"Poetry seems especially
like nothing else.
Poetry is not like,
it is very lining
of the inner life."
Photography: Ida Tomshinsky, 2016
The real value of life are not purchasable with money. You can't buy peace and good will. If you could, the problems that face us would be simple. All you do, at most, is to help provide a setting, a scaffolding, an atmosphere, a soil perhaps, where these values can have at least some chance to grow.
(John D. Rockefeller Jr.)
Carnegie’s designs, whether it was hats, clothing, or jewelry, were adored by Hollywood stars and other American celebrities including Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Fontaine, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford. Carnegie seemed to have a sixth sense about the taste of American women, flying to Paris on a regular basis and then returning home to adapt the latest look to U.S. sensibilities.
In the 1930s and 1940s, her clothes were considered smart, neat, and tailored. She particularly excelled at the little black dress. In contrast, her jewelry designs were downright wild, giving a touch of flair to otherwise conservative outfits. She commissioned a wide array of talented jewelry designers to work in a variety of styles, but in general, Hattie Carnegie pieces tended to stay away from all-paste copies of gemstone fine jewelry. She employed plastics, enamels, and gilt metals. Her brooches became iconic in the 1950s.
One of her more popular jewelry collections is the Oriental line, inspired by Far Eastern and Indian motifs. This includes elaborate metal human figures detailed with tiny rhinestone and faux pearls that can stand up of their own, as well as things like a figural elephant carrying a howdah and a snuff-bottle pendant.
Other collected Carnegies' include the animals in her menagerie of stylized brooches, which took inspirations from the African art that influenced Paris fashion in the 1930s. These figures, produced well into the 1950s, were made of Lucite in bold colors like red-orange, emerald green, ivory, and turquoise blue, and were trimmed with rhinestones, colored beads, and gilt metal. Collectors covet the fish and long-horned goats, but the anteater is the most prized of all.
Some of Carnegie’s top jewelry designers included Kenneth Jay Lane, her protege Norman Norell, and Nadine Effront, a French sculptor and one-time student of George Braques. Years after Carnegie’s death in 1963, Effront designed a popular Greek-themed collection for Hattie Carnegie jewelry, using atypical materials such as terra cotta, tortoise, and hammered gold.
Carnegie jewelry, whether animal-inspired or abstract, is noted for its attention to detail and creativity. For example, a gilt-metal apple has a tiny slice cut out. The jewelry line also has a traditional, romantic side, with necklaces and bracelets made of double- and triple-strand crystal, glass, and rhinestone beads, graceful chokers with trailing chains, and large brooches with giant shimmering stones in rich colors.
Carnegie died in 1956, so the Hattie Carnegie jewelry that was designed before then, under her direction and requiring her approval, is most valued by collectors. These items, usually ranked highly in costume jewelry guides, are worth collecting, even if they are damaged or are missing rhinestones.
Hattie Carnegie's early jewelry was designed to complement her clothing line. Her jewelry is usually marked “Hattie Carnegie” or “Carnegie.” A less frequently used mark is “HC” within a diamond, inside a semi-oval. Hattie Carnegie's hair ornaments and cases are sometimes marked “Pooped Pussy Cat” or “Pooped Poodle.”
Larry Josephs took over the Hattie Carnegie firm in the late 1960s, and in the 1976, the company was acquired by Chromology American Corporation. The Hattie Carnegie brand was still being used in the late 1970s, particularly on designer lines like Yves Saint Laurent for Carnegie (1978), Anne Klein for Carnegie (1979), and Valentino for Hattie Carnegie (1979).
Today, Hattie Carnegie's jewelry is what has lasted, showcasing the full range of designs, from glamorous rhinestone bracelets to exotic oriental pins.
Ancient Chinese legend claims the moon holds the power to create pearls, instilling them with its celestial glow and mystery. Pearls are unique because they are the only gemstone formed within a living creature. Since natural pearls are rare and difficult to recover from the ocean’s depths, man invented the technique of culturing salt and freshwater pearls from mollusks carefully seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature. Cultured pearls come in many beautiful colors, from pale cream and white to rose, lilac, green, gold, gray, and black. There are four main types of cultured pearls: Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, and freshwater each having unique qualities.