These first pieces, when worn by Diane, attracted a lot of attention, and even offers to buy them. At first, she resisted the offers, but then decided that selling them would enable her to continue and expand this venture. She created at least 150 one-of-a-kind pieces which were sold through Bergdorf-Goodman in New York City. Each piece came with a card detailing the history of the art object incorporated into the piece. This first collection generated a lot of publicity, and was very well received.
Following the success of the precious jewelry pieces, someone suggested to Diane that she consider creating designs for the costume jewelry market. It was thought that if she did not do it herself, someone else would! So, she contacted the Trifari Company about working with them on a costume jewelry collection. As with the precious jewelry, the concept was to incorporate antique art objects, only this time they would be replicas. Each piece came with historical information about the original art object that inspired it. The collection for Trifari garnered a lot of press, was distributed nationally, and was a hit!
Diane had occasion to visit the Trifari factory in Providence to consult on the manufacture of her designs. Some new processes had to be developed in order to execute her designs. For example, she wanted a black finish on some pieces, which did not exist at the time. Also, the regular 14K gold color plating that Trifari had been using was not the color that Diane envisioned for her pieces. She wanted an 18K gold look which was a bit greener. At first, the manufacturing folks balked at having to do things differently than they were used to, but they relented, and Diane got the results she was after.
Diane is a self-confessed perfectionist. She does not compromise on her attention to detail, for it is the details that add up to good design. For example, rather than use stock clasps on her designs, clasps were custom-made. As a final step in the production of her jewelry, Diane designed a vitrine style box for each piece, lined with padded satin and with a clear Lucite top, so that the jewelry could be admired even when it was not being worn.
Diane would do the initial drawings for her designs, and head designer Andre Boeuf would oversee the preliminary model-making. Diane would meet with Mr. Boeuf at the Trifari design studio on West 57th Street in New York to approve the model before production began. Often a model would have to be re-worked one or more times before being given the stamp of approval. Not all designs went into production. Designs that proved problematic to produce, or would have been too costly, were eliminated.
In addition to the look of her pieces, Diane was equally concerned with their wear ability. They had to be comfortable to wear. So, necklaces and bracelets were sculpted to conform to the body. For one long necklace, the link at the bottom was specially shaped so the necklace would hang in a perfect oval when worn. Earrings always had a left and a right model.
Diane enjoyed working with the respected designer Andre Boeuf at Trifari, and found him very accommodating. She also has fond memories of Louis Krussman, son of one of the original owners, and describes him as a very nice, distinguished gentleman. She was pleased that, despite difficulties, they were very good to her, and let her do what she wanted.
Diane was the first “outside” designer to have her name attached to a Trifari collection.
Two fortuitous examples of Diane Love’s designs for Trifari are pictured on page 337 in the book Jewels of Fantasy, known to some as the “bible” of costume jewelry. The first design is a large copper tone medallion, a replica of a Sassanian plaque, fifth century BC, hung on a combination gold/copper tone necklace inspired by middle eastern scroll motifs. The second design is a “man in the moon” theme necklace and bracelet set with a black finish, accented with rhinestones. The crescent shaped moon-with-face design was modeled after a French Directoire horse bridle ornament. Another design incorporated a rampant mythical lion, or shi-shi, with a curly mane. The four-headed bird brooch design pictured here was modeled after an ancient Luristan bronze, and was worn frequently by Barbara Walters when she was hosting the Today Show. And the oval medallions on the watch band pictured here were modeled after Japanese sword hilt ornaments, or menuke.
Diane’s vibrant designs for Trifari helped to usher in a Renaissance of wildly creative costume jewelry that continues to this day.
NOTES ON PHOTOS: All other photos are by Robert Corwin
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