If you are looking for Vintage Jose and Maria Barrera 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.
The Barrera Look
Barrera costume jewelry is exquisitely designed, using high-quality, though affordable materials. The Barrera look comprises multi-color extravagant beading, statement earrings, dangling tassels, chandeliers, and a masterful mixing of art glass, stones and semi-precious materials. These are the unmistakable hallmarks of Barrera jewelry. You will find these elements and more in Barrera pieces, which are regarded as highly collectible and increasingly sought after on the secondary market.
Where It Is Sold
Barrera jewelry has been sold in upscale boutiques and luxury stores such as Neiman Marcus for several decades. The brand also developed a less elaborate, lower priced, popular line of jewelry which was sold through Avon catalogs. Other styles sold by upscale vendors include necklaces in wreath or garland festoon designs with matching earrings, beaded pendants and much more. The company also sells through its own website www.joseandmariabarrera.com.
A Family Business
The Barrera’s three daughters Larissa, Mariel, and Alicia still help their parents in their family-owned business. All three are artists in their own right. Larissa Barrera assists José in overseeing current jewelry production, and she is also the designer of a handbag line, made by hand in the Barrera workshop. These are also highly collectible. Mariel Barrera has become a well-known makeup artist for fashion magazines and Alicia Barrera creates graphics, web and jewelry design.
History of Jose & Maria Barrera Jewelry
Who would have guessed that a chance meeting in Texas would lead to a nude photoshoot on the cover of Vogue Magazine, of all places? Barrera Jewelry was in the right place at the right time to be seen and promoted by the most influential magazine editors of their day.
The meeting launched a successful business, which is still in existence today. Here’s how it happened:
Late 1960s – A New York actress visiting Texas spots a Barrera necklace in a student display at the University of Texas. She just had to have it, so she meets the couple who designed it, José and Maria Barrera, and buys the necklace on the spot.
1970 – The actress wears the necklace to a party in New York, where it is seen by Alexander Lieberman, who is so impressed by it, he asks legendary Editor-in-Chief Diana Vreeland for permission to show it in Vogue Magazine. She then commissions the famous photographer, Irving Penn to photograph the iconic 1970 nude cover shoot of ‘It Girl’ and model Marisa Berenson for Vogue. She also commissions another photo shoot using Barrera jewelry inside the same issue.
1981 - The couple moves to New York from South Texas to launch their business in New York’s Garment Center. Their three daughters, Larisa, Mariel and Alicia eventually join the company
1989-1996 – Barrera produces a line of jewelry marketed through Avon.
1996 – Larisa Barrera, a graduate of the Rhode Island School Of Design and fresh from a three-year design position at Badgley Mischka, returns to the family business.
1997- Larisa Barrera creates a line of evening handbags, handmade in the Barrera studio. The line incorporates jewelry elements in the frames and handles which coordinate with beaded fabrics. The popular look is vintage with a modern twist.
Larisa also makes intricate jewelry inspired by elements of Baroque and Classicism using antique gold and silver metal, enamel and inlays. Her exquisite jewelry has appeared on the red carpet, worn by celebrities such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Cher, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Julianne Moore, Salma Hayek, Lady Gaga and many more.
Beyoncé’s Dangerously In Love album featured her in a spectacular Barrera crystal top; she also wears a gold-plated metal top is also from Barrera on the cover of Sasha Fierce
Jose & Maria Barrera Materials
- 24 carat gold
- Art glass
- Austrian crystals
- Precious Stones
- Rock crystal
- Colored resin
- Hand-made porcelain
- Roman Coins
- Mother of Pearl
- Cloisonné and decoupage beaded treatments
José & Maria Barrera Jewelry Marks
- ©BARRERA for AVON
- JOSE & MARIA BARRERA
Jewelry made or designed by José and María Barrera is marked in one of several different ways. Pieces marketed through Avon from 1989 through 1996 were marked as such. Other pieces sold through department stores or directly from the Barreras on their website are marked Barrera in capital letters and may or may not include a copyright symbol.
Our Favorite Vintage José & Maria Barrera Collectible Pieces
What to look for:
- Statement earrings of all kinds, tassel earrings
- Charm bracelets
- Dangling bead earrings
- Multiple strand necklaces
- Multi-stand bracelets with rhinestone clasps and rock crystals
Where to find Barrera Jewelry:
Barrera jewelry is available online through several sources. We’ve found a variety of lovely pieces on etsy.com to start your collection.
Barrera designed crystal and gold tone dangle earrings are a must buy:
Turquoise and Lucite chandelier crop earrings come next on our list:
A vintage 1994 hand enameled hibiscus flower brooch also makes our consideration list, as it represents one of the many brightly colored brooches Barrera made famous over the years. It is made of glass, gold enamel and pewter.
This is a hard to find, vintage 1970s Barrera for Avon filigree “Falling Leaves’ collar/choker necklace with matching clip earrings...