Weiss designed some of the most beautiful rhinestone jewellery of the post-Word War II period era, skilfully presenting high quality Austrian rhinestones of exceptional clarity and colour in handcrafted designs. Weiss excelled at floral and figural brooches and earrings and also made numerous styles of bracelets and necklaces.
New Yorker Albert Weiss learned the craft of jewellery making at Coro, America’s largest costume jewellery manufacturer. In 1942 he opened his own business, the Weiss Company, on Fifth Avenue in New York and remained president until his retirement in 1969. His son, Michael, took over but struggled to keep the business going as demand for costume jewellery declined. In 1971 Weiss officially closed.
Weiss designs included floral, fruit, foliate and figural jewellery pieces as well as a range of Art Deco style geometric designs. The components were always of the highest quality, especially its dazzling Austrian crystal rhinestones. These were prong-set rather than glued into the settings to maximize their clarity and colour.
Weiss was also an innovator. Aurora Borealis rhinestones became fashionable in the mid-1950s but Weiss sometimes inverted the stones to reveal the more intensely iridescent effect of the underside. He also developed “black diamonds” – a simulation of smoky quartz – that were both beautiful and realistic.
Whilst many Weiss pieces are signed, they also manufactured unmarked pieces to sell through departments stores. Brooches, including Christmas tree, butterfly and strawberry designs, were especially popular at the time.
The quality of Weiss jewellery has been compared to Eisenberg and Bogoff. Because it was produced for less than 30 years genuine Weiss pieces are becoming harder to find and increasingly collectable, with values rising.
In recent year the market has become flooded with “fake” Weiss jewellery from Rhode Island, especially brooches. These counterfeits often use original vintage Weiss stones with settings sometimes made from original moulds, but the stones are glued rather than being claw-set. Consensus in the vintage jewellery world seems to be that Weiss fakes are in themselves very beautiful and if you love them then buy them if the price is reasonable! But be aware that you will have to pay substantially more for “the real thing” – a genuine and exceptional Weiss jewel.