My New Obsession with Novelty Costume Jewelry

I’ve recently gone down an ebay rabbit hole, fascinated by three costume jewelry brands: Jonette Jewelry, American Jewelry & Chain and Danecraft. I started collecting a few JJ (Jonette Jewelry) pieces and am impressed with the quality of these mass produced castings. I am also baffled by the variety of whimsical and literal subject matter. An outsider studying 20th century American culture through costume jewelry would be convinced that we were obsessed with cats chasing mice and fish. I guess current internet culture does demonstrate our obsession with cats. I now work as a designer and model maker for a big jewelry company in California and I also wonder at the number of models and molds each of these companies created just dedicated to one particular theme.

The following pins depicting a cat and  fishbowl were ALL MADE BY ONE COMPANY, Jonette Jewelry. I imagine every few years they felt they had to revamp this popular theme or give the consumer options within this theme.  Each of these pins was available in different finishes and you can see the last one even has added color, definitely elevating the production cost. (I’m not even going to get started on the variety of cat and mouse jewelry because it’s too vast!)


Next we have designs from two companies, Danecraft and Jonette Jewelry. I like to imagine a JJ design meeting: “Those jerks at Danecraft have a cool cat couple in a car?? We’ll show them!”

It’s not just cats. Cows are thoroughly represented, as are nurses, real estate brokers, wizards, pretty much every aspect of human, animal and fantasy life. There are many other costume jewelry companies that represented these themes but I just happened to focus my ebay searches on these three.

But, back to cats. Again from Jonette Jewelry. Maybe you want a cat chasing a butterfly? Or a cat chasing a turtle? You decide! We will have a model maker carve the original model, we’ll create a mold and go into production!

Here, from American Jewelry Company and Jonette Jewelry are options if you want a cat drinking from a toilet.

Jonette Jewelry, probably my favorite of these three companies started in 1935 and ceased production in 2006. AJC existed from 1927 to 1997. Danecraft continues on and even though they have run sophisticated magazine ads over the years their website seems to have stopped evolving at HTML 2.0.

Danecraft 1978 magazine advertisement:

Danecraft’s website today:

Well, this is just the introduction to my new obsession. I’m going to do a separate post on my own budding collection of costume jewels and also share images of some of my favorites that I don’t yet own or plan to own because they’re just too silly even for me.





Author: rebs


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