Crown Trifari Open Work Leaf Brooch


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Crown Trifari Open Work Leaf Brooch featuring a gold tone open work brooch in
a leaf design. This lovely brooch measures 4.2cm long and 4cm at its widest
point and it weighs 11.7g. It has a rollover clasp and it is signed on the
reverse 'Trifari ©' with a crown over the 'T', which was the stamp used between
1955 and 1969.

Trifari was founded in New York during the early 1910s by Gustavo Trifari, a
descendant of a family of jewellers from Napoli, Italy). In 1925 he partnered
with Leo Krussman and Carl Fishel (associates in the hair accessory business),
who recognised the popularity for affordable everyday costume jewellery
represented a far better opportunity than their current hair accessory business.

Initially called Trifari, Krussman and Fishel Jewelry (T.K.F.), the trio
eventually shortened their brand’s name to Trifari in order to evoke the
romance of Gustavo’s native Italy. Authentic Trifari jewellery is typically
marked with 'Jewels by Trifari', 'TKF' (for Trifari, Krussman & Fishel), or
'Trifari', depending on when it was made.

The hiring of French designer Alfred Philippe as head designer in 1930 was
pivotal to Trifari’s success. A master craftsman, who had worked for some of
the finest jewellery manufacturers in the world, Philippe set about
establishing the same high quality standards in both materials and
craftsmanship in the design of costume jewellery and he trained other Trifari
artisans to do the same. The settings were delicate, crystals were hand set and
designs, which sometimes featured dazzling floral motifs or exquisite
depictions of marine life, were sophisticated and elegant, having both the look
and feel of fine jewellery.

Beginning in the 1930s, Trifari worked with Broadway and Hollywood producers
to craft custom designs for famous actors, a clever move to boost its
jewellery’s status. But the true success of Trifari jewellery, and the reason
for its collectibility today, is most often credited to French designer Alfred
Philippe, the company’s chief designer from 1930 until 1968. His use of
invisible settings for stones, which he had first used on some of the fine
jewellery previously, added a level of craftsmanship and technique that had not
been previously seen in costume jewellery. Such hand-set pieces often imitated
the look of fine jewellery, using sterling silver or vermeil, a gold plated
finish, alongside other faux materials like paste gemstones and imitation
moonstone, chalcedony, and pearls.

Among Philippe’s countless contributions are the Trifari Crown brooches from
the late 1930s to the 1950s. These crowns were so popular that Trifari
incorporated a crown into its signature mark around 1937. Some of the Trifari
Crown pins feature eye catching, brightly coloured cabochons, while others are
composed entirely of clear crystal rhinestones for a monochromatic effect.
Naturally, a series of Coronation Gems was produced in 1953 to celebrate the
ascendancy of Elizabeth II to the British throne.

Like all manufacturers 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 audience was 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,
which unlike silver, it could be given a no polish rhodium finish.

The campaign worked so well that by 1953, Mamie Eisenhower felt perfectly
comfortable to break with tradition and wear costume jewellery to the inaugural
ball. To match the First Lady’s pink satin gown (studded with 2,000
rhinestones), Alfred Philippe designed an 'orientique' pearl choker necklace
with matching three stranded bracelet and earrings, each laden with eight
pearls. Three sets were made, one for the First Lady, a second for the
Smithsonian, and a third for the Trifari archives. Mrs. Eisenhower was so
pleased with the ensemble that she had Trifari make jewellery for her second
inaugural ball in 1957.

Meanwhile, Trifari, Krussman & Fishel, Inc., was waging a courtroom battle
against Charel, accusing the company of plagiarising its copyrighted designs.
Trifari made history in 1955 when the lawsuit was settled in its favour, with
the judge finding that Charel had indeed infringed on Trifari’s copyrighted
artwork, even though Trifari had not filed a formal patent for the design.
Going forward, many costume jewellery companies began imprinting their work
with the copyright symbol, ©, to help protect their original creations.

During the 1970s, Trifari removed the crown from its logo and switched to a
slightly embellished typeface above a copyright symbol, which it used until
1990's when it changed to a plain text signature and a small trademark symbol.
In 1994, Trifari became part of the Monet Group, which was acquired by Liz
Claiborne in 2000.

This beautiful piece of jewellery began its journey many years ago and may
have some very minor imperfections collected along its travels. By purchasing
this piece you will investing in a brand new chapter of its story as well as
making a positively conscious choice on sustainable fashion. Vintage jewellery
for the beautiful you on our beautiful planet.

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