by Dr. Lori Verderame
Founded in 1914, Eisenberg & Sons started a business selling women’s clothing and later turned to costume jewelry design, manufacturing, marketing, and sales in the 1930s. Why did the Eisenberg firm change course? The costume jewelry that was used on store displays to market their clothing lines kept getting stolen.
As a result of this change of course, Eisenberg & Sons produced some of the 20th Century’s most sought after pieces of costume jewelry like other costume jewelry makers such as Miriam Haskell, Matisse, and others. the firm that Jonas Eisenberg and his sons ran was known for attention to detail, new designs, and quality materials in costume jewelry.
Many Eisenberg pieces were designed by Ruth Kamke of Fallon and Kappel of New York once the two firms had a mutually exclusive agreement from the 1940s to the 1970s. Kamke designed Eisenberg pieces for nearly decades; specifically she designed all of the Eisenberg Original pieces made after 1939 and much of the Eisenberg Ice line of jewelry thru 1972. Many Eisenberg brooches and pins were designed in the form of figures like mermaids, dancers, animals or insects. Some pieces featured geometric Art Deco or organic Art Moderne forms in attractive color combinations featuring pinks and purples, complimentary color pairs, and light and dark colored faceted or cabochon stones from the same color family.
Stones and Metals
Eisenberg jewelry was known for its use of Swarovski crystals set in sterling silver and pot metal using innovative designs. Other materials used were jade, dyed onyx, calcite, enamel, rhinestones, faux pearls, glass beads, etc. Most costume jewelry pieces made by Eisenberg were individually set and many rhinestone pins were comprised of large or very large stones.
What to Look For
Most early Eisenberg pieces were unmarked or only marked with a block letter “E” or cursive letter “E”. From the late 1950s to the 1970s, some pieces were only known to be Eisenberg from the paper hang tag.
Authentic, vintage Eisenberg jewelry was marked “Eisenberg Original” like items in the Eisenberg clothing line from 1935 to 1945. From 1941 to 1945, Eisenberg used the cursive “E” mark and from circa 1943 to 1948, Eisenberg jewelry made with sterling silver was marked “Eisenberg sterling”. From 1945 to 1958, “EISENBERG” was a typical mark. During the late 1940s, the “Eisenberg Ice” mark was used. Original Eisenberg & Sons blue velvet boxes which housed jewelry pieces or sets are sought after with today’s collectors, too.
After 1955, a copyright symbol accompanied the “EISENBERG” mark on pieces of Eisenberg jewelry. During the 1960s and 1970s, “Eisenberg Ice” was the most common mark found on authentic costume jewelry by Eisenberg.
Get an online appraisal of your Eisenberg costume jewelry piece from Dr. Lori.