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Vintage Jewelry Designers & Makers

  • 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 era and admire the jewels as often as we wish. And with each viewing, we can imagine how to wear them in a modern way. Earrings, in particular, can easily add a touch of Fifties glamour to a casual outfit and express your personal style. Here are some great examples of 1950s beaded earrings, a type seen often in the show. All are by some of the finest makers of the decade.

    Miriam Haskell

    Well-respected for high-quality materials and designs, this firm continues to make jewelry that is always special. Frank Hess, chief designer from 1926-1960, is known for his use of complimentary colors and textures, layers, and natural themes (Gordon & Pamfiloff 109-110).

    The photo above shows rows of white glass beads and disks held together with rondelles and gold-tone metal. The construction allows the components to move. What a distinctive pair of 1950s beaded earrings! Although I’ve always thought they were fun, I saw them in an entirely new, bright and glamorous light when they were chosen to walk the runway at a recent fashion show.

    Here are two more examples from this great maker.

    Citrine bead & silver leaf earrings by Miriam Haskell
    Diamante flower earrings w/beaded petals - Miriam Haskell


    On the left, a flower is formed with a base of citrine-glass stones that alternate with petals of textured silver-tone metal. A large, faceted citrine-glass bead tops this three-dimensional design. The flowers on the right are simpler but no less lovely. At the center is a large, faceted diamanté, which is surrounded by petals of tiny clear- and grey-glass bi-color beads wired together. See how beautifully this pair compliments a basic black-and-white shirt.

    Louis Rousselet

    Pearls were a ’50s jewelry wardrobe staple – a simple strand for the neck and a single stud for the ear. Some makers went further. Louis Rousselet, the premier producer of faux pearls and colorful beads in the first half of the 20th century, is one. His jewelry is coveted and proudly worn by vintage jewelry enthusiasts today. Looking at these two examples, you can see why.

    Blown glass flower & pearl Louis Rousselet earrings
    Gemstone bead & pearl earrings by Louis Rousselet


    The ear clips on the left feature hand-wound-glass flowers and leaves sitting on a base of tiny faux pearls. The pair on the right has round pearls of different sizes interspersed with hand-wound-glass leaves in gemstone colors (ruby, sapphire, emerald and amethyst). Diamanté rondelles add a touch of sparkle. Both creations are complex, hand-made and very three-dimensional.

    Hattie Carnegie

    I think 1950s beaded jewelry from the fashion house of Hattie Carnegie is particularly innovative and distinctive.

    Hattie Carnegie earrings with blue beads
    Colorful beaded ear clips by Hattie Carnegie


    On the left is a pair of ear clips with clusters of blue beads. But the jewels are more than simple beads: what makes these earrings stand out is the diversity of shapes, tones, sizes and finishes used. Some are coated with Aurora Borealis, which adds iridescence. See how easily my favorite model wears these jewels with a denim jacket.

    The earrings on the right are a similar design but have an entirely different look. The use of color, an essential in the 1950s, makes them special. Blue, black and yellow-green beads in different shapes and sizes are iridescent. This unusual and bold color combination would also add a touch of chic to a casual outfit. Both pairs were designed to frame the face – the left and right earrings are different.

    Alice Caviness

    Jewelry sold by Alice Caviness in the 1950s is unique and imaginative. These two examples incorporate colorful beads with other types of components.

    Turquoise Alice Caviness earrings with sapphires
    Black & white 'atomic' earrings by Alice Caviness


    At the center of the pair on the left is a large textured turquoise-glass stone shaped like a thick button. It has a bit of sparkle and is surrounded by a half-circle of sapphire-glass beads coated with Aurora Borealis and small turquoise glass beads. The components are wired onto a gold-tone filigree back. As you can see, the earrings face each other, to frame the wearer’s face.

    On the right is a pair in a starburst or atomic motif, so popular in the 1950s. The beads are bi-color glass in black and clear. Some have caps of silver-tone filigree, while other caps are solid metal. This three-dimensional design looked glamorous on the model who wore them on a recent fashion show runway with a 1930s onyx bracelet – an unexpected, yet very clever combination!

    A Common Question

    One of the benefits of ear clips is that they can be worn by everyone. Women with pierced ears often ask if the clip-back fastener can be converted to a post. The answer is ‘no’. In general, the size of the clip is an integral part of the earring’s structure and is needed to properly support it’s weight. When you purchase a pair of this type of earring, you’ll receive a pair of clip cushions for added comfort.

    For More 1950s Beaded Earrings

    See the boutique’s 1950s Jewelry collection, which features all types of jewelry from that decade by these featured makers and others.

    Quoted Print Source

    Gordon, Cathy and Sheila Pamfiloff. Miriam Haskell Jewelry. Revised 2nd edition. Schiffer Publishing, 2009.

  • 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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  • Flexible choker worn by Ann Sheridan in The Unfaithful

    Jewelry in the Movies: A 1940s Flexible Choker

    Movies produced in the 1930s-1940s rarely credited jewelry. In fact, in many cases, the names of the costume designers weren’t even disclosed on-screen. For this reason, I always look closely at what the female characters are wearing in these films, hoping to recognize a jewel. Last night while watching The…

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