Les Bernard costume jewelry was original, innovative, and very high quality and was beloved by those with exquisite taste.
Looking for vintage Les Bernard jewelry? Learn about the history, materials used, jewelry marks, and collectable pieces in this guide.
Brief History of Les Bernard Jewelry
Harold Shapiro was part owner and head designer of Vogue Jewelry Manufacturing in New York City. He was also the father of Bernard Shapiro. In 1962, Harold sold his share of Vogue, and Bernard and designer Lester Joy founded Les Bernard Inc.
The company was considered a pioneer in high-class design. Les Bernard created innovative jewelry using crystal, glass, enamel, marcasite, silver and precious metal alloys in wide-ranging styles such as Egyptian, Art Deco, and whimsical figurals.
Les Bernard was extremely inventive in combining materials and design styles never seen before, such as the Diamond Point Texture where an entire piece was covered with tiny indentations made by a diamond-pointed tool. Also, they originated the technique of using marcasite and rhinestones in the same piece, a technique that required painstaking handiwork since marcasite is flat backed and rhinestones have pointed backs. When used in gold-tone jewelry, the marcasite takes on an attractive coppery hue.
Les Bernard jewelry is not widely known, regardless of its beauty and uniqueness. And even though Les Bernard created the jewelry for the television series, Dynasty.
Les and Bernard went out of business in 1996.
- “LES BERNARD”
- “LES BERNARD INC”
- “STERLING LES BERNARD”
- Gold plate
- Gold Tone
- Precious Metal Alloys
- Faux Pearls
Collectable Vintage Les Bernard Jewelry
Oval red, green and blue glass stones set on gold-plated metal. Measures 16 ½ inches.
Brutalist Brass Choker Necklace
1980s. Artisan-styled Brutalist design in hammered brass.
Faux Large Pearl Necklace & Earrings
Estate. Pearls measure 20mm. Necklace is 36 inches long. On earrings, teardrop-shaped faux pearls are surrounded with clear rhinestones. Earrings are almost 3 inches long.
Chunky Gold-tone Clip-on Earrings
20th century. The earrings feature a braided-type design in a hoop shape. The gold color is finished to a high gloss. The earrings measure approximately 1 1/8” tall and 5/8” at the widest point.
Golden Rhinestone Daisy Brooch
Rhinestone encrusted gold-tone daisy brooch with each petal able to move independently. Each down-turned petal adds to the intriguing dimensional design.
Modernist Brushed Gold Tone Cuff Bracelet
Estate. Cuff bracelet rendered in the Modernist style in brushed gold tone. Measures 2 ¼ inches wide. Hinged so that it is easy to put on and take off.
Tips for Buying Vintage Les Bernard Jewelry
- As with any second-hand or online buying, know your seller. Read customer reviews. Make sure he/she has been in business long enough to establish a following. True, it’s good to sometimes give a newcomer a chance, but tread lightly.
- Study as much as you can about Les Bernard and look for those designs that are distinguishing. Of course, check for the hallmarks.
- Vintage jewelry has a particularly soft, lived-in look. Also, prong edges, clasps and earring hooks will be worn smooth. Clasps will open and close easily due to use. Even faux pearls lose their luster over many years and have dull spots where they had most come in contact with the skin.
- As a hobby collector, purchase carefully and at a fair price, but buy what you love. Values fluctuate. Leave those complicated assessments to the experts. Buy what you will enjoy wearing. If later, you decide to sell it and make a profit, you are in the win-win column!
Les Bernard costume jewelry has a relatively small collector base compared to brands such as Trifari and Monet. At this time, it remains undervalued by collectors, but that is changing. Most vintage jewelry books do not mention it or only briefly mention it. It is a great time to start your collection. You will find pieces for $5 or $10. Once vendors and collectors realize the quality, talent and uniqueness of the pieces, these exquisite designs will increase in popularity and value.
See Etsy pages and eBay for their selections of Les Bernard.
1 thought on “Vintage Les Bernard Jewelry Buying Guide”
I have never considered getting jewelry with coral in it. My sister is having a birthday soon and I need to get her a gift. I'll have to get her a diamond-coral necklace.