Pennino vintage costume jewellery
Pennino vintage costume jewellery
The creators of Pennino are three brothers, the sons of Italian jeweler Pasquale Pennino. Nicknamed “Neapolitan princes” in their homeland, they had special taste, aristocratic manners and a fraction of the royal blood that flowed in their veins. The head of the family – Pasquale Pennino had his oldest son Oreste Pennino (born in Naples, 1888) in his first marriage. Having married for the second time to Giuseppina Vergati, Pasquale had four more children: Maria, Anselmo (called Frank), Gennaro (or Jack), and Carmela.
And while his children were growing up, Pasquale made his dream come true – he brought his sixteen year old son Oreste to America (1904). Following family traditions, Pasquale Pennino taught his son jewelry art, knowledge and skills which he once got from his own father, a goldsmith.
Having settled in Brooklyn, already in 1908 they sold their first Pennino jewelry decorations. The same year, his wife Giuseppina, their two younger sons and daughters have arrived.
Unfortunately, On 17,h May 1908, a few weeks after the arrival of the family, Pasquale died, not having had time to catch the fame and success of the case, which his children continued.
Unfortunately, on 17th May 1908, a few weeks after the arrival of the family, Pasquale died. Accordingly, the twenty year-old Oreste had to take care of his younger brothers and sisters.
Six years later, in 1914, Giuseppina returned to Italy with her daughters. However, her sons Frank and Jack preferred to stay with Oreste in New York to develop their skills and work in the jewelry industry.
In 1926 Oreste, American citizen, founded the Oreste Pennino company. The next year, in 1927 the brothers officially registered the company “Pennino Brothers” and opened a workshop. Family business flourished. The boys shared the responsibilities: Oreste worked as a designer, Frank was a jeweler, and Jack was engaged in sales and marketing. Their ornaments were sold in prestigious US stores, such as “Spaulding’s of Chicago” and “Saks Fifth Avenue”.
Made of high-quality crystal, in rims of gold or silver, Pennino’s products were highly popular. High quality and skill were for Pennino two fundamentally important things, so the workshop left only those products that corresponded to them and which the brothers personally approved. As befits princes, Pennino preferred a classic design, but always followed the fashion and were aware of the new trends.
The real hayday of the company was the 1930s and 1940s. America experienced a “cocktail-glamorous” era, and the Pennino brand became its flagship. Ornaments were in demand and even used in Hollywood shoots, decorated cinemas and secular lionesses. But after the onset of the great depression, gold and non-ferrous metals became an unacceptable luxury. Some companies closed down, or began using cheap materials, but Pennino switched to sterling silver. During this period, their decorations are distinguished by smooth lines, floral motifs, small transparent rhinestones, and large cabochons of bright colors. The brothers were afraid even to think that their works will look cheap. This only added to the popularity of their products, but also served as a decisive event that determined the end of the jewelry empire of the brothers.
By 1960, Frank, the chief jeweler, had begun to lose his sight. In addition, most of the equipment on which the Penninos worked became useless. Six years later, when Frank lost his sight, the brothers realized – there was no one left in the family who could continue their business. Nobody could follow the quality of products as carefully as they did, and the remaining forms were not enough for anything. The royal proud blood destroyed all the equipment and buried the work of life, leaving the works of Pennino virgin and full of dignity.
There is an opinion that all the company’s ornaments were labeled, but in fact the brand was not put on all products. For example, without a stigma there were rare limited unmarked series, such as “Crownpin” with moonstone and “Golden leaves suite”, which Pennino released in 1939 in honor of the visit of the four British monarchs to the US.
Thanks to the high quality of the Pennino ornaments and their small number, many collectors of costume jewelry consider it pride to possess them. Pennino products these days – a rarity, and a rarity, managed to maintain its original refined appearance.