(Germany, 1924? – 1939?)
Until recently unknown as a costume jewelry designer, Jakob Bengel founded a watch chain and metal wares factory in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, in 1873. His was one of several such factories in the area. In the 1920s, the company abandoned the production of mass-produced wares of little or no aesthetic value in favor of creating costume jewelry. The company’s work was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus School, a German art school from 1919 – 1933, which combined crafts with the fine arts. They promoted and taught the skills for the making of jewelry from stainless steel, chrome, nickel, and glass, and the use of geometric shapes in design. The Bauhaus style became one of the most significant influences on modern design.
Bengel’s designers included well-known artists such as Wilhelm Wagenfeld, a Bauhaus graduate, who worked free-lance for the company. The company’s distinctive Art Deco pieces were so popular in the 1930s that they were exported all over the world. However, the jewelry made for export did not bear the Bengel factory mark or even the country of origin.
At the start of World War II, the Galalith (a milk-based plastic discovered in France) Bengel used was no longer available for non-war use, and, consequently, production ceased. The Bengel name and its connection to the distinctive Art Deco pieces made of metal and colored Galalith remained unknown until the late 1990s. Because of renewed interest, the factory has re-opened as a museum and has produced limited-edition Art Deco jewelry, using the old pattern books, original tools and same production methods.Shop Jakob Bengel jewelry
(United States, 1946 – 1960?)
Henry (aka Herman) Bogoff (1905 – 1957), a Polish immigrant, founded the Spear Novelty Company and the Gay Bee Novelty Jewelry Company with his wife Yvette. Henry began to design and manufacture rhinestone jewelry around 1946, the year he filed a number of design patents. Between 1947 and 1951, he was granted 36. Most were issued to him as “Herman Bogoff”; six were issued to “Henry Bogoff” and assigned to Spear Novelty.
Bogoff jewelry appeared in numerous ads in Vogue in the 1940s and 1950s, and in Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s. The company supplied a broad range of retailers, from Sears, Roebuck (in their catalogs) and Best’s, to high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman. Bogoff jewelry appeared frequently in Vogue editorial content in the 1950s, where their availability was tied to the luxury stores.
Henry’s designs were delicate and feminine imitations of fine jewelry and were made of good-quality materials. He typically used small to medium-sized rhinestones, molded art glass, faux pearls and silver-tone metal, often rhodium plated. Small pavé leafs were a common motif. Pieces were marked “BOGOFF” (in block letters) or with the trademark.Shop Bogoff jewelry
(United States, 1937 – 1978)
Born in Paris, Marcel Boucher (1899–1965) started his career as an apprentice model-maker at Cartier in the late 1910s. He moved to the New York workshops in 1925 and continued working there until the Stock Market crash in 1929. The economy forced Boucher to transfer his skills to the costume jewelry industry. From 1930 to 1937, he worked for Mazer Brothers.
In 1937, he established Marcel Boucher, Ltd. in New York City and introduced his first collection that July. Two years later, the firm expanded its factory space. Sometime in 1941, the company changed its name to Marcel Boucher et Cie.
French designer Sandra Semensohn joined the firm in 1949 as an assistant designer and later became Boucher’s second wife. Following his death, she ran the company until 1970, when it was sold to Davorn Industries, as an independent subsidiary. She continued as president and chief designer. Both companies went into bankruptcy in 1978.
Boucher jewelry, which emphasized “real look” styles, is known for its innovative designs and exceptional quality. His pieces typically featured intricate metalwork, rhinestones that resembled real gemstones, top-quality faux pearls, and colorful enamel work. Boucher jewelry was in the medium- to high-price range and was sold in the finest department stores and boutiques.
Before World War II, pieces were made of rhodium- or gold-plated metal. Jewelry produced during the war and through 1947 was made of sterling silver.
Designs in the 1950s followed the trend for elegant, classic-looking pieces that resembled fine jewelry; necklaces, bracelets and earrings were more popular than brooches during that period. In 1955, the “Marboux” line of less-expensive tailored and resort jewelry was introduced. Boucher combined cabochon pastes with small faceted rhinestones to create very intricate designs in the 1960s.
Marcel Boucher designed six mechanisms for mounting a pair of dress/fur clips to be worn as a brooch – what we call double-clip brooches. Two were patented while he worked for Mazer; four, after he formed his own firm. You can see the last of these utility patents here.
Starting in 1945, Boucher pieces were marked with an in-house design catalog number. These numbers can be used to date the design (but not necessarily the manufacture) of a piece. The company had two trademarks for the Marcel Boucher line: “MB” topped by a Phrygian cap (the emblem of the French Revolution) – seen here – and “BOUCHER”. The first was used from the beginning of production until the end of 1949 as well as, rarely, from then until about 1955. The second trademark was used from 1950-1955, when it was replaced by “BOUCHER©”.Shop Marcel Boucher jewelry
(United States, 1939 – 1976)
Hattie Carnegie (1886-1956) was born Henrietta Köningeiser in Vienna, Austria, the second of seven children. She immigrated to the U.S. around 1900, to join her father on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. After he died, she had to leave school to work, first as a messenger girl at Macy’s, and later in their millinery workroom and dress house. In 1909, after changing her name to Hattie Carnegie, she opened her first shop on East 10th Street with Rose Roth, a seamstress who made the garments while Carnegie designed the hats. The shop was a success, and the women incorporated in 1913 and moved to West 86th Street. In 1919, Carnegie bought out her partner, established Hattie Carnegie, Inc., and shifted the business from original creations to the sale and restyling of French couture.
In 1939, the company started marketing high-quality costume jewelry to accessorize their clothing. By the time of Carnegie’s death in 1956, she had brought a unique American interpretation of French couture to the fashion scene. The production of clothing and jewelry under her name continued until 1976.
Instead of copying fine jewelry, a common practice at the time, Carnegie’s designs were innovative and distinctive. Under her direction, some pieces were designed in-house, while others were designed, produced and stamped with the Carnegie logo by various manufacturers whose work was commissioned. Other than Michael Paul (her employee) and Joanne Moonan (co-founder of Authentics Inc., later known as Van S. Authentics), the names of Carnegie jewelry designers are undocumented. Themes included flowers, leaves and fruits; Oriental figures; and stylized animals. Materials included poured glass, faux pearls, glass beads, rhinestones used as accents, and enameled and gold-plated finishes.
Carnegie’s bold and distinctive jewelry was often in sharp contrast to her chic but conventional clothing and her favorite: the little Carnegie suit. Her jewelry was worn by Hollywood elite such as Joan Fontaine, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford.
Read more about Hattie Carnegie in my blog post “Happily Ever After: Unique Wedding Jewelry by Hattie Carnegie”.Shop Hattie Carnegie jewelry
(United States, 1942? – 1981)
Founded circa 1942 by Christopher and Phyllis Catanzaro in East Providence, Rhode Island, Catamore Jewelry Company, Inc., produced gold and costume jewelry until 1981. Their trademark was “CATAMORE”.Shop Catamore jewelry
(United States, 1949? – 1980?)
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Alice Caviness (1902 – 1984) worked in the garment industry before she began to design, manufacture, and import costume jewelry and accessories in New York City. However, the year her company opened is difficult to document. By 1949, they had a showroom at 358 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. As the firm grew, they moved to larger premises at 389 Fifth Avenue in 1951, then to an entire floor at 435 Fifth Avenue in 1953. By the late-1960s, their address was 15 W. 37th Street. Alice Caviness also had sales offices in Dallas, Charlotte, and Los Angeles.
In the mid-1950s, designer Camille (Millie) Petronzio joined the firm and continued there until 1980, when she left to become head designer at Miriam Haskell. During her tenure, she won two Swarovski Great Designs in Costume Jewelry Awards.
Caviness retired to Florida in 1980. Whether production continued after her departure is questionable. Newspaper ads as late as 1985 indicate the availability of Alice Caviness jewelry in some jewelry stores.
The company sold bold and imaginative parures, demi-parures, earrings, and single brooches. Caviness jewelry was made using high-quality materials and techniques – sterling and vermeil sterling filigrees and cloisonné enamels, expensive art glass, hand-set stones and hand-strung beads. Many of the sterling filigree pieces were produced in Germany. Alice Caviness jewelry was sold only in high-end boutiques, department stores, and jewelry stores. Produced in much smaller numbers than the jewelry made by giants such as Coro and Trifari, Caviness pieces are hard to find.
Two trademarks were registered for the company in 1971 and canceled in 1980:
Shop Alice Caviness jewelry
(United States, 1901 – 1979)
Emanuel Cohn (1859-1911) and Carl Rosenberger (1872-1957) founded the firm of Cohn and Rosenberger in 1903 as an accessories boutique in New York City. The company outsourced most of its jewelry design and manufacture until it opened a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1929. They soon became the largest costume jewelry manufacturer in the United States. By the mid-1930s, Coro jewelry was sold in retail stores in most U.S. cities, and the company had added manufacturing plants in Great Britain and Canada. In 1943, the partnership incorporated as Coro, Inc. Richton purchased Coro in 1957. In 1979, production ceased except for the Canadian operations, which continued until the mid-1990s.
Coro’s success was based on a number of factors, including the quality of the company’s designs and their appeal to a wide range of consumers. Design director Adolph Katz and talented designers, such as Gene Verecchio, François, Oscar Placco and Albert Weiss, produced several product lines that differed in quality, price and target market.
The Coro line, aimed at the middle- and lower-income consumer, produced good quality pieces in a broad range of motifs, including floral, figural and patriotic. Coro Craft, the best-known higher-end brand, also employed a range of subjects, but these pieces were made of more expensive materials such as sterling silver, vermeil and European crystals. The most expensive brand, Vendôme, was introduced in 1944, but most of the line was produced after 1953. Although the Vendôme mark was used on Coro’s charm bracelets, faux pearl necklaces and other well-crafted pieces made from the finest quality materials, sales were low until Helen Marion became chief designer and revitalized the line in the 1960s.
One of the company’s successful innovations was their Duette, which uses a patented mechanism to lock two dress clips together so they can be worn as one brooch or separately. This mechanism was granted U.S. patent number 1,798,867 on March 31, 1931. It was issued to Gaston Candas of Paris, France, who invented the device for fine jewelry. Coro bought the patent in 1933 and launched their first Duettes in 1935. (You can see this utility patent here.) Duettes were especially popular in the 1930s and 1940s, when women wore dress clips on either side of a square neckline, and remain popular today.
Another Coro success was their Jelly Belly pins, which were originally created by Trifari in the 1940s, then copied by Coro and others. Coro Craft’s extra-large sterling silver pins are great examples of jewelry popular in the 1940s. In the 1950s, Coro produced jewelry with carved, molded and ribbed stones.Shop Coro jewelry
Ralph De Rosa
(United States, 1934? – 1955)
Raffaele De Rosa (1884-1942), a member of a renowned family of jewelry designers in Italy, studied at the Naples School of Design and Art before immigrating to the United States in 1906. He worked in the jewelry industry in New York City before founding Ralph De Rosa, Inc., at 404 Fourth Avenue in 1934. After his sudden death, the firm was run by his wife, Virginia, and daughters Vera and Theresa. Virginia and Vera designed the jewelry, while Theresa managed the production. The business closed in 1955.
De Rosa’s signature style was large-sized costume jewelry produced with techniques typically used in the manufacture of fine jewelry. Floral motifs, the lace theme and romantic designs such as exaggerated bows were common; figurals were seldom made. Pieces typically featured gold-plated metal set with richly-colored glass stones and translucent enameling. Sterling silver was used from 1942 until the end of 1949. De Rosa jewelry was expensive when it was produced. Today it is hard to find.Shop Ralph De Rosa jewelry
(France, United States, England & Germany, 1946 to the present)
Born in Normandy, France, Christian Dior (1905-1957) began his fashion career in the mid-1930s, selling sketches of his designs to Parisian couturiers before working for designer Lucien Lelong. In 1946 he opened his own fashion house and turned the fashion world upside down the following year with his first haute couture collection – the New Look. The name was dubbed by a Reuters correspondent after hearing Carmel Snow, Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar comment “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!”. In juxtaposition to the austerity of the war years, Dior’s fashions were extravagant, feminine and formal. Accessories such as hats, gloves and costume jewelry enhanced the glamorous look.
While some did not embrace this change in style, many North American and European elite, including Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Bette Davis, and the Duchess of Windsor, wore Dior clothing and jewelry. On screen, many stars wore his clothing: Marlene Dietrich in No Highway in the Sky (1951) and Alfred Hitchkock’s Stage Fright (1950); Jennifer Jones in Indiscretion of American Wife (1954); and Olivia de Havilland and Myrna Loy in The Ambassador’s Daughter (1956); among others. The House of Dior continued to have a relationship with Hollywood filmmakers after Dior’s death.
Dior believed his jewelry was an integral part of his collections and its quality should mirror the quality of his clothing designs. Consequently, only individual designers and companies with the highest reputations were commissioned to make Dior pieces. In the U.S., Schreiner produced one design in 1949, and Kramer manufactured Dior designs for the American market from 1952 to 1956. European collaborators include Mitchell Maer in England (1952-1956); Henkel & Grosse in Germany (from 1955 to the present); and Josette Gripoix (in the 1950s) and Robert Goossens (who also worked for Chanel) in France. Jewelry produced under license for Dior was (and still is) sold only in exclusive stores.
Dior jewelry is characterized by aurora borealis rhinestones, which he developed with Swarovski in 1955; stones in a variety of cuts and shapes in the same piece; historically-inspired styles and extensive use of floral motifs. Figurals, including circus animals, unicorns and fish, were also made.Shop Christian Dior jewelry
(United States, 1935 – 1978)
In 1919, Romanian-born David Ornstein (1889 – 1954) started the Distinctive Jewelry Co., Inc., in New York City with two partners. Two years later, the firm’s name was changed to Noveline Mfg. Co. (known as Nov-e-Line). In 1935, Ornstein and his sons, Bernard (1914 – 1992) and Irving (1920 – 2002), formed D. Ornstein & Sons, Inc. at 129 W. 22nd Street in Manhattan. They moved to 119 W. 24th Street in 1941. The company also operated under the name Dorsons Jewelry Co., Inc. They produced costume jewelry and watch cases.
David Ornstein was granted his first design patent (for a finger ring) in 1922. From 1936 – 1942, he patented designs for several styles of watch cases. Some were bracelets; others were brooches; and one was combined with a fountain pen. In 1941, he was granted a utility patent for a “Rotatable Watch for Pendants and the Like”.
The following trademark was registered in Canada in 1946 and in the United States the next year:
The Jubilee trademark was registered in the U.S. in 1948. All three trademark filings claimed that the names had been in use since 1935.
Dorsons advertised in Vogue a bracelet, brooch, and earrings with rhinestones hand-set in 1/20-12kt. gold filled, in 1946. That year they placed ads for different jewels in six issues of Good Housekeeping, which included the company on their list of “Guaranteed Products”. Readers could also order, through the magazine, Dorsons’ free booklet on the care of jewelry. In 1947, the firm advertised their Jubilee! line of bracelets and pins with rhinestones hand-set in sterling silver in The Jewelers’ Circular/Keystone (a trade publication), the New York Times, Vogue, and Life. The ads and editorial content in consumer and trade publications emphasized the “real look” of their jewelry.
In 1948, the company partnered with Heller-Deltah Co. (the makers of La Tausca simulated pearls), to produce a new line of jewelry – Dorel – to be made by Dorsons and merchandized by Heller. Located in New York City, Heller-Dorsons Co., Inc. had a Chicago showroom.
By 1961, the company had diversified. That year, their name was changed to Davorn Industries Ltd. In 1970, they bought Marcel Boucher et Cie. It operated as an independent subsidiary with Sandra Boucher as president and chief designer. Both companies went into bankruptcy in 1978.Shop Dorsons jewelry
(United States, 1936 – 2011)
Eisenberg & Sons started in Chicago as a manufacturer of women’s dresses, which were labeled “Eisenberg Originals”. Founded in 1920 as a partnership of Jonas (the father) and his sons Harold and Sam, the company incorporated in 1928. To appeal to a wealthy clientele, the firm began to add embellishments to their dresses in the 1920s, first as functional pieces (buttons or buckles), then later only for ornamentation.
As the company’s success grew, so did their line of clothing: by the mid-1930s, they were making suits, coats, and matching outfits in addition to dresses. At the same time, Eisenberg began to offer dresses with rhinestone embellishments that were sewn onto them. According to Schwartz & Sutton: “By the mid-1930s, Eisenberg & Sons was elaborately presenting these accents independent of the dresses. While the removable jewelry pieces were sold only with their specific garment, they came packaged in a blue velvet box. The adornments were an integral part of the vision of each dress, yet now the jewels could be removed or even worn with a different garment”.
Initially this jewelry was made by Agnini & Singer (later the Ralph Singer Company) of Chicago. In 1936, Eisenberg & Sons launched a separate jewelry line – mainly dress clips in pot metal – which was produced by Fallon & Kappel (F&K). By early 1941, a jewelry division – Eisenberg Jewelry Inc. – was created. On October 1, 1941, the first jewelry ad was published in Vogue. That year saw the birth of “Eisenberg Ice” in ads, although the name wasn’t trademarked until 1945. It is linked to the company’s preference for Swarovski’s highly-leaded crystals, which have exceptional sparkle.
In addition to F&K, Agnini & Singer, Reinad Novely Co. and possibly others designed and manufactured jewelry for Eisenberg until 1943. That year, F&K (who was also making jewelry for Hattie Carnegie, Chanel, and Schiaparelli) became exclusive to Eisenberg. Ruth Kamke was F&K’s designer. In January and February 1942, Ruth Nathan, who oversaw design for the firm, filed applications for Eisenberg’s only design patents. Her name appears on the 26 patents (which were assigned to Eisenberg Jewelry Inc.) only because she filed the paperwork. By the mid-1940s, Eisenberg was using only Kamke’s designs.
Eisenberg sold brooches, clips, earrings, and bracelets. They also had some necklaces and rings. Their jewelry was expensive. It was characterized by high-quality materials (particularly the crystals imported from Austria and Czechoslovakia), hand-set stones, and intricate designs. Early pieces were large and bold bows (both literal and stylized versions), abstract designs, and florals. Initially, only clear stones were used, but colored stones as well as white and colored pearls were later added. During World War II, sterling silver replaced base metals, which were needed for the war effort; domestic pressed-glass stones replaced the crystals no longer available from Europe. At this time, Kamke also designed figurals – women, fish, animals, and a mermaid – which are all considered very rare today.
After the war, the finer stones and rhodium became available again. Styles were changing: jewelry was getting smaller. Costs demanded that designs become less complex. Glued settings replaced hand-set stones in prong mountings. New materials, including poured, blown, and molded glass, were introduced.
By 1958, the jewelry business proved to be more profitable, so the company abandoned its clothing line. In 1977, Karl Eisenberg (Sam’s son) merged the company with Berns-Friedman, a jewelry maker for mid-level department stores. The firm went out of business in 2011.
Not all of Eisenberg’s early pieces were signed. Before the 1950s, the mark Eisenberg Original was used. Later marks include the letter E in script and in a block letter, and Eisenberg in script and in block letters.
For more information on this company, read Sharon G. Schwartz and Laura Sutton’s excellent book Eisenberg Originals: The Golden Years of Fashion, Jewelry, and Fragrance, 1920s-1950s.Shop Eisenberg jewelry