Selro & Selini
Selro and Selini (Selini (1930s – 1960s) / Selro (1950s -1960s)) Though often combined, as they are here, Selini and Selro were two separate lines often marketed as Selro and both originated Paul Selenger (1911 – 1990). Selenger was a Russian immigrant who moved to America, specifically Brooklyn, with his mother and sister in 1927.
By 1930, Paul and his sister had landed sales jobs in a novelty store. Paul later worked for H. Pomerantz & Co. This helped him learn about costume jewelry design and distribution. After becoming a US citizen and serving in the military during World War II, Selenger opened Selro, combining his family’s last name with that of their mother, Rose.
It’s thought that Selenger may have designed a line of jewelry for Hattie Carnegie. He is, however, best remembered for the figurals and faces that decorate both Selro and Selini’s highly collectible pieces.
Selenger opened his own factory on Manhattan’s West Side where he employed model makers, designers, and others who performed, “bench work.” There is also evidence that he had connections to some jewelry factories that opened in Providence, Rhode Island after the war.
Both Selro and Selini are best known for jewelry displaying brightly colored, molded faces with Asian and African features that decorate the companies’ necklaces and earrings. However, earlier Selini creations often feature high-quality multicolored cabochon and faceted stones, sometimes combined with simulated pearls – in traditional designs – on white and plated metal bases.
Designs also include silver-toned, antiqued silver-tone filigree and gold-toned base metals. Some also feature clusters in clear and colored rhinestones, faux pearls, lucite and plastic stones, and glass moonstones.
Experts say that some of the more memorable jewelry has large glass moonstone cabochons surrounded by teardrop glass petals of faux colored stones and faux pearls. Smaller stones are glued in with the larger ones and prong-set.
Selro’s facial images include devils, dragons, cats, Siamese or tribal and warrior faces, and princess faces with headdresses and flowers. Settings are very complex and detailed.
It is also said that, as jewelry designs were improved upon, the name of the company changed. Selini jewelry was identical in style and size to those produced with the Selro name. Research has shown the face decorated jewelry to be similar or identical including the cabochons and rhinestones.
Many Selini jewelry pieces were sold with hang tags, and, consequently, not signed on the pieces themselves. Identification is made more difficult because these tags were often discarded when the jewelry was worn. It is said that Selro jewelry pieces were always signed on the pieces.
Selro merchandise was distributed by a New York wholesaler named Fran & Co. that also placed jewelry from other manufacturers like Art, JJ, and American Chanel in department stores that include Marshall Field’s in Chicago. Wieboldt’s and Goldblatt’s.
Selenger was also known in the jewelry industry as a “jobber,” i.e. an independent manufacturer’s representative for companies including Florenza and Capri. After Selenger closed his businesses, he became a conduit between factories and wholesalers.
Kathie Davis, a researcher and collector of both Selro and Selini creations pleads with everyone to, “Please stop calling this jewelry Selro/Selini. It is not both … and is totally incorrect. There have been a very, very few RARE instances with both marks which are probably end-of-day pieces and nothing more.
“Most of it was unsigned and came with hang tags or on a card [and] in order to wear it, the owner would discard the tag or card. Many, many people have trouble identifying [the jewelry] and many sellers misrepresent it.
“Be aware, there are many sellers [who claim] their items have been or are verified to be Selro pieces when they absolutely are not.
“Other companies made pieces with faces on them and some were nearly identical to Selro, but not quite! There are many brand new or “new, old stock” faces being sold. People use these to repair broken pieces or sets and claim they are Selro. Maybe they just don’t understand or realize that this cannot be authentic.
“[For example, people] are mistaking the Florenza Noh mask for Selro pieces and other Noh masks as well. Not all Noh masks were made by Selro!”
She also advises that, “When identifying bracelets please keep in mind almost every single Selro bracelet is composed of 5 sections. Often a connector between these sections is decorated or decorative, making it look like a small thin section but it’s usually not. Selro bracelets were not 7 inches. They are almost always 7-1/2 inches in length but sometimes we do find them in 8 inch lengths as well.
“[Also, the] Selro Company did not make jewelry with Buddhas on it, nor acorns, nor expansion bracelets, nor genies, or lapel pins, nor is it new or made at home. It is vintage jewelry. It is not Selro Selini or Selro/Selini.
“Selro didn’t make pierced earrings. They [made] only clip backs and on some occasions, screw backs…. Because a piece is decorated in the style called confetti or with glitter doesn’t automatically make it Selro nor is every chunky bracelet made by Selro.”
“…to identify Selro pieces that are unsigned [examining] connectors on bracelets are a good start, plus backs of pieces, construction and other identifying marks.
“Please keep in mind that not all Selro was created the same way and that not all pieces will have the same kind of backs, connectors or clasps. There are many different styles.”
Selro/Selini jewelry is high quality, very distinctive, and collectible.