Many individuals view Napier as a model bought in mid-range department shops, and in the event you’re pondering brand-new jewellery, that’s definitely true. To collectors, these items are Napier in identify solely. They’re made in Asia and marketed by means of a conglomerate utilizing Napier branding. The look, designs, and high quality aren’t on par with older Napier items. That’s been the case since 1999 when the actual Napier manufacturing facility in Meriden, Connecticut, closed, and the identify was subsequently bought.
Whereas classic fans nonetheless mourn the lack of a enterprise that produced some spectacular jewellery from 1878 by means of the Nineties, we have a good time their designs by means of accumulating. One assortment typically missed by Napier followers dates to the Seventies and is extraordinarily wearable with at present’s clothes types. Considered one of my private favourite items of Napier jewellery (two, truly, since I personal it in each silver- and gold-tone) is a necklace marketed in an advert relationship to 1972 that merely reads “Napier is Curlier.” To know the ’70s interval, nevertheless, a glance again on the late Nineteen Sixties is so as.
Napier Designs within the Early ‘70s
The mod period was nonetheless in full swing when the Nineteen Sixties ended and the ‘70s started. It’s solely logical that the daring appears to be like being worn by modern girls would carry over into the brand new decade. Kinds innovated by modernist studio jewelers influenced corporations that mass-marketed jewellery throughout this era, so abstracts and geometrics had been commonplace. Napier did these very properly in metals emulating silver and gold at a time when treasured metals had been fairly expensive. Circles, ovals, waves, spirals, and freeform shapes had been all commonplace in necklaces, brooches, and earring types.
Particular collections reflecting world cultures had been made within the early Seventies, simply as that they had been in the course of the ‘60s. These embrace Egyptian, Asian, and Aztec types. The corporate additionally celebrated the American bicentennial in 1976 with a particular flag pin, Americana pendants, and crimson, white, and blue beaded designs. Assorted dangles, simulated golden cash, and bead shapes added colour and motion to a number of different designs made in the course of the mid-Seventies, together with appeal bracelets. Napier’s long-time lead designer Eugene Bertolli sketched a few of these items whereas Francis “Yujo” Fujio designed many others. A number of types from the Fifties had been additionally reintroduced with minor adjustments that distinguish them from the older examples, as talked about in “the Napier book” by Melinda L. Lewis.
As for elaborations, classic Napier isn’t identified for the profuse use of rhinestones compared to many different costume jewellery producers doing enterprise in the course of the late ‘60s and ‘70s, though a couple of coloured rhinestones and glass cabochons had been employed. The weather adorning the agency’s jewellery had been often resin (one other identify for unidentified plastic) or painted enamel throughout this timeframe; a number of traces included white enamel or white resin dangles.
Extra typically, although, Napier used metals with texture so as to add curiosity to their early ‘70s types. Some copied the look of gold nugget jewellery extensively bought in the course of the interval, whereas others had been Brutalist in nature. Hammered metals had been additionally imitated in a number of designs. Birds, fish, and different animals had been solid in steel. The look of blended metals utilizing gold- and silver-tone plating was additionally in style in style jewellery circles. Napier capitalized on that reality by producing their very own interpretations early within the decade and much more so in the course of the mid-to-late Seventies.
As the last decade wore on, a shift occurred within the types sought by customers. Necklaces and earring designs grew smaller and smaller. Bigger collar and bib necklaces fell out of favor, and extra pendant necklaces had been made on shorter, daintier chains. One of many daring Napier exceptions was large cuff bracelets. Napier continued to fabricate and market these eye-catching bracelets in varied types all through the last decade.
“Napier is” Promoting Marketing campaign
One of the vital fascinating features to these learning the historical past of this firm is the “Napier is” advert sequence within the ’70s. These intelligent advertising items featured in style and women’ magazines had been wildly in style with customers and spurred gross sales the whole decade. At this time, collectors use them up to now their jewellery.
The quite a few girls within the adverts, together with mannequin and actress Shelly Hack of Charlie’s Angels fame, had been depicted naked from the chest up. Featured poses vary from sultry and pensive to flirty and enjoyable. Greater than being modern, these adverts linked trendy girls with jewellery as a private expression slightly than only a handsome bauble to be worn with a specific gown model. Each the adverts and the ladies in them had been, in a approach, an extension of the feminist motion that had a agency maintain on America on the time.
Many distinctive slogans accompany these adverts, however some, like “Napier is Snakier,” Napier is Curlier,” and “Napier is Haughtier,” together with a couple of others, had been used each early and late within the decade. For my part, the worst one is “Napier is Nubbier” from 1972. Neither the white enameled bracelet with gold-colored nubs nor the message featured are notably engaging.
These adverts carried over into the early Eighties with a brand new wave of knickknack design. Slogans like “Napier is Bossier” represented designs girls sought in the course of the “gown for achievement” period. Whereas many jewellery companies died out within the late ‘70s because the demand for costume jewellery modified, Napier was capable of adapt and keep alive for 2 extra a long time.
Pamela Siegel is a contract author and writer who has been educating collectors for greater than 20 years. Along with three books on subjects regarding antiques and collectibles, she continuously shares her experience by means of on-line writing and articles for print-based publications. Pamela can be the co-founder of Costume Jewellery Collectors Int’l (CJCI) and the proprietor of Stylish Antiques by Pamela.
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