DeLizza and Elster Jewelry - Juliana

One of the most exciting developments in recent years in the world of costume jewelry collecting has been the identification of Juliana jewelry manufactured by DeLizza & Elster (D&E). The detective work and scholarship undertaken by members of the vintage jewelry-collecting world has resulted in a growing body of material on this fabulous jewelry. And it has sparked frenzy among collectors and vintage jewelry sellers alike!

This frenzy has also spawned prolific application of the term Juliana to vintage rhinestone jewelry of all sorts, sometimes incorrectly. Even though this is an ever-expanding field of study, we will cover some of the better-known aspects of DeLizza & Elster jewelry, including “Juliana”.

If you have seen DeLizza & Elster jewelry, often referred to as Juliana, then you already know that it is typically big, bold and beautiful! Today, as forty years ago, this jewelry gets noticed. The designers spared no imagination in their combinations of shapes and colors and you can find glitzy rhinestones and gorgeous art glass combined in striking creations. D&E jewelry was made to last and the quality of workmanship is remarkable. It is not unusual to find vintage D&E pieces in excellent condition with all the original stones intact.

Who were DeLizza and Elster?

William DeLizza and Harold Elster established the company, DeLizza & Elster, in New York City in the 1940’s. When they closed their doors in 1990, Frank DeLizza, son of William DeLizza, was the owner. During its many years in operation D&E manufactured jewelry for hundreds of other designers and jewelry wholesalers; including Accessocraft, Weiss, Alice Caviness, Ciro, Celebrity, Capri, Carol Duplaise, Eisenberg Ice, House of Ivana, Hobe', House of Schrager, Hattie Carnegie, Kenneth J. Lane, Kramer, Karu, Mimi Di N, 1928, Park Lane, Pakula, YSL and Sarah Coventry.

What is Juliana?

Juliana was the name applied to a specific line of jewelry produced in 1967 and 1968, which the company sold out of a 5th Avenue showroom. The jewelry was marked with only a paper hang tag. Although the showroom closed after two years, D&E continued to make jewelry with the look of Juliana for many years, just as they had done prior to opening the showroom on 5th Avenue. D&E also sold two other jewelry lines marked by paper tags: Gloria and Tara.

How do I identify Juliana or D&E jewelry?

Because this jewelry was marked only with a paper or foil hang tag, or a cardboard earring card, typically discarded by the jewelry owner, Juliana and other D&E pieces are usually discovered in an “unidentified” or unmarked state. Juliana is the true definition of “Unsigned Beauty”! It is rare to find any of the jewelry with the original tags still in place. (And the novice buyer should be aware that fake tags and cards have been spotted online and off.)

Luckily for collectors, DeLizza & Elster used specific construction techniques and design elements, which can be helpful in making a preliminary identification. It is important to note that other companies also used similar design elements and construction techniques, so the presence of one of more of these characteristics is not definitive in identifying a D&E jewel. The whole of the jewelry piece must be considered. However, these characteristics are a good starting point for the study of “Juliana” jewelry.

To learn more about D&E jewelry, search the Internet for one of several useful reference sites, and/or talk with knowledgeable costume jewelry dealers. As with any collecting niche, study and handling will increase your knowledge and your ability to spot these unsigned beauties.

Characteristics of Juliana and D&E Jewelry Design and Construction

Five-Link Construction

  • Juliana bracelets are typically constructed on a base of five oval or rounded rectangular links, most often seen from the reverse of the piece, and nearly invisible from the front, as the stones are set atop the link.
  • Most bracelets have a safety chain with spring ring closure and fold-over bracelet clasp with an etched design.
  • The five-link construction is often used not only on Juliana but other D&E necklaces as well.

Unfoiled Rhinestones and Open Back Construction

  • D&E frequently used stones that were unfoiled on the back and often set in open back mountings to allow the light to play through them.
  • Interestingly, some D&E brooches have foiled backs or opaque stones set in open back settings.

Distinctive Center Stones

  • Perhaps no other company utilized art glass and specialty stones as creatively as DeLizza & Elster. Many of their designs have gorgeous stones as the focal point (center) of the piece.
  • Frequently seen stones are: Watermelon Rhinestones, Stippled Cabochons, Speckled Painted Cabochons, Easter Egg Cabochons, Floral Painted Cabochons, Carved Fruit and Flowers (poured or molded glass), Faux Mexican Opals, Faux Hematite, Aurora Borealis, Cameos, Frosted Rhinestones, Aventurine, Tiger Striped, Rivoli Rhinestones, Scalloped Edge, Marguerite and other specialty Swarovski Stones.

Distinctive Rhinestones

  • Many DeLizza & Elster pieces, especially brooches, were made with navette shaped rhinestones, often extremely elongated or “skinny” in shape.
  • Also used were chatons, pears, kites, keystones and the very unusual anchor stones.
  • These rhinestones were sometimes combined into a “flower” or roundelles (rondelles). Sometimes, a single roundelle or multiple roundelles formed the center of a design in lieu of one large dramatic stone.
  • Many Juliana pieces also feature dangling crystals, decorative beads and faux pearls.

Solid Construction

  • Juliana jewelry is typically very solidly constructed and heavy.
  • Silver tone pieces are almost always rhodium plated and there is frequently a “puddle” of either the rhodium or the solder underneath, which can be seen on the reverse of side of a piece.
  • Three-dimensional design is the norm for D&E pieces, and brooches often display a layered construction or a tiered framework of supporting rings when viewed from the reverse.
  • The layers of this jewelry are often comprised of flowers or floral like clusters.



Recommendations

We recommend the following when listing Juliana and DeLizza & Elster jewelry:


  1. Check to see if you can find the piece listed in a printed reference book, identified as Juliana or DeLizza & Elster and if so, provide the reference information in the listing.
  2. If you are not able to find the exact piece in a reference book, then in the description of the item detail the construction, material and design characteristics that led to your identifying the piece as Juliana or DeLizza & Elster jewelry.
  3. The terms Juliana, Juliana Style, DeLizza & Elster, or D&E, should never be used in the following situations: in reference to unmarked jewelry pieces manufactured by companies other than DeLizza & Elster, to describe pieces that do not significantly share characteristics of DeLizza & Elster jewelry, or to identify pieces signed with the name of another jewelry company – these pieces should be identified by the name of the maker whose mark it bears.

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