Vintage Miriam Haskell Costume Jewelry

Miriam Haskell established her Miriam Haskell Company in New York City in 1926. From the get-go, her handcrafted floral-themed costume jewelry was a hit with the stylish women of Manhattan, who adored her intricate necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and pins. Haskell loved gilt findings and filigree, faux pearls, Austrian crystal beads, blown glass beads from the island of Murano, and, above all, rose montées

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Haskell was not a designer herself, but she was an excellent talent scout. Frank Hess was her first find. Where Macy’s saw only a hired hand to create its window displays, Haskell saw her young company’s first chief designer, a position Hess held from 1926 until 1960, when Robert F. Clark took over.

Perhaps because Haskell was not a designer, she almost never signed her pieces. Indeed, until 1950, when her brother Joseph took over the company due to Haskell’s health, about the only signed Haskells around were those sold at one New England shop that had agreed to carry the Haskell pieces on the condition that they were signed. Those pieces, which one Haskell family member estimates account for less than one percent of her pre-1950s output, came with a horseshoe-shaped plaque with Haskell’s name on it. Needless to say, they are very rare.

Some of the stars who loved Haskell jewelry included Lucille Ball, who wore Haskell pieces on her TV show. Joan Crawford was another loyal customer. She collected Haskells from the late 1930s through the 1960s. In 1978, a year after the actress’s death, her collection of vintage Haskell costume jewelry was auctioned off to great fanfare, partly because of Crawford’s reputation, of course, but also due to the quality of the pieces themselves.

Like a lot of collectibles, the value of a vintage piece of Miriam Haskell costume jewelry depends a great deal on its condition. Because her pieces are so intricate, it is difficult to replace a missing rhinestone or faux pearl. Look for metal that has not corroded and avoid pieces that have been chipped due to careless handling or wear.

Vintage necklaces are among her most sought work. Some have only a single strand of faux pearls. Others have multiple strands in matching or different sizes and hues — from traditional white to smoldering dark brown. Even the clasps are opportunities for embellishment, with pearls, rose montées, and filigree decorating their ends.

Bracelets are another favorite. Vintage Haskell bracelets often feature beaded flowers and leaves mounted on gilt or silvered hinged bangles. Other bangles are open at the back and many Haskell bracelets dispense with an armature altogether to remain loose and alluring...

Vintage Haskell earrings, either on their own or as matching pieces for a necklace, continue in the floral vein. The gilt, crystal, and pearl combos are considered the classics of this form. Finally, Haskell pins are perhaps the freest of all Haskell jewelry types. Besides the floral themes, Haskell pins incorporate a number of animal and shell designs.

Key terms for Vintage Haskell Costume Jewelry:

Rose montée: A precut crystal (the rose) mounted in a silver setting (the montée) that has either a tab with a hole in it or a channel in its back so that the mounted stone can be sewn to a garment or attached to a piece of jewelry. Comes in wide range of colors.

Finding: The functional part of a piece of jewelry such as the clasp on a necklace.

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Recent News: Miriam Haskell Costume Jewelry

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KINSTLER: Moving may reveal things you don't need
Business In Savannah, August 17th

long line of jewelers, including a grandfather who worked in his own New York business buying and selling and manufacturing fine jewelry and an aunt who was a principal in Miriam Haskell Jewelry, a high end firm selling fine costume jewelry in New...Read more

Weekly Roundup of eBay Vintage Clothing Finds
Huffington Post, August 4th

Don't miss the 1960s sequin shorts, the Cappelli wicker novelty fish purse, the 1950s lobster print skirt, the Pucci wallet, the 1970s Gucci blouse, the 1940s Frank Hess for Miriam Haskell necklace, the 1950 Burkee sterling earrings and the vintage...Read more

Three Days of Unreserved Goods to Auction at Rago's, August 27-29, 2015
ArtfixDaily, August 4th

Jewelry designers include Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Angela Cummings, John Hardy, Jabel, Whiteside & Blank, Miriam Haskell, Lalique, Christian Dior, Pucci, Trifari, Dunhill, E. Zolotas, and Carrington & Co.; watches by Rolex, Waltham, Omega, Elgin, Bulova...Read more

How to buy vintage jewellery
Telegraph.co.uk, May 23rd

The first website, somethingsimplygorgeous.co.uk (I wish it were called costumejewelleryforthediscerning.com, but there you go) primarily features pieces from Miriam Haskell, creator of some of the loveliest pearl jewellery of the 20th century. Banish...Read more

Miriam Haskell's Charles James-inspired Jewelry Capsule Collection
Fashion Times, May 2nd

Charles James has inspired Miriam Haskell, the New York City-based costume jewelry brand, to create an 11-piece capsule collection where the pieces are sure to catch anyone's eye with their striking jet black look or the more delicate look of pure white...Read more

Miriam Haskell's Charles James-Inspired Jewelry Will Jazz Up Your Evening Ensemble
InStyle, May 1st

As the subject of this year's Met Costume Institute Gala theme, the late Charles James is the designer to know. A full-fledged retrospective exhibition in celebration of his work will open at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in a week's time. The...Read more

Miriam Haskell Releases Charles James-Inspired Met Ball Jewelry
Hollywood Reporter, April 30th

The 11-piece collection, priced between $350 to $4,400, features pieces such as earrings with hand-wired Swarovski pearls and crystals ($350) and an oxidized silver-plated brass necklace with hand-wired starburst motifs of Swarovski faceted crystal...Read more

Costume jeweller to the stars: Miriam Haskell
Telegraph.co.uk, December 23rd

First and foremost, she could spot latent talent: the bold appointment of Frank Hess, a window dresser at Macy's, as chief designer of the Miriam Haskell Company, founded in 1926, was her first stroke of genius. ... Opening her first costume jewellery...Read more