Identifying DeLizza & Elster (Juliana) Jewelry 101

by Pamela Wiggins Siegel
 

Juliana – a collector’s nickname given to jewelry made by DeLizza & Elster – pieces were originally marked only with paper hang tags and only on select pieces made for a short time in the late 1960s. Most of those tags were discarded when the original owners wore the pieces leaving the jewelry unmarked today.
 

Through research, discussion, and making contact with one of the original owners of DeLizza & Elster, Frank DeLizza, eager collectors learned much more about the story of Juliana jewelry. Jewelry book authors have since been able to identify more characteristics and styles of these pieces to further educate collectors (see end of article for book recommendations).
 

Juliana Five Link and Band Construction
 

Front and back views of Juliana bracelet showing five link and band construction. – Photos by Jay B. Siegel

While DeLizza & Elster made a number of bracelet styles, the most easily identifiable is the five link and band construction shown here. Many Juliana pieces are recognized as mates to these bracelets once a five link and band piece is identified. The links can vary from rectangular, like those shown here, to oval in shape and the bands can be ribbed or textured. They also range in style from fairly simple to elaborately encrusted with rhinestones and/or other specialty stones.
 

Be aware, however, that other vintage bracelets with similar construction can be confused with Juliana designs. Take care to examine your pieces closely. There have also been recent copies coming into the vintage marketplace. These Asian import bracelets feel “off” in comparison to authentic DeLizza & Elster pieces. The most obvious clue is the presence of stones that are all affixed with glue. Authentic Juliana bracelets usually have the larger stones prong set although some of the accent stones may be glued into the settings.
 

Juliana Rivets
 

Back of Juliana brooch showing sparsely used heavy rivets. – Photo by Jay B. Siegel

Back when collectors were trying to put together the story of Juliana in the early 2000s, one of the things they noticed about pieces matching five link and band bracelets was the presence of heavy rivets. DeLizza & Elster used a specific type of rivet in the construction of their jewelry, as shown here.
 

This style of rivet was often used to hold clusters of rhinestones in place and can be found on necklaces, brooches, and earrings in addition to the company’s popular bracelets. These rivets are very sturdy and used sparingly in comparison to other heavily riveted pieces from the same era. For instance, jewelry marked Beaujewels and pieces marketed by Judy Lee – brooches and earrings in particular – have an abundance of rivets. If you find a brooch containing dozens of rivets and swedged construction when the back is examined, it is very likely that is not a Juliana piece.
 

Juliana Elongated Marquis Stones and Figure Eight Puddling
 

Back of Juliana brooch showing open-backed elongated navette stones and figure-eight puddling construction. – Photo by Jay B. Siegel

DeLizza & Elster prolifically used elongated marquis rhinestones, which are also known in costume jewelry as navettes, in their designs. Some pieces, like the brooch shown here (click on photo to see larger view), are comprised primarily of these stones while others have them interspersed among a variety of stone shapes. These stones were manufactured in dozens of colors in both foil-backed and unfoiled varieties. Many of those used in Juliana designs are unfoiled and are set into open backed stone cups.
 

Another telltale construction technique used by DeLizza & Elster is what collectors have dubbed “figure eight puddling.” This refers to the appearance of stone round cups that were soldered together while the piece was being made and then plated. These can be joined together in groups of two (those look most like a figure eight), three, or more.
 

Juliana Open-backed Settings and Wire Over Construction
 

Juliana earrings showing wire-over rhinestone elements. – Photo by Jay B. Siegel

Many Juliana pieces also have “wire over” construction. That is, wires that extend over the top of a piece of jewelry holding decorative elements that give dimension to the design. Sometimes the wires hold a simple floret or cluster of accent stones, as shown here, while other times they have more elaborate metal elements along with stones.

 

Open-backed settings were used for other sizes and types of stones in Juliana jewelry as well. These are almost always noted when larger stones, such as high dome cabochons or stippled cabochons, are present. Some smaller unfoiled stones are set with open backs as well, which allows light to shine through to intensify the brightness and sparkle of the stones.
 

Many costume jewelry manufacturers employed open backs to cut down on the cost of plating, however, so other design and style factors should be taken into consideration when identifying DeLizza & Elster jewelry.

 

Juliana Bead Dangles
 

Juliana necklace with many bead dangles. – Photo by Jay B. Siegel

Many Juliana pieces incorporate dangling elements such as colored or clear glass beads, simulated pearls, or art glass beads. These dangling elements were used on many bracelets, necklaces, and matching earrings. Necklaces can be elaborate like the one shown here, or simpler with just a few dangles here and there.
 

Other manufacturers also used dangling elements during the same era so looking for additional clues such as riveted construction, specialty stones, figure-eight puddling and other techniques and attributions of Juliana jewelry is important in making a positive identification.
 

Juliana Specialty Stones
 

One of the best examples of DeLizza & Elster’s use of specialty stones is the “Everything” necklace shown here. This style incorporates uniquely shaped margarita and rivoli stones along with colorful Heliotrope stones (the blue version of “watermelon” stones) set among more traditionally shaped and colored rhinestones.
 

Eye-catching specialty stones were often used in DeLizza & Elster designs. In addition to margarita stones (the scalloped edge bi-color examples in this piece) and rivoli stones (the large pointed-top stones shown here), they also used “cat’s eye” foil-backed cabochons, and stippled cabochons nicknamed “Easter egg” stones by collectors, among many others.
 

Juliana “Everything” necklace. – Photo by Jay B. Siegel

Pieces containing these types of specialty stones are among the most popular with collectors. Keep in mind, however, that other makers also used the same or similar specialty stones so looking for other characteristics is paramount when making an attribution as Juliana.
 

To learn even more about Juliana jewelry the resources below are recommended publications and online sources.
 

Recommended Books for More Information on Juliana Jewelry
 

Juliana Jewelry Reference, DeLizza & Elster: Identification & Price Guide by Ann Pitman
 
Juliana Jewelry: The Last Generation by Paula Knutson and Karla Wacker
 
The Art of Juliana Jewelry by Katerina Musetti
 
Online Resources for Juliana Study
 
Is It Juliana Jewelry? – Research Database
 
How to Identify Juliana Jewelry – An article by Pamela Wiggins Siegel for Antique Trader
 

Pamela Wiggins Siegel is a co-founder of CJCI and the author of “Warman’s Costume Jewelry,” which also includes information on Juliana jewelry. Visit her at ChicAntiques.com.