Guest Author - Jacqueline Rehmann
Collectors of vintage costume jewelry have long been captivated by jewelry marked HAR©. HAR is known for excellent enameling and fantastic figural jewelry, including beautifully detailed Oriental figures with imitation ivory faces, exotic genies, cobras, dragons, and blackamoors. Enameled fruits, small whimsical animals, and more traditional jewelry designs with imitation pearls, rhinestones, faux turquoise and coral were also made by HAR. Some of the designs include large misshapen stones with an iridescent glow for which HAR is known. Selected pieces of HAR jewelry were featured in the famous 1990’s “Jewels of Fantasy” exhibit propelling this jewelry to international fame.
For years, jewelry sleuths have searched for clues about who made HAR’s highly desirable designs. Were they made here or in England perhaps? Could it be that HAR was an offshoot of another company such as Selini, Selro, or ART, companies also known for their exotic designs?
To the delight of collectors everywhere, the mystery was solved recently when Roberto Brunialti, jewelry historian extraordinaire, and Susan Klein, author of several articles and a book on mid-century costume jewelry, discovered that the HAR mark was owned by Hargo Creations in New York City. Joseph Heibronner and Edith Levitt founded the company in 1955, just 3 years after they married. What’s more, some of the most sought after designs, including the dragon and genie pieces, can be dated to April, 1959 based on U.S. copyright records. In the 1960 Jewelers’ Buyers Guide, the Hargo company was listed with an address of 82 Canal Street. Unfortunately, the company was somewhat short-lived. Mr. Heibronner died in August of 1968, which is probably why no records on HAR were found after 1967.
Many companies have tried to imitate HAR figural jewelry but none have been able to quite capture the beauty that makes this jewelry so collectible. In the case of HAR, one picture is worth a thousand words.
Because the company was only is business for about 12 years, HAR jewelry (especially the figural pieces) is quite rare. If you see it, buy it. You may not get another chance.
Jacqueline Rehmann is the author of “Classic American Costume Jewelry” published by Collector Books in 2009.
￼This petite piece with careful detail and excellent enameling is a good example of small HAR figural brooches.
￼A more traditional design is in evidence in this demi parure with faux turquoise, diamante rhinestones, and gold tone setting.
￼Genie parure features some of the best designs of HAR jewelry. The standing genie on the left was featured in the famous “Jewels of Fantasy” exhibition. Today, the catalog from that exhibit is a collector’s item. The elaborate bracelet is exceptionally rare.
￼Oriental figures such as these with faux ivory faces are hallmarks of HAR jewelry. Note the two designs of earrings, including figures with and without hats; the upper center piece is a scarf clip. The brooch (bottom row, center) was also made as a full figure.
￼ My personal favorite is the dragon parure by HAR which features molten-look stones throughout and beautiful green enameling. The parure shown has a necklace, brooch, clamper bracelet, and matching earrings. On the right is a detail of the clamper bracelet.
￼The HAR cobra is the most sought after of all HAR designs and also has a matching clamper-style bracelet, brooch, and earrings (not shown). It is rare to find a full cobra parure and when you do, it can set you back about $5,000!
HAR Jewelry by Dotty Stringfield, 2008, http://www.illusionjewels.com/Har_Hargo_jewelry.html
Warmans Costume Jewelry Figurals Identification & Price Guide