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Art Deco Beauty in Vintage Jewelry – Natty Creations Scarf Holder

I love Art Deco … anything and everything Art Deco! From architecture to fashion to vehicles … I just love it!

It reflects back to a time when “progress” was the be all – end all. Everything was meant to be faster, streamlined to get there quickly. As always, humankind over-did it and now humankind is trying to find a way to slow. it. down. NOW!

Another thing I love is finding something new and different – to me, anyway. I’m a research-aholic. So when I came across this incredibly pretty, at first glance – brooch, I was thrilled to discover that it wasn’t just a brooch. First, I thought it might be a hair barrette. That is, until I decided that big, long pin stem on the back would probably cause just a little bit of discomfort as it pierced through one’s scalp. Definitely not a barrette.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Holder

The fun part is that it is signed Natty Creations and the patent number is stamped onto the back. A little bit of searching and I found the patent, filed on December 29, 1936 by Nat Levy. It’s officially called a “scarf holder”.

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

1930s Natty Creations Scarf Clip Brooch Patent Full Pg 11140

Pin it to the front of your jacket or blouse, then the two leaves are on springs so fold those over the top of your scarf and the whole thing stays neatly in place and won’t slide off! Pretty nifty, I’d say! Especially when the scarf holder is a beautiful brooch set with sparkling crystal clear rhinestones and ruby red glass baguettes!

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

1930s Natty Creations Rhinestone and Red Baguette Scarf Holder

While it was easy enough to find the patent information, I wasn’t able to find much about Nat Levy. According to The Magic of Mandle by Lucille Tempesta and Marcia Brown, Nat Levy and Urie Mandle became partners in around 1938 forming the Urie Mandle Corporation to make costume jewelry. Nat Levy, based on the date of the patent, obviously was making jewelry under the name “Natty Creations” prior to joining Mandle. The Urie Mandle Corporation is said to have been extremely successful but not long-lived. The company closed sometime during World War II, according to Researching Costume Jewelry.

I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for more information about Nat Levy. It seems a shame that the creator of this practical and beautiful piece of jewelry seems to have disappeared into the pages of time. If you have more info about Mr. Levy, please be sure to leave a comment!

A Little Bit of History on Hillcraft & Castlecraft Jewelry

A few years ago, my website was set up differently than it is now. There was an area – kind of like a landing page – for each category. I enjoyed having the opportunity to give a little bit of history or general information about the items within that category. When we remade our website a couple years ago, the area available for this was greatly reduced. I’m going to be putting those pages back together here in my blog and I hope you find them interesting and useful.

Vintage Castlecraft Moonglow Earrings & Necklace

Vintage Castlecraft Moonglow Earrings & Necklace

I’m going to start with Hillcraft and Castlecraft jewelry because it has an interesting history and it also has a unique feature in its design. Both companies hand made their jewelry in central Indiana. As a proud Indiana native, I have a warm spot in my heart for anything made by either company.

The jewelry is high quality costume jewelry. Czech glass stones, beads, buttons, and Swarovski crystals were used in many of their items. Neither company signed their jewelry, but it is usually very easy to identify. Using specially designed gold filled wire, the earring “clips” the company created were quite unique, as they slip on to the ear and are worn slightly at an angle, rather than having a hinged clip or screwback. Many people consider them to be more comfortable than the usual earring clip back. Because of the earrings’ distinctive clip design, many necklaces and bracelets may be identified by finding the matching earrings, although the company also used unusual clasps on their necklaces and bracelets, too.

Hillcraft & Castlecraft Slide On Clip

Hillcraft & Castlecraft Slide On Clip

Hillcraft jewelry was made in Rockville, Indiana from the early 1950s and into the 1990s.
Owned originally by Allen Chamberlain, Bill May, and Charlie Ellis, the jewelry was made at the Indiana State Tuberculosis Sanatorium by patients there as well as by a few company employees. Eventually Charlie Ellis left Hillcraft and started his own jewelry company – Castlecraft, which was based in Greencastle, Indiana. Another unique and interesting fact is that there was little or no competition between the two companies and all partners remained friends and sharing workloads, designs, and sometimes, even employees!

It seems that Hillcraft was also highly unusual in that if a customer ever lost an earring, it was only necessary for the owner to send it to the company and they would replace it. If the earring was no longer in their inventory, they would even re-create a piece in order to match the remaining earring as closely as possible. Both the new earring and the old were cleaned and returned as a pair to the customer.

Hillcraft and Castlecraft jewelry were never sold in stores. The jewelry was sold either through clubs or as fund raisers. Hillcraft was also sold at the Covered Bridge Festival in Rockville, Indana.

For a more complete history of Hillcraft jewelry, check out Nancy Hopper-Cady’s site at hoppersbazaar.

**A couple years ago, I was contacted by a lady whose mother worked for Charlie Ellis. She gave me quite a bit of first hand information and permission to share it on my website. I’ll be writing that up and adding that soon.

Pop Beads Who Knew They Could Be So Elegant

Who doesn’t just love pop beads? If you’re old enough, you either wore them as contemporary fashion or maybe you played with your mother’s. All the different colors to arrange in a zillion different ways!

My friends at the Jewelry Ring recently were discussing vintage plastic pop beads that look like faceted crystal called Crystelle Poppits and it carried me off to do some research.

Crystelle Poppits Blue Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Blue Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Pink Richelieu

Crystelle Poppits Pink Richelieu

I’ve had a few of these necklaces in my shop and never knew that they were made by Richelieu in the early 1960s. Apparently only the earrings were signed – I had no idea there were matching earrings! The necklaces came with hangtags, which of course, are almost always missing.

Always curious when I find out new things, I went wandering around the internet to see what I could see. It always excites me when I find something that documents when a piece of vintage jewelry or clothing was made, like a catalog or newspaper advertisement, and I found one.

This time it is a newspaper article from May 7, 1962. To quote the article, “These are Richelieu’s new Crystelle poppits in clear or colors, with matching eardrops. Can be lengthened or shortened, at will, into choker, bib, rope, even bracelet.” So we know that these unique pop beads date to spring of 1962!

The entire page is just full of more great fashion information from early 1962 – mostly about summer jewelry trends, the latest styles from Napier, Marvella, Trifari, and Kramer. I am absolutely drooling over the fringed earrings and RING(!) from Napier. I only found one pair of vintage fringe earrings signed Napier when I went on the hunt but I really can’t tell if these are the same as the ones in the article. I also love the ad for the Anne Adams pattern. Check it out – it’s a little grainy but readable.  “Cool Look in Jewelry Takes Over for Summer


Finding Buried Treasure – Juliana Jewelry

Exquisitely Sparkling DeLizza & Elster (aka Juliana) Crystal Bead PinExquisitely Sparkling DeLizza & Elster (aka Juliana) Crystal Bead Pin

Exquisitely Sparkling DeLizza & Elster (aka Juliana) Crystal Bead Pin

One of my latest finds was a lovely vintage crystal bead and rhinestone pin. Immediately upon spotting it, I was excited because it had all the hallmarks of jewelry made by DeLizza & Elster, also known as “Juliana” jewelry.  These pieces are quite sought after by those who collect vintage costume jewelry because they are always especially beautiful in design, color, and artistry.

Jewelry made by D&E is never “signed”.  For the most part, the company made costume jewelry for other companies like Weiss, Kramer, Coro, and even Sarah Coventry just to name a few.   But during the mid-1960s, the company sold a line of jewelry while trying to build their own name recognition.  The only identification on this jewelry was a hang tag or a card that held the jewelry.

So how did I realize that I had found one of the coveted pieces of Juliana jewelry?  I’m not telling – that way I get to keep it all for myself!

Reverse Side of Crystal Beaded Juliana Leaf Brooch Reverse Side of Crystal Beaded Juliana Leaf Brooch

Reverse Side of Crystal Beaded Juliana Leaf Brooch

Oh ok .. I’ll spill the beans.  The first thing I look for is exceptional quality, beautiful design, and lovely stones.  DeLizza & Elster always made first-rate costume jewelry.  It is solid.  Turn the piece over and look at its construction.  A particularly notable feature of D&E construction is what many collectors call “figure 8 puddling”.  And then there are the rivets, and stones with open backed settings and … well, there are so many features that are distinctive to Juliana jewelry that after studying and handling them, you begin to just “know”.

One of the very best ways to learn how to identify Juliana jewelry is to go to the DeLizza & Elster Jewelry Education Site.  This site is put together by a devoted group of people who work with Frank DeLizza to identify this jewelry.  Here, you can not only learn about the distinctive features of Juliana jewelry, but you can also look at numerous pieces of jewelry that have been previously identified.  If you think you’ve found a piece of Juliana, you can even submit photos and find out for certain.   Frank DeLizza personally reviews photos and results are posted to the site.  Just browsing this informational site is fun – talk about eye candy!

For an exceptionally interesting in-depth look at the jewelry business, Mr. DeLizza has written a book detailing his decades of experiences.  It is an absolutely fascinating read and shouldn’t be missed.  You can purchase the book, “Memoirs of a Fashion Jewelry Manufacturer” on Mr. DeLizza’s website.

I’m proud to say that any piece of vintage jewelry found in my shop – online or brick & mortar – that I’ve identified as being D&E/Juliana is guaranteed to be just that.  And if you ever want to know how I’ve identified it as such, just ask!  I’m always happy to show you.

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