A grand display of three color versions featuring the Napier “Baroque” pendant/brooch. A multi-layer piece with highly sculpted stampings surmounted by faux pearls and a large faceted rhinestone. These pendants measure nearly 3 1/2″ across. Designed by Eugene Bertolli. A prime example of the “Boutique” fashion jewelry of the 1950s. You can read more about these jewelry designs in our book, “The Napier C.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry.” From The Napier Book https://ift.tt/3cnbS9h
The Napier Co. was not only known for its stylish and sophisticated designs, but it was also known for its whimsical figurals or as the company called them, “conversation pieces.” In the mid to early 1960s, Napier presented a conversation pin line called, “The Mother-Daughter” series. These pins came in two sizes so both mother and daughter could have matching adornment.
Here’s one example of the collection.
Napier figurals are an excellent way to start collecting Napier jewelry. Whether you choose animals, florals, or people, you are sure to find some incredible items. Many of these pieces have three-dimensional attributes, gorgeous colors and enticing textures. Most of the cast figurals manufactured by Napier were made in the 1960s and 1970s.
The hand-manipulated designs, primarily from the 1950s are often crafted with findings typically found on the fashion lines. Both the hand-manipulated and cast figurals have a unique “Napier Look” to them, with the later have a hand-carved appearance. In actually, most of the cast figurals were hand carved.
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 from 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 did design and manufacture extremely limited “Court Jewelry” pieces. An example of this type of jewelry can be found in chapter seven, Napier 1930s-1940s.
Other examples of designs from well-know jewelers, where possibly design inspiration was foster, are shown below with the Napier Rooster pin and the “Agreeable” Poodle pin.
|Above left is a copy of Tiffany’s poodle pin. This advertisement was found in the Napier archives and had the initials of all the designers of that time. This practice has been surmised to be a way to document that each designer had viewed the material. To the above right is Napier’s famous “Agreeable” poodle. This figural pin came in silver plate, gold plate and at least three known enamel colors, including black, white and grey.Below is an example of Tiffany’s rooster pin and to the right is the Napier counterpart. Each jewelry company had its own design aesthetic and Napier in no way copied the design, but rather possibly used resources such as Tiffany as inspiration for the design departments own creativity.
Heraldic jewelry enjoyed popularity several times during the 20th century, including the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. So when it comes to indentify a particular decade that a piece could have been introduced into a jewelry line can often be difficult from a visual perspective. Fortunately, our ability to research collections has improved over the years making it more possible to put the pieces of history together.
This beautiful bracelet was part of a “Legends in Silver Heraldic Jewelry” collection presented by Napier in the spring of 1949. The collection consisted of two distinct bracelet styles, one necklace, and two pins. The multi-chain bracelet with a decorative gauntlet clasp and barrier spring ring closure was complemented by an unusual pill box charm bracelet of a European Knight’s Helmet. The matching necklace to the gauntlet bracelet, measured 16” with a 4” drop suspended from the center gauntlet clasp.
The two pins of this collection consisted of a gauntlet pin that appears to have had a moveable knight’s mace; finding a pin with the mace still intact would be considered quite rare. The second pin was a heraldic shield, while the accompanying French clip earrings bore a heraldic design suspending a four-chain tassel.
Pieces from this collection ranged from $7.20 to $36.00, which included the 20% tax imposed on luxury items such as these.
The marking of the barrier spring ring with both the words “NAPIER and “STERLING” across the bar was not a common practice in the following years. The sterling clasps are usually marked “STERLING” with an adjacent jump ring marked “NAPIER.”
The Napier Co. manufactured a variety of Christmas pins throughout the years, including wreaths, candy canes, trees, Christmas bells and snowflakes. In the collectors genre, these pins are highly desirable and have maintained a strong demand on the secondary market.
These pins, especially the rhinestone embellished motifs, are heavily coveted by collectors. Napier pins can be found both cast and stone-set– with the former embellished with pearls or rhinestones, or like the above heavily plated gold example in the photo from the 1990s.
While age might be a factor with most vintage jewelry collectibles, this seems not to be the case with Napier’s holiday pins. Perhaps due to the fact that there were made in limited numbers, pins from the 1950s through the 1990s are of great interest. Prices range from $35.00 to $100.00. Sets can go for even higher prices.
Napier’s most renown 1950s rhinestone Christmas tree holiday pin, measuring about 1 ¾” in height, consistently fetches online auction prices around $80.00.
The sterling Napier ballerina brooch set is often thought of as a great introductory piece to the new sterling silver Napier collector. However, the long-held attribution that this dancing lady was designed by Natacha Brooks, because of a 1944 U. S. design patent, is actually incorrect. The Napier prima ballerina was designed by a leading Napier designer. You can learn more about this collectible figural in the new book, The Napier Co.: Defining American Costume Jewelry.