Women in Jewelry Design is my new blog series profiling women who design jewelry. Miriam Haskell is our first designer. She was born in 1899 in Tell City, Indiana and attended Chicago University. In the 1920s Haskell moved to New York and she opened a jewelry store in the McAlpin Hotel in 1926.
When the Ohio River flooded her home town of New Albany, Indiana in 1937, Haskell sent car loads of relief materials and personally assisted during the disaster. To support the war effort, her company created a line of patriotic jewelry pieces during World War II.
Her jewelry business prospered and she hired other designers to work for her. Family members joined her, too, along the way. Publicity photos of the time show Haskell’s jewelry being worn by movie stars and the rich and famous. Her clients included celebrities like Flo Ziegfeld of the Ziegfeld Follies, who adorned his dancers in Haskell’s jewelry. Gimbels New York department store and others carried her designs.
Her health declined in her fifties and she lost control of her company to her brothers in 1950. The company sold costume jewelry through 1960s. Haskell lived in Manhattan with her widowed mother through the next several years, moving to Cincinnati in 1977. She died in 1981.
Miriam Haskell worked in a man’s world. At the time she entered the jewelry business, designers, owners, staff and salesmen were almost all men. Chanel, Haskell and a few other women carved out their own niches. Haskell’s jewelry created an entire jewelry style through the pieces created by other independent designers who were inspired by her.
The photo is a vintage jewelry set that’s sort of in the style of Haskell’s jewelry. These pieces belonged to my mother.
Costume Jewelry – How to Compare and Value – Steven Miners (special consultant : Tracy Tolkein) p 98-103. According to Steven Miners, Miriam Haskell was shy and introspective. She was a women with the ability to predict short term fashion trends
Another writer and vintage jewelry expert, Shiela Pamfiloff, had an informative interview with Collectors Weekly about her interest in Haskell and Haskell jewelry.
Our next Women in Jewelry Design will profile Elsa Shiaparelli