Sources suggest that the Hollycraft company originated in the late 1940s in New York City under the aegis of a Turkish immigrant called Joseph Chorbagian, but a definite origin and detailed history remain obscure. However, it is clear that an interesting and distinctive body of costume jewelry bearing the Hollycraft mark emerged in the 1950s, then disappeared by the end of the decade.
The Hollycraft look is based on a profusion of variously shaped stones set in burnished "antique" gilt metal. Designs, particularly on necklaces, have an 18th-century feel, with floral swags and dangling pastes. Rhinestones are accentuated by ropework borders or beaded frames. Although it is best known for its unusual pastel palette, Hollycraft also used other colours not commonly found in costume jewelry. Look out for pieces in lime or olive green, along with deep purple faux amethysts and dark fuchsia pinks.
Although solo pins by Hollycraft are a bit slow in today's market, wide bracelets, stone-encrusted necklaces, and full parures by this firm are all in high demand. Prices for these continue to rise. Interesting signed rings are rare in costume jewelry, but Hollycraft produced a range of rings in their characteristic style, and these sometimes turn up as part of a full parure.
The matte gold metalwork used by Hollycraft also appears on jewelry signed by the Florenza and Har companies, both of which would make good bargain alternatives for collectors seeking the Hollycraft look. Similar pastel stones also appear in jewelry by McClelland Barclay, and prices for these pieces are comparable to those for Hollycraft.
Hollycraft Earrings, 1957
Collectors focus on this type of Hollycraft, with its distinctive antique metalwork and colourful pastel stones. Such pieces were produced only in the 1950s. Later jewelry bearing the Hollycraft mark is undistinguished and values are low. These earrings would fetch more with a matching bracelet or necklace, but they are still desirable on their own.
Hollycraft Necklace, 1956
These antique-style necklaces, with their detailed metalwork and attractive drops, are highly sought after. The best are decorated with pastes all the way round, while less valuable examples are only half paste and are finished instead with a chain of twisted or braided metal. The four individually framed rhinestones at the end of the necklace are a distinctive Hollycraft feature. A piece such as this is not only collectable but also very wearable today.
The origin and history of Har jewelry is even more obscure than that of Hollycraft, but both firms are noted for their distinctive and unusual metalwork. Har used a similar matte "antique" finish on some of their pieces, but, unlike Hollycraft, Har designed many more figural designs. Collectors pay top prices for Har's dragon-themed jewelry, with its unique green metalwork, as well as for their genie series and Chinese faces. Lesser-known novelty items by Har, such as this early 1960s cart pin (valued at £50-751$85-130), fetch far less and might be a good investment.