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Authenticating Trifari Jewellery


Trifari jewellery is a testament to the enduring allure and craftsmanship of costume jewellery. Since its inception in the early 20th century, the brand has become synonymous with sophistication, quality, and innovation. Trifari’s pieces have been favoured by Hollywood stars, First Ladies, and fashion icons, cementing its status as a symbol of elegance and sophistication. During the 1950s and 1960s, Trifari jewellery was frequently seen adorning the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Eisenhower, and countless actresses in films and public appearances.

Trifari consistently adapted to the times, producing pieces that resonated with contemporary tastes while maintaining its signature style. This adaptability has ensured that Trifari jewellery remains desirable among collectors and fashionistas today.


A Brief History of Trifari


Trifari was founded in 1910 by Gustavo Trifari, an Italian immigrant who brought his expertise in fine jewellery to the burgeoning American market. The company initially focused on high-quality costume jewellery, setting itself apart through superior craftsmanship and innovative designs. Early business partners Leo Krussman and Carl Fishel joined Gustavo, contributing to the growth and development of the brand.


The company's rise to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s was significantly influenced by the creative direction of Alfred Philippe, a former designer for Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Philippe joined Trifari in 1930, bringing with him a wealth of experience in fine jewellery design. His influence was transformative, elevating Trifari’s designs by blending high fashion aesthetics with accessible price points. This approach democratized elegance, allowing a broader audience to enjoy stylish and sophisticated jewellery.


Philippe's tenure at Trifari saw the introduction of several iconic designs and collections. Notable among these were the Crown brooches, which became emblematic of the brand, and the Jelly Belly brooches, characterised by their innovative use of lucite to create gemstone-like "bellies." These designs remain highly sought after by collectors today.

Trifari's dedication to meticulous craftsmanship is evident in the precision of their stone settings and the innovative use of materials. This commitment to quality has ensured that many vintage Trifari pieces remain in excellent condition, retaining their brilliance and charm even decades after their creation. During World War II, Trifari adapted to metal rationing by using sterling silver, a decision that increased production costs but also enhanced the durability and appeal of their jewellery.

The company's ability to adapt to changing times and tastes, while maintaining a commitment to high-quality craftsmanship, has cemented Trifari's status as a beloved and enduring brand in the world of costume jewellery.




Authenticating and Dating Trifari Jewellery


For collectors and enthusiasts, authenticating and dating Trifari jewellery is crucial in ensuring the value and authenticity of a piece. With Trifari's long history and numerous designs, identifying genuine items and their production periods can be both a fascinating and rewarding endeavour. This section provides insights and tips on how to authenticate and date Trifari jewellery, helping you make informed decisions and appreciate the historical significance of each piece.


Authentication Tips


Hallmarks and Signatures:

  • Trifari Stamp: Authentic Trifari pieces typically feature a hallmark or signature stamped on the back. Common signatures include "TRIFARI," "TRIFARI PAT. PEND.," and "TRIFARI DES. PAT." These stamps can provide clues about the authenticity and age of the piece.
  • Crown Trifari: Introduced in the late 1930s, the "Crown Trifari" mark, which includes a crown above the "T" in Trifari, is particularly sought after and indicates a piece from a desirable era.

Quality of Materials and Craftsmanship:

  • Rhinestones and Faux Pearls: Trifari is known for its use of high-quality rhinestones and faux pearls. Authentic pieces will have stones that are securely set and exhibit consistent colour and clarity.
  • Metalwork: The metal settings, typically gold or silver-plated, should be well-crafted with a smooth finish and minimal signs of wear or tarnish.

Design Elements:

  • Distinctive Styles: Familiarise yourself with Trifari's iconic designs, such as the Jelly Belly brooches, fruit and floral motifs, and the intricate figurals. Authentic pieces will often display the brand’s signature attention to detail and elegance.



Dating Trifari Jewellery


Dating Trifari jewellery involves understanding the evolution of the brand's hallmarks, design trends, and materials used throughout its history. Here are some key periods and identifying features to help date your Trifari pieces:

1930s to 1940s:

  • Crown Trifari Mark: As mentioned, the "Crown Trifari" mark began in the late 1930s. Pieces from this era often exhibit Art Deco influences with geometric shapes and bold designs.
  • Rhinestones and Enamel: These materials were frequently used in intricate patterns and settings, reflecting the glamour of the time.

1950s to 1960s:

  • Mid-Century Modern Designs: This period saw a shift to more streamlined and modernist designs. Look for pieces with elegant curves, abstract shapes, and the innovative use of lucite in the Jelly Belly series.
  • Patent Numbers: Pieces stamped with "PAT. PEND." or "DES. PAT." followed by numbers can be cross-referenced with patent records to determine their exact production dates.

1970s to 1980s:

  • Simplified Styles: The designs became more simplified and reflected the changing fashion trends of the era. The use of bold colours and larger statement pieces was common.
  • Later Hallmarks: The signatures might appear as "TRIFARI" without the crown, indicating production in this later period.



A Handy Guide to Dating Trifari Jewellery

Dating Trifari Jewellery, Triafri marks, Trifari stamps, Authenticating Trifari Jewellery

For more precise authentication and dating, consider consulting reference books, online databases, and vintage jewellery experts. The following resources can be particularly helpful:

  • Books: "Collecting Costume Jewelry 202" by Julia C. Carroll and "Trifari: The King of Vintage Costume Jewelry" by Leslie Pina offer comprehensive insights into Trifari's history and designs.
  • Online Databases: Websites such as Costume Jewelry Collectors International (CJCI) and Illusion Jewels provide valuable information on Trifari marks and dating.
  • Appraisers and Experts: Consulting with professional appraisers or joining vintage jewellery forums can provide personalised assistance in authenticating and dating your Trifari pieces.


Collecting Trifari Jewellery


For collectors, Trifari jewellery represents a blend of historical significance and artistic value. Vintage pieces, particularly those designed by Alfred Philippe, are highly sought after and can fetch considerable prices at auctions and estate sales. The brand’s hallmark, typically stamped on the reverse of each piece, serves as a guarantee of authenticity and quality.


When collecting Trifari jewellery, it is important to consider factors such as condition, rarity, and provenance. Pieces from specific collections or those with unique designs tend to be more valuable. Additionally, ensuring that the jewellery is in good condition, with minimal wear and intact stones, can significantly enhance its value and appeal.


Trifari’s legacy is one of timeless elegance and exceptional craftsmanship. The brand’s ability to blend high fashion with affordability has left an indelible mark on the jewellery industry. Today, Trifari pieces are cherished not only as accessories but also as works of art that capture the glamour and sophistication of a bygone era. With its rich history, coupled with its commitment to quality and design, ensures that it will continue to be admired and collected for generations to come. 

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