This truly lovely book is
another Schiffer Book for Collectors. It has all the quality you would expect
from that series of price guides, including good writing, a strong knowledge of
subject matter, and beautiful graphic material. It is a suitable vehicle for
displaying the work of Mariam Haskell Jewelry. In
any industry, certain companies stand out for quality. In the world of costume
jewelry, that benchmark is set by the Miriam Haskell Jewelry Company of New
Miriam opened a small stand in 1926 that
offered top quality jewelry to the patrons of the McAlpin Hotel in New York
City. No one knows for certain if Miriam ever designed her own jewelry, but soon
after opening, she hired a young window dresser from Macy's named Frank Hess as
her head designer. With her business acumen and his artistic ability, they built
a business that quickly grew beyond a few hotel stands and, together, they left
a legacy that jewelry manufacturers strive to match even today.
One of the primary things that
makes Haskell jewelry unique is its attention to detail. The head designer would
create a motif, usually based on something in nature according to Miriam's
instructions. This motif might be constructed from beads and stones of almost
any known material. These beads are stitched or wired to a screen, piece of
pierced plastic, or filigree back piece. Glue is never used and each stitch is
placed neatly, usually spanning just one space of the back piece. The fine
stitchery of a Miriam Haskell motif is easily recognizable.
These motifs would then form the central theme
of a design collection that might consist of a bracelet, necklace, pin, or set
of earrings, etc. Three or four of these collections were offered to buyers from
the best department and jewelry stores in elaborate invitation-only shows held
five times yearly at the company's showroom located in their Fifth Avenue
factory and warehouse.
In addition to the motif lines, Haskell used
faux pearls a great deal. These pearl collections served as the bread and butter
of the company.
Only five head designers have led the artistic
department of Haskell's. They are Frank Hess, of course, who led the design team
until retiring in 1960, and Robert Clark, Peter Raines, Larry Vrba, and Camille
Petronzio. Each designer had their own particular style, but all would follow
the basic precepts set down by Miriam Haskell in the company's infancy.
Miriam herself ran the firm until 1950. In ill
health and quite confused, she sold the business to her brother Joseph. It later
left family hands and has passed through other owners but remains a constant in
the jewelry industry today. Among other lines, Haskell now creates J-Lo jewelry
for Jennifer Lopez, the actress.
I've learned more about jewelry design in this
book than any other that I've read simply because when you look at a Miriam
Haskell piece, you are seeing jewelry construction done properly. The book gives
detailed instructions on identifying a true Haskell piece with comparisons
between the authentic piece and lookalikes from companies in Europe and the
U.S.A. In addition, changes to the line that occurred due to different popular
styles and designers and availability of materials are discussed and shown in
Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff are both
eminently qualified to discuss vintage jewelry collection as collectors,
dealers, and experts in the field. In "Miriam Haskell Jewelry," they
have created a helpful and beautiful book that every interested person should
add to their bookshelf.
relationship goes back many years and included the development of special
findings for Miriam Haskell. Three such products still in production at Guyot
are shown here. All products shown were developed pre-1935.
style # 7163
style # 6216
style # 6834
Review reprinted with
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