Joseff of Hollywood was the original jeweller to the stars. Born Eugene Joseff in 1905 Chicago, he became an apprentice metalworker in his hometown before landing a role in an advertising agency. In the late 1920's the Great Depression hit and he left his ad agency job to move to LA where motion pictures was one of few industries still booming.
He used his metalwork experience to develop jewellery items for films. He had a unique ability to simplfy historical pieces and make them relevant for film. He also used his new-found knowledge of film to develop a new matte, coppery gold plating - which he named Russian gold - which didn't reflect against the cameraman's lights.
In 1942 he married Joan Castle, whom he had employed to run the day-to-day aspects of his business. Before long he had become the No.1 jeweller in Hollywood designing, manufacturing and renting pieces to the big Studios. He designed for Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express, Greta Garbo in Camille, Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind and Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
After this sucess, the stars wanted to wear his collections off-screen as well, and a high-end costume range was developed and sold in department stores across the US.
In 1948 Joseff died in a 'plane crash and Joan took over the running of the business at a time when very few women were in charge of companies. During the '50's, she expanded the innovative rental side of the company; making available an archive of 3 million items for use in films and TV productions for a one-off fee.
Although there are some fakes out there you can spot the real thing by looking for the stamp of either Joseff or Joseff of Hollywood and items still pop up on Ebay and at auction.