Part of a Hollycraft Pin & Earrings Set
Founded in the 1940's by an Armenian immigrant, this firm was in business making fine costume jewelry until the late 1960's. Hollycraft jewelry is among the top names in exquisite design and high quality workmanship. Typically, the Hollycraft lines were made with pastel colored enclosed stones with a japanned back. Pieces with red stones are quite rare.

Trifari Faux Pearl Brooch

The history of this company can be traced back to the mid-1800's in Naples, Italy and to a small workshop owned by Luigi Trifari.  Luigi's grandson, Gustavo Trifari, learned the jewelry making trade from his grandfather before emigrating to America in 1904 at which time he founded his own jewelry company.  Two years later, Trifari was producing beautiful rhinestone decorated hair ornaments and accessories and later became one of the largest and best-known producers of costume jewelry.  They manufactured a wide range of designs and quality pieces available at various price levels.  Trifari jewelry is recognized by collectors for its superb design and workmanship.  Early pieces marked KTF and figural pieces are particularly highly valued.

© 2013 Big River Mercantile

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