Pennino Brothers Jewelry
Pennino Brothers Jewelry (Est. 1926 – 1966?) The Pennino family lived in Naples, Italy where male family members were master jewelers. Pasquale and his oldest son, Oreste (Otto) immigrated to America in 1904 and settled in Brooklyn, New York where they hoped to continue the family’s tradition.
In 1908, not long after they arrived, Pasquale died. Though other family had also come to America while Pasquale was alive, most returned to Italy after his death. Three brothers, Otto, Frank, and Jack remained in America to develop their skills and work in the jewelry industry.
Before Pasquale died, he operated a small goldsmith shop where the Pennino signature first appeared on jewelry. It took almost twenty years (1926) before the brothers established their own company in New York in 1926.
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s jewelry district, Otto was the jewelry designer, Frank was the jeweler and master craftsman, and Jack was the salesman and account manager. First known as the Oreste Pennino Company, the company name was changed to Pennino Brothers Jewelry when brothers, Anselmo and Gennaro joined the firm around 1930. Otto is the only known designer for the company.
Their production of watch cases and collectible costume jewelry used quality Austrian rhinestones and crystals that looked like actual gemstones mounted in 14k gold plate or sterling silver. Many of these pieces were made by Italian immigrants the firm hired. Notable among them was Adrian Scannavino and Benedetto Panetta.
Pennino jewelry designs were both traditional and classic and admired for their excellent design quality, materials and the intricacy of the workmanship. Typical motifs included flowers, bows, scrolls, drapes, and abstract designs
Experts believe that some Pennino jewelry was not marked; however, the most common mark found is “Pennino” in script and, occasionally, “Pennino with a Pat. Pen. mark.” As the company’s output grew, some jewelry also used flat, unfoiled rhinestones with metal framed around the stones.
The company’s jewelry was very popular in the 1940s and is still considered one of the very best costume jewelry companies in America’s jewelry design history. Pennino jewelry was not produced in great quantities which makes it harder to find. While all pieces are highly collectible, those marked “Pennino Sterling” command the highest prices.
Among their most notable pieces (produced in very limited numbers) are the moonstone “Crown Pin” and “Golden Leave Suites” created to celebrate the 1939 American visit of England’s King George and Queen Mother Elizabeth.
The brothers worked as a team until illness and failing eyesight forced them to shut down the business between 1961 and 1966.