Since the 1920s, Trifari has been one of the most respected and admired producers of costume jewelry in the United States. Founded in the 1910s by Gustavo Trifari, the Italian-immigrant son of a Napoli goldsmith, the company has designed jewelry that’s been worn by countless high-profile clients, from Mamie Eisenhower to Madonna.

The success of Trifari, and the reason for its collectibility today, is most often credited to French designer Alfred Philippe, the company’s chief designer from 1930 until 1968. His use of invisible settings for stones, which he originally developed for Van Cleef and Arpels, added a level of craftsmanship and technique that had not been previously seen in costume jewelry.

Among Philippe’s countless contributions are the Trifari Crown pins from the late 1930s to the 1950s. The crowns were so popular that Trifari incorporated a crown into its mark in about 1937. Authentic Trifari jewelry is typically marked with "Jewels by Trifari," "TKF" (for Trifari, Krussman & Fishel), or "Trifari," depending on when it was made.

Some of the Trifari Crown pins feature eye-catching, brightly colored cabochons. Others are composed entirely of clear crystal rhinestones for a monochromatic effect. Naturally, a series of Coronation Gems was produced in 1953 to celebrate the ascendancy of Elizabeth II to the British throne.

Trifari’s Jelly Belly pins of seals, poodles, roosters, and other animals appeared in the 1940s. Each animal’s "belly" consists of a solid Lucite "pearl" with settings of sterling silver or gold plate. Although any Jelly Belly from this decade is going to command a good price, the poodles are especially rare.

Other categories of vintage Trifari costume jewelry to look for are the vintage floral pins from the 1930s and the fruit and vegetable pieces from the 1950s. In particular, collectors like the miniature fruit pins (apples, pineapples, grape bunches, and strawberries, to name a few) from the late 1950s through the 1960s. These single pieces, usually finished in a matte silver or gold, were worn by themselves or in groups. Also popular are the patriotic pins from the 1940s of American flags and red-white-and-blue eagles.

Like all manufacturers during World War II, Trifari was unable to use metal in its products due to rationing. This forced Trifari to switch to sterling silver during the war, which tripled prices for Trifari products (although that didn’t seem to hurt sales). Post-war, Trifari wanted to go back to less costly, maintenance-free metal, but its audience was now used to silver. To hype the return to a cheaper base metal, the company began advertising a "revolutionary" new metal called Trifanium, which was a made-up name for their basic metal — unlike silver, it could be given a no-polish rhodium finish...

The campaign worked so well that by 1953, Mamie Eisenhower felt perfectly comfortable to break with tradition and wear costume jewelry to the inaugural ball. To match the First Lady’s pink satin gown (studded with 2,000 rhinestones), Alfred Philippe designed an "orientique" pearl choker with matching three-stranded bracelet and earrings, each laden with eight pearls. Three sets were made: one for the First Lady, a second for the Smithsonian, and a third for the Trifari archives. Mrs. Eisenhower was so pleased with the ensemble that she had Trifari make jewelry for her second inaugural ball in 1957.

Key terms for Vintage Trifari 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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Trifari Sterling A. Philiippe Angel Fish Fur Clip Jelly Belly VintageVintage Crown Trifari Jewels Of India Maltese Cross Large Pin / Brooch, SignedVintage* Signed Crown Trifari * Crown Jewels Necklace & Brooch Set W Glass CabsRare (trifari, Boucher Era) Brooch, Earrings Set Castlecliff BirdVintage Trifari Gold Plate Ruby Sapphire Emerald Rhinestone Moghul BraceletTrifari Jewels Of India EarringsVintage 1940's Large Signed Crown Trifari Blue Enamel And Rhinestones Fur ClipRare Vintage Trifari Enamel Rhinestone Patriotic American Eagle BroochLush Vintage Trifari Kashmir Faux Jade Carnelian Pearl Rhinestone BroochVintage Trifari Rhinestone, Faux Pearl, And Enamel Flower & Leaves Brooch PinVintage Trifari Oversized Brushed Goldtone & Robins Egg Turquoise Glass BraceletVintage Gorgeous Signed Trifari Cavalcade Topaz Stones Bracelet & Earrings SetVintage Trifari Gold Plated Over Sterling Silver Multi Stone Pearl Crown PinRare Vintage Crown Trifari Green Blue Enamel Jelly Belly Trojan Knight Brooch 3 Original Jewelled Ciner «fish» Brooches/pins + 1 Trifari Seahorse Brooch/pinBold Vintage Trifari Lucite Silver Toned Clear & Blue Water Drop Chain NecklaceVintage Gorgeous Signed Trifari Large Brooch & Earrings W/faux Pearls & RsRare Crown Trifari Patented Philippe Poured Blue Glass For Pom Pom & Tom Tom Pin*jelly Belly Bird Set Pin & Earrings Signed ~crown Trifari~ Jewelry By Philippe Vintage Crown Trifari Gold-tone White Enamel Flower Pin Earrings Demi-parureVintage Signed Crown Trifari Gold Tone Wheat Brooch Pin & Earring SetTrifari Gold Toned Key Brooch Pin With DanglesTrifari Vintage Necklace Yellow Metal 16" Long Nice StampedVintage Trifari Sterling Silver Art Deco Fur Clip / Pin / BroochCrown Trifari Vermeil Faux Blue Topaz Rhinestone Brooch SterlingVintage Signed Trifari Cherry Blossom Parure From EstateVintage Trifari Jewelry Set In Original BoxTrifari Signed Necklace And Earring Set Vintage*rare* Trifari Blue/green Enamel Butterfly Brooch Gold Tone Setting Over 2 In Vintage Trifari Dragon Brooch PinSpectacular Huge 3" Vtg Trifari Diamante Glass Rhinestone Brooch Pin! On55Vintage Crown Trifari Turquoise Blue Jelly Belly Poodle Brooch Pin *rare*Vintage Kunio Matsumoto For Trifari Oversized Carved Resin Bow Runway NecklaceVtg Trifari Philippe 1950 Rhinestone Thistle Flower Collar NecklaceVintage 60s? Crown Trifari Gold Tone Earrings Necklace Bracelet Set Acorn Rare*rare* Vintage Estate Signed Crown Trifari Rhinestone 1 1/4" Earrings!!! G3562Vintage 1946 Trifari Sterling Vermeil Rhinestone Key Brooch Keynotes Of EleganceVintage Trifari Satin Gold Plated Rose Flower Pin / Brooch Vintage Crown Trifari Brooch Earrings Art Deco Gold Starburst Emerald Green Vintage Trifari Antique Gold, Rhinestone & Enamel Flower & Leaves Pin / BroochArt Deco Ktf Trifari Rhodium Backed Pave Rhinestone BraceletVintage Crown Trifari Fur Clip Crystal Rhinestone Needs Tlc Pin BroochVintage* Omg! * Signed Trifari Necklace* Regal & Elegant W Rare Alexandrite R/sVintage Crown Trifari Gold Tone Mid Century Modernist Bakelite Cube Necklace*rare* Vintage Estate Signed Crown Trifari Enamel Cat 2 3/8" Brooch!!! G3843Gorgeous Vintage Trifari Extra Large Under The Sea Faux Pearl Brooch PinSigned Crown Trifari Vtg Earrings Turquoise Gold Tone Flower Swirl Pinwheel M76*rare* Vintage Estate Signed Crown Trifari Glass Flower 7/8" Clip Earrings G3559Rare Crown Trifari Gold-tone Cabochon Poodle Puppy Basket Dog Brooch PinVtg 1950's Trifari Pat Pend Figural Rhinestone Crown Pin Alfred Philippe Beauty!Vintage Wwii Trifari Raf Royal Air Force Rhinestone Sweetheart Pin Book PieceBuzz - Vintage Gold Tone & Enamel Bee Themed Brooches/pins - 1 TrifariTwo Vintage Trifari Faux Pearl & Rhinestone Necklaces For Repair Or Parts, SilveVintage Trifari Marquise Rhinestone Flower Costume Jewelry BraceletVtg Crown Trifari Fx Turquoise Bead Rhinestone Gold Tone Link Bracelet SignedVintage Repair Denicola Pendant Brooch, Trifari & Red Jelly Belly Cab BraceletVintage Trifari Crystal Rhinestone Enamel Flower & Leaf Gt Necklace/bracelet 189Vintage 1940's Sterling Silver Crown Trifari Crystal & Pearl Crown BroochVintage 1950s Crown Trifari Rhinestone Brooch Earrings Demi-parure PinVintage Trifari Brushed Gold & Rhinestone Bird Of Paradise Brooch