Start Collecting – Vintage Weiss Costume Jewelry
Less well known than the more available Coro or Trifari, Weiss costume jewelry is a good choice for the beginning collector.
Spanning a large range of designs and materials, from rhinestones to enamel to plastic, Weiss was in operation from 1942 to 1971, making them truly vintage pieces. Albert Weiss contracted with designers and manufacturers to produce designs with the Weiss name.
A classic Weiss design features smoky quartz rhinestones with pave loops or icing. Smoky quartz was also referred to as the “Black Diamond Look”, and was created to imitate German smoky quartz stones.
Weiss butterfly pins are especially collectible, and some have wings mounted on tiny springs that make them flutter. Another popular Weiss collectible is Christmas tree pins, and can be a great investment for the beginning collector. Christmas ornament pins currently sell for much less than the tree pins.
Weiss jewelry used high quality Austrian rhinestones and were made in classic, timeless designs, made to fit with a modern wardrobe as well as the fashions of years gone by.
Several marks, or “signatures” were used on Weiss jewelry. WEISS, printed in caps, dates from 1942. Other marks from the 1940s and 1950s include “Albert Weiss” in script, WEISS in script, “Weissco” and “Weiss” in caps with the copyright symbol ©, denoting pieces made after 1955.
Some Weiss pieces may be unmarked, which would reduce the value. Some were sold to department stores, which marketed them in boxes with the store name.
Weiss produced many types of sets of jewelry. Pin and earring sets, necklace and bracelet sets, three-piece sets of pin, earrings and bracelet, matching necklace and earrings, any sets, if complete, increase the value beyond that of the individual pieces. If you’re lucky enough to find the original box, the you’ve got a real treasure.
Some vintage Weiss brooches had smooth reflective metal backs. They should be totally smooth. Reproduction pieces may have smooth backs, but the quality will not be as good as on the vintage pieces.
Be aware, however, that some new Weiss jewelry copies can be found. Typically the newer pieces will have pasted in rather than prong-set rhinestones, the rhinestones are small and new-looking, and the plating on smooth-backed pieces is of poor quality. If you’re interested in Weiss jewelry being sold on line, be sure to ask the seller whether the piece is vintage or a reproduction. Do a search to look at both vintage and reproduction Weiss pieces, and become educated about the differences.
Weiss was known for floral, fruit and figural designs, and also geometric, Art Deco necklaces, bracelets, pins and earrings. The workmanship and quality are uniformly very high. In the mid 1950s Weiss made creative use of Swarovski aurora borealis rhinestones.
As always, when considering the purchase of vintage jewelry, you should be sure that the piece is in good condition. If you are buying for yourself, and not for investment, you can be more flexible with condition, but the better the condition, of course the higher the value. Is the piece is signed? Is it well designed? And, do you like it? If you’re buying for investment purposes, your personal taste isn’t as important, but if you’re buying for yourself, buy what you like so you’ll be encouraged to wear it often.