If you are looking for vintage Capri jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, jewelry marks, our favorite collectible pieces and where to buy them.
About Capri Jewelry
Capri Jewelry was a manufacturer of limited-edition, high-quality costume jewelry, based on Fifth Avenue in the heart of New York City. The company was started in the 1950s by jeweler Sol Smith. During its heyday, Capri’s annual sales were around $20 million, and the line was sold in department and specialty stores both in the US and abroad. Sol recognized the opportunity to produce jewelry after the Second World War, when women were looking for good-quality, reasonably priced, yet glamorous-looking pieces.
Capri’s unique designs, combined with the fact that there were a relatively small number of pieces produced, continue to make it a hot favorite for collectors today. Capri was admired for its ability to produce interesting, colorful, three-dimensional pins and brooches, particularly in a floral design. It often featured other botanical and nature inspired themes such as flower blossoms, shells and leaves. Animals, particularly dogs, were also a favorite theme.
Although Capri was a well-known brand, the company did not always manufacture its own pieces, instead relying on other famous brands and contracting outside sources such as Florenza, owned by the Dan Kasoff Company, to produce their jewelry.
History of Capri Jewelry
1949 – Capri Jewelry Inc. is incorporated on March 22nd, 1949, by the owner Sol Smith, although many sources list the launch year as 1952.
1956 – An advertisement at the time lists their top retailers as Lord & Taylor in New York City, Abraham & Straus in Brooklyn, Marshall Field in Chicago, J. L. Hudson in Detroit, John Wanamaker in Philadelphia and Frost Brothers in Dallas, so they are sold in some of the best stores across the country. Sales grow as the company capitalizes on its growing appeal to a post war era clientele.
1960s – The company formerly changes its name to Capri.
1970– Capri merges with the noted jewelry design house, DeNicola, which was founded in 1957 in New York by Jerry DeNicola. DeNicola jewelry is noted for its high-quality costume pieces, the use of gold and semi-precious stones and its variety of sophisticated, complex designs from marine life, animals, angels to signs of the zodiac.
1973 - The DeNicola brand ceases to exist after the merge.
1975 – Capri is involved in one of several lawsuits it faced during its time in business; this one is an infringement suit against Hattie Carnegie Jewelry Enterprises regarding a novelty heat sensitivity ring called “The Mood Ring.” The ring is supposed to change color as the wearer’s mood changes. Unfortunately, Capri loses the case.
1977 – Capri is forced to close the business.
1994 – Sol (‘Smitty’) Smith dies August 30th at age 85.
Capri Jewelry Marks
- From 1949 – 1955 Capri marked their jewelry “Capri”
- After 1955 the “C” copyright mark is added to the name “Capri”
- Colored rhinestones
- Faux pearls
- Gold tone metal
- Textured alloys
- Mother of pearl
- Colored glass
Collectible Vintage Capri Jewelry
Vintage Capri jewelry can be found on a variety of online sites, but Etsy is a prime source for some of the best, most representative pieces of the brand. We recommend you choose jewelry that has the authentic Capri name inscribed on the back, with the addition of the copy right mark for pieces made after 1955.
We had to start with this brooch, which is typical of the Capri ‘look.’ It is from the 1960s and is made in a gold tone setting with shell, glass with faux pearls in a fantasy nest design. It is signed with the authentic Capri name plus the copyright mark.
Here’s another typical vintage Capri piece. This time it is a gold tone and rhinestone faux turquoise pin or brooch with a floral motif. This piece is also signed on the back with the Capri name and trademark.
This is another good addition to your Capri collection. Again it is a signed, authenticated piece from the 1970s. Listed as a “statement” necklace, it is made of metal and enamel.
This vintage 1950s Capri signed tassel brooch screams Mid-Century Modern. It features multi-colored faux stones in a bow design finished with a metal tassel.
Just lovely! This is a Capri signed green glass cabochon and rhinestone brooch which dates to the 1960s. it is made of antiqued gold-plated metal in a layered draping textured ribbons design and set with large green glass cabochon in center and accented with green and clear rhinestones. You need to snap this one up!
Though fairly inexpensive to buy, vintage Capri jewelry is well worth the effort it takes to source and collect, as the best pieces are not always available. You will find that most pieces cost less than $100. The quality of Capri jewelry is excellent, and its designs are charmingly simple, yet intricately made. If you like the look of Mid-Century modern design – which, by the way, is hotter than ever these days - you will love vintage Capri jewelry. The Mid-Century Modern period from 1950 – 1965 is typified through Capri’s affordable yet luxurious-looking jewelry, when women wore stunning brooches with whimsical portrayals of animals, flowers, fish, branches and vines on their nipped-in-waist suits and swing coats.
We recommend you start your collection now, as good Capri pieces are becoming increasingly difficult to find.