Do you remember buying Schreiner costume jewelry at Thalhimers?
Schreiner Jewelry Co. was founded in 1939 in New York, NY, by Henry Schreiner. The small, family run company manufactured extraordinary costume jewelry throughout the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Admired by collectors and fashion enthusiasts alike, many believe that there is no other costume jewelry designer who consistently made such fine, diverse, and original pieces. In addition to creating their own collections, they collaborated with many of the top couturiers including Christian Dior, Norman Norell, and Pauline Trigère. At the height of their popularity, pieces by the Schreiner Jewelry Co. graced the covers of Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar and were touted by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, and Audrey Hepburn.
Schreiner jewelry was sold in the fashion department at Thalhimers Department Store. Take a look at the images…do you remember purchasing or selling these incredible jewels? If so, researcher Eve Townsend wants to know. Eve works for the Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection, and the pieces depicted here are part of Ms. Tanenbaum’s personal collection. They are collaborating on a book and gathering research. If you have a story to share, contact them through the website www.caroletanenbaum.com or on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/caroletanenbaumvintage
How do I know if a piece of jewelry I own was made by Schreiner?
The Schreiner Jewelry Co. never signed pieces going to the couturiers, leaving many Schreiner pieces to be found unsigned today. When pieces are signed they have a cartouche marked Schreiner New York or Schreiner.
The following list of signature characteristics can help you identify unmarked Schreiner jewels:
One of the most famous characteristics of Schreiner jewelry is their use of inverted or “upside down” set stones. The Schreiner Jewelry Co. intentionally set their stones with the point up to optimize sparkle and to add depth and dimension to their pieces. When placed on a garment, the unfoiled stones allowed the fabric to show through creating the illusion that the jewelry was an extension of the clothing.
As any collector of costume jewelry will tell you- examining a piece from the back can often tell you as much as the front. The Schreiner Jewelry Co. is well known for their use of the hook-and-eye construction. Utilizing this method allowed them to produce pieces (particularly brooches) in separate parts and then later layer them on top of one another like a wedding cake. This innovative method meant they could eliminate the use of soldering between sections. As a result, today we find a tremendous amount of Schreiner pieces in pristine condition because they haven’t fallen victim to weak soldering. It is important to note that other designers such as Warner and Regency also produced pieces with this type of construction so the presence of hook-and-eye alone does not necessarily identify a piece to be Schreiner.
Another well-known Schreiner characteristic is the use of crimped settings. Known to collectors as “cupcake” settings because of their likeness to cupcake holders they add a decorative detail to a piece. Again, there were various designers who incorporated crimped settings into their pieces. So the presence of cupcake settings alone do not, by themselves, attribute a piece to be Schreiner.
Schreiner stones are almost always prong-set but it is really the types of prongs they chose to use which sets the Schreiner Jewelry Co. apart from the rest. Fancy prongs, Fleur de Les prongs, and elaborate houndstooth prongs are all used by Schreiner.
When trying to attribute a pair of earrings to Schreiner the key is to examine the earring backs. Although Schreiner is known for using a couple of types of earring clips the most common is the donut hole, which features a single round hole at the top of the clip. Schreiner necklaces often feature a five-ring extension accented by five prong-set stones.
If any of these jewels look like something in your jewelry box (or your mom’s or grandmother’s), please get in touch with Eve!