If you are wanting to add some vintage Louis Kramer jewelry, you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, marks, materials, and tips on how to buy.
Louis Kramer was a gifted designer who combined unusual techniques and materials to make truly stunning pieces. He favored flower designs in colored enamel or gilt petals and leaves and jewelry sets in vibrant-colored rhinestones, many of which are as fashionable today.
Brief History of Louis Kramer Jewelry
Louis Kramer founded Kramer Jewelry Creations in 1943 in New York City. His brothers, Morris and Henry, later joined the company in administrative roles. Louis kept artistic control of the designs, their manufacture and the overall integrity of the final product. In later years, manufacturing was outsourced.
Kramer Jewelry was among the leading costume jewelers at the time. They produced jewelry in different price ranges for women of all economic means. There was also a great variety of designs, from simple to extravagant. One thing remained firm: No matter the price, no matter the design, the materials were high quality. Among the lines in Louis’s collection were “Amourelle” (designed by Frank Hess), “Perles de Lune” (pearls), “The Diamond Look” (using silver plating), “The Golden Look” (using gold plating), all of them innovative and well crafted.
When Louis first opened Kramer Jewelry Creations, he created pieces for the jewelry houses, DeLizza & Elster and Dan Kasoff, Inc., (which became Florenza Jewelry Company.) In 1947, Christian Dior introduced his new feminine fashions, and he wanted elegant and sophisticated jewelry to go with them. He chose Louis to create it. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Louis produced for Dior pieces with, for example, cascading Swarovski Aurora Borealis, colorful leaden glass and baroque faux pearls. A distinguishing feature of Louis’s work for Dior was the placement of a large blue or green stone in the center of the piece surrounded with clear rhinestones. In the 1970s, he designed jewelry for Geoffrey Beene, another one of America’s leading fashion designers.
Like many American costume jewelry companies, Louis got to a point where he could not compete with the cheaper imports flooding the market. He closed Kramer Jewelry Creations in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Louis Kramer Jewelry Designers
- Louis designed most of his jewelry himself, particularly in the beginning.
- Later on, he bought designs from “jobbers,” what we think of as casual or contract workers today, their names rarely known.
- One prestigious designer was Frank Hess, who had been Miriam Haskell’s head designer for many years. He designed Louis’s series, “Amourelle,” in 1963.
The company produced jewelry in a wide range of prices. Only the expensive pieces had marks. The less expensive pieces had metal or paper tags.
- “KRAMER,” “Kramer N.Y.” and “Kramer of New York”
- “KRAMER PAT. PEND.,” “KRAMER STERLING”
- “KRAMER©,” “KRAMER, MADE IN AUSTRIA”
- “DIAMOND LOOK KRAMER” (as a mark), “DIAMOND LOOK” (on paper hangtag)
- “CHRISTIAN DIOR BY KRAMER,” “DIOR BY KRAMER,” “KRAMER FOR DIOR”
- “Kramer©” with “Geoffrey” above it and “Beene” below it
- “THE GOLDEN LOOK” (as a mark or on a paper hangtag)
- “Perles de Lune” (on pearl jewelry)
- “Amourelle” (in a heart shape or by itself)
- “K” in a teardrop shape on a metal tag
- Clear and colored rhinestones
- Imitation gems, e.g., sapphire, ruby, emerald, jade, lapis, turquoise
- Austrian rock crystal, clear and colored
- Milk glass
- Green Beijing glass
- Faux pearls
- Baroque faux pearls
- Silver plate
- Gold plate
- Corrugated gold plate
Most Collectible Vintage Louis Kramer Jewelry
- Complete Parures, particularly those produced for Dior, are considered among the most collectible of Louis Kramer jewelry. If you can find a parure including a necklace, bracelet, and earrings, you have found a collectible treasure.
- "Amourelle" pieces designed by Frank Hess are very rare and collectible.
- Louis used sterling silver during the war when other jewelry metals were unavailable. A sterling silver piece by Louis is difficult to find.
Tips for Buying Vintage Louis Kramer Jewelry
- Any piece, not only Louis Kramer’s, marked with a © was made after 1955.
- The rarest mark for Kramer jewelry is the one used on his creations done for Geoffrey Beene. After that, Kramer of Austria, Kramer Sterling, The Diamond Look and The Golden Look are his rarest. If you see those marks, do not hesitate to buy.
- Early pieces have smooth backs; backs from the 1960s and 1970s were textured.
- Know your vendor. Or if you are dealing with someone new, check customer reviews, be clear about return policies, use safe method of payment and if something does not “feel right,” trust that. On the other hand, you could be missing out if you summarily dismiss a vendor because she or he is new to the business.
Louis Kramer is a great place to start if you are new to collecting vintage jewelry. His designs ran the whole gamut and so did his prices. There is something for almost everyone.
eBay is also a great place to shop for vintage Louis Kramer jewelry.