When it comes to jewelry, not all that glitters is real gold. Prime example? Costume jewelry emulates the high-end aesthetic of fine jewelry without breaking the bank.
Some designers are so talented at crafting luxury-looking pieces on a dime. The industry leader of vintage costume jewelry is Monet Jewelry. This is a brand that’s attracted the masses for decades. And even with changes in economics, styles and trends, Monet has remained on the radar as the industry leader for affordable costume jewelry. Monet has built a loyal fan base of people who desire a more affordable alternative to luxury jewelry pieces.
So, what’s the story of Monet and how did the company garner loyalty from such a large and diverse group of women? And more importantly: what is Monet jewelry? Read on to find out!
First thing’s first: what is Monet jewelry anyway? This line of vintage accessories includes custom made items in the style of fine jewelry but at an affordable price point. Monet pioneered a movement toward accessible jewelry items for those who couldn’t afford luxury jewelry or didn’t want to splurge. During times of severe economic warfare, Monet jewelry opened the door to luxury accessories that most could afford.
Some of the most popular Monet designs are necklaces, bracelets, and earrings--all in a unique vintage style. Items include gold and silver-plated metals adorned with intricate embellishments and designs. Monet pieces are so popular that vintage items from the 60's are still in the jewelry market today.
If there’s one thing we know about fashion trends, it’s that they circle back into style after years of dormancy. Which is why Monet jewelry is still thriving in popularity to this day.
Monet as a company is more than a jewelry brand. Before Monet, working-class women who wanted a dash glam didn’t have an option to rock gorgeous jewelry. For many, it wasn't worth jeopardizing a life-savings to add sparkle to their lives. What propelled the creation of Money jewelry? The roots thread deep into economic history. At the time, most couldn't afford to eat--let alone buy superfluous items like jewelry.
Michael and Jay Chernow were brothers who first named the company Monocraft Products Company. Their first items included handbags with monograms and gold-plated appliqués. With the onset of the Great Depression, a new marketing strategy and product line was born: Monet Jewelry. In 1929 the brand targeted its efforts on crafting custom-designed women’s jewelry. The goal? To target jewelry consumers seeking affordable, high-end looking pieces. Items in the catalog included necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and earrings. However, it wasn’t until 1937 when Monet started marketing their designs.
Their stand out products were earrings and clip-on earrings for women without pierced ears. Still, how does a small jewelry company become a household name? Their claim-to-fame was being the first brand to manufacture pieces with their trademark. Monet pioneered the way for brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. It’s now standard for brands to slap their logo all over their products. But in the 20's and 30's? That was a daring concept. The good news for Monet Jewelry is that it paid off.
Vintage Monet Jewelry pieces are known for their craftsmanship, elaborate designs, and rhinestones. During the 1930's and 1940's, Monet Jewelry took inspiration from European fashion designers and created intricate, creative metalwork pieces. Monet pieces have a signature aesthetic: they look expensive without being expensive. Monet Jewelry gave women the chance to spend a few bucks and look like a million. It’s only because of their intricate, artistic designs that women flocked to them. Still, the fashion world is ever-changing. Let’s take a look at Monet jewelry through the decades.
The 1930's - The company first starts gaining traction and attracting a large fan base due to its affordable, custom jewelry designs. They also featured animal and floral patterns, as well as Art Deco designs.
The 1940's - Monet Jewelry started using sterling silver because of war restrictions on brass and platinum metals. Charms started becoming popular along with military patterns, brooches and fur clips.
The 1950's - The 50's welcomed large, flashy pieces, which is why the company started trademarking their pieces to identify them as originals.
The 1960's - Charm bracelets hit their boom in popularity. Florals, animal prints, and everyday items became charms for bracelets and pendants. As women entered the workforce, Monet created more formal, stylish and contemporary designs.
The 1970's - Monet expands its clip-on earring collection to include pierced earrings. They also roll out a fine jewelry collection called “Ciani” which featured luxury pieces designed with real gold, gemstones, and sterling silver.
The 1980's - The 80's were larger (and louder) than life, so naturally Monet’s designs followed the trends with boisterous, loud styles incorporating metalwork and color.
The 1990's - Monet dips its toes into the pool of luxury designers, offering jewelry from luxury brands including Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix.
After decades of changes in style and ownership, today Liz Clairborne owns the brand. Most pieces are vintage looking and in the style of their original aesthetic. Prices for Monet jewelry items range from $30-$100. Even after decades of transitions, Monet jewelry still maintains its initial goal: affordable, custom-made jewelry designs that look high-end.
Monet has given millions of women the chance to look gorgeous, glamorous and feel good on a budget. Trends shift through the decades but as Monet has shown: some things never go out of style.
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