The Napier Jewelry Company is one of the oldest jewelry makers in the United States. Women searching for a bit of sparkle may not know the history of the company, but for fans of vintage bling, knowing the Napier maker's mark assists in dating the piece of jewelry. Your piece of vintage Napier jewelry may even be 14-carat gold or sterling silver.
The present-day Napier Jewelry Company first opened as part of the Whitney and Rice Company in 1875 in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Attleboro company manufactured silver dinnerware and watch cases and conducted research and development in the emerging electronics industry that included research into electric light technology.
The Bliss Company, temporarily operating as Carpenter and Bliss, took over Whitney and Rice in 1882 and continued to produce jewelry as A. E. Bliss and Company. In 1890 its manufacturing operation moved to Meriden, Connecticut. The Bliss Company marketed jewelry under the Bliss/Napier brand before World War I, but dropped the Bliss name in 1922 in favor of a singular Napier Company logo. James Napier took over the presidency of the company in 1920 and served as president until his retirement in the 1960s. Victoria and Company took over the Napier label as a subsidiary during a business merger after James Napier's retirement. Victoria and Company continued to produce jewelry using the Napier brand until 1999.
Napier Designs & Jones Group Marketing
Napier's parent company, Victoria and Company, closed the Napier division on December 15, 1999, after which the Jones Group of New York purchased the Napier brand. After the acquisition, with marketing by the Jones Group, the company began sporadic jewelry production for chain department stores, including Macy's and Kohl's. The current Napier jewelry offerings feature costume jewelry pieces including earrings, bracelets and necklaces made from synthetic stones and plated metals at budget prices.
Napier Maker Marks
Early company maker's marks, appearing in 1922 in jewelry marketed in jewelry and department stores, featured the Napier mark inside a cartouche and the name in block print. Other 1920s logos include an "N" placed inside an elongated oval. Jewelry marketed in the early 1940s used a shield shape with the Napier name; the name inside a circle was not featured until 1946. A simple mark in capital letters with a copyright symbol marked the company's jewelry in 1955. Jewelry pieces made in 1965 used a script company name inside a circle. Napier designs featuring 14-carat gold, tiny diamonds and cultured pearls marketed by the Victoria and Company saw limited marketing in the 1960s and '70s; jewelry containing gold and sterling silver featured marks delineating the metal content. Jewelry items from the 1980s used the company name in script, with the patent number for each piece underneath the name. The 1990s maker's mark first featured in 1996 used a combination of capital and small-case letters. Napier-made jewelry offered at counters since 2000 frequently carries no maker's mark.