Elsa Peretti (1940 – 2021)

Born in Florence on May 1, 1940, Peretti began a career as a model after moving to Barcelona in 1964. In 1968 she went on to New York where she ended up in the social circles of Warhol and Halston. 

In 1971 she began making jewellery for Giorgio di Sant’Angelo and Halston, who introduced her to Tiffany & Co. in 1974. Her most iconic pieces designed for Tiffany & Co. include the heart necklace pendant, and the bone cuff. As a child, Peretti would take bones as souvenirs from a 17th century ossuary, that her mother would make her return. “Things that are forbidden remain with you forever” she once said, explaining the bone cuff bracelet designed to emulate the wrist.

Silver was her favourite medium and she believed in making affordable jewellery that could be worn out on the street “Women can’t go around wearing $1 million.“ Peretti’s design aesthetic was pure modern minimalism ‘take away, take away’ was how she described her process to Vogue in 1986.

Peretti spent most of the last 35 years in Spain designing jewellery, establishing a vineyard, and running a charitable foundation focused on the environment, wildlife conservation, and fighting poverty. Elsa passed away March 19 at her home in Spain.

SCP hallmarked silver brooch, c. 1930, by CIRO, England

CIRO Jewelry began as a mail order company in London, England in 1917. Their ads and order forms were printed in daily newspapers. In 1920 CIRO opened its first store in Bond Street, London. In the 1920s they became especially known for their cultured pearls. Real pearls were expensive and fake pearls before the 1920s were wax or glass and not very convincing, but cultured pearls were good facsimiles of the real thing and CIRO lead the way in their popularity. Fifty years later CIRO also lead the way in popularizing zircons as realistic diamond substitutes. The company is still in business.

Chapman Brothers Ltd. jewellers (1874 – c. 1983)

Benjamin Chapman presumably learned the watchmaking and jewellery trade from his father who had established a jewellery business in Dublin, Ireland in 1814. Benjamin worked for 16 years as a jeweller in Belfast before immigrating to Canada in 1864. Ten years later he established his own business at 261 Yonge street in Toronto. 

B. Chapman’s shop offered imported clocks and jewellery from England and Germany. In January, 1890 The Trader & Canadian Jeweller reported that his store had recently installed the “new Edison incandescent electric lighting”, which “shows off their handsome goods to great advantage.” 

William James Chapman (1911 – 1999) great grandson of Benjamin, was the last owner of the family business that remained in operation until c, 1983. In 1979 the original building was given heritage status and today it houses a Tim Horton’s on the main floor.

Monet Jewellery c. 1937 – 2000

Michael and Joseph Chernow founded their New York monogramming business ‘Monocraft’ in 1927. They began by making custom decals of people’s initials to put on their cars (monogramming was a popular fad in the late 1920s.) They then expanded into making metal monograms that resembled family crests including small versions for women to monogram their purses. 

In 1934 they hired jewellery designer Edmond Mario Granville, who had trained with Cartier and would remain with the company until 1969. The first jewellery produced was a brooch style called ‘Click-Its’ that customers could personalize by clicking in their initials at the time of purchase.

In 1937 the company was renamed Monet and focussed on the production of high quality costume jewellery that emulated designs by Chanel and Schiaparelli. During the war their Providence Rhode Island factory retooled to make bullet and shell casings but also made some metal jewellery, mostly in sterling silver, as well as enamelled figural pins and war-related propaganda jewellery. They became the official Royal Air Force jewelry maker for the Bundles for Britain campaign, which raised money for civilians recovering from air raids. 

As hairstyles became shorter in the late 1940s, the demand for earrings rose. Clip-on styles became a Monet strength, as did triple plated heavy gold metal chain-link necklaces and bracelets. For the teen market the Monettes line was created with delicate necklaces and themed charm bracelets.

In 1977, Monet launched Ciani, a line of fine jewelry in 14-carat gold, sterling silver, semi-precious stones, and pave diamonds. Monet expanded their product line in the 1980s to include accessories like watches, pens, and belt buckles, and in 1988 began offering their products via mail-order. Monet acquired the license to make Yves St. Laurent costume jewelry in the U.S. in 1981 and in 1995 also acquired the license to manufacture Christian Lacroix costume jewelry. The company was bought out by Liz Clairborne in 2000 and has changed hands many times since.

Viking Craft Jewellery 1938 – c. 1970s?

Albert Horwig was born April 4, 1896 in Charleston, South Carolina. The family name was originally Hurwitz, but was changed to Horwig by his father. Albert married Rose Hoffman in 1932 and by 1938 had founded his New York based jewellery company. He registered the mark Viking Craft in November 1938, which produced primarily sterling brooches and earrings in a Nordic style originally developed by Georg Jensen in Denmark. No date is currently available for the company closing. Albert Horwig died in 1980 in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Canadian Fashion Connection – KIEN (K’Ien) Jewellery

Founded in Montreal by Naila Jaffer on February 3, 1986, K’Ien Art Concept Ltee. was listed as a wholesale distributor of jewellery. This means they didn’t manufacture the pieces, but had them made (probably in Canada) with their label.

The company didn’t survive the early 90s recession. Their last annual general meeting was held in 1991, they failed to file after 1994 and were dissolved for non-compliance by the Canadian government on March 6, 2000.

The difficult to read label that looks like KTFM is actually K’IEN.

Reblogged: Coral*

Red corals grow on rocky seabottoms with low sedimentation, typically in dark environments, either in the depths or in dark caverns or crevices. The species first harvested is found mainly in the Mediterranean Sea.

A major trade in coral existed between the Mediterranean world and India 2,000 years ago. The Romans believed coral could protect children from harm. It was considered a guardian, protecting children from illnesses. In Italy, until early 20th century, coral was worn to ward off the evil eye, and by women as a cure for sterility.

Before 1492 the cutting, piercing and polishing of red coral in Trapani, Sicily was done by Jewish artisans. The Medicis of Florence granted a monopoly of the trade in coral to the Jews of the free city of Livorno in northwestern Italy. The Jewish-made coral items were exported to Eastern Europe and India and even used to make ritual objects for Christian markets.

Decoration with gilt thread and coral beads was produced in southern Italy and Sicily in the city of Trapani from the 17th century on: “Coral was so much used in Sicilian embroideries, and so little elsewhere, that one gives the name of “Sicilian” to all such work; but occasionally we find coral embroideries in Spain and elsewhere.” – Needlework as Art, Lady M. Alford, 1886

In Ukraine, coral was used on women’s necklaces (namysto) to symbolize youth and health. The coral was both protective and informative, as people could tell how wealthy a family was since six strings of coral beads could cost as much as a pair of oxen.

When the Spanish remarked that the Indians of the new world wore red coral. However, it was later determined that these decorations came from spondylus (spiny oyster) shells. An account by Father Jacopo Sedelmayer in 1746 confirms this. He wrote of the true nature of the “coral” traded by the Yuma people of the Texas-Mexican border area, who adorned themselves “with necklaces of seashells woven together with other coloured shells looking like coral that they fashion and pierce” Actual coral, used as beads inserted into traditional ornaments with turquoise and seashells, came from rosaries given to the Indians in the Spanish period.