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.