Black Libby Earrings
Black Libby Earrings
These limited edition earrings are composed of glass jewelry pieces from the 1920s originally from a German jewelry factory that closed down just before WWII. They were found in a European storage facility—most likely forgotten for several decades. 14k gold filled earring posts and backings have been added.
Because of the story, style and design of these pieces, we think they were developed by costume jewelry designer Jakob Bengel at the height of the Art Deco era.
The Story of Jakob Bengel
Until recently unknown as a costume jewelry designer, Jakob Bengel founded a watch chain and metal wares factory in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, in 1873. His was one of several such factories in the area. In the 1920s, the company abandoned the production of mass-produced wares of little or no aesthetic value in favor of creating costume jewelry. The company’s work was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus School, a German art school from 1919 – 1933, which combined crafts with the fine arts. They promoted and taught the skills for the making of jewelry from stainless steel, chrome, nickel, and glass, and the use of geometric shapes in design. The Bauhaus style became one of the most significant influences on modern design.
Bengel’s designers included well-known artists such as Wilhelm Wagenfeld, a Bauhaus graduate, who worked free-lance for the company. The company’s distinctive Art Deco pieces were so popular in the 1930s that they were exported all over the world. However, the jewelry made for export did not bear the Bengel factory mark or even the country of origin.
At the start of World War II, the Galalith Bengel used was no longer available for non-war use, and, consequently, production ceased. The Bengel name and its connection to the distinctive Art Deco pieces made of metal and colored Galalith remained unknown until the late 1990s. Because of renewed interest, the factory has re-opened as a museum and has produced limited-edition Art Deco jewelry, using the old pattern books, original tools and same production methods.