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August 12, 2019

 Joseff of Hollywood - Jewellery that added to the glamour of films during the 1930s - 1960s

One of the most exciting things about working with auctions is that there are always new things to learn about. I have been collecting jewellery for over two decades and yet never came across Joseff of Hollywood, until one of my sellers told me that she had quite a large collection of this company’s jewellery. She herself does not do much work on the internet and focusses mainly on antique fairs here in the UK so she thought that these pieces would do quite well on Intercollector due to the international reach. 

Eugene Joseff (1905 – 1948) grew up in the midwestern United States and moved to Hollywood in the 1920’s to get involved in the booming movie business. He met a well-known costume designer Walter Plunkett (1902–82) who encouraged him to start making jewellery to go with his designs. Eugene had apprenticed at a foundry and using this experience began creating jewellery for the movies using an alloy he developed that had a very matte finish and therefore did not reflect off the lights. His jewellery was so bold that it helped to develop the characters and move the plot forward. He was able to design jewellery that reflected the style of the period in the film but was even bolder so it made a clear statement about the character wearing it. Virtually every star wore his jewellery from Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Vivian Leigh to Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. His influence was felt in virtually every big budget production from the 1930s through to the 60s.

After his tragic death his wife took over the business and kept designing for Hollywood films and started a retail line that was stocked in high-end department stores. The Joseff of Hollywood foundry now also makes aircraft castings as the market for elaborate jewellery is not quite what it once was. What a legacy!