A Fascination with Florenza | September 12th, 2014

The other day, I was looking through my personal collection of repurposed vintage rings to try to find one that perfectly matched the outfit I was wearing. I love to accessorize with a little bit of vintage when I get dressed up. It seems I have a ring with a bit of history in every color – a fabulous benefit of being a jewelry designer!

After searching a while for just the right one, I noticed I had several with the Florenza mark on them. They have a particular look about them that is very attractive to me. I’m not sure if it is the stones, colors, detail, metals used, or perhaps a combination of all of these that is so magnetizing. But to me, they look like miniature works of art:

As I was trying to make a decision about which one to wear that day, I realized I did not know much at all about the history behind this name Florenza. So I decided to go to work to do some research. Here is what I discovered…

Daniel Kasoff

Florenza’s designer, Daniel Kasoff, whose name was originally Kosovsky, started his career in the garment industry. How he ended up in the costume jewelry business is quite an interesting story…

Daniel was eating out at a restaurant when someone stole his coat. A man by the name of Mr. Speier was also eating in that restaurant and met Daniel. After he found out what had happened, he gave him money for a replacement coat. Daniel repaid Speier as soon as he could. Speier was impressed with his honesty so he offered him a job at the Speier Costume Jewelry Company.

Daniel accepted the job and worked for Mr. Speier for 10 years. He gained valuable experience by learning all aspects of the costume jewelry business before starting his own jewelry company in 1931 with partner, Marty Weiner.

The name of the company was Kaywin Novelty New York. They manufactured accessories such as pins, brooches, belt buckles, and buttons in a variety of styles. In 1937, Daniel took his savings and started Dan Kasoff Corporation, a new costume jewelry company.

The Look of Florenza

When Dan’s son Larry joined the company in 1950, the jewelry was given a brand name once Dan had discovered that he could claim original design rights. They called it Florenza which was named after Dan’s wife, Florence.

The mark they used was the name FLORENZA either in script and circled or printed within a square or rectangle. They also used a gold foil hang tag labeled FLORENZA. After 1955, a copyright symbol was added:

Their jewelry lines were constructed using very high-quality workmanship, materials, and designs. Dan personally supervised the designs before approval of production and many of the designs were his very own.

Here is a Florenza clip earring I repurposed into an adjustable ring:

Much of the Florenza jewelry line has an antique Victorian and Renaissance-inspired look to it or “old world” appearance as seen in their brooches, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Some of these pieces included shell cameos with ornate 24k gold-plated settings. These are now highly sought after by collectors:

The metalwork is often an antiqued gold tone. Their exclusive finishes were termed Florenza Gold, French Gold, and French Rose:

They used beautiful art glass and only the finest rhinestones from Austria, Germany, and the Orient. Many of these were made exclusively for them. It is not unusual to see them set in a “Tiffany” style with multiple prongs or clasps surrounding the stones:

Some of the more popular styles were repeated, but there was always something new created to be introduced to the market. Florenza jewelry was only sold through wholesalers who then sold the pieces to retailers.

Enlarging Their Product Line

Florenza made many products under the Dan Kasoff, Inc. name when they were contracted for various clients. For Estee Lauder and Revlon, they made solid perfume containers. They were contracted by Coro, Weiss, Hattie Carnegie, Capri, and Kramer to make jewelry.

Dan Kasoff, Inc. also made vanity dresser products and decorative accessories such as key chains, lipstick caddies, ring boxes, pin cushions, and picture frames for other companies. These were sold in upscale department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Dan’s son Larry took over the company but had to close Florenza’s doors in 1981 after he was seriously injured in a car accident. However, he has remained active, preserving the incredible history of Florenza.

After learning about the exceptional quality and design of Florenza’s pieces, I now understand my magnetism toward these beautiful works of art which are going to remain in my personal collection to be worn for many years to come.

And if I happen to end up with more than one of the same color, well, that’s just another benefit of being a jewelry designer.

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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