The Legacy of Miriam Haskell Lives On

One of our newest necklace ideas from the Learning Center has an interesting inspiration. “Miriam,” a lovely statement necklace full of rich winter colors; was created by our designer Teri who has a genuine signed piece passed down from her Grandmother. Miriam was quite the character, once you know more about her you may be inspired to create your own statement in the style of Miriam Haskell.

Haskell was born in 1899, at the height of the Art Nouveau movement. Her parents were Russian immigrants who settled down in Albany, Indiana. Miriam quickly grew out of her small town and ventured to New York City where she met a young designer, Mark Hess. With her ingenious mind and his creative talent, the two changed the fashion world with jewelry that was more of an art form than anything else. Oftentimes they would have tea with CoCo Chanel and discuss their next move for fashion, and worked with only the best products like Swarovski crystals. Because she was so dedicated to every design, each new look was hand-crafted. These new ideas could take hours and sometimes days to construct.

If you were to find a knock-out piece of costume jewelry in a second-hand store, you may have found a Miriam Haskell. If it’s from 1926 to 1950, it wouldn’t be signed but pieces afterwards proudly bare her name. Any of her work is valuable, highly sought after and collectible. The key is to look for organic themes, with either a flora or fauna feel. Filigrees with pearls hand wired in rosette shapes were a common trait of her ideas, too. One signature piece would be her multi-strands of baroque pearls—your Grandmother may have one in her jewel box! Sold in department stores across the country at reasonable prices, any woman could have a bit of Hollywood glamour of their own.

As beaders, we can draw inspiration not only from the beautiful results of her ground breaking career but from her life. She lived in a time that didn’t accept women in the work place let alone running a successful business in New York City. For what she was up against, Miriam Haskell made a name in the jewelry world that still has tremendous cachet.

Here’s a lovely picture of a real Miriam Haskell necklace that once belonged to Teri’s grandmother. You can see the complex detail captured on every inch, and you can see where the inspiration behind our necklace came from! Learn how to make a vintage pearl necklace like this one by reading our step-by-step instructions in the Learning Center!

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  1. Reply


    • Ellen Lesak
    • November 6, 2011

    Stunning, simply… breathtaking. So many pearl strands, yet this is a step above the rest..From the shape of the pearls, the small spacing beads, the ornate clasp…Even the pearl color is classic yet subtly unique, the whole mix never to be duplicated. And all this while I am still wordless with wonder and admiration! 😀

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