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Lunchtime with a Curator: Decorative Arts Design Series

Fabulous Fakes: The Golden Age of American Costume Jewelry, 1935–65

Afternoon Course

Monday, October 2, 2023 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0408
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Materials for this program

Costume jewelry from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s

Join curator Elizabeth Lay, a regular lecturer on the topics of fashion, textiles, and American furniture, for an image-rich lunchtime lecture series focusing on decorative arts and design topics.

Session Information

Fabulous Fakes: The Golden Age of American Costume Jewelry, 1935–65

In the mid-20th century, America overtook Europe as the world’s foremost designer and producer of costume jewelry— an astonishing achievement given France’s historic dominance of fashion, the pre-eminence of Austrian and German trained jewelry craftsmen, and the European sources of key jewelry materials such as rhinestones and Bohemian crystal. What uniquely American social and historic trends propelled the demand for and design of mass-produced, affordable jewelry?

Phyllis Gerstell, a decorative arts historian and costume jewelry expert and collector, explores the beauty and history of a now largely vanished American art form. She examines the wide variety of factors that inspired pieces that today may command prices rivaling those of fine jewelry. As she looks in detail at beautiful masterpieces by Trifari, Coro, the Pennino Brothers, Boucher, and others, she also addresses where to find vintage costume jewelry, what pieces to avoid, and research aids in building a collection.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Additional Sessions of this Lunchtime with a Curator Fall Series

General Information

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.