Henrietta Kanengeiser, born in 1886, immigrated with her family from Austria to the United States when she was a young girl, the second child in a family of seven children.
Later taking the name Hattie Carnegie, she became one of the most influential fashion entrepreneurs of all time.
At the age of 15, Hattie Carnegie got started in the fashion business with a milliner shop in New York City. About five years later she moved into clothing, and opened a shop on the Upper West Side. In 1923, she opened the Hattie Carnegie boutique, very close to the original Saks Fifth Avenue location.
The shop featured her Hattie Carnegie Couture collection, imported garments from famous Paris designers, such as Chanel and Dior, as well as cosmetics and a costume jewelry line.
Hattie Carnegie Couture and her designs that were very much inspired by French designers. Her design were widely copied by more moderately priced designers and in that manner reached the middle class.
In about 1918, Hattie Carnegie jewelry was introduced and it coordinated with the clothing. The most valuable Hattie Carnegie vintage costume jewelry pieces today are those that were produced before her death in 1956. Hattie Carnegie jewelry was still produced after her death, and the company’s name remained the same, although it was owned by Larry Josephs, until the company closed in 1970. The jewelry made after Hattie Carnegie’s death is quite nice, but not as valuable as the pieces made during her lifetime.
Hattie Carnegie introduced many types of costume jewelry, including traditional jewels with rhinestones, but was especially known for elaborate theme collections – such as Oriental motifs and highly unusual figurals.
Hattie Carnegie jewelry was most commonly signed “Hattie Carnegie” in script. Hattie Carnegie jewelry was also signed “Carnegie” or “HC” or “Hattie Carnegie” on an oval tag.
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.