Ladies, if you're a connoisseur of costume jewelry who loves the look of beautiful beadwork, then Miriam Haskell is your go-to girl. Known for expertly crafted couture designs with Art Nouveau-inspired motifs, Miriam Haskell has been decorating the grande dames of society and the silver screen for decades, from the Ziegfeld Follies girls of the 1920s to the celebrated movie icons of today.
But after years of different ownership, much of the company's archive has been sold off, making it essential to understand the telltale signs of a true Miriam Haskell piece. With tips from the brand, you'll soon be able to identify the faux from the fabulous.
Examine the components and workmanship of the jewelry carefully. The most signature style of Miriam Haskell jewelry incorporates baroque (or irregularly shaped) glass pearls and rose montees (small, flat-back crystals) hand-wired onto a European filigree; then backed by another filigree to hide the construction. Russian-gold plating, which offers a rich, saturated gold tone, is also a common feature.
Although not as prevalent, other components include European glass stones, wood, crystals, blown glass, shells and brass chain, as well as silver and other plating.
According to the brand, no glue is used in the creation of the pieces, so if you spot that sticky stuff, you have an imposter.
Look for a signature plaque on the jewelry. Beginning in the late 1940s, the brand started signing its jewelry with what is known as the horseshoe plaque, with "Miriam Haskell" engraved around the horseshoe. In the 1950s, the brand switched to an oval signature plaque, which is still in use today. Starting in 2011, each piece of Miriam Haskell jewelry also includes the year of production on the plaque, according to the brand.
Necklaces and bracelets should have hooks with "Miriam Haskell" imprinted in block letters. If a hook is not imprinted, then the piece should contain an oval, metal Miriam Haskell hangtag. Box-and-tongue closures should have the oval signature plaque embossed or soldered on the box. Earrings should have "Miriam Haskell" or just "Haskell" imprinted in block letters on either clip or screw backs. And brooches should have the horseshoe or oval signature plaque soldered onto the back of the filigree.
Ask for the cert. Beginning in 2007, each piece of Miriam Haskell jewelry comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Log on to the Miriam Haskell website where you can shop online with confidence, or try the brand's authorized retailers.
If someone is claiming to sell an early piece of Miriam Haskell jewelry and the beads and plating are still bright and shiny, it's possibly a fake or a more recent piece. Over time, the jewelry components will naturally oxidize and discolor, so if the jewelry looks new, it probably is. Beware of this on eBay, the brand warns.