The Florenza line of costume jewelry was fist produced by a company called the Dan Kassoff Company, which started in the 1930s and then operated under the Florenza name from 1948 to 1981.
Florenza was a major player in the costume jewelry industry in New York City. Its founder, Dan Kasoff, had worked for the Speier Costume Jewelry Co. for ten years before starting his own jewelry company.
The story about how Kasoff, who first worked in the garment industry, got his start with Speier is a bit of a legend in the vintage costume jewelry world. Kasoff met Mr. Speier in a restaurant, when his coat had been stolen while he dined. Mr. Speier loaned Kasoff the money to replace the coat, Kasoff promptly paid it back and Mr. Speier offered Kasoff a job, and a chance to learn about the jewelry trade. Dan Kasoff spent ten years at Speier and was involved in many aspects of the business.
Florenza designs had a distinctive look. The stones were truly interesting and the metal work was expertly executed. The metals have an antique look to them, in gold, silver or in-between tones. The stones and metals come together in unusual, creative ways and the combination of all these elements is particularly striking. Florenza costume jewelry designs also tended to have an “old world” look and feel to them; in fact many pieces were produced that included shell cameos.
Kasoff had an excellent eye for design and even though the company grew to be quite large and made many, many pieces, Kasoff oversaw all designs and continued to design pieces himself.
Florenza jewelry was always sold with through wholesalers, who in turn sold the pieces to retailers, and many department stores throughout the United States carried Florenza.
Dan Kassoff’s son, Larry, joined the business at about the time the company began using the name Florenza. The company continued to make jewelry and also branched out into manufacturins the designs of other jewelry companies, such as Weiss, Kramer, Coro, Capril and Carnegie. Florenza also made accessory items for cosmetics companies, starting with Estee Lauder, with items such as lipstick cases (marked “Florenza,” just like the jewelry.
Larry closed the doors at Florenza in 1981, after he was seriously injured in a car accident. He has remained active in the vintage costume jewelry world, though, and has been particularly interested in archiving the designs and otherwise preserving the history of Florenza. Collectors have appreciated these efforts and will continue to do so.
The marks typically used on Florenza costume jewelry were “Florenza” in script or print with the copyright symbol.
Collectors may be interested in particular in Florenza costume jewelry made of faux sapphire (glass stones), but much of the Florenza line was produced with excellent art glass stones and in unique color combinations. Many of these pieces with high-end art glass are highly sought.
Florenza also made several pieces with parts that moved (such as the tail of a cheetah). These pieces are also in high demand among collectors, along with many of the figurals and a wide Florenza costume jewelry bracelets. The shell cameo pieces and any full sets are also highly collectible.
Preston Reuther is a "Master Wire Sculptor" and Cameo Appraiser and has been collecting and selling Vintage Jewelry for over 30 years. He is a jewelry instructor and has produced over 100 jewelry making videos and owns two vintage jewelry stores WWW.CAMEOJEWELRY.COM and WWW.ANTIQUECAMEOS.COM You may reach him at either store.