Friday, 11 January 2013

Introduction to Tailored Jewelry

From the clean lines of Retro chic a similar look took form, one in which some of the harshness of the pure 1940s Retro styling was removed. This style was dubbed the "Tailored" look; it had softer lines but the influence of the 1940s Retro was still the overriding theme. This look lent itself well to matching sets, or parures, of jewels. These sets were commonly sold as necklace, earring, brooch, and bracelet. One could buy the whole suite, and today one may occasionally buy a complete set of jewels in their original box. More commonly, however, these sets have been split up over Lime, leaving collectors to complete matching sets when and where they can.

Trifari Gold Necklace & Earrings
Several manufacturers made good-quality Tailored jewelry, among them Trifari, Napier, Coro, Marvella, and Monet. So what makes a good piece of tailored jewelry? Clean lines are an absolute must, either in the style of Retro '40s as in the necklace set below, or in the '50s styling of the three-piece set opposite. Stones should be kept to an absolute minimum and ideally should not be present at all. One of the great advantages of tailored jewelry is that there are no colours, so the jewels can be worn with almost anything. One concession to coloration is generally the colour of the metal finish. The plating is usually in gold, either antique rose, Russian, or yellow gold, or in antique or bright silver.

Trifari Silver Mistletoe Necklace, Bracelet & Earrings

Trifari Gold Necklace & Earrings, late 1940s 

This classic design by Trifari was an inexpensive set to make, because each link is identical and there were no stones to set. The greatest expense was the initial modelling and the final polishing and plating. A '40s piece would have a smooth finish on the back and front, whereas a '50s piece would have at least one rough (brushed finish) side, reflecting increasing labour costs. 

Trifari Silver Mistletoe Necklace, Bracelet & Earrings, 1950s 

As the Tailored look evolved it took on more organic forms, and leaves were a favourite subject. This well-known example by Trifari demonstrates how the simple lines of the 1940s have become the more curved and naturalistic forms of the 1950s. Here the leaves overlap and cascade effectively around the neck and wrist; the earrings also sit well, with the leaves curling around the earlobe.
Tortolani Cuff Bracelet

Tortolani Cuff Bracelet, early 1960s 

Francisco Tortolani, like many American jewelry designers and manufacturers, was born in Italy and emigrated to the United States. He founded the Tortolani Jewelry Company in 1950 and immediately created a name for himself producing unusual, sculpted and often surreal jewelry. His jewels were made from original models, which were then hand-cast in pewter, hand-polished, and then had the signature added to the back. They were later finished by plating in either gold or silver plate. The cuff bracelet illustrated is typical of the style of jewelry the firm produced. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is of a very high level, with parts of the piece left as a rough brushed texture and others hand-polished to a high sheen.                                                   
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