Guest Author - Diane Geisel
I thought it quite appropriate for one of my jewelry collecting articles to be about Providence RI. I am a life-long resident of Rhode Island also known as the “Jewelry Capitol of the World”. Coro Jewelry was in business for 79 years, from 1901 to 1980, was once one of the largest manufacturing plants in the world, and was at one time the maker of half of all the jewelry sold in the world!
Back at the turn of the century Providence was known as the jewelry capital of the nation-- it seemed to be a city with a boundless future. The Providence Board of Trade and its successor, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, proudly trumpeted Providence as " the Gateway of Southern New England, " "the City of Fascination," "the Metropolis of Southern New England," and "the Centre of Northern Industries" and even prepared a promotional film on the city for national distribution.
Emanuel Cohn and Carl Rosenberger, who in 1902 opened a small shop on Broadway in New York City to sell personal accessories and inexpensive jewelry, some of which they made themselves. In 1913 they formed a corporation called Cohn & Rosenberger to manufacture costume jewelry. Originally marking their items with 'CR,' Cohn and Rosenberger switched in 1919 to the 'Coro' brand name, combining the first two letters of the partners' last names. Offering a large number of inexpensive items, Cohn and Rosenberger became a major manufacturer of costume jewelry by the mid-1920s, employing more than 2,000 people. Despite the onset of the Depression, in 1929 the firm opened a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, which at the time was a major center of the jewelry industry. After World War Two, the factory employed 3,500 and was the largest costume jewelry factory in the world. Whereas much of their merchandise could be found in five-and-dime stores, Cohn and Rosenberger's developed upscale lines of costume jewelry retailing at a much higher price point in specialty shops.
You will find many sites on the internet including Ebay, Etsy and Ruby Lane where jewelry produced by Coro is available and collected by many who still love these designs today. Because of my proximity, I check out local yard sales, church bazaars and flea markets…many people have these pieces locally.
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