Thursday, 31 January 2013

Hobe Jewelry

The Hobe Company began life in mid-19th-century Paris, where its founder, Jacques Hobe, a master craftsman, was a jeweler to the French court. Following technological advances in mass-production introduced during the Industrial Revolution, Hobe's descendants manufactured costume jewelry. His grandson William Hobe emigrated to New York City in the mid-1920s and established Hobe Cie- again, a family business producing high-quality costume jewelry. Florence Ziegfeld commissioned William to make stage jewelry for the Ziegfeld Follies, and this probably led to Hobe's long association with the entertainment and film industry. By the 1940s, Hobe jewelry was billed as “Jewels of Legendary Splendor “and advertised in magazines modelled by Hollywood's movie stars such as Bette Davis, Carole Lombard, and Barbara Stanwyck.

Hobe Necklace & Earrings, late 1950s  By the late 1950s, Hobe had dropped its distinctive antique look in favor of a glitzier style akin to contemporary pieces by Kramer and Weiss. The use of semi-precious stones and sterling silver settings gave way to paste and plated base metal. Despite this, Hobe jewelry from this later phase, such as this necklace and earring set, is still in demand, because the quality of materials and manufacture remained high, while the designs were innovative and interesting.
Hobe's roots in the precious jewelry trade are evident in pieces produced from the mid-1920s to the early 1950s. Bezel-set semi-precious stones, such as chrysoprase, lapis, garnet, and amethyst, were used with real pearls, enamels, and carved ivory panels. Vermeil silver settings with labour-intensive woven meshes or filigrees of twisted wire were hand-finished, The best of the early examples are the carved cinnabar and ivory oriental pieces, the portrait miniatures of historical figures, such as the Empress Eugenie, and the reproductions of 16th-and 17th-century precious jewels from the royal courts of Europe. Also prized are Hobe's floral bouquets.

• A bezel setting is a circular strip of metal holding a stone in place. Prong or cup settings are more usual it, costume jewelry.

• Hobe rhinestone pieces from the 1960s and '70s are much more valuable than plain gilt pieces of the same period.

• The value of these pieces is enhanced by a striking design and excellent condition.

• The average Hobe bouquet brooch is about 7.5ctn (3in) across; rarer giant pieces, measuring 13cm (5in) or more, achieve higher prices.

Hollywood Hobe 


Hobe Sterling Bouquet Bow, c.1940s  Typically Hobe, this floral brooch held together by ribbons and a flower-studded bow was produced in a variety of shapes and sizes. The settings are silver, either plain or enlivened with semi-precious stones. These romantic bouquet brooches were popular in the '1930s and '40s, and remain in demand today. They were originally sold in quality stores, and original prices were high by costume jewelry standards. Prices remain high in the collectable market today.

A favorite supplier to Cecil B. DeMille, Hobe was phenomenally successful in translating Hollywood trends into fashion jewelry. Costume movies, such as Gone with the Wind, were popular in the 1930s and '40s, creating a vogue for grand ballgowns and evening dresses based on a variety of historical periods. Fashion designers mixed styles from sources as diverse as 16th-century England and pre-Revolutionary France to create the feminine, romantic dresses women craved. This trend called for antique-style costume jewelry. Hobe studied the history of precious jewelry in the European courts. His signature filigree metal-work was romantic and his large, deepcoloured cabochons, portrait enamels, and pearls gave the desired "royal" feel. Collectors prize Hobe's Renaissance-style bracelets, with wide mesh bands decorated with a central medallion or clasp. These fetch in excess of £600 ($1,000) in top markets.
Writer – Steven Miners
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