A photo of a 22 pedal brass stamped filigree.

Reprinted with permission from 
Vintage Fashion & Costume Jewelry
P.O Box 265
Glen Oaks, NY 11004
VCFJ@aol.com
and the author

GUYOT BROTHERS: 100 YEARS OF FINDINGS

By Joyce Zakierski Simmons


Below one of the original
 Guyot Showroom Boards
showing patented filigree
the 8849 series

A photo of vintage Guyot Brotthers filigree showroom display board.

 

Finding a Dream

Dreams and struggles, hope and healing weave a constant strand in the history of Attleboro, Massachusetts, the town where the costume jewelry industry was born. Over one hundred years ago Numa Guyot, born in Lyon, France, arrived on the shores of America to stake his claim in the American Dream. 

'An engraver, he settled in Attleboro and opened a tool and die company, N. Guyot & Sons (now Guyot Brothers Co.) 1904. This industry, both then and now thrive on creativity and design. Incorporated as Guyot Brothers Company, Inc., in 1926, their creations range from some of the smallest and most delicate to the boldest - squares and bead caps and egg stands in well over 4,000 stunning designs. Four generations later, the Guyots still manufacture decorative jewelry findings in Attleboro.

North Attleboro had an immigrant French population which attracted Numa from Biel-Bienne, a French-German area of Switzerland to open his first shop in a loft at Union and Mill Streets in Attleboro. The factory was moved to 45 Union Street, then again to 37 Union Street and in November 1960, to its present location at 20 John William Street,

Patent Power

Guyot Brothers is credited with developing unique findings and held five patents, including a square filigree and some box style settings which are still being produced. After only ten years of operation as N. Guyot and Sons, Numa died in 1914. His sons, Gaston, Eugene, and Arthur, continued in the business, in turn passing the operation, in 1958, over to Gaston’s sons Marshall, Eugene and Roy. Today the firm of Guyot Brothers Co., Inc. is guided by the fourth generation, Steve, Andrea, and Marsha, all children of Marshall Guyot.

Gaston and his business associate, William Boots, developed many product patents during in the 1930s and 1940s. The bezel setting for setting stones and cameos was patented by Gaston. William in turn invented the expandable watchband, and Gaston and William founded Foster Metal Products for the production of the watchband.

As a manufacturer of decorative brass stampings for the costume jewelry and related arts trade, Guyot Brothers has been renowned for filigree, charms, floral motifs, leaves, bead caps and other brass stampings for over a century. Their product lines number in the thousands. And to think it all began by making findings for shoe buckles. On a recent tour of the operations facility, I was shown so many fabulous findings by the Guyots.There are three distinct types of findings: the functional - which performs a utilitarian function; the decorative - to add embellishment, and the hybrid, which involves a combination of sorts. 

These master designs, known as hubs and dies, are used especially for embossing and coining. The shop contains walls full of numerous, moveable panels that display brass stamping samples of every possible product manufactured. The legacy of Guyot’s excellence is visible in the historical records, vintage machinery and pictures which decorate the entire plant.

The Haskell Mark

Steve related that his father, Marshall, born in 1920, welcomed Miriam Haskell to Guyot’s factory when he was just 18 years old. The year was 1938, when Marshall showed Miriam Haskell his line of findings - and the rest is history. Steve remembers the stories his father told over the years - that Miriam was a real lady, was extremely well organized, and became a valued client. 

The Guyot Brothers Co., Inc. stamped hallmarks for Miriam Haskell and made the marker, a punch in the oval shape until the 1980s. Two people, Marshall and Miriam, both new to the industry, were about to embark on marking costume jewelry history. Even today the relationship with the Haskell line continues, each treating each other with old world mutual respect.

The company’s many customers included Coro, Trifari, Monet, Carl-Art, Eisenberg and the early companies of Robbins and Fisher. Sam Rappaport, a costume jewelry manufacturer, was a supplier to Trifari and a great friend to Grandpa Gaston.

Beyond Jewelry

Besides jewelry findings, the company also made decorative filaments for novelty lights from the 1940s throughout the 1960s. The ‘Flicker Flame’ was manufactured from a special type of steel for the New York City Aerolux Light Co., owned by Phil Kayette.

The 1960s was a time of many experiments at Guyot. Filigree was stamped from plastic marbon material in a variety of colors. Many colorful designs resulted but the world was not ready for this new product. Plastic filigree had only a brief life in the marketplace. Guyot also experimented with gold filigree, which was too hard on the piercing tools, and production had to stop. Brass became the stocking metal for all of the components.

Today, all items are supplied in a raw finish. Filigree, ornaments, charms and novelties in brass are available.

Guyot’s fourth generation is the backbone for people who design, create and manufacture costume jewelry. Guyot still offers the same quality and beauty that keeps the industry alive to this day.

To learn more about Guyot Brothers as they are today, their website is a good place to start. They can be found at www.guyotbrothers.com

 

Phone 508-222-2000 Fax 508-222-3011 Email info@guyotbrothers.com

 
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