Hobe Jewelry: Rhinestone Costume Jewelry
Some say that the term “costume jewelry” was coined by the Hobe’ company, the makers of beautiful costume jewelry. Other costume jewelry manufacturers claim the word as their own. No matter what the truth is as to who actually coined the words, the one undisputed fact is that Hobe jewelry is recognized as having produced some of the finest rhinestone costume jewelry in the world.
In the Beginning
Hobe Jewelry gained its claim to fame with a location in Providence Rhode Island in the 1920s, but the origins didn’t start there. Just like in every family, the skills were refined, and developed, and passed down, from a generation before.
Costume Jewelry and Rhode Island Sparkle
Hobe From One Generation to the Next
Hobe Jewelry began in the late 1800s, around 1897 in France with the father, Jacque Hobe
who was a goldsmith, and applied gold smithing techniques to glass. Dad formed a business, but it was the son William, who took the business to the stars in the 1920s.
The real fortune for the Hobe’ family was made in America, in what would become one of the jewelry capitals of the world; Providence Rhode Island.
The very first products Hobe produced in the United States were buttons. Yes, rhinestone buttons.
After making buttons, William Hobe brought his jewels to the Zeigfield Follies, to be worn by the showgirls in the 1920s.
The Zeigfield follies, a musical showgirl production, launched many stars into fame. Stars like Lucille Ball, and Judy Garland began their career as Zeigfield Follies. They might have worn the very first Hobe’ jewelry manufactured in the United States.
The 1920s, the time period in-between two world wars, was a prosperous era, or at least had the illusion of prosperity, and broadway stars, took center stage. It was a spectacular time to make jewelry that sparkled and glittered, and some of the best customers were Broadway stars. Hobe jewelry was elegant. It was made for the stars.
The Movie Stars
The 1930s, the 1940s, and The 1950s
Ava Gardner, Betty Davis, and Marilyn Monroe were just a few of the starlets who wore Hobe rhinestone jewels. There were many more. Hobe’ branded the company as the “The jewels of legendary splendor”. Hobe became the rhinestone, costume jewelry, manufacturers, for the stars. They built a reputation as creating some of the finest rhinestone costume jewelry in the world.
As the culture shifted from the Zeigfield Follies, to Broadway, to the Century Fox productions, Hobe Jewelry followed along.
While the origins of Hobe jewels into the united States were in the 1920s with the Zeigfield follies, the heyday of the Hobe company was in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The jewelry from the 30s and 40s are highly collectible and might be some of the rarest pieces of them all.
After the stars danced on stage wearing Hobe earrings and necklaces the public would follow. Hobe branched into selling jewelry into high end department stores. Hobe created expensive high end, high value rhinestone costume jewelry. Sometimes they produced jewelry using precious gemstones, coupled with silver and gold, but most of it was costume, made with foil and glass. It sparkled and glistened. It was elegant. Each piece of Hobe jewelry made a statement. They were showpieces.
While New York City appealed to the very rich, with Tiffany Department Store leading the way, Hobe created jewels for the mass population.
Hobe Jewels are very well made. They sparkle and shine. Pick up any piece of Hobe jewelry and you immediately see that it is high quality costume jewelry. You immediately notice the difference between these jewels, and others. Hobe stands above the crowd.
The Hobe Signature can be found on the vast majority of Hobe jewelry, making it easy to identify. Whether you are looking at the back of a rhinestone pair of earrings, a sparkling brooch, or a necklace with tassles, you will find the Hobe signature.
The script style changed over the decades, allowing the inquisitive to date the jewelry.
Much of the jewelry looks antique, as if was produced in the 1800s, but most of it was made later, during Williams leadership.
On occasion you may come across a piece of jewelry or two that doesn’t have the Hobe signature, making it very difficult to positively identify it as belonging to Hobe, but for the most part all of it was signed.
Many manufacturers closed shop in the 1980s, and transferred production overseas. Hobe didn’t leave the country, but they closed the doors in Rhode Island and moved to Florida. Hobe continued to make jewelry in the 1980s from Florida, until 1995 when production ceased.
Hobe used rhinestones to make the vast majority of jewelry. Some of it was made with sterling silver and gold. Some of it was made with genuine gemstones. The majority of it was made with crystal and glass.
The necklaces often have tassels. Some pieces have a very definite asian influence. Without a doubt, Hobe jewelry has a holiday sparkle. After all, it began by reaching for the stars.
There are guide books to define the prices of Hobe jewelry. You can also check out Ebay, Etsy and additional online marketplaces. I am always weary when reading an exact price for a particular bracelet or necklace, because ultimately it depends upon market demand. How much a buyer is willing to pay for a particular piece of jewelry. Don’t expect to only pay a few dollars for Hobe Jewelry as its highly collectible, extremely well made, and commands top dollar for costume jewelry.
When you purchase Hobe Jewelry, you are buying costume jewelry that is top of the line.