Inside The Jewelry Box
by Ann Mitchell Pitman

Printed with permission of Ann Mitchell Pitman and Collector Books
© 2004

Les Bernard was extremely inventive, combining materials and design styles previously unheard of in jewelry manufacturing. One of their registered trademarked innovations was a process called "Diamond Point Texture" according to the book Masterpieces of Costume Jewelry by Joanne Dubbs Ball and Dorothy Hehl Torem. They show an example of a prancing horse, whose entire body is covered with tiny indentations made by a diamond-pointed tool. The horse has genuine ruby eyes, another Les Bernard innovations. Many of their designs feature genuine precious and semi-precious stones.

Black rhinestone flower pin with earrings, 3". $250 - 275.00 set. Author collection
Another Les Bernard concept is the use of marcasites and rhinestones in the same piece of jewelry, previously unheard of because of the difficulty in manufacturing. Marcasites are flat backed while the rhinestones they used were pointed backed, making the hand setting painstaking. They even put this design into gold-tone jewelry, which gave the marcasites a "warm coppery hue" according to Ball and Torem.    (See example -- picture of lion pin at right -- $150 -175.00. Author collection.)

Les Bernard designs cover the spectrum of fine tailored-look jewelry, to whimsical figurals, to an Art Deco Influence.
Collector/dealer Pat Seal believes Les Bernard jewelry is undervalued by collectors, which is certainly true, as most costume jewelry books either barely mention Les Bernard or don't mention it at all. And since they were in business until the 1990's, many collectors view it as a contemporary manufacturer and overlook it. Seal believes many collectors want big jewelry, and many of the best Les Bernard designs are small.

This fish pin in shades of blue is very heavy. All of the fins can move to and fro; this three-dimensional little red-eyed fish is marked "Les Bernard Inc." and "Pat. Pend." As fish pins go, he is a real beauty. Rare. $225-250.00. Author collection.
Now is the time to seek out Les Bernard for your own collection. Many website and antique stores have Les Bernard jewelry available starting at five to ten dollars, and of course the dealers who know Les Bernard have their most beautiful work priced accordingly. Once collectors realize the quality, genius and talent behind this company, it should become highly sought after and collectible.

Heavy gold collar with differnt shapes and colors of stones. Notice that the back sides extend out to allow collar to be placed around neck. An amazing piece. $300 - 350.00. Author collection.

Inside The Jewelry Box can be purchased from Ann's website  Inside The Jewelry Box.

See  additional information on Les Bernard  on Researching Costume Jewelry.

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