Floral brooch designs were a staple for The Napier Co. for decades. Mostly hand-wrought, these pieces are highly collectible. In 1935, Napier focused its summer collection on floral and leaf designs. These pieces were designed with white or colored porcelain beads, combined with leaf stampings in modern or realistic forms, or presented as floral sprays. Sometimes these designs utilized enamel flowers in place of the porcelain beads. Like the floral brooches of the 1950s, these floral sprays reached four to five inches in length, with the most popular designs in white and gold. Additionally, garland designs, most notably suited for a cape or evening jacket, were also featured in the collection.
Shown is a collection of floral Napier brooches (1950s-1960s) featuring enamels, porcelain flowers—some combined with leaf stampings and all hand-wrought by the skilled staff of The Napier Co. Each piece will slightly vary from the next in a similar design due to the nature of the construction.from The Napier Book https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h
In the 1930s, the selling philosophy of The Napier Co. was that jewelry needed to have a “promotion story.” According to the company, pieces needed to have meaning or a trick promotion idea to be successful. Symbolism played a big part in creating those stories designed to pique public interest. Two cited examples were four-leaf clover motifs or a more esoteric model such as white rings to suggest life preservers. Again, as stated in the book, actual examples of Napier jewelry from this period are tough to locate. We have written history, but often that history was devoid of visual examples.
The same article that discussed jewelry with a “promotion story” also featured a new cigarette case called “The Glider.” The Glider held 14 cigarettes (seven on a side) and allowed a single cigarette to be pushed out from either end. These cases came in various enamel colors or engine-turned surfaces and could be monogrammed or adorned with applied decorative plaques. The story for this case was the novelty in the delivery of the cigarettes. As was the case for decades, Napier aimed to create conversation pieces that sparked dialog. Much like wearing a piece of jewelry today, it yielded an opportunity to open conversation between complete strangers.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday weekend! We have great offer for our friends of The Napier Book! From now through the end of July 4th, 2021, you will receive a free pair of earrings with purchase of the Napier book. Limited to the first 50 purchases. #napierbook from The Napier Book
Fashion notes in 1995 by Women’s Wear Daily indicated that textured metal surfaces were the incoming mode. However, smooth surfaces were expected to make a comeback. The Napier necklace featured in this editorial satisfied both by combing hand-textured metal flanked by highly-polished surfaces on crescent-shaped links.
Shown here is the matching bracelet to Napier’s necklace featured in the WWD 1955 article. This was part of Napier’s collection featured by Amos Parrish. Amos Parrish was a renowned fashion expert who’s company held fashion clinics for the leading department stores. Click here to purchase the bracelet. https://napierbook.com/product/vintage-napier-1950s-amos-parrish-bracelet/ #napierjewelry #napierhistory #napierbook #blog #braceletforsale #amosparrishfrom The Napier Book https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h
Fabulous Napier earrings featured in Vogue, April 15, 1960 edition. These beauties are shown on page 433 of The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry. #napierjewelry#napierhistory #thenapierbook #vintagecostumejewelry #thejewelrystylistfrom The Napier Book https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h
Using Fashion to Find, Design, and Express Your Character and Style
Costume design is a fun but demanding profession. The job of the costume designer is to make sure that the attire of each actor portrays the story of the actor’s character through a visual medium. Color, texture, and style are all important factors of each garment. The costumes not only become a prop, they help the actor embody the character. Costuming synthesizes together the words, the message and the stage.
In the field of performing arts and costume design, most costume designers have a degree in fashion design and have studied art history at length. The great masterpieces displaying costumes and jewelry from the past five hundred centuries are wonderful resources and references used to recreate the mode on stage or set. However, jewelry from the 20th century that is neither fine nor estate jewelry seems to slip through the cracks and often get misrepresented in motion pictures, plays and T.V.
Working with vintage costume dealers, or jewelry historians are an excellent resource to ameliorate that challenge. However slight, the mismatch between the era and the costuming of the jewelry can subtly confuse the audience.
The book titled, The Napier Co. by author Melinda L. Lewis with Henry Swen, has proven to be a valuable resource for jewelry designers, jewelry history students, and costume designers. It provides a decade-by-decade evolution of jewelry styles from one company through both the 19th and 20th century. It gives an encapsulation of the jewelry industry through each decade that is relative to all costume jewelry and not just Napier.
Costume or fashion jewelry through the decades has obviously evolved, and some pieces speak volumes toward the social, political and economic implications of the time. Victory jewelry was commonplace during wartime as was wood, sterling, or even jewelry made from macaroni. Styles of the ‘30s reflected the big Hollywood ideals despite the hardships of the great depression. Jewelry from the 1960s wasn’t all Op-art jewelry, but it did have subtle differences from jewelry of the 1950s. Knowing what was produced when can help tell the story of the playwright more effectively.
A dealer or jewelry historian such as Lewis can help a costume designer ensure that his or her selection of jewelry is period appropriate. Jewelry also differed in style, construction or materials, depending on the price points. A socialite may have had access to a different type of costume jewelry manufactured during the same period. Some pieces, which were mass produced wouldn’t be suitable for certain characters. But to have a character wear a piece that is clearly 1940s or 1950s in a 1930s scene can be unsettling and misleading in a historical context.
Melinda L. Lewis is a jewelry historian, the author of The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry, and co-founder of Costume Jewelry Collectors International.
Costuming – period appropriate (credibility “nothing worse than…” – see the development through time – styles, actual pieces, construction, materials.
Although the designers at Napier were outstanding jewelers, silversmiths and artisans, they too, turned to other companies for design inspiration. This page was taken from a 1932 Cartier catalog that was part of The Napier Archive.
As discussed in the book, many catalogs from other companies were used either to examine the marketplace and current trends, or for design inspiration. The Napier archives contained catalogs with examples of the finest joaillerie to competitors such as Coro, Trifari, and Whiting and Davis.
Jewelry of this style was referred to as “Court Jewelry,” modeled after the exquisite jewels for the Monarchy. Napier surprisingly design and manufacture an extremely limited number of “Court Jewelry” pieces. An example of this type of jewelry can be found in chapter seven, Napier 1930s-1940s.
You can read more about this story in the post “Napier, Design and Inspiration” with your purchase of The Napier Book as a free member of “Exclusive Napier Club.”
This phenomenal Napier 1950s butterfly brooch measures 4” in length. The plating has both matte and polished surfaces to highlight the wings. The matching ear cuffs (not shown) are equally dramatic. This piece is stunning for daytime or evening. #napierjewelry #butterflybrooch #vintagecostumejewelry #thenapierbookfrom The Napier Book https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h
An interesting grouping of Napier jewelry from 1931 featured in WWD. It looks rather French to me. Based on the description, I’m sure this collection was stunning. This and other designs are from the 1930s have been sourced from vintage trade magazines. From The Napier Book on Facebook https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h