Women Jewelry Designers – Hattie Carnegie

Beads and beaded jewelry

Women jewelry designers – Hattie Carnegie:   Hattie Carnegie was born in 1889 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary.  Her name at birth was Henrietta Kanengeiser. In 1892, her family immagrated to New York’s Lower East Side. Henrietta eventually got a job with Macy’s as a salesgirl, a position that promised a lot of mobility.  While working at Macy’s, she studied womens clothing.  Carnegie’s work in Macy’s hat department earned her the nickname “Hattie.”  

By 1909, she had changed her name to Hattie Carnegie, naming herself after Andrew Carnegie, the richest person in America at the time.  She formed a partnership with Rose Roth in 1909. Roth was a seamstress. They started a custom clothing and millinery shop in New York City.   They later incorporated and moved to a more fashionable New York location. During this time, fashion leaders like Mrs. William Randolph Hearst became clients.

Hattie Carnegie started designing hats, but she transformed her business into a fashion and jewelry juggernaut.  In 1918, Carnegie bought out her partner and founded Hattie Carnegie, Inc.  Her new business debuted Hattie’s first clothing line.  She created a fashion look – a total package of clothing, accessories, and jewelry for her customers. 

Carnegie was known for her black dresses and suits.  She was also an innovator who created collections for department stores, designed uniforms for the Women’s Army Corp., and created one of kind designs for customers like Clare Booth Luce and the Duchess of Windsor.  In the 1930s and 1940s, Carnegie’s collections adorned Hollywood stars and American celebrities. She traveled to Paris several times a year to study and to buy fashions. Carnegie edited French designer fashions for American tastes – simple, but sophisticated looks using American fabrics and American designers.

Hattie Carnegie employed a number of designers.  One of the jewelry designers, Kenneth Jay Lane, served as the creative director for Hattie Carnegie Jewelry before he left to open his own business. Hattie Carnegie jewelry is noted for attention to detail and its creativity. Her jewelry line ranged from animal designs to an Oriental – Far Eastern line to stylized African art pieces.  There were also elaborate large brooches and traditional necklaces and bracelets with multiple strands of beads, crystal, and rhinestones.

Hattie Carnegie died in 1956


General reference:

Miller’s Costume Jewelry – How to Compare & Value – Steven Miners  p23 and p118-119