Trifari jewellery is probably one of my most popular vintage jewellery brands that I sell in my Etsy shop “Vintage Jewellery Fun” The reason for its popularity is plain to see – gorgeously elegant designs in plain matt, brushed or a mix of textured and shiny gold-plated finishes, understated design, combined with fine detailing and a strong sense of realism in their flowers and leaves, all mean that their designs are now highly desirable amongst collectors and vintage jewellery lovers.
The Trifari pieces that most represent the elegance of the 1950s are the matching sets of two, three or four pieces. Designs were produced in matching ranges, but today we’d be very lucky to find the complete four piece set, (a Grand Parure) of necklace, brooch, earrings and bracelet. What you are more likely to find is a brooch with matching earrings, or a necklace and matching bracelet or earrings instead. Fashionable women of taste and discernment chose Trifari because it most looked like the jewellery they loved to look at in magazines, but just couldn’t afford. The Cartier price-level jewellery was out of reach of all but the most wealthy of women, so Trifari was the next best thing. They produced mostly plain gold-plated designs, but also used clear diamanté to great effect. Sparkly crystal glass cut in marquis, baguettes and ovals as well as the conventional round diamanté stones produced a dazzling array of jewels to wear and impress. This was the age of the cocktail party, and entertaining the husband’s boss and his wife to dinner, so Trifari jewellery was the best brand to wear with the LBD !!
Two vintage Trifari magazine adverts from 1963 !!
Since the 1920s, Trifari has been one of the most respected and admired producers of costume jewellery in the United States. Founded in 1910 by Gustavo Trifari the company has designed jewellery that’s been worn by countless high-profile clients, from Mamie Eisenhower to Madonna.
Gustavo Trifari was the Italian-immigrant son of a Napoli goldsmith, who arrived at Ellis Island in 1904 at the age of 20. In 1910 he founded “Trifari and Trifari” with his uncle. Gustavo’s uncle left the company a few years later, and so Gustavo continued the company under the name of “Trifari.” Leo Krussman joined Trifari in 1917, and Carl Fishel joined as head of sales in 1925. The company name was then changed to “Trifari, Krussman and Fishel” and the logo “KTF” (with an enlarged “T” at the centre) was used to mark the jewellery. Trifari vintage jewellery pieces from this era are extremely rare, as the mark was only used for several years.
KTF Dress clip from the 1920s/30s – rhodium-plated metal set with round and baguette diamanté stones – KTF Dress clip – £85
During World War II, Trifari was unable to use metal in its products due to rationing. This forced Trifari to switch to sterling silver during the war, which tripled prices for Trifari products (although that didn’t seem to hurt sales). Post-war, Trifari wanted to go back to less costly, maintenance-free metal, but its customers were now used to silver. To hype the return to a cheaper base metal, the company began advertising a “revolutionary” new metal called Trifanium, which was a made-up name for their basic metal — unlike silver, it could be given a no-polish rhodium-plated finish. They used it as a base for all of their beautiful gold-plated jewellery too. Trifari jewellery is mostly in very fine to excellent condition after all this time, which is a tribute to the fine quality of the Trifari manufacturing processes. These pieces are very likely to be heavily gold-plated over Trifari’s own Trifanium alloy, using a layer of gold that was 8 times thicker than the industry standard of the day. This was the normal process for all of their gold-coloured jewellery from the 1950s right through to when the company was bought out.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – how about treating your girlfriend to one of these fabulous vintage jewels from Vintage Jewellery Fun – lots of beautiful choices and free postage to anywhere in the world !!
Here’s this thing – I have just listed this beautiful Tiffany & Co necklace in my Etsy shop – as shown in this pic above – but before I listed it, I decided to see whether I could check up on its authenticity. What I discovered was extremely interesting…
First off, let me tell you about how I came by this pretty thing !! I did my usual search for hidden treasure on E-Bay on week – a weekly search for ‘Vintage jewellery Mixed Lot’ (UK only). Amongst other things up popped this rather interesting mixed lot which apparently had come from an estate auction, and so I duly put my bid in. I had looked it over, saw a few things I liked, including this necklace which looked like it might be silver perhaps (The name Tiffany didn’t cross my mind!!)
Well, I won the auction and received the package in the mail a few days later. When I went through it, I nearly fell of my office swivel chair !! The silvery-looking chain was stamped ‘Tiffany & Co’ and also had a script signature which I couldn’t read, a copyright symbol and a stamp for 925. Woohoo…a Tiffany necklace – what a RESULT !!
However, you can sense a ‘but’ coming, can’t you…
So here are the photos and the text for my Etsy ‘VintageJewelleryFun’ shop listing which went up this morning – if you have a Tiffany piece which you have bought anywhere on the second-hand/vintage market, everything you need to know is in here:-
This is a gorgeous silver-plated necklace of pretty bean-shaped links, with the last link bearing the iconic brand logo for Tiffany & Co and underneath, the famous Elsa Peretti signature along with a 925 stamp to indicate solid sterling silver. Her Bean design is an iconic design that has been running since she started designing for the Tiffany & Co back in 1979.
This really is a beautiful necklace and, because it’s a simple silver chain-like design, it will look lovely with pretty much anything, from T-shirt & jeans to that elegant designer evening dress.
YES, BUT IS IT REAL ?!!
***Here’s the thing – this has all the appearance of a beautiful vintage piece of Tiffany, and I was very excited to find it amongst a mixed lot of jewellery that came up in an estate auction.
However, I was actually much MORE interested to discover that there are quite a few pointers to indicate that this is an extremely convincing copy:-
1. The brand logo is pale compared to the silver of the bean surface – a real sterling piece would have a dark logo where the incised name has tarnished.
2. The lobster clasp has a slightly rough texture when viewed under the jeweller’s loupe, and furthermore it doesn’t bear the 925 stamp to indicate sterling silver. Tiffany pieces always do.
3. The beans are flat on the underside and just slightly too pointy at the corners, compared to the real thing on the Tiffany website. (A discrepancy in the design is often the first thing which indicates that it may not be real.)
4. The linking rings are slightly different from the real thing – their direction alternates to link to the next one, whereas the real thing has jump rings in between each link.
5. The ‘L’ in the Elsa Peretti signature forms a continuous loop, whereas the real signature has a tiny break in the upsweep of the letter – this is definitely something you can only see through a jeweller’s loupe.
6. Lastly – and here’s the clincher – it’s MAGNETIC !!
Real solid sterling (stamped 925) silver is not and has never been magnetic, so this indicates that this is just silver-plated having a core of steel or something similar.
The reason that I was interested to discover these pointers was that I have now learned how to spot a fake Tiffany piece, something that the Internet (especially E-bay and very likely Etsy too) frankly, is awash with !! The article that I read to learn all this is here:-
Such a shame – this could have been worth around £300 on the vintage market – however, my loss is your gain, because if you really like the famous Bean design by Elsa Peretti, this one looks like the real thing to anyone seeing you wear it, but it’s going to cost you a mere fraction of the price of an authentic piece. !! And that’s a good thing….
I do hope this article is of some help to you if you have just bought or are thinking of buying a second-hand Tiffany & Co piece – real items are out there, but it seems that there are more fakes than anything else – you could lose so much money if you are not aware of these vital signs.
BEAUTIFUL VINTAGE EVENING BAGS (Perfect for that Summer Wedding)
This week, I have boosted my selection of vintage accessories section with some truly gorgeous, dressy evening bags – perfect for that weddinge looking for an evening bag to match a particular outfit, come and have a look – I may just have the perfect choice !!
Here is a truly fabulous and over-the-top evening clutch bag, in heavily stiffened black raw silk, with clear diamante, copper sequins and bugle and seed beading all over the front flap – an intricate pattern of zig-zag lines forming a border with a large flower motif in the bottom corner.
This has no brand label inside, so I can’t tell you anything about who made, but it has a distinctively Asian or Middle Eastern look about it. I can imagine this worn with an intricately copper-beaded silk evening sari.
Here is a beautiful little evening bag, in black satin, embellished all over the front and back with broad diagonal stripes of black seed beading and coppery orange bugle beading – see the close-up for the details. The handle is also beaded all over with black seed beads.
This would be lovely with any black outfit of course, but also anything that involves coppery colours – maybe team this with Renoir copper earrings – £18
Here is possibly the oldest vintage clutch bag in my shop – sometimes it’s rather hard to date these things – but I think this is probably from the late 1940s / early 1950s. The hard faux-tortoiseshell celluloid frame with its chunky knob clasp gives it away. Celluloid was the successor to Bakelite and was used in the 40s and early 50s. It’s very much lighter weight than Bakelite, so it’s easier to carry and much more versatile – and it can be translucent like this.
This is such a great shape with its ultra sharp square corners and knob kiss clasp – it’s very nice to handle and will looks great with all your favourite vintage dresses. Try this with a pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses from the same era for that perfect 1940s vibe.
This is an interesting little evening bag, in dark copper-sequinned fabric, lined with black satin. What makes this interesting is that the fabric itself is made up of the tiniest hexagonal copper sequins glued onto a backing fabric of dark grey, I think. The lining is black satin with the script ‘Accessorize’ brand label inside. Front and back of this bag are identical.