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Article: Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry – Emblematic Historical Jewels Made For Stars

Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry – Emblematic Historical Jewels Made For Stars - DSF Antique Jewelry
Historical Jewels

Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry – Emblematic Historical Jewels Made For Stars

In the world of jewelry, fashion and cinema, there are few who have not heard of the famous Joseff of Hollywood jewelry.

These special jewels have added value to classic films through their beauty, ingenuity, and charm.

Some of the most famous Joseff of Hollywood jewelry pieces are the snake belt worn by Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra", Marilyn Monroe's pearl earrings in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and the brooch that appears on actress Jean Harlow's chest in "Libeled Lady".

The Man Behind Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry

Joseff of Hollywood is a Los Angeles jewelry company founded by Eugene Joseff (1905-1948), perhaps the most famous jeweler of Hollywood's Golden Age (1920s-1960s).

Eugene Joseff is the man behind a wide variety of collector's pieces that one could hardly take their eyes off.

Joseff's jewelry includes crowns, bracelets, rings, and necklaces, that had the beauty and sparkle of the Golden Age.

Hollywood stars who have worn Joseff of Hollywood jewelry include Marlyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, and Judy Garland, to name a few.

And "Cleopatra", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "Down to Earth" and "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" are just four of the great Hollywood productions to which Eugene Joseff contributed numerous pieces of ornament and jewelry.

Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry – Brief History

Eugene Joseff left Chicago for Hollywood, California, in 1928, taking with him the knowledge and skills he had learned in an art studio and foundry.

Entering the world of major motion pictures and movie studios, Joseff set out to revolutionize the creation of movie jewelry. His only artistic knowledge at the time was what he had acquired during his time in Chicago.

And for most of his career, Eugene Joseff remained self-taught. He began by visiting museums and reading history books and trade magazines. He experimented quite a bit with all kinds of jewelry and worked initially on a shoestring budget, eventually introducing the world to the famous Joseff of Hollywood jewelry.

Before long, the talented Joseff became the premier costume jeweler in Hollywood, designing, manufacturing, and renting jewelry to movie studios under the brand name Joseff of Hollywood.

One of the reasons Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry were so highly regarded in the Gilded Age was the technique the master applied to the jewels, giving them an authentic Renaissance feel.

He developed a matte metal finish for his jewelry, which minimized the glare from the strong studio lights.

The technique, which he called "Russian plating", didn’t have anything to do with an ancient Russian technique in fact. Joseff just thought using the term Russia made it sound like something special.

And nowadays, some enthusiasts are still trying to discover the secret of Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry. But so far, none of the replicas created have come close to matching the authenticity of the master's artifacts.

Eugene Joseff didn't just create custom jewelry, he did it with a passion and dedication typical of the best masters jewelers.

Hollywood stars desired Joseff of Hollywood jewelry to wear off-screen, so the jeweler realized the lucrative potential of a retail line, which he began to sell in high-end department stores.

Eugene Joseff mostly delivered the jewelry worn by Golden Age actors. It is said that 90% of the jewelry in the films was Joseff of Hollywood jewelry.

After Eugene Joseff passed away in 1948, the business was taken over and run by his wife, Joan Castle Joseff. An enterprising and vivacious spirit, Joan continued to care for her husband's legacy until the last moment of her life.

Some Of The Most Appreciated Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry

Clearly one of Joseff of Hollywood’s most important assignments, Gone with the Wind (1939), remains one of the most popular and commercially successful films ever made. Eugene Joseff worked with his friend and colleague Walter Plunkett, who designed the costumes for the film.

In the movie, Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara is wearing a dove-embellished velvet gown, accessorized with a diamond and amethyst necklace by Joseff of Hollywood.

Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry for the stars

In the 1947 romantic comedy Down to Earth, Hayworth wore some of Joseff of Hollywood’s exotic snake jewelry on her neck, wrists, and head.

Six years later, she appeared adorned in Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry in the flamboyant movies Salome (1953).
Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry

In 1953, Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry was seen in the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.

The great Marilyn Monroe wore a pair of gold-plated clip-on earrings featuring filigree spheres accented with simulated diamonds.
Joseff Of Hollywood Jewelry Marilyn Monroe

Three Things You Didn't Know About Joseff Of Hollywood

 1. Mae West was a regular customer

Mae West famously asserted her diamonds were the real deal, but she was actually a fan of Joseff of Hollywood jewelry.

2. Clark Gable’s cigar case had a secret

In "Gone with the Wind", Clark Gable is seen with two distinct cigar cases by Joseff of Hollywood.

But that’s just the magic of Hollywood - it’s actually one cigar case with two different face inserts. This unique piece was not stored with notes, so for a long time, the Joseff staff thought the pair was a cigar case and matching belt buckle!

3. Eugene Joseff made his own bakelite

In the early 20th century, bakelite, a new form of phenolic resin, was a popular type of plastic used in costume jewelry.

Joseff of Hollywood was among the costume jewelry companies using bakelite in its designs, but interestingly, Eugene brought the manufacturing of bakelite in-house and crafted his own.

A Huge Auction

A historic cache of Joseff of Hollywood jewelry that was stored in a Hollywood warehouse for decades was put up for auction in 2017.

More than 500 pieces of Joseff of Hollywood jewelry were included in that major auction, like the iconic "diamond and amethyst" necklace worn by Vivien Leigh, the cigar case used by Clarke Gable in "Gone with the Wind", the "pearl" earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in studio publicity photographs to promote"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," (sold for $112,500) and a "diamond" choker necklace worn by Judy Garland in the "Ziegfeld Follies".

Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry Nowadays

Joseff’s retail jewelry lines also remain in production today. But what makes these Joseff of Hollywood jewelry pieces unique in comparison to other newly made jewelry?

The main components were purchased by Eugene Joseff in the ’30s and ’40s, stored in the company’s warehouse, and tapped for jewelry production over the decades since then.

When a stash of parts is depleted, the related designs are retired. Each piece is also finished with the same proprietary in-house plating formula developed more than 90 years ago.

Most of the Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry found by collectors today was made from the late 1940s onward as part of the company’s retail lines.

These designs fit for Hollywood royalty are often quite bold. Eye-catching dangle earrings, oversized brooches, and amazing collar and bib style necklaces have long been staples in the Joseff design catalog.

Other favorites among collectors are the many figures incorporated into Joseff of Hollywood Jewelry: from bees and cats to roosters and dogs, these pieces are both fun to wear and attention-grabbing.

Embellishments can be sparse since the "Russian gold" plating is the star of the show, although some designs do include unfoiled rhinestones or larger glass elements.

A limited amount of silver-plated jewelry has also been produced by Joseff, but that process was retired in 2013.

Joseff of Hollywood jewelry continues to amaze and delight today, and lovers of classic movies can appreciate the creations of the famous Golden Age jeweler whenever they want.

Visit now DSF Antique Jewelry's online store and explore our amazing Joseff of Hollywood jewelry collection! Maybe this is the day when you will find that special piece of jewelry you are looking for.

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