By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
If you own or have inherited a jewelry box from the first half of the 20th century, it is almost guaranteed that it will contain at least one piece of costume jewelry made by Coro. The company was started at the turn of the century in New York City by Cohn and Rosenberger. They initially targeted the dime store market and quickly became a big hit.
Coro did so well it moved to Rhode Island in 1929 to join the other costume jewelry firm giants of the day. In the 40s and 50s, adds for Coro jewelry proudly boasted the line, "At all leading stores…"
Coro steadily grew to become America's largest and most prolific costume jewelry manufacturer throughout the first half of the 20th century. Sadly, after a series of economic upheavals and a sale to a Canadian company in the late 70s, Coro officially closed its doors by 1998.
Because so much Coro costume jewelry was produced, it is a great manufacturer for a beginning collector. You can find pieces everywhere from flea markets, rummage and garage sales to antique shops. A majority of the pieces produces were signed. The mark most people are familiar with actually says, "Coro." However, the company produced costume jewelry under many other names including Vendome, Coro Craft and Corocraft (one word). These were typically higher end pieces.
Coro jewelry was often made from base metal like brass and coated with gold or rhodium; a shiny white gold-like plating. During World War II, Coro manufactured many pieces out of sterling silver. The company also used thermo-set plastic, carved and molded stones and enamel in their designs. Vendome pieces typically included crystals and/or beads.
In the 50s and 60s, Coro sold countless jewelry parures. These were typically three-piece sets featuring matching necklace, bracelet and earrings. Floral and leaf designs were the most common motifs. Coro also continued to produce a huge variety of brooches and scatter pins. Again, floral and leaf designs, as well as whimsical figurals and animals were the most common motifs for the brooches.
Coro didn't manufacture as many rings as other pieces. However, they did produce them under the Vendome mark. They also contracted with Taxco in Mexico to do sterling silver rings. Rings are harder to find than other Coro pieces but surprisingly still reasonably priced between $40-$150 in most cases.
The company is also famous for costume design innovations. These include the Duette dress clip/brooch combos of the 1930s and the jelly belly pins (the idea copied from Trifari) of the 1940s. Beware: fakes and reproductions of these pieces abound. Original Coro Duettes and jelly belly brooches command well over $150 a piece. You can find other, more common pieces and sets of Coro costume jewelry for between $20 and $100.
Are you a Coro jewelry collector? Please tell us about your favorite pieces in the comments section. Also, if you love jewelry from all eras, don't forget to subscribe to this blog so you won't miss an article!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her to write for you? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for more information or email her directly: email@example.com.
< a href= "https://plus.google.com/110863166906514645261?rel=author">Danielle Olivia Tefft
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!