Joseff of Hollywood is one of vintage jewellery’s big guns.  Born in Chicago in 1905, Eugene Joseff arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1920s to try his hand at advertising. The story goes, on seeing the film ‘The Affairs of Cellini’, Eugene commented to the well-known costume designer Walter Plunkett that the jewellery was historically inaccurate.  Walter replied, “Well if you’re so smart, let’s see what you can do”.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  Eugene started making jewellery in 1934.  At first his company rented out pieces to the Hollywood studios.  They were worn by the stars in classics – ‘Antony & Cleopatra’, ‘The Private lives of Elizabeth & Essex’, ‘Gone with the Wind’.  The stars liked the jewellery so much they commissioned pieces for their own personal wardrobes.

Elizabeth Taylor

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor in Antony & Cleopatra
Olivia de Havilland

 

 

Olivia de Havillan

 

 

In 1937 he began his retail business, dropping his first name in 1938 and marketed both himself and his collection as simply Joseff of Hollywood.  Tragically he died in a plane crash in 1948 at the age of 42.  His widow Jean continued the business, followed by their son Jeffery.  Hollywood is still using Joseff jewellery to dress sets, the cave scene in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ bristles with it.

The Sun God brooch is a distinctive and well known piece with rhinestone eyes that twinkle and tremble when I wear it.  There is a complementary Moon God brooch which is on my wish list.  It also has twinkly eyes.  I think it would be quite something to wear both together someday.

Joseff once wrote “If you want to acquire a collection, start with a brooch because you will find most use for it. It can be pinned on a suit lapel, collar or pocket…on a hat, a belt, or an evening gown.” (Movie Show Magazine February 1948). I couldn’t have put it better myself.