Napier Iridescent Cocktail Ring

The Glam and Glitter of Christian Dior, Swarovski & The Aurora Borealis Rhinestone

In 1949, Christian Dior implemented the first licensing fee. By 1950, he had signed his first American licensing contract for accessories, opening up a lucrative business in the accessories market. In 1956, when Swarovski in collaboration with Christian Dior developed the aurora borealis metallic coating for rhinestones, a plethora of glitzy and elaborate jewelry found its way onto the market. The new aurora borealis stone gave fashion jewelry an over-the-top look, and Dior successfully licensed his new jewelry to American manufacturers. By 1957, the aurora borealis rhinestone was being incorporated into all styles of costume jewelry.

Napier Iridescent Cocktail Ring
Napier Iridescent Cocktail Ring.

However, when dating jewelry based on the aurora borealis finish, it’s important to note that the iridescent finish didn’t suddenly begin in 1955. It was frequently used in jewelry manufactured during the 1910s, 1920s and more extensively in the 1930s. Beads and stones finished with an iridescent coating were not uncommon. It is typical to find many of these pieces with the finish partially worn off. This surface coating was applied to both plastic and glass beads, and to rhinestones. The term “aurora borealis” finish was not used until the mid-1950s and many retailers or manufacturers continued to use the term “iridescent rhinestones” or a combination of terms such as “ iridescent aurora borealis.” Coro was one manufacturer who combined the terminology in some of the advertising. According to Napier salesmen, The Napier co. used the terminology, “iridescent foiled back faceted crystal stones.”



“The Glam and Glitter of Christian Dior, Swarovski & The Aurora Borealis Rhinestone”

Or “Swarovski & The Aurora Borealis Rhinestone”

The article a brief history of the aurora borealis rhinestone finish developed by Swarovski in conjunction with Christian Dior and the resulting changes seen in fashion.

By Melinda Lewis -July 30, 2014

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Author: Melinda Lewis

Jewelry historian, Melinda Lewis is co-founder of Costume Jewelry Collectors Int’l (CJCI) and author of The Napier Co.: Defining 20th Century American Costume Jewelry.

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