Known for its use of Swarovski crystals and colored stones, as well as superior craftsmanship and attention to detail, Eisenberg & Sons was one of the most highly regarded costume jewelry manufacturers in the 1930s and '40s. The company was famous for its replicas of 18th-century fine jewelry, which appeared authentic right down to the pewter-colored metal. Eisenberg also produced stunning figurals, often set in sterling silver.
Eisenberg & Sons actually began as a women’s clothing company in 1914 when Jonas Eisenberg founded the firm. Jewelry was used to decorate the clothing to make it more appealing to customers. Unfortunately, the jewelry kept getting stolen because it was so attractive.
Today, collectors can recognize an authentic piece of vintage Eisenberg jewelry by its mark. The words "Eisenberg Original" were used from roughly 1935 to 1945, while just plain "Eisenberg" or "Eisenberg Ice" was used from about 1945 to 1950. To make matters more complicated, silver pieces made from 1943 to 1948 were called "Eisenberg Sterling" and some Eisenberg pieces created between 1952 and 1970 have no trademark stamp at all.
In terms of the forms themselves, look for medallion-like pins and clips festooned with aqua, ruby, and crystal stones. Many Eisenberg pieces are abstract and vaguely organic, but others resemble kings, queens, mermaids, and ballerinas.
Animals were also Eisenberg favorites. Some were relatively straightforward embellishments of horses, zebras, birds, and butterflies, but other Eisenberg brooches told mini-stories, like the one depicting Puss in Boots or a clip called Piggy Goes to Market from 1941 that Eisenberg created for the Eaves Costume Company.
More generic, but no less dazzling, are the vintage Eisenberg rhinestone-studded bows, rhinestone clips with an Art Deco look, and brooches made entirely of cabochons. Some clips were intended to be sewn into a garment; rare examples were sold in pairs and joined by chains.
Other vintage Eisenberg pieces of note include the sterling silver pieces set with a type of quartz called citrine, which Eisenberg cleverly branded as "Topaz quartz." In the mid-1940s, the company also made a few pieces in 14-carat gold, as well as a collection of turquoise pieces crafted by artisans in Mexico. Finally, the enameled pieces from the 1970s are quite charming, including the hand-painted, 18-carat gold pins and earrings in the Artists Series, as well as the simple, enameled brooches of yellow sunflowers, cream water lilies, and purple trees with matching earrings...
Key terms for Vintage Eisenberg Costume Jewelry:
Cabochon: A stone that has been shaped and polished instead of faceted. It usually has a flat back and a shape that is round or oval.