I have been a huge fan of the costume jewelry company, Florenza, for quite a long time. They had their heyday back in the 1950s, making beautiful jewelry with an antique Victorian and Renaissance-inspired look to it:
So when I recently discovered its competitor with very similar designs, I was immediately drawn to their jewelry as well.
This competitor was Arthur Pepper. He founded his company, Art Mode Jewelry Creations, Inc. during the late 1940s. It was known as Art or ModeArt. Mr. Pepper set up shop in New York City and began manufacturing beautiful, high-quality costume jewelry in the 1950s. He had an extensive range of designs and styles resembling Art Deco, Victorian, and the “old world” Renaissance look.
Art jewelry was mass-produced with a very affordable price tag. It was sold through wholesalers only. Department stores all over the U.S. carried Art jewelry.
His most popular pieces included pins and earrings, especially bright enamel whimsical figurals. “Figural” is a term used to describe fun, thematic jewelry made into the shape of small figures such as animals or people:
Art Christmas tree pins and Maltese crosses are some of the most collectible. His artistic designs also included carved or molded plastics, clustered multi-colored rhinestones, simulated pearls, and ornate filigree metalwork.
Some of the hardest pieces to find today are the exquisite rhinestone pieces with a very similar look to Florenza jewelry.
Here is a rare pair of Florenza-style clip earrings made of red glass and small turquoise colored beads by Art:
Art jewelry was signed in a variety of ways such as ART in a square, ART © (copyright symbol added after 1955), MODE-ART, or MODEART ©.
His company ceased operations during the 1970s.
Arthur’s mother must have given her son that name for good reason, knowing Art would be sharing his ARTistic talent one day with many people. I am personally glad it was shared in the form of costume jewelry…most definitely my favorite form of art!
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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