How to Date and Identify Trifari Vintage Jewelry
I often get questions about Trifari vintage jewelry, and the two most frequent questions are “When was it made?” and “How can I find out more about it?” This article will show you how to get the answers.
A Brief History of Trifari Vintage Jewelry
The Trifari Company was founded by Gustavo Trifari, an Italian immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island from Napoli in 1904 at the age of 20. In 1910 he founded “Trifari and Trifari” with his uncle. Gustavo’s uncle left the company a few years later, and Gustavo continued the company under the name of “Trifari.” It’s no wonder that Italian collectors love to buy Trifari Vintage Jewelry, as Gustavo is one of their own.
Leo Krussman joined Trifari in 1917, and Carl Fishel joined as head of sales in 1925. The company name was then changed to “Trifari, Krussman and Fishel” and the logo “KTF” (with an enlarged “T” at the center) was used to mark the jewelry. Trifari vintage jewelry pieces from this era are extremely rare, as the mark was only used for several years.
Alfred Philippe and Trifari Vintage Jewelry
In 1930 Trifari hired Alfred Philippe as head designer, and that is when the company really began to take off. Philippe’s background designing very high end fine jewelry for firms like Cartier and Van Cleef and Arples brought a wonderful sense of luxury and style to the company. The designs he created for Trifari vintage jewelry have the style and glamour of fine jewelry and were very popular. This began an era of Trifari dominance in the industry which lasted for many years.
During the 1930s and 1940s “diamante” jewelry was the most sought after style. These pieces had the look of diamonds and other precious gems with metals that resembled gold and silver or platinum. The earlier Art Deco designs featured geometric shapes, while later pieces were very ornate with scrolls and floral sprays, often with colorful enameling. Dress clips were very popular, and many costume jewelry firms, including Trifari, made beautiful dress clips that had the look of fine jewelry and diamonds. The Trifari CLIP-MATES featured a large brooch that could be separated into two dress clips (see photo below).
Few pieces from this era are in circulation today, however, many of Alred Philippe’s patent drawings can be found with a Google Patent Search:
Here is the drawing and description for the CLIP-MATES patent application, issued on August 11, 1936.
If your jewelry has a patent number, you can easily search for it on the Google Patents site here: Google Patents. Just enter the patent number to search. Designs were usually produced for several years, so the patent date provides an approximate age for the jewelry.
Alfred Philippe remained as Trifari’s head designer until his retirement in 1968, and his wonderful patented designs can still be found today among Trifari vintage jewelry sellers and collectors.
For more information about vintage jewelry patents, see this article: Vintage Jewelry Patents: Find and Use them to Date Vintage Jewelry
Trifari Vintage Jewelry Signatures
Prior to 1955, the top jewelry designers patented their designs to protect them from other jewelry companies who might copy their designs. After 1955, the copyright law was changed to include jewelry designs. After that time, jewelry companies no longer had to patent their designs. They were able to stamp their jewelry with a copyright symbol to protect the designs.
Note: Trifari was very diligent about signing all of their jewelry. They would often publish ads in the fashion magazines informing customers that “If it isn’t signed, it isn’t Trifari.”
Because all Trifari vintage jewelry was signed, it’s easy to identify the approximate age with the signature. The chart below summarizes these marks.
It’s important to note when a company had a large inventory of clasps or other findings that were already stamped, they would continue to use them on newer jewelry, so signatures will often overlap these dates.
In 2000, the company was sold to Liz Claiborne and production was moved overseas. Since then, lesser quality jewelry has been mass produced and sold on Trifari cards without any stamps on the jewelry. Recently, some necklaces have been produced overseas with a new Trifari hang tag, but these are not vintage pieces.
For a more detailed look at Trifari vintage jewelry marks, check out the guide here: My Classic Jewelry Trifari Vintage Jewelry Marks Guide
How to Research Your Trifari Jewelry Jewelry
Once you have a date range for your Trifari vintage jewelry, the next step is to research designs and determine the approximate value. With patented designs you can search for listings with “patent” or “pat” in the title to find similar pieces and price ranges. For example, here are eBay search results for “trifari (pat, patent) necklace” – note the two search terms in parentheses – this will find listings with either “pat” or “patent” in the title. Sorting the results by price (highest first) allows you to see the range of prices and to determine where your piece might fit in.
You can perform similar searches on Etsy, Google, and Ruby Lane. You don’t have to find the same exact piece – just one that is comparable in age with similar materials. For example, if your piece has rhinestones, make sure to include that in your search.
Additional Resources for Trifari Vintage Jewelry
Vintage ads and catalogs are a very helpful source, as they can identify the names of various Trifari vintage jewelry lines. The photo below shows a 1958 Trifari vintage jewelry ad for their “Fascination” line.
Here are some helpful links to sites with Trifari vintage jewelry ads and catalogs:
Illusion Jewels Researching Costume Jewelry “RCJ” – Vintage Trifari Jewelry Ads
Morning Glory Antiques (4 pages, organized by decade) – Jewelry Advertising, Trifari Ads, 1940s
Morning Glory Antiques – Trifari Catalogue, Fall and Winter of 1966
Trifari Vintage Jewelry Ads on Pinterest
You can also visit our Trifari Vintage Jewelry Ads board on Pinterest: My Classic Jewelry Trifari Vintage Jewelry Ads on Pinterest
Here’s one of the ads on the My Classic Jewelry Trifari Vintage Jewelry Ads board:
Click the image to view the entire board.
Shop for Trifari Vintage Jewelry Right Now!
Please visit the My Classic Jewelry Etsy shop to see the Trifari Vintage Jewelry available for sale.
Visit the shop here: My Classic Jewelry Etsy Shop and just type “trifari” into the search box.
Please Comment, Share, and Connect
Thanks so much for visiting the blog and I hope you now have a better understanding of how to identify and research your Trifari vintage jewelry.
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Thank you, Christine 🙂