My husband and I recently took a trip to Nashville to visit my family. Whenever we come to town, one of our traditions is to do a little antique shopping. This trip was no exception. We spent a whole day hunting for vintage costume jewelry in many quaint little towns outside of Nashville. As soon as we spotted an “Antiques” sign, we would put on the brakes and in minutes, we were searching high and low for hidden treasure.
It is always exciting to find unique pieces of vintage jewelry, but it is even more exciting when you find signed unique pieces of vintage jewelry. This day of antiquing in Nashville was one of the best I have ever had for finding signed pieces.
One of my most favorite signatures is WEISS. When I see that mark, I know it is made with the highest quality stones and will stay beautiful for many years to come.
Albert Weiss was a jewelry designer and manufacturer from New York. He started out working as an apprentice of Coro and Marvella during the 1930s.
Once he acquired the experience and skills he needed, he opened his own jewelry business on Fifth Avenue in 1942 which was named Albert Weiss & Company Inc. NYC.
He had a very fine eye for detail and his factory was dedicated to the production of hand-set pieces. One of the trademarks of Weiss is that he used clear and colored rhinestones from Austria which were of exceptional quality and clarity. These stones had a higher lead content which gave his pieces much more dazzle and sparkle.
I repurposed this beautiful 1950s Weiss milk glass and orange rhinestone clip earring into an adjustable ring:
Weiss was also one of the first to use Swarovski’s Aurora Borealis crystals which were created with Dior in 1955. Here are a couple of other signed Weiss pieces with clear and colored rhinestones from the 1950s that I repurposed into adjustable rings:
Much of Weiss’ jewelry is unmarked, but pieces that are marked with the WEISS signature in block capitals are the earliest from 1942:
Weiss became very prosperous in the 1950s and ’60s. He is perhaps best known for introducing and incorporating smokey gray rhinestones in his jewelry, often referred to as “black diamonds.”
Here is a smokey gray rhinestone clip earring that had the WEISS signature on the clip which I repurposed into an adjustable ring:
He is also very well known for his floral and figural jewelry with his creations of butterflies, bugs, fruits, and flowers which are now highly collectible.
Weiss became the first jewelry designer to recognize that the Christmas tree should be made into a pin, with added rhinestones, of course. He designed them in a variety of styles between the 1950s and ’60s and had them made in Germany. They became best-sellers and were copied by several competitors.
Although Weiss would never be as large as Coro, his standard of craftsmanship was exceptionally high and the company sold more than it could manufacture on its own. In order to keep up with the demand, they contracted with the jewelry company Hollycraft to help fill orders.
Albert Weiss retired in 1969. His son Michael then took over the business, but it finally closed its doors in 1971. Weiss jewelry designs are all very collectible today. I can definitely be included as one of those collectors who are wild about Weiss!
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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