It was a beautiful Saturday morning. One of my favorite antique shows just a few miles from home had opened their doors. I walked in with the same anticipation I always have of finding a rare and unusual piece of vintage costume jewelry…one that I know I could never live without!
That Saturday just so happened to be my lucky day. My eye caught a uniquely designed gold and black brooch with just a touch of sparkle lying in the middle of a table piled high with dusty, old junk jewelry.
As I picked up the brooch and turned it over, I read the signature of a name I had never seen before…Alice Caviness. It was from the 1950s, my favorite era for vintage costume jewelry because of the incredible quality, attractive design, and amazing craftsmanship of that time.
I absolutely love researching the history of vintage jewelry designers, so I bought this stunning piece and couldn’t wait to learn Alice’s story…
Alice Caviness started out as a fashion and glove model and later became a clothing designer. In 1945, just after World War II, Alice ventured into manufacturing costume jewelry to complement her fashion designs.
In 1957, Alice hired two young, influential and talented designers named Lois Steever and Camille (Millie) Petronzio. Millie won two Swarovski awards during the 25 years she worked at Caviness. She then went on to work for Miriam Haskell Jewelry.
Based out of Long Island, New York, the jewelry was produced in the Caviness factory as well as commissioned and imported from Germany. Her company sold only to the finest jewelry shops, high-end boutiques, and department stores in the U.S. They were always very selective about who carried their jewelry.
Her husband, Jules Junquerra, was in the lamp and shade profession. As Caviness Jewelry began to prosper, he quit the business and joined his wife. Their primary showroom was in New York, but as the business expanded, they opened several more showrooms in Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Raleigh.
Each spring and fall, a new line was introduced. If a particular design was in high demand, they would continue to produce it. Alice was heavily involved in the design, production, and sales of her unique and distinctive jewelry. Sterling, enamels, filigrees, cultured pearls, rhinestones, beads, and hand-carved ivory were incorporated into her pieces.
I repurposed that beautiful brooch into a double strand stretch bracelet using shimmery gold plated beads:
The jewelry was often constructed of layered, complex materials which usually required intricate handwork. She used extraordinary color combinations. Aqua was the most popular color.
Here is a stunning Alice Caviness olivine rhinestone clip earring I repurposed into an adjustable ring. It makes quite a statement!
Her pieces were signed ALICE CAVINESS, CAVINESS, and ALICE CAVINESS STERLING SILVER. The signature was sometimes in block letters or on an oval attachment soldered onto the back of the jewelry.
Alice passed away in 1983. Lois Steever purchased the business and continued manufacturing jewelry until 2000.
Caviness Jewelry did not make nearly as many pieces as some of the other prominent costume jewelry companies of that time. Consequently, it is harder to find today and highly collectible.
Now you know that anytime you find a piece of vintage costume jewelry with the Alive Caviness signature, it is definitely your lucky day.
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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