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The focus of this piece is a lovely 1950’s Florenza brooch that had seen better days. I salvaged this sadly abused accessory from a thrift store and cleaned it up for a second chance to be loved. The center of the upcycled pendant is a large sparkling imitation topaz. Each point holds either an imitation teardrop-shaped carnelian or a topaz-colored rhinestone. One of the eight points has been snapped off, along with the clasp on the back, and three of the faux seed pearls are missing. To transform the vintage piece into a pendant I’ve wire wrapped a bridge bail and filed down any rough edges. I hand shaped and hammered a bronze toned detail with which to hang the former brooch. I added six Swarovski crystals in complimenting colors, red and gold, to the 18” chain, and completed it with a matching lobster clasp. This is definitely an attention getter and great for vintage lovers!
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A Little History About Florenza Jewelry
The Florenza jewelry manufacturing company, once a major industry player in New York, was represented by Larry Kasoff, son of the founder, Dan Kasoff. Florenza operated under the name Dan Kasoff, Inc. as a manufacturing industry, and did not start marking its own production jewelry FLORENZA until around 1949-1950. It is important to note that the Dan Kasoff Corporation came into being about 1945 and before that it was a company without the incorporated name. The jewelry was not marked until Dan Kasoff found out that “Original Sculptural Expressions” could be applied for to the Washington copyright office. It may have been earlier than 1948 when he began filing. There were 3 marks used: Florenza in script outside a circle was first used then Florenza in block letters in an oval or rectangle depending on the room, style of the piece and finish that was used.
All of their jewelry was sold through wholesalers who then resold them to the retailers. The name Florenza has nothing to do with city of Florence, Italy, but was an embellishment of his mother’s first name, Florence.
From the beginning years Dan Kasoff ‘s Florenza designs had a distinctive look, one that belonged to his company exclusively. Thus the name stuck among collectors: Fabulous Florenza. Dan Kasoff personally oversaw the designs before approval of production, designed many of them himself as well.
Florenza-made products appeared under many other names as well, as Dan Kasoff, Inc. contracted for various designer name clients, including Estee Lauder and Revlon. Estee Lauder was quality conscious and only wanted products that had style and class – that is what Florenza always produced. These cosmetics giants carried Florenza’s solid perfume containers. Other famous clients of Florenza were Coro, Weiss, Hattie Carnegie, Capri and Kramer. Florenza-made and Florenza-marked jewelry and boutique items, such as vanity dresser products, decorative accessories, (key chains, lipstick caddies, picture frames, jeweled vanity boxes, nodding animal pin cushions and saccharin holders) were sold in fine department stores throughout the U.S. – including Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, Sax Fifth Avenue, Bonwit Teller.
Florenza produced wonderful Victorian revival examples in ornate brooches, bracelets, Necklaces and earrings. Only the finest stones were used from Austria, Germany and the Orient - many made especially for them. Their cameos had two styles - hand carved shell made in Italy , Wedgwood Mocha – all were mounted in ornate 24k gold plated settings, as was all their antiqued jewelry. Other exclusive finishes used in their jewelry was termed Florenza Gold, French Gold and French Rose. The famous cheetah brooch with a moveable tail is one example of their innovative creations. Some popular styles were repeated for several reasons but there was always something new introduced.
His son Larry carried on a tradition that in today’s times has become almost extinct. In 1981 Larry Kasoff was involved in a very bad automobile accident which almost took his life. This forced the company to close its doors. At that time Florenza was about to introduce a new line of jewelry that was nothing less than magnificent…that jewelry never made it to the market.