If you are looking for vintage Nettie Rosenstein jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, most collectible pieces, and where to buy.
Nettie Rosenstein jewelry was elegant and rendered in perfect detail. Favorites among collectors include the pieces fashioned from sterling vermeil, portrait jewelry, Far Eastern themes and pieces with heraldic motifs.
Brief History of Nettie Rosenstein Jewelry
Nettie Rosenscrans was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1890. Her family immigrated to the United States while Nettie was still a child. They settled in Harlem in New York City where they opened a dry-goods store. With access to all the lovely fabrics, Nettie started making her own clothes when she was only 11 years old. Later, she made custom-designed dresses for her parents’ customers and the neighborhood ladies.
In 1913, Nettie married Saul Rosenstein who sold women's underwear, and her occasional dressmaking became a home business. She began wholesaling when the I. Magnin department store wanted to buy her designs. Neiman-Marcus and Bonwit Teller soon followed. By 1921, with her business thriving and 50 dressmakers working for her, she opened her shop in a fashionable section of New York City.
Nettie tried retiring in 1927 when her husband retired, but it did not last long. In the early 1930s, she founded a new company that sold fashions, as always, but also included jewelry. Many fashion designers at that time branched off into jewelry—some successfully, some not so. The Depression did not hold Nettie back at all—in 1937, the business grossed $1 million.
In the 1940s, Nettie partnered with her friend, Sol Klein, also from Austria, to form Nettie Rosenstein Accessories, Inc. to create costume jewelry and handbags. In 1961, Nettie gave up her fashion business to concentrate on jewelry and accessories. She and Sol designed high-quality, complex designer jewelry that would complement popular trends in fashion. The average woman was able to stylishly accessorize any outfit at a lower cost than fine jewelry with large and small figurals, silver vermeil combined with colorful enamel and quality rhinestones. The jewelry is just as stylish on today’s fashions.
After Nettie retired for good, Sol continued to design and manufacture jewelry under the name Nettie Rosenstein Accessories until he retired in 1975. That was the end of the Nettie Rosenstein brand. Nettie died in 1980 at the age of 90.
Nettie Rosenstein Jewelry Hallmark
Nettie’s jewelry is almost always hallmarked with her name spelled out in full in a script font. Sometimes it appears in an oval; sometimes in a rectangle; sometimes “STERLING” appears with it.
Materials Used in Nettie Rosenstein Jewelry
- Sterling Silver
- Gold-plated sterling silver
- Gold-washed sterling silver
- Silver-toned metal
- Gold-plated metal
- Glass beads
- Hand-faceted glass beads
- Pate de verre (ground glass colored and poured into a mold)
- Faux emeralds
- Faux pearls
- Faux ivory
- Mother of Pearl
- Carved amber
- Satin beads
Favorite Collectibles: Vintage Nettie Rosenstein Jewelry
1940s – Gold-plated sterling silver brooch and fur clip (two prongs attached to springs on the back to pierce the fur without tearing it). Key can be detached and worn as a pendant. Measurements: 2.5 inches by 2 inches.
Vermeil Sterling Leaf Dress Clip
1940s - Made of gold-plated sterling silver, this dress clip has a hinged, double-prong back so that it can be worn on the shoulder or the lapel of a jacket or coat. A layer of berries is attached to openwork leaves. Measurements: 2 ½ inches by 2 3/8 inches.
1940s – Rose-gold-washed sterling silver and crystal pave heraldic badge. Crest is sterling silver in contrast to the rose gold finish. Measurements: 2.50 inches by 1.75 inches.
Sterling vermeil brooch featuring a hand-painted ¾” portrait of a young man surrounded by clear rhinestones and a blue enamel design. Measurements: 2 inches by 2 ¾ inches.
Sterling silver Asian-themed cuff bracelet, 2 ¾ inches wide.
Tips for Buying Vintage Nettie Rosenstein Jewelry
- Take your time and examine the jewelry. Yes, it’s exciting to find a Nettie Rosenstein piece, but you have to make sure everything is in order, from the hallmark, to an expertly finished back, to gemstones, enamels and metals without flaws. It’s good to have a loupe with you.
- When possible, try on the piece. Does it lay right? Is it comfortable? Do you connect with it?
- Vintage jewelry is, by definition, old. If a piece looks too new, it may be a fake. Of course, experience is the best teacher, but you can have a leg up by knowing the signs of a piece not being vintage, such as no signs of wear, especially around prongs or clips or fastenings, and pristine enamel. Weight is also a good sign of age.
- If you are made an offer “you can’t refuse,” please refuse it! At least, until you have taken the time to research prices. Perfect example of “If it seems to good to be true, it usually is!”
- Especially when you first start collecting Nettie Rosenstein jewelry (or any designer’s line), it is best to buy what you excites you. For one reason, if you do not sell it, you’ll enjoy wearing it. For another reason, your excitement is often contagious to a potential customer.
- For more experienced collectors who have turned collecting into a business, it is better to buy what is selling regardless of how you feel about. That takes some research to determine what is selling, but it is likely to be a more profitable purchase.
- Beauty, originality and workmanship are the main things to look for, more than the stones and metal.
- Search around for a dealer who is (1) honest and (2) an expert on Nettie Rosenstein. That way you can feel at ease buying (and selling if it comes to that), and you will have someone to consult about pieces you find other places.