In doing research for my book, published by Chronicle in San Francisco titled: Pantone on Fashion—a Century of Color in Design, a woman named Miriam Haskell intrigued me. Arriving in New York from Indiana in 1926, she set up shop in the McAlpin Hotel on the busy corner of Broadway and 34th Street. Not only did she have a keen eye for jewelry design, but she was also very savvy in placing her products with important retailers.
Her pieces were all wrought by hand, characteristically including beads and glass pearls around European filigree. She hired top designers, the most notable was Frank Hess who was with the company for 34 years. The colors were thoughtfully chosen and distinctive. As was written in my book: “Inspired by nature’s lavish color schemes like wild blossoms of periwinkle, Haskell’s pieces were snapped up by Hollywood stars, including Lucille Ball” and even today they are highly sought-after collectibles.
Just recently, a friend and colleague, Denise Stoughton, knowing that the colors and designs would intrigue me, loaned me a book about jewelry written by her friend, Harrice Simons Miller. It is called: Fashion Jewelry—the Collection of Barbara Berger. The photos and the writeups are outstanding and sure enough, there are fabulous Miriam Haskell images included in the book.
I have some vintage jewelry from the ‘40s and I believe one of the pieces is a Miriam Haskell. Unfortunately, not all of her pieces were stamped with the brand name, especially those done in the wartime 40’s. It has all of the earmarks of a Haskell piece done in a dusty yellow against a burnished gold and we have included an image of the piece, along with some other images from the two books mentioned above.
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