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Vintage Jewelry Designers & Makers

  • Sensational Schiaparelli

    Some of my favorite costume jewelry from the 1950s was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli. I like these pieces because they are strikingly different from those of other designers of the decade – they’re colorful, bold, and innovative. I am glad this last trait is one that continues to inspire Daniel Roseberry, Artistic Director of Maison Schiaparelli, today. In the preface to his Spring/Summer 2022 Ready-to-Wear collection, he describes the House’s founder as “someone who celebrated innovation and progress of all kinds: creative, social, cultural”.

    This article highlights some of the Schiaparelli jewelry in the boutique and demonstrates innovative ways to wear it. I hope you will be inspired by seeing these fabulous pieces worn in fresh ways.

    Schiaparelli Jewelry Characteristics

    By the late 1940s, the designer had set aside her pre-war style in favor of abstract designs and motifs inspired by nature that would appeal to the American market. Nonetheless, Schiaparelli’s jewelry remained innovative. Materials included heavily-plated metals in a variety of finishes and textures along with prong-set distinctive glass stones. She mixed shapes, sizes, cuts, colors and finishes in unexpected ways. Schiaparelli’s bold designs from the late 1940s and 1950s are statement pieces. Let’s look at some of my favorites.

    Fireworks for the Bride

    This large (3” diameter) brooch is very three-dimensional, with a trio of layered flowers. Each is formed with clusters of red-glass beads resting on shimmering petals, giving this jewel the appearance of a fireworks display. Schiaparelli often used Aurora Borealis (an iridescent coating invented in 1955 by Manfred Swarovski, grandson of the firm’s founder). It makes the stones flash colors of the rainbow as the wearer moves and catches the light.

    The photo above shows this jewel on the wide sash of a simple ivory silk wedding ensemble paired with a vintage beaded clutch. This unusual placement of the brooch at the waist makes a stunning statement accessory. I think it could be a wonderfully unconventional way to add red to a bridal look and a match for a bride seeking her own personal style. It could even allow her to ditch the tradition of holding a bouquet!

    Ruby Glass Bead & Aurora Borealis Brooch

    Black & White in Color

    This version of the same brooch substitutes black glass stones and beads for the red ones. The photo on the left captures the kaleidoscope of colors of the iridescent clear stones.

    Worn on a black turtleneck sweater by day or a silk scarf by night, this jewel is a unique and sophisticated accessory that’s guaranteed to get you noticed.

    Lucky Clovers

    Schiaparelli was a master at using stones in unusual cuts to complement the shape of a jewel. These earrings are a fine example. The faceted, three-sided, shield-shaped glass stones in two shades of topaz enhance the three-leaf clover design of the earrings. The gold-tone frames are accented with faceted round citrine glass stones.

    Ear clips like these were all the rage in the 1950s. If this type of earring isn’t for you, how about wearing it to adorn a ribbon necklace, as shown here? Or to embellish your shoes?

    Glowing Lava Rocks

    This substantial brooch features Schiaparelli’s signature stone – lava rocks. They are textured, domed, oval stones with iridescence that appear to have a fire within. Surrounding them are faceted navette and round glass stones in blue and pale amethyst. The abstract shape allows you to position the piece in any way you wish. On the right, it’s worn as a pendant on a cord.

    For Sunny Days

    Sets of costume jewelry – matching brooches, earrings, necklaces and/or bracelets – were popular in the 1950s. Here’s an example with another of this designer’s distinctive glass stones – faceting that forms an eight-pointed star when viewed from above. In this case, the stones are encircled with tiny faux pearls in an elaborate, antiqued, gold-plated setting. The photo on the right shows my favorite model wearing the brooch and ear clips together. You could do that or wear them separately.

    Schiaparelli Jewelry Today

    Jewelry is an important part of Maison Schiaparelli’s collection each season. As discussed in my post “The Jewels of Maison Schiaparelli: Yesterday & Today”, Artistic Director Daniel Roseberry continues to be inspired by the Surrealist artists who influenced the House’s founder before the war. His pieces are big and bold, and bold jewelry is back in fashion.

    This connection between fashion and art will be celebrated in the upcoming exhibition “SHOCKING! The Surrealist World of Elsa Schiaparelli” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It runs from July 6, 2022 to January 22, 2023.

    For More Schiaparelli Jewels

    Shop the TruFaux Jewels boutique.

  • 1950s beaded earrings by Miriam Haskell

    1950s Beaded Earrings for Modern Women

    If you enjoy period TV series and movies as much as I do, I’m sure you find the costumes and sets as entertaining as the stories. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, set in the late-1950s, provides eye-candy for jewelry lovers like me. Because the show is streaming, we can experience the…

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  • Jewelry designer Ruth Kamke bracelet for Eisenberg

    The Woman Behind Eisenberg’s Sparkle: Ruth Kamke

    Women’s History Month inspired me to highlight one of the most brilliant female jewelry designers you have never heard of. Ruth Kamke was the fiercely-talented woman behind the sparkling creations of Eisenberg Jewelry, Inc. for over three decades. Let me start by telling you a bit about her employer. Fallon…

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  • Brighten your mood with this dazzling brooch.

    Brighten Your Mood with this Glittering Jewel

    As the months of near-quarantine drag on, the idea of dressing up to stay at home may seem like an oxymoron. You may be surprised to learn that psychologists are encouraging us to do just that. Studies have shown that how we dress affects how we feel about ourselves. So…

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  • Dating jewelry can be challenging

    Jewelry Sleuthing: A Philadelphia Story

    I knew the answer wasn’t 1943. When dating jewelry for my website, as a first step I look for a maker’s mark. The line bracelets I was examining bore the Otis trademark, but that was the challenge. Every readily-available source I checked stated that this Providence, Rhode Island, firm commenced…

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  • Maison Schiaparelli spring 2020 jewelry

    The Jewels of Maison Schiaparelli: Yesterday & Today

    As a long-time fan of Schiaparelli jewelry, I was delighted to see photos of the Maison’s haute couture show for spring 2020. And as one who first chooses the jewelry to wear when putting together an outfit, I was smitten when I read about artistic director Daniel Roseberry’s approach to…

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  • Verdura brooch worn by Joan Fontaine in 'Suspicion'

    Jewelry in the Movies: Verdura Brooch

    As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved black-and-white films from the 1930s-1950s. More recently, though, I’ve realized that their one drawback is that we can’t usually see the splendour of the jewelry often worn by female characters. Here’s a case in point: In the photo above from…

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  • Bauhaus inspired architecture

    1930s Bauhaus Inspired Jewelry: A Celebration

    I cannot let this year end without telling you about the centenary of an important influence on one style of 1930s jewelry – the Bauhaus, a school of design founded in 1919 in Germany. You may be familiar with the modernist buildings and decorative arts that flowed from its philosophy…

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  • Unique wedding jewelry by Hattie Carnegie

    Happily Ever After: Unique Wedding Jewelry by Hattie Carnegie

    If you were walking along East 49th Street in New York City in the 1950s, at number 42 you might have seen this diamanté-studded gold-tone mesh necklace with dangling pearls and crystal beads (shown above) in the window. That address was home to Hattie Carnegie Inc., a well-known fashion house…

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  • Vintage Pearls for Modern Brides

    Pearls have been called the gem of queens and the queen of gems. For centuries, they have been associated with love, marriage, seductiveness and femininity. Not surprisingly, pearls have been a popular choice for wedding jewelry for generations. High-quality imitations have been fashionable since Coco Chanel started wearing them herself…

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  • Hobe brooches add romance to an outfit

    Find Romance with Hobé Brooches

    With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, romance is in the air. Everyone is thinking about roses and the color red. But I’ve decided to offer a different take on romance, with Hobé brooches. Pieces from the late 1930s through the 1940s by the incredible jewelry designer William Hobé…

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  • Paul Flato jewelry

    Paul Flato Jewelry in ‘Holiday’

    Before I even knew his name, I was a fan of Paul Flato jewelry. I was introduced to his talent when I first saw Holiday, a 1938 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. During that viewing many years ago, I remember wondering if the fabulous three-strand diamond necklace Hepburn…

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