Emanuel Ciner (1864? – 1958) Austrian by birth, Emanuel Ciner came to America in 1886. He opened the Ciner Jewelry Company in New York City in 1892. For nearly forty years, the company produced expensive, high quality fine jewelry including wedding and engagement rings.
The company’s first creations were made with expensive materials including the best gold and genuine gemstones. When, in the early 1930s, the company started producing costume jewelry, designers retained the early high standards and used gold metal plating and Swarovski crystal rhinestones in their creations. They also added imitation pearls produced in Japan and made using glaze on glass beads.
The costume pieces resembled fine jewelry and were marketed through select high-priced stores and upscale department stores like Neiman Marcus and Macys. Each bead, stone and pearl was hand-strung and hand-knotted. Metals used included 18k gold, platinum, sterling and white metal. Ciner’s evening jewelry had a look that appealed to the rich and famous. With the use of small colored stones, rhinestones that glistened like diamonds, imitation gemstones, glass cabochons, simulated pearls, and rich enameling, the jewelry looked so real, the Ciner Company’s called itself, “The Tiffany of Costume Jewelry.”
During World War II, many costume jewelry manufacturers faced difficult times due to limited resources. The Ciner family organized 50 manufacturing companies to form the New York Silver Manufacturers Association. Its mission: to procure sterling silver for its members during wartime restrictions. The group also fought to change policy and awareness so the local jewelry industry had security and stability.
In 1946, the Ciner Manufacturing Company began advertising nationally gaining exposure through popular fashion magazines like Vogue. Ciner pieces have been owned and worn by numerous celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Sophia of Spain. Some Ciner creations produced in the 1950s and 60s remain available today along with new, innovative designs.
Succeeding generations followed Emanuel designing jewelry lines. In 1978, Pat Ciner Hill and her husband, David, took over the family business and have made it a multi-million dollar success. In 2000 the company revisited some of the aspects of fine jewelry manufacturing and introduced a line made from semi-precious stones. Ciner vintage costume jewelry, however, remains in high demand among collectors, who love the brilliant stones and bold designs.
Experts write that it can be difficult to date Ciner jewelry through its marks because some marks were reused from decade to decade. They suggest that in addition to the mark, it’s wise to look at the overall construction, style and material used to manufacture the pieces.