Hollycraft was founded in 1938 as Hollywood Jewelry, but its name was soon changed to Hollycraft because of possible confusion with Joseff of Hollywood. Other sources suggest that the Hollycraft Company originated in the late 1940s in New York City under the aegis of a Turkish immigrant called Joseph Chorbagian, but a definite origin and detailed history remain obscure. However, it is clear that an interesting and distinctive body of costume jewelry bearing the Hollycraft mark emerged in the 1950s, a fact well known since the company dated all jewelry made in the early 1950s, and then disappeared by the end of the decade.
The Hollycraft look is based on a profusion of variously shaped stones set in burnished “antique” gilt metal. Designs, particularly on necklaces, have an eighteenth century feel, with floral swags and dangling pastes. Rope work borders or beaded frames accentuate rhinestones. Although it is best known for its unusual pastel palette, Hollycraft also used other colors not commonly found in costume jewelry such as lime or olive green, along with deep purple faux amethysts aqua, citrine, olivine and dark fuchsia pinks in rich and complex patterns. Some of the items have become classics and are sought after by many collectors they are pieces almost always done in gold tone metal findings. Hollycraft became a leader in the creation of much of the 1950s costume jewelry.
Hollycraft designs were sold to jobbers who were then responsible for the production and distribution of the actual pieces. Because coordinating sets of jewelry was so popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, Hollycraft created wonderful complete sets, or parures, which included necklace, earrings, bracelet, brooches and sometimes rings.
Not all the Hollycraft pieces of the 1950s were done in pastel colored stones and gold tone metal. Some were rhodium plated and done entirely in dazzling clear crystal stones.
Founder and designer Joseph Chorbajian sold Hollycraft in the early 1970s, and manufacture of Hollycraft jewelry ceased only a few years later. Joseph Chorbajan died in 1991 at the age of 91. Hollycraft designs continue to be admired while attracting attention for their finely crafted designs—not only for their visual appeal, but also for their general affordability when weighing quality against cost.
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