Looking for Vintage Krementz Jewelry? Learn about history, jewelry marks, materials used, collectible pieces, and how to buy in this guide.
What is Krementz Jewelry?
Krementz jewelry is an expansive line that made jewelry for both men and women, including fine jewelry designs and costume jewelry.
A Brief History of Krementz & Co.
Krementz & Co. was founded by George Krementz, and his cousin Julius Lebcheucher, in Newark, New Jersey, in 1866. The company that began designing men’s jewelry later included jewelry for women. Within the company’s more than 150-year history, they produced both fine jewelry and high-end costume jewelry. Regardless of which category of jewelry created, the Krementz name has always been associated with high quality.
A Brief History of George Krementz
George Krementz (1837-1918) was born in Germany. As a child, he and his family emigrated to the United States and settled in New Albany, Indiana. Moving to New York as a young adult to work as a jewelry apprentice, he found work with Alling, Hall & Dodd of Newark, New Jersey, in the 1850s.
Krementz was a member of the American Gem Trade Association, the American Gem Society, and the Jeweler’s Board of Trade. The business flourished not only through innovative jewelry design, but the ability to forecast trends and know when to pivot in business.
Capturing the Style
Additionally, George Krementz was a member of the International Colored Stone Association. His fascination with these gems led him to travel extensively looking for colored stones, that his American clients were unfamiliar with. These he incorporated into his jewelry, giving him a competitive advantage against other local jewelers in the industry.
Krementz & Co. was heavily influenced by two artistic movements that started in Europe. Art Nouveau emerged at the end of the 19th century. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau was inspired by nature and featured prominently in design until the start of World War I. The style was very curvaceous and incorporated vines, flowers, insects, and animals.
Krementz & Co. Art Nouveau works were curvy and intricate pieces of jewelry, blossoming like untamed gardens. Enamel blooms decorated rings. Faces filled cuff links and other flat surfaces, made in repoussé and often in profile. Portraits of women with long flowing locks became part of the design.
Art Deco was an art movement that started in Paris, in 1910, and then spread into North America. As a reaction to the swirls of Art Nouveau, Art Deco incorporated straight lines and geometric shapes.
Krementz &Co. designed elongated, rectangular women’s brooches, with filigree and geometrically shaped semi-precious stones in the center. Sleek tie pins were crafted in a similar fashion. Hexagons were popular shapes for cufflinks and often highlighted using intricately designed borders.
Crafting in Gold
Krementz & Co. initially started crafting jewelry for men in solid gold with occasional gems. The need for men’s jewelry followed the trends in men’s fashion and Krementz changed with the times.
In the early 1900s, Men wore simple cuff links in the daytime. Krementz crafted bean and post style cufflinks. They also made double faced cufflinks, with exact images on either side of the shank. Cuff buttons, vest buttons and shirt studs were also required. Stick pins were used for more formal day wear requiring cravats.
In the evening, when men dressed more formally, they required shirt buttons and matching cuff links. Mother of pearl was highly popular and for those who could afford it, precious stones. Krementz sold these pieces in 5-piece sets, with 3 shirt studs or collections of nine to ten tuxedo studs.
Krementz & Co. made their biggest mark in men’s jewelry selling collar buttons and becoming a top producer worldwide. In fact, in 1884 George Krementz was given the patent for this piece of men’s jewelry.
Collar buttons were used by men between the late-1800s until just after World War II. Men’s shirts had detachable collars and cuffs. Fashion and modesty dictated that vests and jackets be worn over shirts in public, revealing only collars and cuffs. These pieces naturally needed more washing. To hold collars in place collar buttons were used. Not only did these have a utilitarian function, but they were often highly decorative.
The collar buttons from Krementz & Co. were wildly popular, not only for their quality but for the fact these pieces of men’s jewelry were produced all in one piece. In the pre-collar button era, before Krementz created his version, manufacturers produced multi-piece buttons, of subpar quality, with a tendency to break easily.
Later, shirts came with attached collars, which led to the need for collar pins worn just under the tie, along with tie clips to attach ties to shirts.
Gold Overlay Technique
By the 1880s, Krementz & Co. could hardly keep up with requests for collar buttons. That is when the jeweler developed the gold overlay technique, which incorporated two plates of gold over a base metal, merging the two together seamlessly. The result was a gold plating that was 30 times thicker than anything his competitors had created.
So sturdy were these new pieces that Krementz & Co. advertised that they guaranteed the pieces for life. This profoundly changed how people viewed the term costume jewelry. These new pieces were inexpensive, when compared to gold jewelry, and enabled anyone to wear high quality collar buttons.
George Krementz invented a collar button machine---which quickly produced 30, 000 to 40, 000 collar buttons per week! His inspiration for this equipment, beyond that of the need to produce rapidly, was observing a cartridge producing machine, while at the Centennial Exposition.
Everyday Jewelry for Men
Through advertising campaigns and costume jewelry Krementz & Co. helped to create a need for men’s jewelry to be worn every day, not just for special occasions. This was especially beneficial to the men’s jewelry industry during the Great Depression and World War II.
Traditional Wedding Bands for Men Revived
Just before World War II, the tradition of wedding bands for men was revived. Krementz & Co. made matching gold bands, wider for men and thinner for women to match the size of fingers. This revival was said to be sentimental, as men who went to war wanted to remember their wives who were left behind.
In fact, in 1940, Krementz saw the opportunity to purchase Abelson & Braun, along with their lines of engagement and wedding bands. Soon after Diana by Krementz jewelry was added. This line included gold wedding bands crafted out of 10 and 14 karat gold, as well as other gold jewelry.
Materials Used In Men’s Jewelry
- White Gold
- Gold overlay
- Mother of Pearl
- Tiger’s eye
- Faux pearl
It was not until the decline of men’s collar buttons that the company decided to pivot and created lines of jewelry for women, in the 1930s. These included both fine and high-end costume jewelry, such as necklaces, brooches, earrings, and bracelets. There were also other interesting pieces created such as lorgnettes, used for elegant evenings to view the opera or ballet, and lingerie clips.
Materials Used in Women’s Jewelry
- Yellow gold
- White gold
- Rose gold
- Sapphires in blue , yellow, pink
- Cultured Pearls
- Fresh water pearls
- Gold overlay
- Mother of pearl
Is Krementz Jewelry Real Gold?
Early Krementz jewelry for men was crafted in gold. Later, when demand increased for collar buttons, Krementz turned to thick gold plating. This led to a costume jewelry line for men.
Later, in the 1930s, a women’s line of fine jewelry was crafted using white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. A costume jewelry line was also crafted using gold overlay.
When searching for Krementz jewelry look for the gold mark signifying it is real gold karat, as the plating is so good it can be deceiving.
Cameos in Krementz Jewelry
Cameos are relief images carved in a way to enable the picture to raise above the background. Originally, from Roman times, with a resurgence during the Renaissance, it was Queen Victoria (1837-1901) who helped set the trend in Victorian, England. During this time, North American tourists in Europe purchased cameos, starting a trend back home.
You’ll find cameos incorporated into both men’s and women’s jewelry from Krementz and Co. Many were hand carved from natural shell such as sardonyx, as was tradition in crafting cameos. Subjects for male jewelry included Roman themes and warriors, while images of women were used in cameos for women’s jewelry.
Krementz Cufflink History
Cuff links were initially worn by royalty and gentlemen of means. George Krementz revolutionized men’s cufflinks after observing how gun bullets were mass-produced. In 1876, he began to create his cuff link designs in the same fashion. These were crafted from both silver and gold. Some designs became quite lavish during the Victorian era with precious and semi-precious gemstones. A popular motif was Victorian serpents. One wonders if this was because of Prince Albert, who gifted a young Queen Victoria with a serpent engagement ring! He designed it himself.
Krementz also created gold-plated cufflinks to make jewelry for men more accessible to the middle classes. Shell and glass were often used in the design.
How to Date Krementz Jewelry
The Krementz men’s line of jewelry was initially crafted exclusively in gold until the 1880s when gold overlay items were produced. Search for cuff links, vest buttons, studs, and collar buttons.
The women’s fine jewelry line started in the 1930s and was influenced by Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Victorian-style cameos were also popular.
The vast Krementz company continued to expand within costume and fashion jewelry. Check out our list of Hallmarks for full details.
Between 1866 until 1950 jewelry made by Krementz & Co. contained a hallmark with the word KREMENTZ written in capital block letters. After the 1950s, the company name appears written in script. This continued even after being purchased by the Calibri Group, in 1997.
Kremaloy, Kramentz Plate, Krementz USA, and Krementz Made in USA, are all variations on the name.
The company also bought or created several other brands. Correct Jewelry for Men was the hallmark used on gold overlay jewelry created between 1900 and 1920. The Nu-Kay hallmark began in 1907 and was used for a brand containing precious metals.
The word Heraldic placed across a shield began to be used in the 1930s on men’s costume jewelry. Snap-Bar and the word Diana, with three dots underneath are other identifying hallmarks of Krementz. The latter is the line of 10 and 14 karat gold pieces.
- KREMENTZ (1866-1950s)
- Correct Jewelry For Men (1900s-1920s)
- Nu-Kay (1907)
- Heraldic – on a shield (1930)
- Snap-Bar (1940)
- Krementz in script (1950s onwards)
- Diana – with three dots underneath
- Krementz Plate
- Krementz USA
- Krementz Made In USA
Collectable Krementz Jewelry
Krementz & Co. is still collectable today, as the men’s and women’s jewelry collections were crafted to the highest standards.
How Much is Krementz Jewelry Worth?
Krementz jewelry varies in value depending on if it is from the fashion jewelry or fine jewelry collection. Beginning with jewelry for men, there are basic gold tone rectangular cuff links with a bullet style back for $35. Cuff links with glass centers or cameos made from carnelian sell for slightly more. Vintage sets of Art Deco gold cuff links with three tuxedo button covers, all featuring mother-of-pearl shells cost around $200.
A pair of oval cuff links crafted from 14-karat gold, in the early 1900s, features writhing snakes and intertwined vines. The pair fetch over $1200.
Krementz designed some of the prettiest, most delicate floral pins imaginable in both high-quality costume jewelry and fine jewelry pieces. A 14-karat yellow gold-plated pin with an open weave basket of forget me not blue flowers, in enamel and pearl centers, cost just over $100. A pin featuring a trio of rose gold-toned roses sells for $75.
A fine jewelry pin made of 14-karat yellow gold with enamel clovers and pearls costs over $600 at vintage stores. An Art Noveau-style bar brooch with seed pearls also sells in the same price range. Brooches without additional embellishments can be equally as stunning. The Art Nouveau bar pin in 14-karat gold has a three-way figural view of a girl’s face. It is reasonably priced at $250.
An exotic 14-karat gold watch pin in the shape of a dragon with an old cut diamond in its mouth and a decorative baroque pearl is priced over $2000. This piece of jewelry for men was meant as a decorative pin on which to attach a timepiece.
Another fine jewelry brooch for women features a square-cut amethyst set in ornate 14-karat gold with two enamel dragons at the top, on either side of a baroque pearl. At the bottom is a small diamond for sparkle. This vintage piece in Edwardian style sells for over $3500.
Earrings from the Krementz costume jewelry collection range from delicate floral combinations with screw-on backs, to chunky geometric clip-on. Prices range from $30- $50. For real 14-karat gold earrings with semi-precious and precious stones, the price naturally increases. Circular gold dome studs with central diamonds and multifaceted elongated amethysts sell for $400. Simple screw-on blooming rose earrings in 14-karat gold are for sale at the $250 mark.
Krementz vintage costume jewelry pendent necklaces are delicate pieces that retail at vintage shops for between $35-$50 each. Assemblage necklaces feature roses, foliage, and hearts with a Victorian-style flavor for the same price. These are a deal and worth collecting!
Fine jewelry necklaces made from 14-karat gold are priced between $1500 to $500 depending on additional materials used in crafting. A yellow gold heart pendant necklace with green enamel foliage and an elongated drop pearl retails at the lower price point. Meanwhile, a multilayered 14-karat yellow gold necklace, with large central gold and pink coral focal point, and three long drop pearls sells for over $4500.
Bracelets are still affordable buys when it comes to Krementz costume jewelry. Think bangles from the 1960s featuring open scroll work, left unadorned or decorated with vines or feminine roses. These are crafted in good quality 14-karat gold-plated metal. Sell for between $75-$150 depending on the amount of detail these bracelets are a vintage deal.
On the upper scale a Krementz link bracelet in Art Deco style set in white gold, features geometric cut aquamarines and camphor glass with old European cut diamonds in the center. Expect to pay over $4000 for fine jewelry bracelets such as this one.
You’ll find lovely wedding bands for both men and women online. A highly detailed Art Nouveau-style gentleman’s wedding band in 14-karat gold encircled with foliage is priced in the $2000 range. A simple plain 18-karat gold wedding band for women, with a smooth surface and elegant rimmed edge, sells for $400. A platinum band with several small diamonds is priced at $1200. You will also find pearl rings for women in 14-karat gold decorative leafy settings for $600.
Tips for Buying
Krementz & Co. jewelry was meant to last a lifetime, so you will find many pieces of the highest quality on the market today. Still, be sure to look closely at the condition, especially with pieces containing stones to ensure they are not damaged. If you are not able to visit an antique shop in person, but are instead shopping online, check out the close-up photos provided by the seller. And don’t be afraid to request additional photos! Also, take a good look at the condition report. Know the refund policy and look for 5-star reviews from past customers.
And remember to only buy what you absolutely love and can imagine yourself wearing. This is the joy of jewelry!
Is Krementz Jewelry Still in Business?
Krementz sold its gold overlay business to Colibri, who continued to service the warranties until 2008. The fine jewelry lines continued to survive until after the death of Richard Krementz in 2012. His son Rick continued on and then later dissolved the company altogether.