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  • Writer's pictureAntiques in Oxford

1940s and 1950 costume jewellery

Beginning in the late '40s, high-end Parisian Swarovskis aurora borealis rhinestones were developed and introduced in 1955 with an extra dimension of sparkle thanks to a chemical treatment that iridized the glass. Alfred Philippe, trained as a fine jeweller at Van Cleef & Arpels, was one of the foremost innovators in costume jewellery during his period as Trifaris chief designer from 1930 to 1968. He brought his particular invisible-setting technique to smoothed non-precious stones known as cabochons, often incorporated into the very popular Trifari Crown pins. Jelly Belly Animal Brooches

Philippe also developed Trifaris menagerie brooches known as Jelly Belly. Every animal, whether it was a seal, poodle, rooster or duckling featured a Lucite plastic belly smoothed into a pearl-like shape, set in gold plate or sterling silver. These pins, which were imitated by Coro and others, are highly collectible and prized today, as are Trifaris brooches. They are often exact matches of Cartier fine jewellery shaped into floral designs, miniature fruits, and American flags.

Miriam Haskell Floral Jewellery

Around the same time, Miriam Haskell produced intricate hand-crafted floral jewellery that was very popular within the Manhattan socialite scene and loved by Hollywood stars like Lucille Ball and Joan Crawford. Her high-quality pieces featured gilt filigree, Swarovski crystal beads, Murano blown-glass beads, faux pearls, and rose montées. These were precut crystals mounted onto a silver setting with a channel or hole in the back. Eisenberg & Sons were also noted for their great quality costume jewellery, particularly their reproductions of 18th century fine jewels and the figural rhinestone items set in sterling silver.

Even fine jeweller Emanuel Ciner progressed to costume jewellery in the 1930s, producing the greatest hand-crafted pieces . Ciner incorporated Swarovski crystals and plated the metal that held the crystals in places with 18-carat gold. Interlocking crystal squares were a feature of Ciner costume jewellery, as were very small turquoise seed pearls, and also Japanese faux pearls made of glass treated multiple times with a special glaze.

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