Glamorous vintage jewellery

The Weiss Company is renowned for well-designed costume jewellery featuring high quality Austrian crystal rhinestones with an exceptional sparkle.

Its founder, Albert Weiss, began his career at Coro in the 1930s. He left the firm in 1942 to set up his own business in New York City. By the 1950s, and into the 1960s, Weiss was so successful it contracted out some of its manufacturing to Hollycraft and DeLizza & Elster.

As well as using the best rhinestones, Weiss jewels used good quality settings; the stones were prong set and might be used upside down or at an angle to enhance the colour and cut. Weiss became famous for its use of “black diamonds”, copies of smoky quartz crystals, and the “aurora borealis” rhinestones Dior had created with Swarovski.

Settings were often silver- or gold-plated; in the 1960s black, japanned, settings were used to good effect. Other stones included faux rubies, diamonds, citrine and emeralds, as well as fantasy art glass pastes.

Styles included floral, foliate, fruit and some figural designs. In the 1940s and 50s Weiss’ butterfly, insect and flower pins were fashionable, as were its Christmas tree pins in the 1950s and 60s.

Albert retired in the 1960s and his son Michael took over the running of the company. A decline in the market for costume jewellery brought about the closure of the company in 1971.

Pieces are usually marked Weiss in script or block capitals, Albert Weiss, or AW Co with the W larger and shaped like a crown.