As prices rise for pieces created by the most prized designers, collectors are rediscovering the work of less well-known manufacturers such as Lisner. This company was founded in New York City in the early 1900s, and it continued to produce jewelry for 70 years. Hugely popular in the 1950s and '60s, pieces by Lisner were made in large quantities and sold at the lower- to mid-price end of the fashion jewelry market. Lisner jewelry is not of the highest quality, but the designs are usually good and mirror the stylistic trends of more expensive pieces. For example, Lisner leaves are an inexpensive, attractive alternative to Schiaparelli leaves, and rhinestone sets by Lisner are one of the biggest bargains in today's collectable market, comparable to but cheaper than those by Kramer and Weiss.
Shrewd collectors also look out for Lisner pieces with moulded plastic or Lucite decorations. These can take the form of flowers, abstract shapes, or simple bubble cabochons. Enamel painting on metalwork settings is another desirable feature. Less well known but certainly in demand are the crystal bead necklace and earring sets by Lisner, and aurora borealis pieces. Both are rising in value. The Lisner company also produced a related, higher-quality line in the late 1950s and '60s, stamped "Richelieu". These pieces are rarer and command higher prices if both their design and condition are good. Overall, well-designed pieces by Lisner and Richelieu, particularly sets, are undervalued in today's market, so any chance should be taken to snap up reasonably priced examples, and then watch their values rise.
Lisner Rhinestone Set, c.1950s
Lisner rhinestone sets from the 1950s are a bargain in today's market. They come in a range of colours and are easier to find than similar sets by Kramer and Weiss. Lisner's metalwork and stone settings are not as fine as Kramer's or Weiss's, but the quality is higher than in similarly priced modern pieces.
Lisner Orange Leaf Set, c1950s
This 1950s leaf set by Lisner is made of gilt metal, rhinestones, and moulded plastic leaves. It is pretty, fashionable, and appears in excellent condition - all good features that add value. Savvy collectors stockpile these as a bargain alternative to the very pricey glass leaves by Schiaparelli shown below. These beauties are available in a range of colours. The only drawback is a tendency for the leaves to darken or even go black if the foil backing rots, as this shows through the plastic.
Schiaparelli Leaves Bracelet, c. 1950s
This bracelet (valued at £150-175/$255-300) was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in the United States a decade before the Lisner set shown above. When handling the pieces, the differences become obvious. Schiaparelli's leaves are cool to the touch and the bracelet is heavier than the Lisner. The use of frosted glass leaves is a typical feature of pieces made for Schiaparelli in the 1950s. Deep blue, sea green, and red are desirable colours, while brown is less sought after (red is particularly rare and very expensive). Full parures of necklace, bracelet, earrings, and pin can fetch several thousand pounds if in good condition, but a broken or missing leaf makes a piece almost worthless.
Writer – Steven Miners