In the first of an occasional series, we thought our readers may like to learn more about the people and collections that have inspired our ranges. First up - Albert Weiss.
Weiss may not be a famililar name to many (and I have to confess that even though I've worked as a buyer for 15 years, it wasn't a name familiar to me...) However, his influence has been far-reaching. He began life working at Coro in the 1930's where he learned his trade. In 1942 he set up his own eponymous label on Fifth Avenue in New York.
He was best known for his use of smoky quartz stones and was also one of the first to Swarovski polychromatic aurora borealis crystals which had been created with Dior in the '50's (Now better known as the AB finish). He excelled at floral and figurative brooches and earrings. Along with rhinestones he also worked with enamels -which have become highly prized by collectors. Due to the quality of the stones he used many of the pieces produced still look as good today as the day they were made.
Weiss’ own signature was the “black diamond” in smoky grey paste, which was a reproduction of the German smoky quartz crystals. Weiss based these unique stones on grey Austrian crystals, and they went on to become best sellers, widely copied by competitors in the 1950s.
The company traded until 1971 but pieces still come up quite frequently on ebay and at auction and it's generally thought to be an under appreciated and undervalued brand so definitely worth snapping up when you see something. Quick ways to check whether you're looking at an original is to check the item is stamped with Weiss, Weiss Co or AW Co. Original boxes and tags had the W depicted as a crown. Good luck and be sure to share your finds with us!