Modernist jeweler Nita Lustig Platosh (1914 – 1997)
Born in Canada, Nita Mae Overbaugh grew up in Chicago, Illinois and became known as mid-century modernist jewelry designer Nita Lustig Platosh (May 1, 1914 – July 27, 1997). The award-winning designer Lustig was part of the wearable art movement that was popular in the middle of the last century.
According to available archival data, she was married twice – first to Benjamin Platosh (1909-1995), and in 1943 to Erwin Lustig.
Nita opened her workshop in Chicago in the early 1950s and made modernist sterling silver pieces until the 1970s. Several magazine publications and newspapers featured her unique works and achievements. Among them, in particular, the newspaper Park Forest Star (August 22, 1968) and Craft Horizons (January/February 1968).
Lustig traditionally used sterling silver over two layers of copper and labeled her modernist creations “Lustig” and “Sterling”.
Her last residence was Naples, Florida, where she died at the age of 83.
Today, her unique pieces are rare on the market and highly collectible.
Category Archive: Vintage
Modernist jeweler Nita Lustig Platosh (1914 – 1997)
James Arnold Frew modernist jewelry (1940s-60s)
Known as an important modernist jeweler and stone cutter, J. Arnold Frew created jewelry for Hollywood stars and celebrities. Since 1954, his work has appeared in museum exhibitions and auction catalogues, in books and art publications.
The designer created jewelry since late 1940s, lived a long life and died in 2008 at the age of 95. All the more surprising is the fact that there is very little information about the jeweler. Moreover, the available biographical data vary in different sources. So, according to some sources, the date of his birth is 1912, while other, no less authoritative sources indicate the year of his birth 1921.
American modernist jeweler J. Arnold Frew (1912–2008) graduated from Pasadena City College in California and began working in his garage workshop in Arcadia. Later he worked in other Californian cities – Monrovia and Los Angeles.
Drawing inspiration from natural elements, he created unique modernist pieces using 10-14 K yellow gold and sterling silver, as well as diamonds and baroque textured pearls. Noteworthy, the designer most often used smoky and rutilated quartz, which he subjected to additional processing for a special effect. Among other gems were topaz, tourmaline, turquoise, moonstone and amethyst.
Marked “Frew”, the designer’s works are rare and highly collectible.
Modernist jeweler Jules Brenner (1917-1991)
Born in 1917, Jules Brenner was an artist by training and began his career as a painter and sculptor in his native New York. However, in the late 1940s he moved to Provincetown, Rhode Island, where he became interested in working with metal, creating functional objects in copper and brass.
During this period he worked with the renowned modernist jeweler Ed Wiener (1918-1991), who, with his wife Doris, ran a workshop and shop selling Mexican jewelry and his own creations.
While honing his skills of working with metal, Jules Brenner became interested in creating jewelry. Three years later, in 1951, Jules Brenner moved to Woodstock, New York, where he and his wife opened a shop on MacDougal Street, where he sold his own modernist silver jewelry.
In 1953 he returned to Greenwich Village, where he opened a workshop and began creating modernist pieces in sterling silver, with gold wire and sometimes semi-precious stones. He marked his pieces with “sterling” and his full name.
Ten years later, he moved his studio to Lexington Avenue and began to work in the style of constructivism and surrealism, using mainly gold. Handcrafted in limited editions or one of a kind, these pieces of jewelry are highly collectible.
In 1974, Jules Brenner moved to Provincetown, where he had worked for seventeen years, until his death in 1991.
John Bryan modernist silver jewelry (1950-60s)
Born in the late 19th century in North Carolina, John W. Bryan (February 5, 1897 – March 26, 1982) might have remained unknown to the general public if he had not changed his life already in adulthood.
After working as a teacher and journalist in New York City, 50-year-old John Bryan turned his fortunes around when he returned to his native Asheville, North Carolina. It is about such people that they say that a talented person is talented in everything.
With his artistic ability and passion for jewelry, he became one of the modernists who pioneered wearable art in North Carolina. Noteworthy, Brian discovered the beauty of jewelry by creating them from more accessible materials than gold. Traditionally, the designer used sterling silver, copper, sometimes bright enamel, and marked his pieces “Bryan”. Today, Brian’s jewelry is highly collectible.
John Bryan made jewelry until his retirement in the 1960s. He died at the age of 85.
Norwegian modernist jeweler Erling Christoffersen (1932-2015)
The name of the renowned Norwegian silversmith Erling Christoffersen (1932-2015) is inextricably linked with the Plustinn Norway applied arts centre, which he founded in Fredrikstad in 1958.
However, it took ten years for Erling to open his workshop. While still a student of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Oslo, he started his jewelry career. Thus, 17 year-old Christoffersen began working as an apprentice, honing his skills in the famous Norwegian company J. Tostrup.
Christoffersen ran the Norway Silver Designs Center (alternatively called Plus) with his wife, Anna Greta Eker. Born in Marieham, Finland, Anna Greta Eker (1928-2002) settled in Norway after she married Erling Christoffersen, founder of Norway Plus. A year later, Tone Vigeland (b. 1938), Odvar Pettersen and other well-known designers joined the group. Plus workshop set trends in jewelry design not only in Norway in the 1960s, but also abroad. Their innovative modernist silverware gained worldwide popularity, and has been highly collectible today.
Inspired by Scandinavian motifs, the Vikings and the saga, Christoffersen handcrafted pendants, brooches, bracelets and rings from silver and pewter.
Ed Levin modernist silver jewelry
Born in New York and raised on Long Island, Ed Levin (1921-2008) dreamed of becoming an artist. First, he studied fine arts at Columbia University, then sculpture with Chaim Gross, painting with Kurt Seligman and Paul Wieghardt, and ceramics at Alfred University.
Levin first became interested in jewelry in the late 1930s when, as a college student, he was looking for a gift for his mother. He bought two brooches made by Cuban-American jeweler Francisco Rebajes. Noteworthy, Levin made his first jewelry piece in 1942, when he worked as a machinist. These were rings made of stainless steel and silver.
Undoubtedly, Alexander Calder’s aesthetic influenced Ed Levine’s jewelry in those early years.
From 1944, Levin taught art (including painting, ceramics, woodworking, and pottery) during classes at the New Lincoln School. At the same time, he taught crafts at the Community Center on 110th Street in Harlem and was proud that he had taught hundreds of people how to make jewelry.
Frank Miraglia modernist silver jewelry (1920s-1963)
The name of New York, NY based jeweler Frank Miraglia (1885-1963) became known in the late 1920s, as a silver costume jewelry maker. Mentioned in The Jewelers’ Circular of 1929, 1941, and 1951, modernist designer Frank Miraglia was one of the greats of the mid-century wearable art movement.
Handcrafting his abstract, geometric and modernist design earrings, brooches and cufflinks, Frank Miraglia traditionally used sterling silver and signed his pieces on the reverse side “F. Miraglia NY Sterling”.
Despite the fact that several reference books on jewelry designs mention the name of Frank Miraglia, there is no biographical information about him. Thus, two reference books “Form & Function” and “Modernist Jewelry 1930-1960: The Wearable Art Movement” by Marbeth Schon feature the designer’s works.
Also, both books by Christie Romero, “Warman’s jewelry: a fully illustrated price guide to 19th and 20th century jewelry” of 1998 and 2002 editions included Frank Miraglia works alongside Frank Rebajes’. Noteworthy, the directory contains a list of jewelers with the dates of birth and death of most of them, but such data is not available next to the name of Frank Miraglia.