A few weekends ago, my husband and I took a road trip to Houston to visit friends and family. A road trip is never complete for me unless we stop to do some antiquing along the way. I love the anticipation of finding hidden treasures long forgotten in the dusty, cobwebbed corners of some of the most charming little shops imaginable.
It was on this trip that I found a pair of clip earrings from the 1950s signed DeMARIO:
If I find a piece of vintage jewelry with a name stamped on the back that I have never heard of or know very little about, I usually take a risk and buy it so I do not kick myself later once I learn how collectible their pieces are! I am thankful I took the risk that day on this talented designer with the name of Robert DeMario.
During the 1940s, DeMario worked for the very successful and well-known American costume jewelry designer Miriam Haskell. Every piece with her stamp was handmade with incredible detail and quality. Each bead, crystal, or pearl was picked up by hand and then wired to a brass filigree backing. At times, one piece would take as long as three days to create!
Here is a micro-beaded hand-wired Miriam Haskell clip earring from the 1950s that I repurposed into an adjustable ring:
In 1945, DeMario ventured out on his own in New York City, making his version of beautiful costume jewelry which incorporated the intricately beaded Haskell look:
He often used hand-sewn brass strung threads with clusters of faceted Austrian rhinestones, colorful glass beads, and faux pearls onto ornate gilt filigree. Gilt is an object that has been “gilded,” a decorative technique used to apply fine gold leaf or powder to give a thin coating of gold on a surface such as metal filigree.
The back of his pieces was marked DeMARIO or DeMARIO N.Y. with or without a copyright symbol:
His jewelry was superior in its craftsmanship and design. Production was limited, however, making DeMario jewelry now relatively rare, high in price, and a favorite for collectors. DeMario retired and closed his doors in 1965.
The time had come for this hidden treasure to be discovered in that dusty corner of the antique shop and I am delighted to have been the one who found it!
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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