Ralph DeRosa jewelry is known for complex designs, high-quality materials, translucent enameling, and unusual color combinations. Ralph used the techniques he learned in Italy for the production of precious jewelry to create his signature costume jewelry in lace, floral and retro designs. If you are looking to add this designer to your collection, you have come to the right place. You are going to learn all you need to know about vintage Ralph DeRosa jewelry.
Brief History of Ralph DeRosa Jewelry
Ralph DeRosa was born into a family of jewelers in Naples, Italy. In 1905, he immigrated to the United States and brought with him the Old World traditions of jewelry design and manufacture. In 1934, he established the Ralph DeRosa Company in New York City, one of the earliest purveyors of high-quality costume jewelry.
The company’s first collection, “Meeting in Venice,” was inspired by the romance and intricacies of Venetian lace. While Ralph, during his lifetime, returned to the lace motif, his signature pieces were large floral brooches and fur clips with any combination of rhinestones, synthetic gems and pearls, translucent enameling, gold-plated metal and sterling silver. Ralph died in 1942, and his wife Virginia and daughters Vera and Teresa successfully operated the business until 1970.
Many DeRosa designs were sold to department stores, such as J.C. Penney and Sears & Roebuck, that marked the jewelry with their own paper hang tags. In 1949, Schiaparelli licensed the DeRosa firm to make jewelry stamped or tagged “Designed in Paris-Created in America.”
DeRosa Jewelry Designers
- Ralph DeRosa was the lead designer until his death at which time his daughter, Vera, became the lead designer.
- Evidence of the DeRosa Company employing unnamed artists and designers exists in the hundreds of hand-painted illustrations and detailed instructions on how the items were produced.
DeRosa Jewelry Marks
Unfortunately, much of the DeRosa jewelry was not marked or was marked only with paper hang tags. Signed DeRosa jewelry is rare and usually commands high prices.
- “R. DE ROSA” in block letters (arguably the most common mark)
- “DeRosa Designed Jewels”
- "De ROSA Designed Jewels"
- "R De ROSA Sterling"
- “R DEROSA STERLING”
- "R. DEROSA" underscored with "STERLING"
Materials Used in DeRosa Jewelry
Most Collectible Vintage Ralph DeRosa Jewelry
- The “Sterling Pierced Floral Lace Rhinestone Collar Necklace” is an example of the Venetian lace motif. When worn, it looks like a lace collar around your neck. Sterling silver is encrusted with sparkly crystal chaton (foil-backed) rhinestones. The center mimics a pave knot, and the lace sections appear to be curling over in a continuous ribbon effect.
- A one-of-a-kind piece is a hinged sterling bracelet with strands of genuine coral beads set into the scalloped edges of the bracelet. It is very rare for a DeRosa piece to include natural material.
- This large fur clip is a testament to the DeRosa artistry. Fashioned from heavy sterling silver, the golden-hued flower blossoms and foliage swirl and curl around rhinestone-tipped stamens and a faceted, unfoiled oval in richly colored red glass.
- The stunning “Lacy Fur Clip with Clear and Cherry Red Rhinestones” has the DeRosa signature lace filigree with dark red focal points and is edged in icy clear rhinestones.
- A Retro gold-plated fur clip with a semi-circle of ruby red baguettes above a sweeping wide ribbon of clear rhinestones. A row of ruby oval rhinestones is accented with a row of clear rhinestones set in silver-plated metal.
- A fur clip, a layered and three-dimensional sunburst, features a royal looking oval purple rhinestone center radiating pale yellow baguette rhinestones and tiny simulated pearls and clear rhinestone accents.
- The “Sterling and Sapphire Blue Rhinestone Brooch” has alternating ribs of sterling silver and round clear rhinestones topped with stunningly blue rhinestones.
- A sterling silver crown pin has seven graduated faux pearls at the top of the crown. Small pearls and clear rhinestones accent the rest of the pin.
- The geometrical shapes of the Retro era appear in an elaborate sterling vermeil rhinestone brooch with yellow and rose gold coloring, clear rhinestones and dangling aqua rhinestones.
- Fur Clips are a popular collectors item.
Tips for Buying Ralph DeRosa Jewelry
- DeRosa jewelry is not easy to find. It was often unmarked or marked only with paper hang tags. If you do find a marked piece, it will likely come at a high price.
- DeRosa signature designs are three-dimensional, extremely high-quality components, and translucent enameling.
- As with other jewelry of this caliber and value, be extremely cautious about fakes.
- Examine the piece for chips, missing stones or any other visible damage. Have a magnifying glass with you. Such blemishes may not rule out a purchase, but they can give you some negotiating leverage on the price.
- Do not be shy about asking questions, such as where the vendor found the piece, how long he or she has had it. Answers do not guarantee the piece is authentic. Non-answers are not evidence that it isn’t authentic. Lack of knowledge can actually work out in your favor.
- Look for highly rated shops with satisfied customer reviews.
Collecting DeRosa jewelry is not for the impatient! It is for those who revel in the treasure hunt and the “thrill of victory.” One of the many attractions to DeRosa jewelry is that, once you have a piece, you are not likely to see it at every turn. Either many pieces are one of a kind or very few pieces were made of a particular design.
Let me know if you have any questions, I always answer!