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[TIDBITS] Vive L'Amerique...Especially Le Newark, New Jersey


#1

Vive L’Amerique…Especially Le Newark, New Jersey.
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The Newark Evening News…January 9th, 1917. A story appears…and
I paraphrase: In St. Marks Square, in Venice, Italy, standing
before the window of a jewelry store, the wife of a wealthy man
from Newark remarks to her husband that she must, just must, have
that platinum ring being displayed in the window. That one over
there, dearest. She points. The one with the ruby in it. It would
be a souvenir for her, of their trip abroad. Whenever she would
look at it henceforth, she would be reminded of him, and of their
moonlit nights in this city of love, and of the gallant gondoliers.
But gallantry was not limited to Venetians, or Italians, or even
Europeans for that matter. For the husband was a jeweler himself,
and yet, he ceded to his wife’s wishes, ignoring the inner turmoil
he must have felt by buying a piece of jewelry he could most
assuredly make himself, and at a much cheaper price. Surely this
was an act of nobility, which would turn out to be superseded by
yet another act of gallantry that should have elevated our jeweler
from Newark to a state of sainthood. In a quiet moment, after
having bought his wife the ring, the jeweler examined it, only to
find it to be an item manufactured in Newark, New Jersey, in one
of the best factories of the day. But he didn’t say a word to his
wife, not wanting to disillusion her or separate her from the magic
she felt with the ring. Now is that the height of gallantry…or
what?

So…why this story, you may well ask. Yeah, well, I’m gonna tell
ya. Despite the romanticism attached to the jewelers from abroad,
in the early 1800’s Newark, New Jersey emerged in its infancy as a
major voice in the mass production of high quality jewelry. By
1872, Newark, the home of that crooner, had a manufacturing output
of $5 million a year. Figure what the dollar was worth in 1872, and
then what it’s worth today, and you’ll get an idea of what we’re
talking about here. Distribution was world wide…from Fifth Avenue
to the Champs Elysees. By 1929, on the eve of the “crash”, Newark’s
output was over $22 million per annum. In fact, 90 percent of the
country’s gold jewelry came out of Newark at the time. Newark was
the hub of the vogue of jewelry of its time, and was without
serious competition.

Much of the stuff we see today comes from the innovative minds of
the jewelers of that day and place. The production factories were
unmatched in their reputation for quality workmanship. I have
available so many pieces from which to pick that it becomes
difficult to choose. But choose I must, else I will hear it from my
friends as they wave stern fingers of admonishment, saying things
like: Yo! Benjamin! Show us something why dontcha. And so, I pick
a butterfly brooch, made circa 1905, in Newark, New Jersey. Ya
wanna see? You know where to go.

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