If you are looking for vintage Nina Ricci jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, most collectible pieces, and where to buy.
Nina Ricci jewelry is part of the “total look” created by the fashion house. Changes occur in styles, but the company steadfastly retains its philosophy to promote beauty and elegance in all of its products.
Brief History of Nina Ricci Jewelry
Maria Nielli was born in Turin, Italy, in 1883. She was nicknamed “Nina” (“little girl” in Italian) as a child and remained “Nina” for the rest of her life. Her family moved to France when she was 12 years old, and she became an apprentice to a dressmaker. She was such a masterful seamstress that she became chief designer in her early 20s. In 1904, she married Luigi Ricci, a composer and jewelry designer from Florence, Italy.
Their son, Robert, grew up to be an astute businessman as well as a creative designer with a highly developed sense of beauty. In 1932, he convinced his mother to open her own couture house in Paris. Nina created the fashions; Robert managed the business. It quickly grew from a one-room shop to three buildings. Unlike many similar businesses, the House of Nina Ricci flourished during World War II, expanding to perfume, leather goods and accessories, such as scarves and jewelry. (Jewelry made during those years is highly collectible.)
In 1954, Nina retired and turned the fashion design over to Jules-François Crahay who later turned it over to Gérard Pipart. No matter how many transitions occurred throughout the years, Nina Ricci fashions never wavered in popularity, quality and beauty. When Nina died in 1970, her legacy continued to grow into the exceptional company it is today.
In the early 1980s, Robert met Canadian jewelry designer Maurice Bradden and was impressed with his designs and workmanship. Robert recognized that the jewelry reflected the Nina Ricci image. In 1984, Maurice’s company, D’Orlan Jewelers Ltd., and the House of Nina Ricci became partners. Together, the companies “wow-ed” the jewelry industry with their inventive high-quality plating process of including a 22K triple-plated finish over a pewter base metal that ensured consistency of color. The jewelry, both costume and precious, was soon sold around the world in Nina Ricci stores and high-end department stores and boutiques. It was known for its unique design elements, such as high-quality imitation gemstones, Austrian crystals, Japanese glass stones, faux pearls and its variety of enamels.
Robert died in 1988 and his son-in-law, Gilles Fuchs, took the reins of the company. He had worked for the company for years and was devoted to the brand and to his father-in-law.
In 1988, the Spanish group PUIG bought Nina Ricci and continues to honor the brand’s heritage and exceptional creativity, producing many luxury items, including necklaces, pendants, bracelets, brooches, rings and earrings set with pearls, diamonds, precious gems and rhinestones.
Today, the General Manager is Charlotte Tasset.
Nina Ricci Jewelry Designer: Maurice Bradden
Maurice was originally a tool and die maker. If that sounds incongruous with jewelry design, it actually is much the same. Tool and die makers are artisans who work with metals and become masters of precise cutting and shaping. The craft combines the artistic with the scientific. So it was not a huge transition for Maurice to go on to manage a jewelry factory in Toronto, Canada.
In the mid-1950's, Maurice met the well-known and well-respected New York jewelry designer Marcel Boucher and became his protege. In 1957, Maurice founded D'Orlan Jewelry in Toronto, producing his own brands of jewelry and costume jewelry exclusively for the Boucher Company. In 1979, after Marcel died, Maurice bought the Boucher Company, and in the 1980s, he partnered with Nina Ricci.
- “© NINA RICCI”
- “Nina Ricci/Paris”
- “Nina Ricci”
- “N. R.”
- Mother of Pearl
- Swarovski crystals
- Swarovski Aurora Borealis
- Japanese glass stones
Notable Collectibles: Vintage Nina Ricci Jewelry
Circa 1980. A parrot brooch with burgundy enamel feathers and set with Swarovski rhinestones. Measurements: 3.35 inches by 1.58 inches
1990s. Clip earrings fashioned in silver with pearls, hematites and rhinestones. Measurement: 1.37 inches by .86 inch.
Late 1960s-early 1970s. A double strand of beads with larger crystals, a pear-shaped stone drop in the center, and rhinestones decorating the clasp. The length is adjustable from 16 ½ inches to 19 ¼ inches.
Circa 1980s. Art Deco-style half-moon bib on an omega-style chain, Cleopatra collar in gold-tone metal with diamanté crystal rhinestone accents. Measurement: 18 inches.
1980s. Souvenir collector lapel pin in silver, 1 inch across.
Vintage high-end costume jewelry in a rich matte gold-tone finish embellished with pink, fuchsia, purple, orange, and red crystals and rhinestones. Measurements: necklace 31 inches long; each jewel disc 1 ¼ inches.
Tips for Buying Vintage Nina Ricci Jewelry
- Beginners, especially, should start off buying “everyday” jewelry that can be worn to, say, work. It’s fun, as well as practical, to be able to wear at least some of your collection.
- Later on, perhaps, go for that bold statement piece—to see how amazing it feels to wear it and to add to your collection.
- If you find a very rare piece and fear that you may not ever see it again, go ahead and spend the big bucks for it. It should have excellent resale value.
- Do not rush into any purchase, particularly if it feels as though you are being pressured. High-pressure salespeople have no place in the vintage jewelry market. Do not fall for “I have three other people looking at this . . . .” If those people wanted it, it would not still be there.
- Inspect the piece. Get out the loupe. Look over the metal, the findings, the stones. You do not want any stones missing in prominent places. A small stone missing from the back, for instance, may be acceptable.
In your hunt for Nina Ricci jewelry you may come across sellers claiming that a piece is from Avon Jewelry and designed by Nina Ricci (this is due to the mark Avon and NR on the jewelry). Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Nina Ricci designed for Avon. Here is a quote from Avon, ""The initials on some of our jewelry pieces are an internal company code for our jewelry in manufacturing. This identifies the vendor who has manufactured the jewelry for us. In some cases, the same piece of jewelry could be manufactured by two different vendors."