DeRosa

DeRosa (Est. 1934 – 1970) Ralph DeRosa (1884-1942) founded the company that bore his name in 1934. Born in Naples, DeRosa came to the United States in 1905. He received his design education in Italy.

He inherited the family business and successfully conducted the business in Italy until 1905. Intent on expanding his creativity, he left for America and the opportunities he believed it offered. Despite the difficulties awaiting immigrants who start from scratch, he established his American presence in 1934. The next year, he introduced his first collection, Meeting in Venice. The collection was dedicated to one of the most subtle and complex of romantic crafts: Venetian lace.

In the aggregate, DeRosa jewelry is known for complex dimensional design, high quality components, translucent enameling, and superb coloring. The jewelry designs range from floral and figural to retro motifs and many were inspired by the precious jewelry of 1930s and 40s.

DeRosa’s firm operated in New York City and made jewelry from the mid-1930s until the 1970s. Like many other jewelry makers of the period, his 1940s jewelry is the most famous and highly sought after.

Hand painted illustrations were the first step of the design process. Many of these miniature art works had hand written notes about how each piece should be produced. They appear to have been created by several different artists as the painting styles for the designs vary. Many jewelry designers never worked on paper first, but for those who did, the illustrations illuminate the thought processes and design sense that went into creating the jewelry.

DeRosa’s signature style was large-sized costume jewelry produced with techniques used in the manufacture of precious jewelry. Pieces typically featured gold-plated metal set with richly colored rhinestones and translucent enameling. Floral motifs, the lace theme, and retro designs such as exaggerated bows were common while the figurals were seldom produced.

Among the DeRosa Company’s collectible pieces are a flower enameled thistle brooch, a fur clip with orange and green enamel, clear rhinestones and artificial pearls, and a sterling cream and green enameled floral fur clip. Over the first seven years of operation and, until his death, Ralph DeRosa repeatedly returned to the creation of the Venetian lace motif that, while complicating the work, achieved great effect, and brought to the final forms perfection and flawless rendition.

Other highly desirable pieces include a fur clip design in a floral motif with unique pear shaped sapphire blue rhinestones, the wider end squared off to fit up against the gold plated center oval set with two rows of clear rhinestones. Diamond shaped buds radiate from between the blue stones, each set with clear rhinestone and five gold tone stamens that trail from the center of the oval. Each gold wire stamen is studded with clear rhinestones along its length and each has a sapphire blue rhinestone baguette at the end.

Also collectible are vintage sterling silver, long leaf clip earrings covered with small clear rhinestones; a stunning sterling vermeil bow fur clip with four loops and four curled ribbon ends hanging down; a fur clip in a gorgeous retro gold plated design with a rounded semi-circle of ruby red invisibly set tapered baguettes above a sweep of wide ribbon. The latter piece is set with a row of ruby oval rhinestones and accented with a row of clear rhinestones in contrasting silver plated metal.

There is also a very rare hinged sterling bracelet with long strands of genuine coral beads twisted together and set into the channels created inside the scalloped edges of the bracelet. Since it is hard to find the use of genuine natural material in a DeRosa piece, this piece is considered one-of-a-kind. While many DeRosa pieces are unsigned, this one is signed ‘R DEROSA STERLING’ on the clasp.

When Ralph died in 1942, his daughter, Vera, became the lead designer and ran the company with her mother Virginia and her sister, Teresa until production stopped sometime around 1955. This jewelry is usually marked ‘R. DE ROSA.’ DeRosa’s wife and daughters continued to run the company which manufactured jewelry for many companies including Schiaparelli.

In 1949, Schiaparelli opened a New York store and licensed the DeRosa firm to make jewelry stamped or tagged “Designed in Paris-Created in America.” This included mass production of costume jewelry and accessories made by the David Lisner Company that was authorized as Elsa’s American agent and distributor for her earlier French-made pieces.

Once involved with Schiaparelli, the DeRosa Company had little time to produce and market their own designs and that limited production of their own jewelry lines. However, some of the DeRosa designs were not marked and were sold by J.C. Penny, Sears & Roebuck and other stores that used their own hang tag as a mark.

DeRosa produced floral jewelry designs with rhinestones, synthetic stones and flux pearls on sterling silver and gold plated metal accented with enamel shading. Marks included “De ROSA Designed Jewels” since Jan. 1946″, and “R De ROSA Sterling.” Sterling silver was used from 1942 until the end of 1949.

DeRosa jewelry was expensive until at least 1955. The trademark “R. DE ROSA” in block letters was also often used. DeRosa costume jewelry is exceptional in quality and design. The original jewelry was often unmarked or marked only with paper hang tags. Signed DeRosa jewelry is rare and often commands high prices.

In the New York City of the Art Deco period, Ralph DeRosa founded his fine jewelry company and became one of the earliest manufacturers of good quality costume jewelry that incorporated new materials and local craftsmanship.

DeRosa is included among the top quality producers of innovative, quality design pins and clips though much DeRosa jewelry was unmarked. Consequently, signed DeRosa pieces are very much in demand and still command high prices but, as is usual in such situations, collectors must be extremely careful of fakes and reproductions. DeRosa jewelry is not easy to find, but it is certainly worth the search.

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