Jeweler Eugene Joseff not only created a special plating technique to reduce glare from the harsh studio lighting but also developed the business model of loaning pieces to studios, meaning he could use them again and again, Julien’s Auctions said.
Los Angeles--Julien’s Auctions is having a sale in November that’s perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to dress like a celebrity.

On Nov. 16 and 17, the auction house will feature “Joseff of Hollywood: Treasures from the Vault,” which includes more than 600 piece of costume jewelry created by Eugene Joseff, a jeweler-to the-stars from Hollywood’s golden age.

While pre-sale estimates for individual pieces are not yet available, the collection is expected to garner between $2 and $3 million.

Legendary stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Olivia de Havilland and Greta Garbo wore his designs in movies in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Joseff moved to Hollywood in 1928, where he fell in with such costume designers as Walter Plunkett and Adrian and Edith Head. After working in that area for a bit, he decided to start using his metalworking skills to create historically accurate jewelry to be worn in films.

He studied museum pieces and also conducted his own detailed research to improve his craft, eventually developing a special antiqued plating technique designed to soften the glare of the harsh studio lighting and add a look of authenticity to each piece, which he would apply after casting and assembly.

With a limited budget at first, Joseff also is credited with starting the idea of renting and loaning jewelry to studios, Julien’s Auctions said.

Joseff started “Joseff of Hollywood” in the late 1920s. 

After he died in 1948, his wife, J.C., took over the business and managed the company until her death at the age of 97 in 2010. She even earned an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women of Motion Picture Industry.

Both were not only master jewelers, but also masters at working the social scene in Hollywood, using their personalities to network with designers and studios to ensure that Joseff’s work was sought-after for many years.

According to the auction house, Joseff supplied almost 90 percent of all jewelry worn on-screen in the 1930s and 1940s, and he is credited with making jewelry an integral part of costume design.

Well-known pieces that appeared on the big screen include a belt fitted for Taylor in “Cleopatra” (1963), an elaborate jeweled bib necklace worn by Ona Munsen in “Shanghai Gesture” (1941), and the necklace worn by Vivien Leigh and cigar case used by Clark Gable in “Gone with the Wind” (1939).

Through Joseff’s loaning system, most of the pieces stayed in his possession, and the collection has remained in the Joseff family in its entirety since then.

Julien’s Auction said it rarely has been seen, let alone offered at auction.

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