In Focus: Miriam Haskell Costume Jewelry

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A 1940s Miriam Haskell ad by Larry Austin

Introduction

Miriam Haskell (1899-1981) was an American costume jewelry designer. The Miriam Haskell Company was established in New York City in 1926, when the designer opened her first shop “Le Bijou de L’heure” in the McAlpin Hotel. Miriam Haskell herself did not design most of the costume jewelry the company made. The Miriam Haskell Company has had several well-know Chief Designers including Frank Hess (1926-1960) and Robert F. Clark (after 1960) and continues to create jewelry today.


How To Identify Miriam Haskell Jewelry haskell-2

Miriam Haskell jewelry is recognized for its exceptional attention to ornamental detail. All parts of the piece are decorated, including closures, etc. Characteristic materials include filigree, faux pearls, Austrian crystal beads, blown glass beads from Murano and rose montees. Most Miriam Haskell jewelry is inspired by nature and pieces often feature flowers, leaves, vines, butterflies, etc.

Before 1950, Miriam Haskell jewelry was mostly unsigned. The only exception was in the 1940s, when a New England shop requested all pieces be signed. The artist signed in a horseshoe shaped plaque with the inscription “Miriam Haskell” embossed on it. These pieces are very rare, since the company only did this for a short amount of time.

In 1950, Miriam Haskell’s brother, Joseph Haskell, took over the company due to her ailing health. He introduced signed jewelry thereafter.


Condition Pitfalls

Due to the nature of Miriam Haskell designs, replacing missing rhinestones or faux pearls is difficult. Therefore, condition is a very important component of sale value. Metals used in costume jewelry often corrode and pieces chip easily with careless handling.


Current State of the Market

The most popular Miriam Haskell pieces in the market today are necklaces, particularly those that prominently feature faux pearls. Price depends on age, quality and materials.

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