The genius of fantasy jewelry, Gustavo Trifari – the father of the Trifari jewelry, was born in 1883 in Naples, Italy, in a family of excellent goldsmiths already famous in the city in the mid-‘800s. He would later emigrate to the United States in 1904, not before making his apprenticeship as a goldsmith in the store of his grandfather Luigi.
In 1910, he founded, together with his uncle Ludovico, the company "Trifari and Trifari", but two years later, his uncle left the company. Gustavo continued with a personal production that enjoyed enormous success known later as Trifari jewelry.
Between 1917 and 1925, Leone Krussman and Carl Fishel joined the company. On this occasion, it was decided to change the name of the brand, in KTF, with an enlarged "T" at the center. Krussman became the House's commercial director while Carl Fishel was in charge of sales.
Trifari marked an era in American costume jewelry with necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets that were worn by First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. The French designer Alfred Philippe had an important contribution to the huge success of Trifari jewelry, he was the creative mind of the House from 1930 until 1968.
Trifari jewelry, materials and techniques
An important part of Trifari jewelry's success is due to the combination of a glamorous clientele and prestigious advertising of the brand. Since the 1930s, the creation of exclusive models for musicals on Broadway and many theater performances have made their production famous. The pinnacle was reached when the first lady Mamie Eisenhower, wife of President Eisenhower, dared to give up diamonds at an inaugural prom for a few decorative pieces bearing the Trifari brand. After that, all the ladies wanted to be just as chic, especially since the models were classic and refined, but also affordable.
But we should say that this great success wouldn’t be possible without the exceptional quality of the bijoux: the artistic director Alfred Philippe used only finely cut and hand-finished Austrian rhinestones. And when the restrictions due to the outbreak of the war in the 1940s prohibited the commercialization of white metals, Trifari circumvented the problem by producing magnificent pieces in vermeil-plated silver. Philippe brought techniques that he had developed for his previous company, such as the use of invisible settings for gemstones.
These new techniques made Trifari jewelry distinguished and unique. His designs could be placed in the Art Deco period and became very popular in those years. Moreover, he had the possibility and the freedom to work with the less expensive materials used for the creation of costume jewelry, which inspired him to create the first large floral brooches and jewelry known as "Fruit Salad". Many of these pieces are signed by KTF and are from around the 35's.
Another seductive material, lucite, which imitates rock crystal, was used in the 1940s for the famous Jelly Bellies. These materials remained in use even after the war and marked a distinctive feature of the House: pressed glass, a perfect imitation of moonstone and milky-colored chalcedony; the superb false pearls and the Trifanium frames, a golden metal alloy of superior quality and with an exclusive and unalterable performance over time. The way these materials were processed made Trifari jewels unique and popular.
The quality and beauty of Alfred Philippe's creations were unparalleled in the 1940s, and no designer had more influence on the production than him. He presented his crown-shaped brooch in 1941 but it was patented only in 1944. His creations soon led Trifari to become a leader in the costume jewelry sector. In 1941 the crown-shaped brooch bore the signature Trifari Sterling and Des.Pat.Pend. The patent was filed and issued with the number (license) 137542.
The crown brooch continued to be one of Trifari jewelry's best-selling items. It was again proposed in 1951, in 1955, again in 1960, and in the late 1960s. The designs of the crown brooch were modified many times and pearls were also introduced. Among the most sought-after pieces by Trifari were the crowns. The Trifari Crown brooches, from the late 30s to the 50s were among the most requested bijoux. There is also a series from 1953 that celebrates the accession of Elizabeth II of England to the throne.
Bijoux with the shape of animals or flowers are also very popular: some collect them. Made for years of simple non-precious metal, the bijoux during the Second World War switched to silver, due to the scarcity of raw materials destined for war use.
The Trifari family continued to manage the House until 1975. Then the company was bought and sold several times until, in 2000, the Monet group moved production abroad and marked the decline of the brand.
How to recognize Trifari jewelry and the best place to buy them
Trifari was very diligent about signing all of their jewelry, often publishing ads in their fashion magazines informing customers that "If it isn’t signed, it isn’t Trifari".
When you are looking to buy Trifari jewelry, always look for the Trifari hallmark. You may discover some slight variations on the stamps, but if the piece is genuine, it should contain a stamp, but be aware - stamps can be faked. So make sure you’re purchasing your jewelry from a reputable seller, such as DSF Antique Jewelry. Vintage Costume Jewelry
If you are curious to know if you have this brand's bijoux in your drawer, just take a look on their back: the word Jewels by Trifari must appear, or the initials TKF (Trifari, Krussman, and Fishel), or even simply Trifari.
Whenever you’re looking for loud, colorful, subtle, or sophisticated styles, Trifari jewelry has something to offer, because they suit any style and taste.
And, if you are interested in buying one of the spectacular Trifari Jewelry pieces, we invite you to explore our exquisite collection, to find the perfect one for you. Submit your offer now!Vintage Trifari Jewelry