What a Gem – New Hoosier Book

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Published on August 04, 2010 with No Comments

Legendary fashion designers to come out of the Hoosier state include Bill Blass of Fort Wayne; Halston, who graduated high school in Evansville; and present day Martin Katz, a native son of South Bend, who many consider the jeweler to the stars in Beverly Hills. But movie stars of the past times were often noted for modeling and collecting the jewels of another Hoosier, Miriam Haskell of New Albany, notes Trent D. Pendley. Pendley is a jeweler, writer and a life past president of the Indiana Jewish Historical Society.  His fine jewelry credentials of 28 years include positions with Grunewald & Adams at the Arizona Biltmore, Cateaux, Inc. in Chicago’s Loop and Martin Binder Jeweler of Valparaiso.   Miriam Haskell is the namesake of a style and also a corporation in New York City that has inspired and manufactured costume jewelry since she founded it in 1926. Though largely overlooked and forgotten, Haskell  was inducted last month in New Albany High School’s hall of fame. Haskell graduated from the school in 1917.  Re-released in recent months is “Miriam Haskell Jewelry” by Cathy Gordon and Shelia Pamfiloff.  This revised second edition by Schiffer Publishing is 260 well-written pages and over 600 illustrations of Haskell’s jewelry, Haskell’s revolutionary look, for the most part, did not emulate important jewelry. She despised such pieces as symbolizing the nouveau riche and those who had profiteered off of WW I.  Her fashion jewels, at the time referred to as junk jewelry and not branded until about 1950, were influenced by nature and the beading of ornaments. Miriam Haskell jewelry was only sold at the most prestigious stores around the country and today can be found at Barney’s and Sak’s. The vintage pieces, Gordon and Pamfiloff note, are very difficult to identify, as there had never been a catalog of Haskell, and “Haskell-style” pieces have been evolving all along.  Nonetheless vintage Haskell pieces are a treasure find and as striking today as they were when created. Old advertisements, store posters and pieces with provenances fill this coffee table tome with conversation topics that will surely inspire you to run out to local resale shops and re-examine your late rich Auntie Bert’s jewelry chest to claim your own Miriam Haskell jewel. What commenced as fun artistic jewelry are museum pieces today and may have more value than your mother’s diamond engagement ring.

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