Napier costume jewelry from the 1920s and early 1930s is extremely hard to find and highly prized by both Napier enthusiasts and collectors of Art Deco jewelry. Like Ciner costume jewelry, it is often difficult to date Napier pieces simply by looking at the mark. This is especially true for the novice collector or dealer that has not studied this type of jewelry extensively. Pieces from other decades are frequently mistaken as 1920s era because very similar marks – especially the version in block letters shown below – were widely used on pieces made in later decades.
To accurately date Napier jewelry, it is imperative to look at the overall style, construction, and components used in manufacture to determine the age of the pieces. This is where it actually gets a bit easier because the styles from the 1920s and ‘30s are oftentimes distinctly different than the pieces Napier made later on, even when using components like metal filigree. The older styles are usually more delicate in appearance, even though they were well made and held up well over time.
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1920s Block Mark
This mark was found on a filigree cuff bracelet made during the 1930s. The look is far different than cuff bracelets made in the 1950s and in later decades. However, a similar block mark was used on many Napier designs from the 1950s and 1960s, and even on a few miscellaneous pieces in the decades following. Take care not to confuse these marks to correctly date your older Napier jewelry. Look at the overall style, components, and construction to distinguish older pieces from newer examples.
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French Filigree Cuff Bracelet
Similar cuff bracelets to this one are shown in the 1920s and '30s sections of The Napier Co. by Melinda Lewis, a recommended resource for learning more about this type of jewelry. These bracelets have a very distinctive look since they were crafted using intricately stamped French filigree metal and unfoiled rhinestones. Filigree used in Napier "revival" pieces in later decades usually is not as fine. These pieces generally reflect the period in which they were made with detailing applied in a more delicate manner than that seen in pieces made decades later bearing a similar mark.
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1920s Oval Mark
This oval mark is the type found on sautoir necklaces like the one shown below. The mark itself looks surprisingly modern, but older necklaces like these are considered hard to come by and highly valued by collectors. Earlier pieces employ a mark that looks similar to this one but with the name Bliss, the forerunner to Napier.
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Beaded Filigree Sautoir Necklace
This piece is a seldom found example of Napier’s early "flapper" style sautoir necklace. It is long, with no clasp, so it simply slips directly over the head when worn. This high-quality piece looks remarkably good for its age and may be mistaken for a more contemporary Art Deco revival piece by novice collectors who are only familiar with Napier's more recent lines readily sold in department stores.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Filigree Dangle Earrings
These dangling pendant style earrings dating back to the 1920s are infrequently found early examples with screw backs. They have filigree metal work similar to that seen in other Napier designs from this period, along with unfoiled stones in sapphire blue decorating the top and bottom. The most common color of older Napier earrings is amber, according to Lewis, since samples were made in that color. All Napier earrings from this era are considered to be rare and prized by avid collectors.
Pamela Y. Wiggins is the author of Warman's Costume Jewelry and the co-founder of Costume Jewelry Collectors Int'l.