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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.
Coro Jewelry Designers
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.
Coro Jewelry Marks
- 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 various Coro marks in this article on Illusion Jewels.
Materials Used in Vintage Coro Jewelry
- 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)
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.
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.
Tips on Buying Coro Online
- Be sure you know the difference in Coro’s product lines. The Coro line targeted lower- and middle-income consumers in a broad range of motifs. Coro Craft was higher end due to the more expensive materials. Top of the line was Vendome, made from the finest materials and known for their charm bracelets and faux pearl necklaces.
- 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.
- Also, use the 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."
- Ask for a guarantee of authenticity.
- 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! Also, check out our favorite Etsy shops for buying vintage costume jewelry.
Another great place to shop is eBay, there is a huge selection of Vintage Coro Jewelry there.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! I always answer.