An exceptional emerald cut rhinestone necklace and bracelet by Crystal Heirlooms

Henry Bogoff

Exceptional costume jewellery guaranteed for life!

Henry Bogoff was born in a rural area of Poland in 1908 and, like many Eastern European Jews, emigrated to America at the age of 16 to escape persecution. He arrived at Ellis Island with only a few dollars in his pocket and the determination to build a better life.

New York in the 1920s - the beginning of Henry Bogoff's costume jewellery success
New York in the 1920s – the beginning of Henry Bogoff’s costume jewellery success

In 1920 Henry married Russian-born Yvette Glazerman and a few years later the couple moved to Chicago where they started a Spear Novelty Company, producing trimmings, buttons and other fashion accessories made with rhinestones. Spear Novelty was a great success and in 1940 they turned their knowledge and experience to producing high quality costumer jewellery under the name ‘Jewels by Bogoff’. Over the following years they became one of the most important designers and producers of costume jewellery of their era.

Beautiful brooches by Bogoff in the 1940s/50s
Beautiful brooches by Bogoff in the 1940s/50s

Henry was responsible for the designs and styling. In addition to original creations, Henry’s exceptional memory enabled him to translate designs by class jewellers, particularly in New York City, into his own rhinestone creations.

Model makers translated Henry’s designs from paper into a hand-made prototype. These were duplicated and used to make a vulcanized rubber production mold. Molten white metal was centrifugally cast in these molds, and the raw castings were then polished by hand. Earring and pin backs were soldered on, bracelets and necklaces were assembled using foot powered swedging machines, and the assembled pieces were then plated with either rhodium or gold. Finally, each rhinestone was glued into place by hand. Jewels by Bogoff had a reputation for very high quality, and every piece was guaranteed for life.

A 1940s Bogoff rhinestone pendant and matching earrings by Crystal Heirlooms
A 1940s Bogoff rhinestone pendant and matching earrings by Crystal Heirlooms

Yvette became head of the sales organization – quite a unique position at that time as women were still excluded from important functions and many areas of business. With the end of World War II and the country’s almost insatiable demand for luxury consumer goods, Jewels by Bogoff prospered. In addition to the factory showroom at 31 South Franklin Street in Chicago, the firm had showrooms in Los Angeles and on Fifth Avenue in New York. By the early 50’s there were more than 200 employees working hard to keep up with orders from major retailers including Sears, J.C. Penney, Saks Fifth Avenue, Carsons, Hudsons, and Zales. Henry and Yvette successfully advertised in the main leading fashion magazines such as Voque and Harpers Bazaar and for many years Jewels by Bogoff was reportedly the country’s third largest costume jewellery manufactuer after Coro and Trifari.

Bogoff advertisements regularly appeared in Vogue and Harpers during the 1940s and 1950s
Bogoff advertisements regularly appeared in Vogue and Harpers during the 1940s and 1950s

The Bogoffs resided in Highland Park on the North Shore of Lake Michigan. Yvette continued to work full time in the business until the birth of their third child. Yvette was an active member of the community and they were both very supportive of philanthropic and service organizations, particularly those having to do with the State of Israel and the plight of Jews after the war. Henry was very handsome and quite charming, and he always loved to tell a good story. He was an avid fisherman and during summers he spent as much time as he could spare away from the business at his rustic fishing lodge in Wisconsin. He also loved gardening, and time spent in his vegetable patch was a welcome relief from daily business pressures.

Jewels by Bogoff prospered until Henry’s untimely death in 1958. Yvette tried to keep the business going, first in Chicago and then in New York, but changing consumer tastes and the loss of Henry’s participation lead to the closing of the business in the early 60’s.

Our thanks to Illusion Jewels for the information contained in this article.

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