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DeLizza & Elster aka Juliana/Tara/Gloria/D&E

DeLizza & Elster aka Juliana/Tara/Gloria/D&E (Est. 1947 – 1991) Among illustrious jewelry designers and the firms with whom they were associated, no history and provenance may seem as confusing and convoluted as that of DeLizza & Elster (D&E). Established in New York City in the late 1940s by William DeLizza and Harold Elster, it operated for several decades and made jewelry for hundreds of designers and jewelry wholesalers including Accessocraft, Weiss, Alice Caviness, Ciro, Celebrity, Capri, Carol Duplaise, Eisenberg Ice, House of Ivana, Hobé’, House of Schrager, Hattie Carnegie, Kenneth J. Lane, Kramer, Karu, Park Lane, Pakula, Yves St. Lauren, Sarah Coventry.

Shortly after its inception, D&E shared a floor in the Cable Building with Weiss Jewelry whose wholesaler was known as, “The Black Diamond King.” In the 1950s, DeLizza & Elster moved to its own building in Brooklyn. William’s sons Frank and Anthony joined the company early in its history.

In the 1960s the company began producing costume jewelry. Early pieces that used colorful rhinestones were not marked. The company also produced buckles, buttons and clear rhinestone jewelry. 

In 1967, D&E created a line called, ”Juliana Originals” and used a paper hang-tag to display its identity. The hang-tag said “Juliana Original.” Not all Juliana jewelry had a hang- tag. Juliana jewelry was produced only until 1969.

The success of the Juliana line inspired other D&E lines with attached hang-tags and similar appearance. These read, “Tara” and “Gloria.” Today, D&E jewelry is often interchangeably referred to as Juliana despite the fact that Juliana was the name of a specific line of jewelry. Although all Juliana is DeLizza and Elster jewelry, every piece made by D&E was not part of their Juliana line.

As already noted, Juliana jewelry was originally marked only with a paper hang-tag. Most tags were discarded when the first owners wore the jewelry, consequently leaving the jewelry unmarked today. Through research, jewelry collectors have identified some characteristics of these pieces. Many styles formerly classified as “unsigned” have now been identified as “Juliana” or DeLizza & Elster. 

Many clues to origin can be found by looking closely at the back of the jewelry. While DeLizza & Elster made a number of styles of bracelets that accompany what collectors call, “Juliana sets,” the most easily identifiable is the five link and band construction. These were made with both gold-tone and silver-tone plating, and range in style from simple design to elaborate rhinestone encrusted pieces.

DeLizza & Elster also used a specific type of rivet when constructing their jewelry. It often held the clusters of rhinestones in place and is found on necklaces and earrings as well as the company’s popular bracelets. The rivets are sturdy and used sparingly. For example, a brooch containing dozens of rivets is unlikely a Juliana piece.

Many D&E pieces often identified as Juliana incorporate dangling elements such as colored or clear glass beads, simulated pearls or art glass beads. The dangling elements were also used on many bracelets, necklaces, and matching earrings. Other manufacturers also used dangling elements during the same era so reliable identification is best obtained by looking for the riveted construction.

Also used by other manufacturers were the kinds of specialty stones incorporated into D&E designs. Many were Swarovski examples as well as margarita stones, rivoli stones, “cat’s eye” foil-backed cabochons, and stippled cabochons nicknamed “Easter egg” stones. DeLizza & Elster also employed many elongated marquis rhinestones, also known as navette, in their designs. These stones were manufactured in dozens of colors in both foil-back and unfoiled varieties. Many of those used in Juliana designs are unfoiled and set into open backed stone cups.

Many unsigned pieces made by DeLizza & Elster as Juliana jewelry have open settings especially when incorporating larger stones like bullet or stippled cabochons. Many costume jewelry manufacturers also used open backs, so experts suggest examining other attributes of a piece to confirm its origin.

Some Juliana pieces incorporate oval glass cameos in the designs. These range from floral to the traditional woman’s profile. The rhinestone colors surrounding the cameos vary, but necklace styles are usually simple. Bracelets incorporating matching oval glass cameos are usually clamper style (rather than five link and band construction), and can be very elaborately encrusted with rhinestones.

“Juliana,” and “Juliana style” are buzzwords in vintage rhinestone costume jewelry, but they do not necessarily and/or correctly indicate the jewelry’s provenance. Throughout DeLizza & Elster’s history, they produced open lines of jewelry that other companies could order with their own signatures. Consequently, it is often difficult to identify a DeLizza & Elster piece because someone else’s signature is on it or there is no mark at all.

DeLizza & Elster jewelry generally has a certain flair even in quieter examples. It is a style known for design boldness, chunky styles, and unusual color combinations. Since there is a lot of jewelry in the marketplace that also exhibit these traits, one often encounters large, colorful pieces labeled, “Juliana”.

To determine whether an item is authentic, feel its heft. Juliana pieces have a solid build and some weight to them. Next, note the appeal: High quality art stones, crystals and rhinestones were used in layered or stacked designs. Usually there is a lot going on in the pieces.

According to one prolific collector of D&E, DeLizza & Elster, and the Juliana pieces, “Regardless of names, designers, eras or styles, the most important factor in building a jewelry collection is, “Do I like it?” Everything else is secondary… Signed items might be more valuable than unsigned items; however, as Juliana proves, it is just as important that a piece of vintage jewelry is signed by [its] design.”

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