February 26, 2009

Vintage Costume Jewelry: Featured mfg. Trifari

Trifari is one of the oldest and most recognizable names in costume jewelry. The firm began in 1925 by Gustavo Trifari, Leo Krussman and Carl Fishel although Mr. Trifari and Mr. Krussman and an enterprise together around 1918. Their Art Deco designs and enameled and rhinestone pieces from the 1930’s and 40’s are highly sought after in the collectible market. Many of their earlier designs were patented by their head designer Alfred Philippe. In the early 1950’s Trifari won a court case which agreed that artistic designs were protected by copyright and all firms were adding the © symbol and no longer using patents to protect their designs. This helps you to date jewelry to before or after the mid 1950’s. On very early pieces you can find the mark KTF and around 1937 the mark was changed to Trifari with a small crown above the T which was probably in response to be considered “the rhinestone kings”. The array of designs is amazing. From the look of real jewelry to fantastic birds, animals, flowers and people to elaborate rhinestone designs incorporating molded glass stones simulating the carved gemstones made famous by Cartier and now are called “Fruit Salad” or “Tutti Frutti”. They are also famous for their Lucite belly, sterling jewelry known now as “Jelly Belly’. The Trifari business was became part of Monet in 1994 that in 200 became part of Liz Claiborne.

References taken from Carla and Roberto Brunialti’s “A Tribute to America” and Judith Miller’s “Costume Jewelry” books.

Here is a slideshow of some of my favorite Trifari pieces we have or have had.

Recommended Websites: www.Trifari.com and www.jewelrypatents.com
http://www.trifari.com/ has a large collection of Trifari jewelry, some I have only seen in books. They also have truly magnificent examples of all the major manufacturers.
http://www.jewelrypatents.com/ has the largest collection of actual jewelry drawings submitted to the U.S. patent office that I have ever seen in one place.
I am not affiliated with either of these sites. I have discovered them and want to share them with you.

Recommended Book:“Costume Jewelry” by Judith Miller. There is a large section on Trifari along with many other designers. There are values for most pieces in this book and I like that she has a Good, Better, Best section to help you see why some pieces by the same designer are valued and sell for different prices.