Vintage costume jewelry has become a highly collectible niche in the antiques and collectibles world. Here are some of the most collectible names in vintage costume jewelry and some background on them.
Created in 1942 by a former Coro company employee named Albert Weiss, Weiss has become one of the most popular and collectible names in vintage costume jewelry collecting. Weiss is synonymous with gorgeous and elegant rhinestone pieces including brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Sadly, the Weiss company went out of business in 1971, therefore their pieces are very collectible and the most beautiful pieces including figurals like birds and animals routinely sell for high prices on auction sites and in both online and offline stores. Watch out for reproductions of Weiss jewelry, many less knowledgeable sellers on eBay will sell a reproduction as a true Weiss. Real Weiss jewelry is of exceptional quality, you can often tell a fake from a real piece by viewing the details of the piece with a loupe. Also, some Weiss fakes have a textured backing, where real Weiss is very smooth. The stamp may also be offset or a bit difficult to read. Real Weiss generally has a strong stamp with clear lettering.
The Eisenberg company began in 1914 as an apparel company. Then sometime in the 1930’s, they created and began to market jewelry pieces. Like Weiss, Eisenberg is known for high quality craftsmanship and for using high quality materials, including sparkling Austrian crystals. Their earliest pieces were marked as “Eisenberg Original” and later on they marked their pieces simply “Eisenberg” or “Eisenberg Ice”. The Eisenberg company still makes jewelry today but obviously the older pieces are the most collectible. For a time in the 1940’s, Eisenberg used sterling silver in their pieces and any pieces in sterling silver are very collectible. Their pieces in sterling silver will be marked as such.
Pronounced ho-bee, Hobe has been a name synonymous with fine quality costume jewelry since the 1920’s. The Hobe family actually started making jewelry in France in the late 19th century, then William Hobe founded the official company when he came to the US from France in the late 1920’s. Hobe jewelry is characterized by it’s excellent quality of craftsmanship, usage of gold and silver plated settings and quality stones. During Hollywood’s golden age, Hobe jewelry was a favorite of Hollywood stars and their finest pieces could be seen adorning starlets wardrobe’s in many classic movies. Hobe pieces were all marked, with the name Hobe typically stamped in a stylized Art Deco style script with an elongated H or B or in block letters. The original, family run Hobe company stopped producing jewelry in the early 1990’s, however a Hobe company exists that still produces jewelry marked as Hobe up to today.
The name Coro actually comes from an abbreviation of the original founders last names, which were Cohn and Rosenberger. The company was founded in New York around the turn of the century and later incorporated with the name Coro. The Coro company was one of the most, if not the most, prolific producer of costume jewelry in the 20th century. At one point during the 1920’s, the company was said to have employed more than 2000 workers in producing their lines of costume jewelry. The Coro company prided itself on producing costume jewelry for a wide range of customers, and as a result you could find Coro pieces available in both a local five and dime store and also find finer Coro pieces in high end department stores. Coro’s finest pieces could certainly compare in craftsmanship, design and quality to well known, highly collectible names like Weiss and Eisenberg. Due to their massive production, Coro used well over 100 styles of marks, stamps and variations of marks on their jewelry, sometimes changing their marks every year. Coro also produced jewelry under other brand names such as Vendome, which is highly collectible, CoroCraft, Cellini, Francois among many others. Highly collectible Coro pieces include their famous “jelly belly” pieces, sterling silver pieces including those marked MEXICO and their “Coro Duette” line.
Other Collectible Names
While these names are some of the most collectible names in costume jewelry, they certainly aren’t the only collectible names. More collectible names include Art, Lisner, Napier, Trifari, Boucher, Miriam Haskell, Carnegie, Florenza, Kramer, Sarah Coventry, Schreiner, Van Dell, Whiting & Davis, Bogoff, as well as others.