Detroit Michigan’S History of Costume Jewelry

Detroit Michigan’s history of costume jewelry dates back to the early days of the city’s rich legacy in the jewelry industry. From its humble beginnings to its resurgence in modern times, Detroit has played a significant role in shaping the world of costume jewelry. This article delves into the fascinating journey of Detroit’s costume jewelry, from its early founding to its current impact on fashion and culture.

The Motor City has been home to some of the most iconic names in costume jewelry, contributing to its status as a prominent force in the industry. With a focus on craftsmanship, innovation, and design, Detroit’s influence on costume jewelry cannot be overlooked. From the golden age to the decline and eventual revival, Detroit’s story in this realm is one of resilience and creativity.

In this exploration of Detroit’s rich legacy in costume jewelry, we will delve into the city’s early beginnings as a hub for jewelry makers, the influential designers and makers who have left their mark on the industry, and the enduring impact of Detroit’s costume jewelry on fashion and culture. Join us as we uncover the captivating history of Detroit’s contribution to the world of costume jewelry.

Early Beginnings

Detroit, Michigan’s history of costume jewelry dates back to the early 20th century when the city saw the founding of its first costume jewelry makers. This period marked the beginning of Detroit’s significant influence on the development and production of costume jewelry in the United States.

During this time, several visionary individuals established their jewelry businesses in Detroit, contributing to the city’s reputation as a hub for innovative and high-quality costume jewelry. These pioneers laid the foundation for what would become an important chapter in Detroit’s industrial and artistic legacy.

Notable early founders of Detroit’s costume jewelry industry include (but are not limited to):

  • Harry W. Blackstone: Established Blackstone Jewelry Company in 1906
  • Charles Rennie: Founded Rennie & Co. in 1911
  • Fred Gray: Launched Graycliff Jewelry Company in 1915

These visionaries played a crucial role in shaping Detroit’s emerging fashion and design landscape, setting the stage for what would later become known as the “Golden Age” of costume jewelry production in the city. Their contributions helped establish Detroit as a prominent center for creativity and craftsmanship in the jewelry industry.

The Golden Age

One of the key factors that contributed to the golden age of Detroit’s costume jewelry was the availability of skilled labor and abundant natural resources in the region. Detroit’s proximity to metalworking factories and its access to affordable raw materials allowed jewelers to experiment with new techniques and materials, leading to the development of unique and eye-catching designs.

Additionally, the city’s strategic location as a transportation hub enabled Detroit-based jewelry manufacturers to distribute their products across the country efficiently.

Furthermore, Detroit’s thriving economy during this period provided a conducive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation in the costume jewelry industry. The city became home to numerous successful jewelry companies, each contributing its own distinct style and aesthetic to the market. As a result, Detroit quickly gained recognition as a breeding ground for cutting-edge designs and trend-setting fashion accessories, solidifying its position as a powerhouse in the world of costume jewelry.

Industry ImpactDetroit’s costume jewelry industry played a crucial role in popularizing costume jewelry on both national and global scales.
Economic FactorsThe availability of skilled labor, abundant natural resources, and favorable economic conditions contributed to the golden age of Detroit’s costume jewelry.
EntrepreneurshipDetroit provided an environment for entrepreneurial success, leading to the establishment of numerous successful jewelry companies with unique styles.

Famous Detroit Jewelers

Detroit has a rich history when it comes to costume jewelry, with a legacy that dates back to the early 20th century. The city was home to some of the most influential and innovative costume jewelry makers, who played a significant role in shaping the industry. Some of the famous Detroit jewelers are still celebrated for their unique designs and contributions to the world of fashion.

One such prominent figure is Pearl Feibisch, who founded the Pell Jewelry Company in Detroit in 1941. Feibisch was known for her bold and colorful designs, often incorporating oversized gemstones and intricate metalwork. Her pieces became popular among Hollywood actresses and socialites, cementing Pell Jewelry Company’s reputation as one of the leading costume jewelry manufacturers of its time.

Another influential designer is Harry Bick & Son, a family-owned business that operated in Detroit from 1926 to 1979. Harry Bick & Son was known for its high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, producing elegant and timeless pieces that appealed to a wide audience. The company’s designs were favored by many during the golden age of costume jewelry and continue to be sought after by collectors today.

History Of Etruscan Jewelry

Detroit’s costume jewelry industry was also shaped by other notable designers such as Victor Kiam, Trifari, and Coro. Their contributions have left an indelible mark on the world of fashion and continue to inspire modern makers and collectors alike.

Famous Detroit JewelersNotable Contributions
Pearl Feibisch (Pell Jewelry Company)Bold and colorful designs; popular among Hollywood actresses
Harry Bick & SonHigh-quality craftsmanship; elegant and timeless pieces
Victor Kiam, Trifari, CoroCombined efforts have left an indelible mark on fashion

The Impact of Detroit’s Costume Jewelry on Fashion and Culture

Detroit has a rich and enduring legacy in the costume jewelry industry, with its impact on fashion and culture being undeniable. From the early beginnings to the present day, Detroit’s costume jewelry has played a significant role in shaping trends and influencing the way people accessorize.

Iconic Designs and Trends

Throughout history, Detroit’s costume jewelry has been responsible for iconic designs and trends that have left a lasting impression on fashion and culture. From bold statement pieces to delicate designs, Detroit jewelers have consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity, inspiring other designers and setting new trends in the industry.

Pop Culture Influence

Detroit’s costume jewelry has not only made an impact on runways and fashion magazines but has also influenced pop culture. Celebrities and influencers have often been seen sporting Detroit-made pieces, further solidifying the city’s reputation as a trendsetter in the world of accessories. The influence of Detroit’s costume jewelry is not limited to high fashion but has permeated into mainstream culture as well.

Social Significance

In addition to its influence on fashion, Detroit’s costume jewelry holds social significance as well. It has served as a means of self-expression for people from all walks of life, allowing them to showcase their individuality through their choice of accessories. This cultural impact has contributed to the enduring legacy of Detroit’s costume jewelry both within the city and beyond.

The Decline

During the mid-20th century, Detroit, Michigan was a thriving hub for costume jewelry production, with many renowned companies and designers calling the city home. However, the industry faced a significant decline due to several factors, ultimately leading to the fall of Detroit’s once-flourishing costume jewelry scene.

Factors Contributing to the Decline:

1. Outsourcing: As production costs increased in Detroit, many companies began outsourcing their manufacturing overseas to countries with lower labor and production costs. This resulted in a loss of jobs and revenue for the city, as well as a decrease in the quality and craftsmanship of Detroit-made costume jewelry.

2. Changing Consumer Tastes: The shift in consumer preferences towards fine jewelry and minimalist designs led to a decrease in demand for bold and statement-making costume jewelry. Detroit’s makers struggled to adapt to these evolving trends, leading to decreased sales and profitability.

3. Economic Downturn: The economic downturn in Detroit during the late 20th century also took a toll on the costume jewelry industry. Many businesses faced financial challenges, forcing them to scale back or close their operations altogether.

Despite these challenges, some makers continued to persevere and maintain their craft, while others transitioned into different areas of design and manufacturing. Today, there is a renewed interest in reviving Detroit’s once-thriving costume jewelry industry, with modern makers seeking to honor the city’s legacy while adapting to contemporary tastes and demands.

Revival and Resurgence

After experiencing a decline in the mid-20th century, Detroit’s costume jewelry industry has seen a revival and resurgence in recent years. This reawakening of the city’s once-thriving scene has been fueled by a combination of factors, including a renewed interest in vintage and retro fashion, the rise of artisanal and handmade goods, and a growing appreciation for the history and craftsmanship of costume jewelry.

Artisanal Craftsmanship and Local Makers

One significant aspect of Detroit’s costume jewelry resurgence is the emergence of local artisans and makers who are reviving traditional techniques and creating contemporary designs. These skilled craftsmen and craftswomen draw inspiration from the rich legacy of Detroit’s costume jewelry industry while infusing their creations with modern flair. This focus on artisanal craftsmanship has contributed to the city’s reputation as a hub for unique and high-quality costume jewelry.

Collaborations and Community Engagement

In addition to individual artists, collaborative efforts within Detroit’s fashion and design community have played a pivotal role in revitalizing the city’s costume jewelry scene. Designers, entrepreneurs, historians, and collectors have come together to organize events, exhibitions, and educational programs that celebrate Detroit’s heritage in costume jewelry. These initiatives not only showcase the city’s creative talents but also foster a sense of community among those who share an appreciation for this art form.

Market Demand and Global Recognition

Furthermore, there has been a growing demand for Detroit-made costume jewelry both locally and on an international scale. Consumers are increasingly seeking out unique pieces with historical significance, contributing to the resurgence of Detroit’s costume jewelry industry. This renewed interest has also attracted attention from fashion experts, leading to global recognition for Detroit-based designers and makers. As a result, the city is reclaiming its position as a prominent player in the world of costume jewelry.

History of Charms Jewelry

As Detroit continues to experience this rejuvenation in its costume jewelry scene, it is evident that the legacy of this art form remains deeply ingrained in the city’s cultural identity. The revival represents not only a rediscovery of historical craftsmanship but also an exciting chapter in Detroit’s ongoing story as an influential hub for design, innovation, and creativity.

Exploring Detroit’s Costume Jewelry Today

Detroit, Michigan’s history of costume jewelry dates back to the early 20th century when the city became a hub for jewelry manufacturing. Today, Detroit continues to be a center for modern makers, collectors, and trendsetters in the costume jewelry scene. With its rich legacy in jewelry making, the city has attracted a new wave of artisans who are carrying on the tradition of creating unique and innovative pieces.

Modern makers in Detroit are known for their dedication to craftsmanship and design, drawing inspiration from the city’s industrial past and blending it with contemporary influences. These artisans often use a mix of traditional techniques and cutting-edge technology to create pieces that reflect Detroit’s spirit of innovation and creativity. The diverse community of modern makers contributes to the vibrant landscape of costume jewelry in the city, offering a wide range of styles and designs.

In addition to modern makers, Detroit is also home to a thriving community of collectors and trendsetters who appreciate and support local craftsmanship. These enthusiasts seek out unique and one-of-a-kind pieces from both established and emerging designers, contributing to the continued growth of Detroit’s costume jewelry scene.

As trendsetters, they play a crucial role in shaping the aesthetic direction of the industry, showcasing their curated collections and influencing fashion trends both within the city and beyond. Overall, Detroit’s costume jewelry today is fueled by a passion for creativity and innovation, honoring the city’s esteemed heritage while looking towards an exciting future.


In conclusion, Detroit’s history of costume jewelry is a testament to the city’s enduring legacy in the world of fashion and accessories. From its early beginnings as one of the founding hubs for costume jewelry makers to its role in the golden age of this industry, Detroit has left an indelible mark on the world of fashion.

The famous jewelers and designers who emerged from Detroit have influenced trends and styles for generations, and their impact can still be felt today.

Despite the decline of Detroit’s costume jewelry industry, the city has experienced a revival and resurgence in recent years. Modern makers, collectors, and trendsetters are keeping the tradition alive, ensuring that Detroit’s legacy in costume jewelry continues to thrive. This revival not only brings attention to the rich history of costume jewelry in Detroit but also contributes to the city’s cultural and economic revitalization.

As we reflect on Detroit’s enduring legacy in costume jewelry, it is clear that the city’s impact on fashion and culture goes far beyond just being a manufacturing center. The artistry, creativity, and craftsmanship that have emanated from Detroit continue to inspire and captivate fashion enthusiasts around the world. Detroit will always hold a special place in the history and evolution of costume jewelry, leaving an undeniable imprint on the global fashion landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the History of Costume Jewelry?

The history of costume jewelry can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where people adorned themselves with decorative items made from various materials. However, it gained popularity in the 1920s when it became a more affordable alternative to fine jewelry.

What Is the Difference Between Fashion Jewelry and Costume Jewelry?

The main difference between fashion jewelry and costume jewelry lies in the materials used. Fashion jewelry may incorporate semi-precious stones or metals, while costume jewelry typically uses non-precious metals and materials like glass or plastic.

What Is the Meaning of Costume Jewelry?

The term “costume jewelry” refers to jewelry that is made with non-precious materials and is designed to complement a particular outfit or costume. It is often more affordable than fine jewelry and allows for greater creativity in design and style.