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[Tidbits] The Shoemaker Jeweler

There’s a derogatory way of saying things. Re: You’re not a jeweler.
you’re a shoemaker. Of course the reverse could–under extreme
stretches of the imagination–also hold true. You’re not a shoemaker.
you’re a jeweler. Perish the thought that this last phraseology
should ever become standard in American linguistics. However. in this
last example… not only was it once true. but it was also the
highest of compliments. Shall I proceed?

It’s the turn of the century. A family emigrates to the United States
from Russia. The parents and their seven sons. Two of the sons open
their own business. They are shoemakers of sorts. They make shoe
buckles and convert low-heeled shoes into high-heeled shoes. They are
the Mazer family. They start their business in Philadelphia in
1917and end up in New York in 1927. In the beginning they were called
the Franco-American Bead Company of Philadelphia. In New York they
became the Mazer Brothers. And here’s how it evolved.

Marcel Boucher–he studied Jewelry design under Pierre
Cartier–worked for the Mazer Brothers from 1930 to 1937. Their shoe
buckles were the instruments that ultimately led them to
experimentation with costume jewelry. The impetus came from two
sources. One was from from a stone importer named Orenstein who sold
them goods for their buckles and who recognized their talent and the
other from Marcel Boucher … a fine jewelry designer in his own
right. both of whom urged and Mazer brother to stop the shoe-buckle
business and go into jewelry. Which they did.

Mazer’s early pieces looked like the finest form of the real thing.
High quality rhinestones and well as the best plating techniques of
the time made his items look like real gold and Their
jewelry was high quality and reasonably priced for that era.

The shoemakers’ now jewelers’ fame grew. In 1948 one of the
brothers–Joseph Mazer–left the firm to open a new enterprise called
Joseph J. Mazer & Co. with his son Lincoln. This company became known
as Jomaz. Marks on Mazer jewelry was Mazer, Mazer Bros., Sea-Maze,
and now Jomaz. The other brother–Louis–stayed with the original
Mazer Brothers firm until 1951 when the company’s last collection of
jewelry was made.

Joseph Mazer retired in the mid 1960’s and his company continued till
1981. It was dynastic. These people were at the forefront of the
costume jewelry business which was still in its infancy. Till the
end. the Mazers held a highly regarded place in that industry. The
admiration of their work still continues on to this time.

One could say that when one wends one’s way through the amazing maze
of the Mazers. one would be ablaze with craze and dazed with the haze
imbued upon us by them thar days. Okay okay. So poetry ain’t my
strong point. Whaddya want? I’m only a retired diamond setter. a
member of a group that once went to work in a pair of slacks, a tie,
and a sports jacket. regarded with esteem bordering on reverence by
peers of the trade. Anybody out there remember those times?

All of this brings me to a dagger. For those of you with evil intent
roiling in their souls. back off buddies. This dagger is a brooch of
immense size. It stretches 6.5 inches long. Its design shows the
detail of Mazer’s skills and adherence to fine craftsmanship. At each
end of the crossbar of our murderous little brooch is an animal head.
Looks a bit akin to a lion but I can’t be sure. Pricing in today’s
market–I think–is a tad under $1000.00 which is a fortune for
costume jewelry and speaks only of the integrity that went into the
making of Mazer jewelry and the value retention it still holds today.

Okay. You know the rest. The visit to the image. also known as the
viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. [Tidbits]. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see Mazer’s Dagger

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark

I’ve always wondered about the origin of this term. It’s one of the
reasons Idecided to use my middle name for my business (Erich
Christoper Designs, LLC) rather than my last… though I did feel
that the name “Erich Shoemaker Designs” could lead to some
additional confusion. Either way, thanks for the bit of history and

Erich C. Shoemaker