American jeweler Joseff of Hollywood
Austrian by birth, a talented American jeweler Joseff of Hollywood, aka Eugene Joseph, was born in Chicago in 1905. He moved to California in the 1920s, hoping to get orders for making costume jewelry for characters of Hollywood movies. Through artistic creativity and business acumen, he was the best jewellery designer and main supplier of jewellery for leading studios. The success accompanied him until the tragic death in 1948. Since 1950 the company “Joseff of Hollywood” ran his widow Joan Castle.
Eugene began working as an artist at an advertising agency in Chicago at the age of 18 years. In his spare time he was designing jewelry. Four years later, in 1927, he moved to Los Angeles, where he studied jewellery craftsmanship. From 1931 to 1935, the work of the young jeweler was used in the films of Hollywood. In 1935, Eugene Joseph founded “Joseph of Hollywood,” and two years later became a major supplier of jewelry for Hollywood studios. In addition, he was involved in the development of a line of jewelry for public. The life of a talented jeweler and businessman was tragically cut short in 1948. Eugene Joseff died in a plane crash at the age of 43 years.
In 1934, Eugene Joseff opposed the use of ornaments in historical films that do not meet the depicted era. Walter Plunkett, who was considered the number one fashion designer, said: “Well, if you’re so smart, let’s see what you can do!”
Joseph conducted historical research, and it allowed him to “simplify” the style of jewelry, which nevertheless contributed to an atmosphere of a certain age on the “blue screen”. Together with his wife, Joan Castle he gave decorations to hire, rather than selling them for a certain movie studios, and created the “archive” of the nearly three million of jewelry available for hire. Since 1937, they began to develop the successful line of jewelry for sale for fans of stars – the ornaments were copied from originals belonging to the stars, and produced similar to those that popular actresses showed on the screen. It is these decorations that are now easier to find.
Joseph Jewelry always impressed. Its popularity is closely associated with Hollywood. A huge list of films which used decorations by Joseff, includes “A Star Is Born (1936),” The Wizard of Oz”, “Gone with the Wind” (both films 1939), “Casablanca” (1942), “Parade of Easter” (1949 ), “Singing in the Rain” (1952), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” “Cleopatra” (1963) and “My Fair Lady”.
The number of famous actors and actresses, who wore jewelry by Joseph is impressive: Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn. Traditional jewelry including bracelets, buckles, necklaces, pendants and clips reflect the different styles and genres – art deco, retro 1940s, the ethnic style of the Middle East, astrological, Animal and plant.
Joseff collected an amazing collection of rare antique books about the clothes and jewelry, inspired by historical information about the many styles and eras. “If you want to collect, start with brooches, because for them you will find the best use. You can pin the brooch on the lapel, collar or pocket, on a hat, a belt or an evening dress. ”
Joseff’s success as a leading supplier of fashion jewelry to Hollywood is partially dependent on the effect of the substitute gold. Known as the Russian semi-combined gold plating copper coating has removed the traditional problems of too much natural luster of gold under the powerful spotlights cameras. Coating can be done in any – to black, depending on what kind of metal is added to the alloy.
On most jewelry is stamped the name of the brand “Joseff” or “Joseff of Hollywood.” Exceptions are products made to order for celebrities. Some ornaments made at the end of 1930-40-ies, not so long ago have been re-evaluated because of their immense popularity. Very rare specimens can be found today, and their copies are not less rare than the originals. Most of the Russian gold jewelry can be dull and dark due to the plaque that forms over the years. But the shiny polished products cause distrust and almost worthless.
Jewellery, copies of which are worn by Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra” (1963) includes articles from the tomb of Tutankhamun found in 1922 rings in the form of snakes, Russian gold, inlaid with red glass cabochons. 1940 – 1965, £ 180-220 CRIS
Star motifs appeared in the decorations for Standards Shiarer in “Marie Antoinette (1938). They have become a hit in the line created by Joseff for sale. Suspensions: Russian gold, rock crystal. 1940s. £ 80-120 CRIS
ZODIAC SIGNS. In the 1930-1940-ies (right) in the US astrology was in vogue. Joseph made 12 brooches – zodiac signs covered with Russian gold for retail sale, including Sagittarius and Aries.
Insects, animals and fish – favorite motifs for ornaments by Joseph. Brooch in the form of a butterfly princess, cover Russian gold, rock crystal. 1940s. £ 240-280
The motif of classical mythology – shell, as in the canvas of Botticelli ‘Birth of Venus’ (1485), a feature of some jewelry Joseph created for films on biblical subjects.
Source of images:
Jewelry. Collector’s Guide – 2004 (in Russian)