Coro, a partnership between Emanuel Cohn (the "Co") and Gerald Rosenberg (the "ro"), began producing jewelry in New York in 1901 and continued through the 1970s under the marks Coro, Coro Craft (later Corocraft), and Vendome, among others. Although Vendome was the company's high-end line, some of the most sought-after pieces today are the Coro pieces, especially the Duettes, the company produced in the 1930s and 1940s.The reason for much of Coro’s early success was Adolph Katz, who became the company’s design director in 1924, and Gene Verri, who designed for Coro from 1933 until 1963. Katz created Coro’s en tremblant floral pins, which featured tiny metal springs that allowed elements of the pin to vibrate or tremble when its wearer moved.
Among the most collectible vintage Coro pieces today are the Coro Duettes from 1931 to the 1950s. The Duettes utilized a frame based on one designed by Cartier in 1927. Like the Cartier frame, the Coro version had two openings in it, one for each pin. Pins could be attached to the frame to be worn as a set, or detached from the frame to be worn individually.
The first Duette designs were Art Deco and monochromatic in style, but subsequent pins include pairs of enameled owls with aquamarine eyes and pavé-set rhinestone bodies, crowned cherubs, horse heads, and an Indian brave and squaw. Though their popularity ebbed in the 1950s, today a vintage Coro Duette, particularly one that trembles like the Quivering Camellia, is highly prized by contemporary collectors.
Corocraft was the next step up in quality, price, and prestige from Coro. Under the Corocraft brand, Coro introduced a line of Jelly Belly pins that were similar to those made by Trifari, right down to the Lucite "belly." Whereas most vintage Coro pieces were built on metal frames, vintage Corocraft pins and bracelets were often made of sterling silver or plated in gold. As for the rhinestones, Coro Craft ads from the late 1940s refer to these as "Diadem Jewels" to give its line of cut glass the allusion of royal lineage and status.
Vendome, which was introduced in 1944 and replaced Corocraft in 1953, was the top of the Coro line. This was serious, simulated bling, featuring rhinestone-studded chokers, cabochon-festooned silver-plated bangles, and, by the 1960s, a set of six gold-plated pins designed by Vendome’s Helen Marion, who was inspired by the work of the great Cubist artist Georges Braque.
Like Coro, which had embraced Lucite for both its Jelly Bellies and individual pins, Vendome also used Lucite. But instead of treating the material as just a clear or translucent replacement for a glass bead, Vendome designers shaved and formed Lucite into organics shapes in unexpected colors. For example, one floral pin with matching earrings features delicate blue-and-white Lucite petals atop verdant-green Lucite leaves.
Key terms for Vintage Coro Costume Jewelry:
Cabochon: A stone that has been shaped and polished instead of faceted. It usually has a flat back and a shape that is round or oval.
Diamante: Another word for rhinestone.
En tremblant: A trembling effect on a piece of jewelry achieved by mounting coiled metal springs to the piece’s fitting. Brooches and other piece that have this effect are usually called tremblers.
Pavé: A setting in which numerous small stones are set so tightly together that they create a uniform surface.