Emanuel Cohn and Carl Rosenberger opened a small business on Broadway in New York City in 1901 selling small personal accessories. In 1943 the firm was renamed Coro Inc., a contraction of their family names. As with many other jewelry firms, a great deal of their success came from the creative work of an executive designer, in this case Adolph Katz, who joined the firm in 1924. Katz oversaw a host of mostly unknown designers, choosing the most promising of their designs to go into production. This accounts for the almost incredible amount of designs that Coro produced. This was such a successful stratagem that during 1930-60, a period regarded by many as the golden years of American costume jewelry, Coro produced more individual pieces and more designs than any other company, aiming their product toward the lower end of the market. Coro's sales were handled by Royal Marcher, who was legendary in his success and had an uncanny sense for a good seller.
From 1929, Coro embarked on a massive expansion project with the opening of a large modern factory in Providence Rhode Island employing more than 3,000 people. Coro, under the name Corocraft, opened a factory in England in 1933 (they were not allowed to use the name Coro because it was too close to the name of the English firm Ciro).The early years of the 1950s saw the firm at their zenith and they operated showrooms across the United States and Canada. The company finally closed the Providence factory in 1979, though production continued in Canada until 1990.
Although most of the jewelry designers remain anonymous to this day, there is one who stands out by virtue of his incomparable contribution to the firm: Gene Verrecchia (later shortened to Verri). Gene was of Italian extraction and the son of a jeweler. His all-time passion was art, and it was only the need to make a living that started him working for the jewelry firm Plainville Stock. He was quickly moved to the large Coro company and almost immediately caught the eye of Royal Marcher, who made him head designer, a position he held for the following 33 years. He designed the famous Camellia Duette, Owl Duette, Twin Birds Duette, and the Flower Duettes, to name just a few.
• The most collectable Coro jewelry dates from the 1930s and '40s.
• In the 1950s and '60s Coro produced many necklace and earrings sets in thermoses plastic, and stopped making the more desirable silver pieces.
• Coro would make designs in silver or base metals (all gold plated and then varnished), the base metal variety being the less desirable. Experience will teach you to be able to discern between the two without checking the signature.
The trembler, or brooch en trembling, has its origins in early 19th-century France. The most famous exponent was Oscar Massin, who made fantastically life-like flower sprays with en tremblant flowers and leaves. The quivering motion was achieved by mounting parts of the jewel on fine springs so that with every movement the flower head or leaf trembled. Tremblers were popular throughout the 19th century.
In the world of costume jewelry, this mechanism was revived mainly in the 1930s and quickly became very popular. Initially it was the centers of flowers that trembled, and many firms produced their versions of tremblers, now sometimes called nodders. Coro made famous the trembling inner parts of camellias, while Trifari made orchid’s en tremblant. After a short absence, the tremblers returned in the early '40s, and all sorts of parts, not only of flowers, started nodding, including insects' wings (Hattie Carnegie), birds' heads (Coro), and butterflies' wings and bodies (Weiss). Among the most beautiful and desirable of the trembler costume jewelry are the creations of Christian Dior by Mitchel Maer in the 1950s. These draw influence from the belle époque style of Massin's flower jewels.
Coro Camellia Duette, c.1938
If you ask any costume jewelry dealer or collector about a "Duette", the first thing that will probably enter their mind will be the Camellia Duette made by Coro and designed by Gene Verri. The full title given by Coro Inc. is the "Quivering Camellia". The two sides of the brooch detach from a frame at the back so that the two clips can be worn separately on lapels or together as one brooch.
Coro Camellia Bangle and Earrings, c.1939
Despite being wonderfully chunky, with a real feel of quality about it, this bracelet is light and airy due to the ingenious openwork design. This is a classic Coro piece hut much harder to find than the Camellia Duette. The patent is dated 1939 but it was made over a 10-year period. The earlier versions are in silver (marked ‘STERLING’ next to the Corocraft signature), the later in base metals.