Vintage Trifari costume jewelry

From the Cause A Frockus collection

Crown Trifari, golden beauties

Trifari and Coro are the dynamic duo of the American costume jewelry world. These prolific firms made many iconic pieces over the years and although their items were mass-produced, the craftsmanship was still of a high quality, making them very desirable to the modern enthusiast. Read on as we learn more about vintage Trifari costume jewelry.

And one more announcement for our Austin readers:

If you love costume jewelry and want to learn more, then join Pamela Wiggins and I on Wednesday, November 5th at 6:00pm for an evening all about 100 years of vintage costume jewelry. We will be presenting at the Faulk Central Library in Austin, TX.

Trifari | history and markings

This East Coast company was founded in Rhode Island around the Art Deco era. The first jewelry pieces were marked KTF, which represented the last names of the three owners: Trifari, Kushman, and Fishel. The Art Deco designs remain some of their most stunning work. This KTF marking was used for a few years until the name Trifari was trademarked in 1938.

From the Cause A Frockus collection

Crown Trifari symbol

Trifari is known for its amazingly detailed copies of high-end jewelry. Just because the real stones were replaced with rhinestone and the metal was now sterling silver, women nationwide gravitated to the offerings. Suddenly anyone could add Van Cleef and Arpels or Cartier to their economically-driven collections. The appeal of costume jewelry and Trifari’s work specifically: women wouldn’t have to sacrifice style and beauty just because their pocketbook wasn’t overflowing.

While some of their designs may have been copied, a lot of pride was taken in their creations. All of Trifari’s items were clearly marked after 1937, and by the 1940s a crown was added over the T in Trifari. This imprint, known as Crown Trifari to collectors, doesn’t mean it’s higher in quality. It is simply a signal to distinguish their mid-century collections.

Trifari | designers and designs

The guiding creative force behind the Trifari brand was Alfred Phillipe. His career spanned over three decades, from the 30s to the late 1960s. Phillipe oversaw many projects, but perhaps he is most famous for the fruit salad design, a replica of Cartier’s Tutti Frutti line.

From the Cause A Frockus collection

Crown Trifari

Trifari also employed many freelance designers, notably Kenneth Jay Lane in the 1970s and Bennetto Panetta in the 1940s.

In addition to the fruit salad design, Trifari is known for their jelly belly collections in the 1940s, the clip mates (a copy of Coro’s famous duette clips), figurals, and their 1953 line of British-inspired designs honoring Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

To learn even more about Trifari and the other jewelry companies that defined American style, read Pamela’s latest work.

Cause A Frockus would like to thank our tremendous resources: Pamela Wiggins, Costume Jewelry Collectors International, and Sotheby’s.

For our readers: Do you prefer Coro or Trifari’s work? Let us know what you love about vintage costume jewelry in the comments…

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