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Trifari Vintage Jewelry: Identification and Marks

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Trifari Vintage Jewelry Marks

Purpose of this guide

This guide is designed to help buyers and collectors of Trifari Jewelry identify the various Trifari Jewelry signatures, which helps to determine the age of pieces available for sale, as well as some pieces from specific collections. Pictures of the various marks are included.

All Vintage Trifari Jewelry is Signed

There is no such thing as "unsigned vintage Trifari." I can't tell you how often I run across a listing that claims that the piece is an unsigned Trifari. Trifari signed virtually all of their pieces, and even ran ads letting people know that if a piece was not signed, it was not Trifari. There were lesser manufacturers who did copy some Trifari designs, but Trifari was pretty diligent about protecting their designs and patented most of them until the copyright law was modified in 1955 to allow jewelry designs to be copyrighted.

After the Trifari company was bought out by Liz Claiborne in 2000 (along with Monet and Napier), all production was moved overseas and new, lesser quality jewelry was produced with Trifari cards, but not signed. These newer pieces are not vintage and should be listed in the Fashion Jewelry category, but many sellers continue to list them in the Vintage category. If you see a listing that claims the piece is an "Unsigned Vintage Trifari" know that if the piece has a Trifari tag, it is a newer (not vintage) Trifari. If there is no tag and/or it looks older, it is probably a copy (knockoff) of a Trifari design.

Recently, newer Trifari pieces have been produced overseas with a new version of the Trifari hangtag, which is basically a large thick ring with a crown inside the ring and "TRIFARI" stamped at the bottom of the ring. Although these pieces might be listed in the vintage category and the seller might claim they are vintage, they are new pieces produced overseas with this new Trifari hangtag. Trifari never produced such a hang tag when manufacturing pieces here in the U.S.


 

Trifari Marks and Signatures

The Trifari Crown Symbol

Trifari used a Crown Symbol over the "T" as a type of logo. It appeared on boxes, tags, and cards and was stamped onto most of the pieces produced from the 1940's through the 1960's. Usually all pieces of a set included the crown, with the exception of necklaces with hook clasps - often there was only room for the name "Trifari" on the hook. When sellers identify a pieces a "Crown Trifari" it means the piece was stamped with this symbol (see photos of Trifari paper tag and stamped clasp below).

    

Trifari PAT. PEND.

This is one of the earliest Trifari marks you will see (there were a couple of earlier signatures, but they are quite rare). Prior to 1955 the U.S. copyright law did not extend protection to jewelry designs, so the major manufacturers, who employed talented jewelry designers, protected their investment with U.S. patents. As soon as a design was completed, it was submitted to the U.S. patent office and a patent was applied for. This process normally took a few months, so the jewelry would be stamped PAT. PEND. to advise that a patent application for the design was filed (see photo below).

The photo above shows an early Trifari PAT. PEND. signature. Many of these signatures also included the Trifari Crown symbol over the "T."

Crown Trifari with Copyright Symbol

As mentioned previously, in 1955 revisions to the U.S. Patent Law allowed jewelry designs to be copyrighted using the copyright symbol. Trifari then started using the copyright symbol in its signature. Pieces of that era will have both the Crown and Copyright symbols in the signature, which was used in the late 1950's to late 1960's. The photos below show a Trifari Crown signature with the copyright symbol. Many of the most highly sought after vintage Trifari pieces have this signature (see photo below). They are called "CROWN TRIFARI" by dealers and collectors.

Note that the lack of a copyright symbol on a piece does not guarantee that was produced prior to1955. At the time of the copyright law change Trifari had a number of necklace, bracelet, and earring clasps that it continued to use for several years until the stock of these ran out. As a general rule, however, at least one piece of a set would include the copyright symbol.

Crown Trifari Hang Tag

As mentioned, many Trifari necklaces during the 1950's and 1960's used hook clasps, and because these were narrow, they do not include the crown symbol. Usually the bracelet and earrings of a set would have the crown symbol, but the necklace hook would not. Trifari used metal hang tags on many (but not all) of these necklaces. The photo below show a necklace with a Crown Trifari Hang Tag and a Crown Trifari set where the bracelet clasp is signed with the crown symbol and the necklace hook is not, but there is an attached Crown Trifari Hang Tag.

    

Trifari with Copyright Symbol (no Crown)

In the 1970's and 1980's Trifari changed their signature by removing the crown symbol and switching to a slanted text. The copyright symbol was retained to protect the designs. The photo below shows the signature used during this era.

Mixed Trifari Marks

As mentioned, Trifari, like many other jewelry manufacturers, would continue to use its stock of clasps after signatures were changed, so it's not uncommon to see pieces with mixed signatures. For example, in the 1970's and 1980's Trifari made quite a few earring designs that were available as both clips and as posts for pierced ears. Clip earrings made during that time period may be stamped on the back with the 1970's-1980's Trifari Copyright signature, like the post versions were, but the clips might have the Crown Trifari signature, since Trifari would continue to use the older clasps until they were used up. Trifari would also use up the old necklace and bracelet clasps, so was not uncommon to see the Crown Trifari signature on the clasp, while the piece itself was stamped with the later Trifari Copyright, as in the photo below. This photo shows the back of a Trifari pendant necklace, where the pendant is signed with the Trifari Copyright signature, while the clasp is stamped Crown Trifari.

 

Trifari TM, Trifari TM Dated, Trifari TM Limited Editions

In the 1990's Trifari offered many high quality pieces for sale on QVC. Many of these used original Trifari designs from the 1940's and 1950's. Technically, vintage items are those that are 25 years old or older, but many collectors include Trifari TM pieces because they are the last of the signed Trifari pieces, with high quality and stunning designs. Pieces of this era were signed "TRIFARI" followed by the trademark symbol. Some were dated, and some were dated and also Limited Editions. The Limited Editions were packaged with a special card that indicated how many copies of the piece were made (usually 350 or 500). It's rare to find one with its original box and card. The Trifari Safari Series was a very popular Limited Edition line with jungle animals. The photos below show a Trifari trademark signature, a Trifari trademark signature with a date, and a Trifari Safari Piece, with its original box and Limited Edition card.

Seeing the Mark is Important

You can see why the signature is important for a collector, as it helps to date the piece. Pictures of the back of a piece are essential, as they not only show the signature, but also the construction. Especially for unsigned pieces, the construction helps to determine the quality and age of a piece.

Visit My eBay Store for Beautiful Trifari Jewelry

My eBay store has many Trifari pieces from various eras. Listings always have photos that clearly show the back of the piece and signatures are identified in the description. Please visit and browse through my many vintage jewelry pieces from Trifari and other Fabulous Designers. Thank You! Christine :)

My Classic Jewelry Shop

 
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