If you are looking to add some vintage Coro jewelry to your collection, you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, jewelry marks, materials used, most collectible pieces, and tips on how to buy.
Coro Jewelry is most noted for its collection from the 1930s to the 1950s featuring brooches, double-clip brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Its great success was due to the quality of their designs, the affordability of the pieces and the appeal to a wide range of consumers.
Coro is a great brand to start your vintage jewelry collection with because it was one of the largest costume jewelry producers of its time.
Brief History of Coro Jewelry
- In 1903, Emanuel Cohn and Carl Rosenberger founded their eponymous accessories boutique on Broadway in New York City. At some point, they decided to focus on jewelry, even though neither one of them could, or wanted to, design jewelry. They hired Adolph Katz who, as Director of Design, selected talented designers and styles of jewelry that fit in with the owners’ vision. By the 1920s, the jewelry was sold in dime stores across the US.
- In 1929, Cohn and Rosenberger opened a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, and soon became the largest manufacturer of costume jewelry in the country. Their jewelry was sold in retail stores across the US. The company not only survived the New York stock market crash of 1929, but it thrived. They opened a branch in England in 1933 which succeeded in spite of the Depression and widespread unemployment.
- In 1937, the company began producing a higher-end line of jewelry signed Corocraft.
- In 1943, the company was incorporated as “Coro, Inc.,” (for the first two letters in each man’s name).
- In 1944, Coro started its Vendôme line (named after the city in France), the most expensive line.
- Coro’s brilliant success lasted through the mid-1950s, when it sold the American assets to Richton International Corp. of New York. The company’s downfall began with the beaded jewelry of the 1960s and then, in the 1970s, the competition from the tailored costume jewelry for everyday and business wear (e.g., Monet) and the influx of costume jewelry from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The American branch of the company folded in 1979; the branch in Canada lasted through the 1990s.
Gene Verecchio became head designer at age 22. During three decades at the company, he created many of the best-loved Coro pieces. He is most famous for the “Quivering Camellia Duette” line as well as jewelry made with faux moonstone multi-colored cabochons.
Francois was a designer from 1938 to 1960. His specialty was beautiful flower-shaped earrings and floral brooches in heavy gold-plated metal with a textured Florentine finish. He had his own line at Coro, “Francois,” that was high end in the same category as Corocraft and Vendome.
Oscar Frank Placco tended to concentrate on the mechanical structure of jewelry. One of his earliest designs was for an ornament clasp in 1934 that led to Coro’s Duette series of brooches.
Carol McDonald first designed a bracelet with an attachment for securing a flower. She is also credited with the clown designs of the 1940s.
Lester Gaba was a well-known sculptor and artist who designed patriotic pins during World War II.
- Early Coro jewelry was marked "CR" (for Cohn and Rosenberg).
- “Coro” in script, 1919.
- "Coro Craft," 1937.
- “Coro” in thick script, 1940.
- “CoroCraft Sterling,” from 1942 to the spring of 1944.
- "Corocraft,” after WWII.
- “Coro Sterling,” after WWII.
- Pegasus (flying horse used without a name), after WWII.
- Pegasus with “Coro” in script and “Craft” printed.
- “Corocraft” in script, angled, with and without Pegasus.
- “Duette” or “Coro Duette” in script with a patent number
- “Vendôme” with a large “V.”
You can see the numerous Coro marks in this article on the Costume Jewelry Collectors website.
- Heavy gold-plated metal with a textured Florentine finish
- Silver with no gilding, a lighter weight and quality
- Vermeil over lightweight sterling silver
- Sterling silver
- European crystals
- Faux pearls
- Faux moonstone
- “Fruit salad” (multi-colored carved glass stones)
About Coro's Jewelry Collections
Coro had three jewelry lines: Coro, Corocraft, and Vendome. Coro offered the most affordable costume jewelry, Corocraft was in the middle, and Vendome was their high-end brand.
Even though Vendome is a higher-priced collection, some of the most sought-after pieces by collectors today are the Coro pieces, namely the Duettes produced from the 1930s and 40s.
Corocraft (or Coro Craft) is a step-up from the Coro line in quality, price, and prestige. The famous Jelly Belly pins were introduced under this line. Most vintage Coro pieces were built on metal frames, whereas Corocraft items were often made of sterling silver or plated in gold. Rhinestones were referred to as "Diadem Jewels".
Vendome was introduced in 1944 and replaced Corocraft in 1953. Vendome featured serious bling including rhinestone-drenched chokers, cabochon-adorned silver-plated bangles, and gold-plated pins designed by Vendome’s Helen Marion, who was inspired by the great Cubist artist Georges Braque. Vendome also utilized Lucite in new and exciting ways, with designers shaving and forming Lucite into organic shapes with unexpected colors. Vendome is known for their charm bracelets and faux pearl necklaces.
Most Collectible Vintage Coro Jewelry
Coro launched their first Duettes in 1935. The Duettes are two dress pins (or brooches) locked together by a mechanism invented and patented by the Coro company. Women could wear one pin by itself or both together as a Duette. Sometimes these pins are signed simply “Duette.”
The famous “Quivering Camellia” duette is also a trembler pin (see below).
Some Duettes are simple geometric designs; others are whimsical flowers or birds. A pair of horse heads and a pair of enamel owls are particularly sought after.
Smaller, lightweight versions of Duettes were sold after WWII due to the switch to lighter synthetic fabrics.
Much of Coro's early success was due to the company's design director, Adolph Katz, who created Coro’s en tremblant floral pins.
A trembler is a type of brooch on which a small part of the pin is set en tremblant (French for “on a spring”) so that it trembles or quivers when the wearer moves. Floral designs are most popular for tremblers or pins depicting birds or winged insects.
Jelly Belly Pins
Jelly Bellies were first made in the late 1930s after DuPont invented Lucite, a thermoplastic acrylic resin product.
The small pins often depicted animals, but also pieces of fruit, musical instruments, ballerinas, people, modes of transportation, etc., all with a clear Lucite center stone (like a jelly bean).
Later, Coro used colored glass centers, also highly treasured by collectors.
Patriotic designs by Lester Gaba during WWII.
How to Identify Coro Jewelry
Know Your Jewelry Lines
Be sure you know the difference in Coro’s product lines. The Coro line was aimed at lower- and middle-income consumers and offered a broad range of motifs. Coro Craft was higher end due to more expensive materials. The top of the line was Vendome, which was made from the finest materials.
Check the Hallmarks
Coro used a variety of marks on their jewelry and can be seen on the back of the piece. Refer to this handy guide to see all of Coro's jewelry marks.
Use Reference Books
It’s common for fakes to be larger than the original piece because they’re made in larger molds. The book Coro Jewelry: A Collector’s Guide: Identification and Values gives a detailed guide to vintage jewelry collectors.
Be Sure of Quality
Fakes will be cruder, have poor quality settings and stones, as well as flashier, bright plating.
Tips on Purchasing Coro Jewelry Online
- Obtain close-up photos of the back so you can look at the specific clasp (e.g., the Duette) and compare it to genuine Coro pieces.
- Use photos to verify the signature.
- Make sure you have accurate measurements of the piece.
- Check the vendor’s reviews and feedback from customers.
- Read the vendor’s "Shipping and Return Policies."
- Use a safe method of payment, e.g., PayPal, in case of any disputes.
There is an exquisite selection of jewelry on Etsy’s Coro page. Etsy is a great place to find vintage jewelry of all kinds. The site is easy to navigate and facilitates communication between you and the vendors. A big plus is supporting small businesses in this “big box” world!
Another great place to shop is eBay, there is a huge selection of Vintage Coro Jewelry there.
My Recommended Etsy Shops
I get asked what my recommended shops for buying Coro jewelry on Etsy are, so here is my answer!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! I always answer.