(Italy, 1944 – present)
This Milan-based firm was among the costume jewelry makers that rose from the wreckage of World War II and Fascist rule. The company, which was opened by Piera Barni Albani in 1944 with three workers, was the successor to the Visconti di Modrone company, a perfume and costume jewelry maker. The daughter of Ornella’s owner, Maria Vittoria Albani, joined the company in the mid-1950s as their designer. From 1962-1968, the company operated a shop under the name Creazione Maria Vittoria.
Ornella pieces were sold to the American market in high-end department stores such as I. Magnin, Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller and Marshall Field. Their work featured typically-Italian materials such as hand-painted wooden beads, Venetian glass beads, sea shells and gilded, hand-molded ceramics. Designs did not follow particular fashion trends, so jewelry cannot be dated easily. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, pieces were marked with a sticker with the trademark (“Bijoux Ornella Made in Italy”) printed in gold on a red or blue background. Other pieces are marked with the“ORNELLA” trademark (in use since 1945) stamped into the metal.Shop Ornella jewelry
Ostby & Barton
(United States, 1879 – ?)Shop Ostby & Barton jewelry
(United States, 1934 – 1970)
In a November, 1934 press release, Edward Osgood Otis, Jr. (1899 – 1972) announced that he had “taken over the plant, lines, patents, etc., of what was formerly Wachenheimer Bros., Inc., retaining the plant and personnel at 36 Garnet St.” Otis, Inc., was incorporated that same year but later became Otis Co. They continued to manufacture sterling silver costume jewelry in Providence, Rhode Island, until 1970.Shop Otis jewelry
(United States, 1917 – 1942?)
The former owner of a jewelry store, Harry Payton started the costume jewelry manufacturing firm H. Payton Co. at 40 Clifford Street in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1917. Joseph Hershoff became his partner in 1920. By 1924, Harry’s son Matthew joined the business. The company was incorporated in 1926 with Alfred Brown and Philip Brown, both of New York, as company president and secretary-treasurer, respectively. Harry died in 1927. By 1930, his sons Bernard and Matthew replaced the Browns as company officers. The last listing for H. Payton Co., Inc. in the Providence City Directory was in 1942.
In jewelry trade directories, H. Payton is described as “manufacturers of sterling silver flexible bracelets, bar pins, rings, necklaces, earrings and metal novelties”. Ads in the The Jewelers’ Circular (a trade publication) and wholesaler catalogs emphasize the company’s Payco-Flex Bracelets, made of sterling silver and stone set, which were sold only to wholesalers. The PAYCO trademark was registered in 1924.Shop H. Payton jewelry
(United States, 1926 – 1966)
Oreste Pennino (1888 – 1967) and his father, Pasqual, were both goldsmiths who emigrated from Naples in 1904, settled in Brooklyn, and opened their own jewelry store. Pasqual died suddenly in 1908, following the immigration of his second wife and four children. Only Oreste’s brothers Francis Anselmo (1897 – 1972) and Gennaro (1900 – 1963) remained in America with him. In 1926, Pennino Brothers was established in New York City, with offices at 38 West 48th Street. Oreste was the designer; Francis (Frank), the master craftsman; and Gennaro (Jack), the salesman. Pennino pieces were sold in high-end jewelry and department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue.
The company’s first design patents, granted in 1928, were for a brooch and bracelet that each featured a Zodiac symbol. According to Brunialti, the company produced a collection of 14k gold brooches and rings in 1931. In 1939, Oreste designed and patented the company’s only design of a human subject – Pinocchio in rhodium- and gold-plated metal, with enamel and rhinestones. The image was based on the 1883 book and pre-dated the Disney movie. Several designs were patented before 1940 and from 1946 to 1949, but many designs were not patented.
In 1937, Oreste applied for a utility patent for a “Combination Clip & Brooch Structure” (a double-clip brooch mechanism). That patent (2,119,178) was granted on May 31, 1938. You can see the patent here.
Pennino pieces are known for the excellent quality of their design and materials, and the intricacy of their workmanship. The brothers typically used high-quality rhinestones set in rhodium- or gold-plated base metal, sterling silver, or vermeil sterling. Typical motifs include flowers and trees. In 1946-1947, several versions of a “Sunburst” brooch were produced, including a “Sunburst Watch”. This design was inspired by the Duke of Verdura and was interpreted by other costume jewelry makers of the era.
Pennino pieces are marked “Pennino” in small block letters, with the addition of “Sterling”, as appropriate. Although a series of trademarks featuring Zodiac signs were registered in 1928, the “Pennino” trademark was never registered.Shop Pennino jewelry
(United States, 1922 – mid-1950s)
Founded in New York City in 1922 for the wholesale production of jewelry and ornaments for the garment trade, Reinad Novelty Co. started designing and manufacturing costume jewelry for retail under the name of Chanel Novelty Co. (marked Chanel) in 1941. After issuing its spring collection, the company was forced to change its name to avoid confusion with Maison Chanel of Paris. Reinad continued to produce for the wholesale and retail markets until the mid-1950s, using the trademark REINAD, Reinad, REINAD N.Y.C. and SCEPTRON (which was first used in 1944).
William Wienner was a Reinad designer in 1949, when he patented an earring design (number 155,326). In the 1940s and 1950s, Reinad produced for other jewelry makers such as Boucher, Hattie Carnegie and Eisenberg, using the same designs. Reinad jewelry is not plentiful; pieces with the Chanel mark are especially scarce.Shop Reinad jewelry
(United States, 1932 – 1953)
In New York in 1932, Solomon Finkelstein started Sol Finkelstein Co., a company that manufactured rhinestone jewelry for wholesale distribution. In 1939, he changed the name of the company to Déja Costume Jewelry, Inc., and started to manufacture jewelry for the retail trade. The following year, DuJay, Inc. sued Déja for trademark infringement because its name was too similar to DuJay. Consequently, Déja became Réja in 1941, mainly because the new name could easily be stamped over the Déja mark on items already manufactured with it. Production ceased in 1953.
The company, known for its exceptional designs and craftsmanship, manufactured in limited quantities for the medium- to upper-market segment. Most designs were created by Solomon Finkelstein. Figurals (such as anthropomorphic animals, masks and characters from fairy tales and folklore) were prominent in their collections, which also featured floral motifs. Sterling silver was used from 1942 to 1947. Other typical materials were enamel, faux pearls, rhinestones and colored glass. While all types of jewelry were produced, brooches are the most available today; necklaces and bracelets are rare.Shop Réja jewelry
(United States, 1938 – 1951)
New England Glass Work, founded in 1911, changed its name to Rice-Weiner & Company in 1938 and became an important manufacturer of premium costume jewelry. The company had offices and a showroom in New York City, a plant in Providence, Rhode Island, and showrooms in Chicago and Los Angeles. In 1946, the firm’s partners split: Alvin and Robert Rice created Barclay Jewelry, Inc., and Alexander Weiner continued to operate Rice-Weiner. Rice-Weiner ceased its retailing business in 1951 to concentrate on wholesale trade.
Louis C. Mark was head designer in 1940 and 1941. During that period, 16 of his designs were patented but none of these pieces was produced with the Rice-Weiner name. Mark went to Barclay Jewelry in 1946.
McClelland Barclay, a sculptor, portrait painter, illustrator, and industrial designer, designed jewelry for Rice-Weiner from 1938 until his death in 1943. His work included sterling silver and vermeil pieces depicting animals or flowers, but he is best known for his gold- or silver-plated geometric pieces. In many of these creations, two components made of different metals were assembled and embellished with contrasting stones. What is really unusual about the designer’s collaboration with Rice-Weiner is that they produced his jewelry with his signature rather than their name. Note: Pieces marked Barclay on a palette with the words “Art in Jewelry” were made by Barclay Jewelry, Inc. – they were not designed by McClelland Barclay.
In the 1940s, Rice-Weiner also produced jewelry inspired by Alexander Korda’s movies The Thief ofBagdad and The Jungle Book. These pieces were marked Thief of Bagdad Korda© and Alexander Korda ©.
Following the firm’s split in 1946, Natasha Brooks, Norman Bel Geddes (an industrial designer) and Betty Betz designed for Rice-Weiner.Shop Rice-Weiner jewelry
(United States, 1942 – 1985)
Born Henrietta Rosencrans in Salzburg, Austria, Nettie Rosenstein (1890-1980) and her family immigrated to the United States in 1892. After working as a milliner and dress designer with her sisters, Rosenstein started her own clothing company in 1921. Despite her success, she retired in 1927, then returned to work in 1929 for fashion house Corbett & Cie. That same year she reopened her own couture business. In 1942, Rosenstein began to design and manufacture costume jewelry through the Nettie Rosenstein Accessories Corporation. In 1961, she discontinued her fashion line but continued to operate the accessories business. Although she retired by the end of that decade and died in 1980, her company continued until 1985.
Rosenstein’s work is known for its exceptional quality. Pieces from the 1940s were large in size and designed to complement her fashions. Her collections typically featured animal, floral and heraldic motifs. While most of her contemporaries stopped producing with sterling silver after World War II, Rosenstein continued to use it through the first half of the 1950s. Her pieces were signed with her name inscribed in a rectangular cartouche, but no designs were patented.Shop Nettie Rosenstein jewelry
(France, 1922 – 1975)
Louis Rousselet (1892-1980) was born in Paris and apprenticed at a young age to learn to manufacture lamp-work beads. In 1922 in Menilmontant, a Paris suburb, he began manufacturing glass and Galalith beads as well as faux pearls. The pearls were created from glass beads coated with essence d’Orient, a fish-scale compound. All of his beads were hand-wound and polished. Workers had to train for six or seven years to learn his techniques. By 1925, Rousselet employed 800 workers and shipped his beads all over the world. Production of pearls ceased in the late 1960s. Glass beads were manufactured until 1975, when the last trained worker retired.
Rousselet also designed sautoirs, necklaces, pendants and other jewelry, using glass beads in a wide range of colors and styles. His pieces were worn by Josephine Baker and other stars of the Folies Bergères, Casino de Paris and Moulin Rouge, as well as clients of couturiers such as Chanel, Jacques Fath, Pierre Balmain and Robert Piquet. Rousselet’s daughter Denise designed many of the firm’s collections from 1943 until she took over as designer in 1965.
Most of Rousselet’s pieces were signed only on a paper tag. Jewelry with the L.R. mark is rare.Shop Louis Rousselet jewelry