History of Collectable Rhinestone Jewelry


Big, bold, sparkling pieces of costume jewelry are not only a joy to wear, they are avidly gathered and worn by savvy collectors. Super sized, dazzling “faux” jewels created quite a stir, from the early 18th century paste stones and on.


The first “pretenders” were high lead crystals invented by jeweler Strass. Once the industrial revolution began, manufacturers started producing jewelry for those who did not have a royal pocketbook, but still had the desire to wear a pretty sparkly piece brooch or bracelet. Gold plating, pinchbeck, was developed, and Daniel Swarovski’s foil backed stones, which he patented in the late 1800’s, meant high quality costume jewelry became all the rage.

Coco Chanel began showing large rhinestone jewels with her designs, and every woman realized how fun it was to wear jewelry!  Women in the 1950’s, many who worked outside the home for the first time, relished in buying themselves a special piece of jewelry to dress up their work outfits, or their famous LBD. {Little Black Dress} Costume jewelry had arrived, and is here to stay!



Eisenberg & Sons began in 1914 as a womens fashion company. Jonas Eisenberg founded the firm, and jewelry was used to accessorize the clothing designs to make it appealing to the clients. The brooches and necklaces were so often “misplaced” after clients left, that the company began focusing exclusively on its jewelry line. These days, collectors avidly snap up any and all signed Eisenberg pieces they can find. There is nothing like a showy, brilliantly studded Rhinestone Fur Clip by Eisenberg to make you feel like you are wearing something extraordinary. You can’t take your eyes off a woman who walks into a room and makes it go WOW!


This huge Fur Clip is a gorgeous example of a very early Eisenberg piece of jewelry, ca 1930. This design represents the opulence and allure that characterized the company’s style from the mid 1930’s to the 1940’s. One of the largest I have ever seen, it has sparkling Austrian Crystal Rhinestones, beautifully cushion cut, in a floral inspired design tied with a Bow. Signed Eisenberg Original 400.


Gustavo Trifari, the son of a Napoli goldsmith, founded Trifari in 1910. The company did not really achieve high success until the French designer, Alfred Philippe became the head designer, his background designing heirloom quality fine jewelry for firms like Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels brought a wonderful sense of luxury and style to the company. The Trifari Vintage Costume Jewelry Designs he created have all the glamour of fine jewelry, they are the most collectible of Trifari jewelry. The exceptional level of jewelry making technique and craftsmanship of Trifari jewelry designed by Alfred Philippe until 1968 is what makes his pieces so immensely collectible.


Exceptional Rhodium Plated Flower Basket Pin designed for Trifari by Alfred Philippe. Lovely glittering flowers and leaves are arranged in the basket, a stunning piece for your collection, or a divine beginning of one! Made between 1938 ~ 1940, of rhodium plated metal and rhinestones, signed Trifari on the back. 450.00


Trifari Art Deco Rhodium Plated Dress Clips, by Alfred Philippe.



De Lizza & Elster was formed by co-founders William DeLizza and Harold Elster in 1947, to produce brooches, buttons and other jewelry pieces for high end firms. They produced costume jewelry of high quality, their designs, particularly the “Juliana” pieces that they made under their own label between 1964 – 1966 are avidly collected. Their pieces were produced with certain manufacturing ways, like stones completely encased in rhodium plated backs.


Exceptional Clear Rhinestone Brooch, stunning in both design as well as large size. Make heads turn when you enter the room, perfect for holidays, or every day, this is not for you if you are shy. Multi shaped sparkling Rhinestones shine in this three~dimensional design, catching the light and reflecting a glow. Every prong-set set stone is bright and clear. The variety of shapes of stones add to the beauty of this piece, a luxurious addition to your antique and vintage jewelry collection. Unmarked, by DeLizza & Elster. 225.


Absolutely breathtaking Vintage Round Domed Rhinestone Brooch, with different sized prong set glittering beauties, what makes this pin particulary stunning is that there is a second “dome” of round Rhinestones giving this piece a great layered quality. From a collector’s estate, this is truly a gorgeous pin, a joy to wear and very collectible. Rhodium plated on the back, I couldn’t find the signature, but pieces like this were made by DeLizza in the early to mid 1900’s. 165.00

Do you love large, bold pieces of jewelry to show off your own enviable fashion style? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear about your favorite piece of WOW jewelry.

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com.

18 thoughts on “History of Collectable Rhinestone Jewelry”

  1. Caroline

    Beautiful! Thanks for always offering me something new to learn about antiques, art and jewelry.

  2. Penny @ The Comforts of Home

    I so enjoyed this post! I learned a lot! I love sparkles!

  3. Tammy Rey

    I have a few of of my grandmother’s pieces from the 40’s to 60’s (I think??) Thank you Lidy for this history of them. It’s nice to know a little bit more about them.

    1. You’re so welcome, Tammy. Do you ever wear the pieces?? I hope that you do.

  4. Hi Lidy! It was so great to hear from you! Thank you so much, it was such a treat.

    I’m one of the more shy type of jewelry wearer, but you should see the bold pieces one of my daughter wears…I guess she’s not one but shy :))) It looks so great on her. This was such a great post and it is great to see your beautiful photo on your sidebar!
    sending hugs….

    1. Thanks so much for your visit June. It sounds like you are doing so well, had a fantastic time visiting your blog the other day. Happy week to you! xo Lidy

  5. Nancy Pianfetti

    Hi Lidy, I loved your piece on costume jewelry. I have loved rhinestones and baubles since I was a little girl and I am lucky enough to own a few Trifari pieces from the 60s. I’ve always said I’d rather have a big cubic zirconia then a teeny real diamond…I love glitz!!!
    Thank you for the jewelry history…I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!!

    1. Nancy, you are so lucky to have some Trifari pieces from the 1960’s. I hope you wear them!

    1. Celestina Marie, thank you for your visit. It’s always fascinating to learn about the history of vintage and antique pieces, isn’t it? Most things have a much more exciting story than we realize.

  6. Thank you for sharing it was so interesting. I have collected rhinestone jewelry for many years. I have many beautiful pieces, several from my mother. Because I have so many rhinestone pieces, I started collecting the pink pieces, I love anything pink. They are harder to find but are so beautiful, I actually have quite a few of those now too, its so fun to collect these beauties. I do occasionally wear them, but I just enjoy looking at them displayed around my bedroom.

  7. My 99 year old second cousin passed a few weeks ago. I was her only relative. I found among a lot of really bad jewelry items a Miriam Haskell brooch. It is nearly four inches long and has topaz and other stones on it. I cannot find any source to determine its value.


    Thank you so much, Lidy.

  8. I have a beautiful bracelet with the clasp broken, it’s Weiss, I have never worn it but would love to.
    Many thanks for the wonderful emails and contacts Lidy, I love it being so into the joys
    of France, loved your Silver blog. My favorite Sterling Silver and old English Silver Plate I use it every day,
    you are so right, about the use and the cleaning.
    cheers, Helen

  9. Adore, adore, adore! Never goes out of fashion. In fact, just last Saturday evening I wore a single large faux pearl and rhinestone earring to the orchestra…..it was a bit of a special evening so I put on the glad rags and jewels! And it felt fabulous!



  10. Kristy

    I just found this site and I love everything. I love French country and antique jewelry and linens and lace. Beautiful!

  11. Jessica

    I so enjoyed your article. I was hoping to find an answer to a personal riddle. I have an incredible crystal necklace left to me by my mother. I know she told me the designer’s name many times, but I can’t remember it! It is the biggest WOW I’ve ever had, I wish I could imagine an event I’d wear it to…

    1. Jessica, how blessed you are to have something so beautiful passed down from your Mom. I say just WEAR it! Wear it to a birthday celebration, an anniversary dinner, the holidays, just wear it. If it is really over the top, you could wear it with something that tones it down just a little, like a blazer or shirt if you don’t want to be too dressy. It will warm your heart knowing your Mom loved it, she loved you, and it would make her happy knowing you are wearing her WOW piece once in a whiile.

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