If you are into vintage jewelry, you have probably come across the gold baubles and vivid colored stones from Krementz & Co. Vintage pieces vary greatly, and it is sometimes difficult to tell what kind of quality you are getting.
Over the years, Krementz & Co. has made solid-gold jewelry in 18-karat gold but also was known for producing gold-plated jewelry with 14-karat gold overlay that was higher quality than costume jewelry but cheaper than fine jewelry.
Krementz was in business for over a century–which means it has produced a lot of jewelry in a range of styles. (According to history, a great deal of it was lost on the Titanic.)
Krementz did use solid gold and gold-overlay, and many pieces are still around. Read on for more details on whether Krementz is real gold.
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What is Krementz Jewelry?
Krementz & Co. is a vintage jewelry line that was popular in the late 19th through the 20th century. The company made a variety of items using its special gold overlay process, including necklaces, earrings, rings, and brooches for women, though it got its start making collar buttons, which are no longer in use today.
The company used high-quality 14 and 18 karat gold overlay, which was claimed to be “30 times thicker” than the overlay used in most cheaper costume jewelry at that time.
Much of the early style draws from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles that were popular at the turn of the 19th century and into the 20th century.
Many designs were inspired by nature and included vines, animals, insects, portraits, and flowers.
Later designs inspired by the Art Deco movement included geometric shapes and long lines.
The company later specialized in jewelry made of colored gemstones and was a major importer of gems from around the world. The company is also known for its cameos.
History of Krementz Jewelry
Krementz was started by a German immigrant in Newark, NJ in 1866. The company became well-known for selling men’s jewelry including cufflinks and collar buttons.
In the 1880’s the company began using a 14-karat gold overlay, which looked like solid-gold but was much cheaper, and the company began making all types of jewelry and selling at department stores. The quality was known to be much better than the costume jewelry available at the time.
Their manufacturing process revolutionized the production of jewelry and kept the company in business for over 150 years.
The company also focused on importing rare gems and producing original designs that would stand out in the market.
The company moved away from gilded jewelry in the 1980s and began making pieces in solid 18-karat gold and platinum, along with both unique and traditional gemstones.
In 1990 it sold off all divisions except its colored gemstone division. The colored gemstone division was moved to Fairfeld, NJ and then the company was sold in 2012.
The trademark Krementz is no longer owned by the family.
Is Krementz Jewelry Good Quality?
Krementz is known among jewelers today as a good quality vintage brand.
Many of their pieces have stood the test of time (some are over 100 years old at this point) and to many jewelers, this means they are well-crafted.
Yes, the company produced many gold items that are gold-plated, not solid gold, in addition to producing higher-end fine jewelry.
However, Krementz used real gold in their overlays, and their craftsmanship seems to have held up over the years, even in their lower-end pieces.
The Krementz company specialized in colored gemstones and was very particular about disclosing any treatments that were done to gems, such as heat treatments to improve color or “oiled” to fill in any inclusions or imperfections on the surface.
The company felt that buyers needed to be aware of these treatments and endeavored to disclose any time they were used on company gems.
Krementz also traveled extensively to source gems, even at a time when such travel was very rare. As a result, the company had access to a large range of unusual gems from places such as Sri Lanka and Burma.
The company felt that selling these unusual gems would set them apart from the competition.
Do Collectors Buy Krementz Jewelry?
Yes, vintage and antique jewelry collectors look to have Krementz pieces in their collections.
Krementz pieces vary in value based on age, rarity, manufacture, and design, though many Krementz pieces are now considered to be collectors’ items.
This is due in part to their excellent manufacture and the use of real gold in Krementz jewelry.
Collectors love the unique designs that capture certain periods of the 19th and 20th centuries, in addition to the use of rare and colorful gems.
Where Do I Buy Krementz Jewelry?
You can find Krementz vintage on Etsy at a variety of price points.
It is somewhat difficult to authenticate anything you find on Etsy, so do your research first so you can try to identify the real thing. Many Krementz pieces are stamped with some mark containing the words “Krementz,” “Correct Jewelry,” or “Diana.”
Make sure you look closely at any photos to see if the pieces are in good shape and ask the seller to send additional photos if need be.
Sometimes the seller will have the original packaging for a piece, though this doesn’t guarantee it is original.
Vintage jewelry sellers also occasionally have Krementz pieces on offer, which can usually be found listed online.
Krementz Jewelry FAQ
Is Krementz jewelry still made?
No. The Krementz family closed down the manufacture of solid-gold and gold-plating lines in the 1980s, and in 1990 moved the gemstone line to Fairfield, NJ.
The company closed completely in 2012 upon the death of the last family member in the jewelry business.
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Krementz & Co. prided itself on making good-quality jewelry that was available even to those who couldn’t afford solid gold.
Part of the company’s brilliance was in figuring out how to manufacture a high-quality overlay, some of which can still be found today.
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