By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
A popular and elaborate style of jewelry, now known as Czech transitional style jewelry, was made in Bohemia. Bohemia became known as Czechoslovakia after World War I. (I admit this is one of my favorite types of vintage jewelry so there will be future posts on it. But back to this blog!) During the 1920s and 1930s, Czech jewelry was highly sought after in the United States. It was exported in large quantities.
Lesser known is that exquisite glass beads and glass stones were also exported to America in large quantities. They were used in the costume pieces of the famous design houses of the day like Haskell and Trifari. This was because the glassmakers of Bohemia, especially those from the town of Gablonz (now Jablonec), had been perfecting their craft for over 300 years prior.
Gablonz glass beads and glass gemstones were made from long rods of glass. The rods were heated until malleable. Then, molds were pressed into the glass canes to form each bead and gemstone. The individual pieces were then faceted and polished by hand as necessary.
In the late 1800's, machinery was introduced to aid in the manufacture of faceted stones. Daniel Swarovski helped the Gablonz glassmakers embrace the new technology. Soon machine-made strass (faux diamonds) were also a burgeoning industry for the glassmakers. However, many glass beads and stones were still hand cut.
The advent of World War II devastated the Gablonz glassmaking and jewelry industries. Families fled the area upon the 1938 occupation. Those left were forced to make trinkets for the Nazis. Tragically, many others, like the famous Neiger Brothers were killed at Auschwitz.
Sibylle Jargstorf published an excellent book full in 1993 about the glass crafters of Bohemia. It contains lots of color photos of jewelry containing their beads and stones. It also has historical photos of ladies wearing such jewelry. I highly recommend Sibylle's superb book. I always learn something exciting about old jewelry when I turn its pages. (And no, I was not paid to say any of this!)
Do you own a piece of vintage jewelry with Bohemian glass beads or stones? Did you find it in a family jewelry box that belonged to a relative? Please tell us about it in the comments section. Also, if you love antique and vintage jewelry as much as I do, subscribe to this blog so you don'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? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
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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!
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