Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Designers - Trifari - Elegance, Quality and Timelessness

The vintage designer Trifari is one of the most well known and collectible designers. Trifari designs are synonymous with quality. The designs are elegant and have a timeless quality about them that makes them perfect for todays fashions. Even their brushed gold-tone and silver-tone designs have something special about them.

Gustavo Trifari, an Italian, learned the jewelry business from his grandfather. In 1904, he immigrated to the USA to earn his fortune and start a new life. He partnered with his uncle, Ludovico Trifari to produce a company called Trifari and Trifari in 1910. Two years later, Gustavo left this business to start his own business which specialized in accessories. In 1918, he partnered with Leo F. Krussman and founded the Trifari and Kussman company. Krussman was the marketing man and Gustavo was the designer.

The next step in the Trifari partnership came in 1925, when the two men combined resources with Carl Fishel to form Trifari, Krussman and Fishel. The jewelry marketed by this company used the mark KTF with a taller T than the other letters. (There was also a line stamped KTF with a crown over the T made in 1954, but it is not as valuable as the earlier KTF pieces.) These early KTF pieces are very rare and hard to find.

Between 1930 to 1968 Alfred Philippe was the top designer for Trifari jewelry. He had formerly been a designer for Van Cleefs and Arpel, so he came with a rich designing history behind him. Beware - many online sellers label any early Trifari designs as Alfred Philippe designs, when this is not the case. Some of his early designs are marked Trifari Pat. Pending and a patent search will give the design specifications.

Trifari introduced a very successful line which they called "Jewels by Trifari" in 1938. A few years later, metals became scarce for manufacturing jewelry, due to the war, so Trifari used Sterling silver for many designs during this time. A few years later, in the 1940s, they patented a plating process called Trifanium. This plating method made the material look like real gold or silver and helped to maintain the condition of the metal over time. Trifari pieces are extremely well made and continue to stay in wonderful condition generations later.

One of the most well known and collectible of the Trifari pieces are the Lucite Jelly Belly pins. Once again, many jewelry sellers market a wide variety of jewelry as jelly belly, but true Jelly Bellies have DuPont lucite clear acrylic bellies. These pieces are figurals, such as birds and fish and are very rare and highly valued.

Jelly Belly photo courtesy of ebay seller carolina_sharon

Trifari continued manufacturing during the 1950s and 1960s. After this, it traded under the names a variety of companies. The company was sold to Hallmark, Inc in 1975 and then again to Crystal Brands Jewelry Corporation in 1988. Finally, in 1994 it was purchased by a division of the Monet group. This group was finally sold to Liz Claiborne industries and Trifari jewelry continues to be made by this company, although the jewelry is no longer manufactured in the United States.

Here are some markings you may find on Trifari jewelry. I've listed them in chronological order so that you can see the progression of hallmarks over the course of the manufacture of Trifari jewelry.


The earliest designs are, of course, the most collectible of all the Trifari designs, but don't overlook more recent pieces. All Trifari jewelry is exceptionally well made and beautiful.

29 comments:

  1. I AM LOOKING FOR A STERLING SILVER "TURKEY" PIN BY TRIFARI.

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  2. I'm afraid I don't have this pin in stock. Good luck on your search.

    Carol

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  3. I am trying to get a value on a Trifari piece that I have. It is a choker necklace, brushed silver with 'puffed' beads. There is also the 'T' with a crown emblem on it (almost like a charm hanging off of it).

    Is there any way or any place that I can get this information?

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  4. I just made the last post looking for a value on a Trifari necklace. I can be reached at gojoco7 at yahoo ... com

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  5. You could try looking around my website Vintage Jewelry Lane (www.vintagejewelrylane.com/trifari.htm) There is a link at the top right of the blog.

    This would give you an idea of current prices on various Trifari pieces if you have a retail outlet.

    Carol

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  6. I have just purchased a vintage crown trifari rhinestone brooch and it is missing one stone. Where could I get this repaired? Thanks for any help.

    sue

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  7. A local jeweler MAY be able to replace one stone in your brooch, but this type of repair isn't something that normally is done by regular jewelers since the stones would need to match.

    If you have an local vintage jewelry shop in your area, or town, or an antique shop which sells vintage jewelry, they may be able to replace it.

    Doing it yourself is not really that difficult.

    I've written a resource article on my website about the repair of vintage jewelry. You can access it here: www.vintagejewelrylane.com/information/jewelryrepair.htm. (scroll down to how to set rhinestones).

    Carol

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  8. Hello fellow vintage jewelry scholars and collectors,
    My research topic this semester for graduate school is Trifari. I've read that the Trifari archives were dismantled when Hallmark purchased the company. I live in New York and plan on going to the Costume Institute to view their Trifari collection. Does anyone have other suggestions and/or articles they would suggest I read for primary sourced information? Thanks in advance. Lizzyp

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  9. i've gone through this blog. i found it really interesting. nowadays im working and also studying in reputed college.

    online business

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  10. Very nice blog! I really like your photos, especially the first brooch, which is one of my favorite Trifari designs. I've seen it with the earrings in the topaz color and also in green. Thanks for posting them.

    Christine
    http://trifarijewelry.blogspot.com/

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  11. Its a wonderful to see fantastic piece here. Nice designed and timeless quality of a jewelry. This is one of the most collectible designer which i newer seen before. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Its all very greatful things . I really enjoyed that your photos especially pending vintage jewelry.

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  13. I have a rare fish pin brooch, Claire DeLune, 61 years old, where do I sell it?

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  14. You could try offering it to sellers who have online stores, antique shops, or try selling it yourself on eBay.

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  15. My grandmother had a beautiful wreath necklace with the second marking up above. She gave it to my mother before her passing and my mother wore it nearly to death. The gold plating is fading away and I would like to know if you have any ideas for where I could have it restored? She gave it to me a couple of months ago and I would love to restore it and give it to my sister for her 18th birthday since she is a vintage nut. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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  16. Most Trifari pieces are made of gold tone metal, not gold plating. When the finish is worn, I don't believe it can be restored.

    A jeweler might be able to give you more advice.

    Carol

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  17. Hi,I have an early family item it is a kTf rhodium plated brooch in need of restoration,eg Rhinestone stone replacements.Do you think any one be interested in buying a kTf piece in need of repair or should I consign it to the bin
    Kind regards

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  18. Early Trifari pieces always sell well, even if in need of restoration.

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  19. Hi I have some old trifari beads of my late Nan's,They have to be the oldest impulse buy I've ever seen as they still have a little paper tag attached,its black with gold lettering which says "jewells by Trifari" on one side and " Trifari Krussman and fishel ( and a C in a circle)" on the othere side.They are moonglow I think,as they appear to be lit from within,I can't seem to find any info on this paper tag with all three names?
    kind regards

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  20. the only information I have on the paper tags is what I wrote in this article - http://vintagejewelrylane.com/designerwords/trifariweekword.htm

    Carol

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  21. Vintage jewelry is an all-encompassing term and can include all period jewelry from the early 1700 Georgian era up to the Art Deco period of the mid-1900s.

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  22. I have inherited a Trifari necklace from my grandmother over 40 years ago now. I cant find any information on this stunning piece It says tifari pat pend on clasp yellow gold and has ha 6 large teardrops hanging from it..it needs a stone repaired but it is still perfect. dont know where to take for repair.

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  23. Trifari Patent Pending pieces are very collectible. Any jeweler should be able to help you with the repair if you can find matching stones.

    Here is a site for Trifari Patents: http://www.jewelrypatents.com/trifari1.html

    Carol

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  24. I found your article very informative! I recently interviewed Diane Love who worked on exclusive jewelry for Trifari about how to identify her work. We now have a link up to her rare jewelry full of images. Not to be missed by Trifari collectors:http://sararacouture.com/diane-love/
    My appreciation for the history and designs of Trifari just keeps growing. Thanks for a great post!

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  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  26. Hello, very informative article.
    I have a sterling Trifari flower seller/vendor pin, she's patent #148047 from 1947.
    I can't find much information on her although I was told she is rare. Can you tell me how rare she is ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The value of Trifari jewelry depends very much on condition and on where the item is being sold.

      I don't evaluate any jewelry. The best way to find a value is to do a search on places Like Ruby lane to give you and idea of similar pins.

      Patent pending pieces that are marked are usually quite valuable but need to be in top notch condition.
      Carol

      Delete
  27. I was asking about rarity, not value and what makes some pieces more desirable than others.
    Thanks though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To determine the value or how rare it is means evaluating the piece, which is something I do not do, since it varies depending on venue for sale and condition of piece.

      Carol

      Delete

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