Continuing the designer spotlight, I wanted to talk about a jewelry company that has been in business since 1892. Their pieces are known for being true works of art and are some of the most collectable and beautiful pieces on the market. I am of course talking about Ciner. It almost feels like Ciner is the best kept secret in the costume jewelry community. They continue to operate in New York under the grandchildren of Emanuel Ciner. This devotion to their craft has ensured not only the longevity of the brand but also the investment potential in their jewelry.
While today Ciner is synonymous with high-quality costume jewelry this wasn’t always the case. Emanuel Ciner started the company in 1892 as a fine jewelry company in Lower Manhattan. I know you are wondering what happened to make the company pivot from fine jewelry to costume jewelry. The answer is simple, the Great Depression. The events of Black Tuesday in 1929 caused so many changes for Americans. Among the countless ways American shoppers' tastes changed, the one that affected the jewelry business was the demand for fine jewels almost completely disappeared. Ciner was the first and only fine jewelry company to make the switch from fine jewelry to costume jewelry. My favorite part of the move to costume jewelry from fine was that they refused to give up their commitment to craftsmanship. To this day they are the only surviving costume jewelry company that designs, manufactures, and produces each piece by hand. They also still do everything in their New York atelier.
Vintage Ciner Elephant Brooch
Ciner is a company that I learned about when I started Kimono Dragon. I have learned I adore their craftsmanship, and their long history. Although by far my favorite fact is that the company has remained family operated. It is part of the reason that the exacting standards set by Emanuel in 1892 remain in place. Irwin and Charles, Emmanuel’s sons, joined the company in the 1920s. Irwin improved the casting techniques, enameling, and rubber molding. While Charles was more focused on the company’s sales team. 1958 was when the sons took over the company after Emanuel Ciner’s passing. The family’s involvement over the years have ensured Emanuel’s legacy lives on through their exquisite pieces.
One of Ciner's Hallmark's on a Brooch
This commitment has earned the brand places in upscale stores around the globe. Including department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. Their pieces have graced the covers of Vogue, been featured in W magazine spreads, and have been celebrated in the New York Times. Just as Kenneth Jay Lane’s pieces were celebrated by the crème de la crème of society and Hollywood starlets. One of their most famous clients was Elizabeth Taylor. She remained a loyal customer and collector throughout her life. In fact a pair of her earrings and a matching bracelet were auctioned off at Christie’s netting $3,840 which was higher than the pre-auction estimate.
Elizabeth Taylor's Ciner Jewelry Sold at Christie's
Ciner has featured many motifs over the years. They have used reproductions of ancient coins in their creations that always add a classic flourish to any outfit. Their pieces make use of large glass cabochons, faux pearls, and animal motifs across the years. Most Ciner pieces will feature a hallmark. If there isn’t one it is very likely that it is a period copy of a popular Ciner design of the era. My favorite piece I’ve ever found was in a dusty cabinet located in the basement of an antique store in upstate New York. It was an early articulated, double headed snake bracelet with the most bewitching pink jewel eyes. When I saw it, I fell in love. It was my first piece of Ciner and it sparked my obsession with their jewelry.
My First Piece of Vintage Ciner Jewelry
A Ciner piece is a must own for any jewelry collection. Given the long commitment to high-quality production, and that they continue to be crafted in America, how can you not fall in love with their jewelry? Their production process ensures that your Ciner pieces will hold up over time and will be heirlooms for the next generation of jewelry fanatics.
Until next time,