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Lawrence (Larry) Vrba Jewelry





Morning Glory Antiques & Jewelry

presents
~




JEWEL CHAT

Costume Jewelry Magazine

Larry Vrba

Larry Vrba is a wonderful jewelry maker and a good friend. He has
been making jewelry for over 40 years and was the head designer at
Miriam Haskell Jewelry in the 1970’s. Larry makes jewelry for the
Broadway Stage and Metropolitan Opera, as well as for boutiques,
balls and vintage jewelry shops. His pieces are almost always quite
large, usually four inches or more, and he has a huge collection of
vintage beads and rhinestones
from which to fashion them.

The brooch on the right is one of my favorites as
it has such a rich combination of stones and colors. This particular
piece is really too large for me to wear, but it is a jeweled
sculpture. Each and every Vrba piece is hand made, so it is not
always easy to get his jewelry. Vrba jewelry has never been mass produced
or made outside the US. His astounding parures, poured glass petal bouquets,
vase and basket brooches and Christmas tree brooches are favorites.

VRBA JEWELRY
VRBA CHRISTMAS JEWELRY



Vrba at Miriam Haskell Jewelry

After a stint in the Army, Larry moved from his home in Lincoln, Nebraska,
to New York City in June 1969. Looking for work and being a fan of
Miriam Haskell jewelry, Vrba repeatedly went to the
Haskell offices
asking for a job. By pure luck he ran into the then-owner of Haskell
Jewelry, Sandy Moss, and Moss hired Vrba as a counter. A counter assembles
the pieces for each piece of jewelry, preparing it for the jewelry makers.

Within six weeks of being hired, Vrba was a designer making jewelry
each Friday, a position he held for about 1-1/2 years. When Bob Clark, the
head designer, left to partner with William De Lillo, Larry went with him.

Within a short time after that he moved on to Castlecliff Jewelry where worked from
about 1970-72. (See below)

Meanwhile back at Haskell,
another head designer left and Larry came back home, becoming head designer
from 1973 to 1981. He was young, talented, creative and an asset to every
company he ever worked for.




A young Larry Vrba thrilled
to be working at Miriam Haskell Jewelry.

Larry says, "This wonderful old photo of Bertl, my
assistant in the mid-1970s at Haskell, is sent to you so you will
vibrate with envy at that tray brimming with those gorgeous 12mm pearls,
today worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars!" She was also
assistant to Frank Hess, the first head designer for Haskell.
Larry, Bertl and other Haskell
employees.





Larry with
Donna on his right and Bertl on his left, taken in 1972. He wears a Hess
Star brooch and on the wall behind Bertl is a Women’s Wear Daily
ad for jewelry he designed at Castelcliff. Also in the background on the
wall is a chart showing the finding of the regal brooch shown at right.
>>

HASKELL/VRBA this fabulous portrait pin was made for a Broadway play
by Larry Vrba when he was the designer for Miriam Haskell Jewelry. There was more regal-looking jewelry made for the same
play, and I dream of finding other pieces. (Seen in Christie Romero’s
"Warman’s Jewelry, 2nd Ed, page 195.)
View
View
#H10012

Bertl Groll, long time sample maker at Miriam Haskell
Jewelry and assistant to the head Haskell designers from Frank Hess on.



HASKELL blue
and green glass bead and poured glass brooch and 14-16" necklace
using German parts,
designed by Larry Vrba for the buyer at Sakowitz, who loved blue and green
in combination. This group is circa 1970. The set can be seen in "Haskell Jewelry" by Gordon & Pamfiloff, page 221.
View
View #H20738

HASKELL blue
and green glass bead and poured glass brooch and 14-16" necklace
using German parts,
designed by Larry Vrba for the buyer at Sakowitz, who loved blue and green
in combination. The set can be seen in "Haskell Jewelry" by Gordon &
Pamfiloff, page 221.
View
View #H20738

HASKELL Vrba necklace and earrings in
blue and green glass beads of unusual shapes, circa 1970. The necklace is 21"
long with a 4" front drop and the earrings 1-3/4", all marked "Miriam Haskell". Designed by Larry Vrba for the buyer at Sakowitz, who
loved blue and green in combination. According to Vrba, these pieces were
made using German parts and there were originally several pieces to this
line including a poured glass butterfly brooch.
View
View
View #H33205




HASKELL Egyptian
scarab motif aqua, blue and orange 2-5/8" brooch designed by Larry Vrba
circa 1972-4. Larry says thousands of these were made because this was an
extremely well-received group which stayed in the line for about 2 years due
to it’s popularity. That is a long time, as many pieces from that era
were only sold for one season. The set can be seen in "Haskell Jewelry" by
Gordon & Pamfiloff, page 220, and in Cera’s "Jewels of Miriam Haskell" page
198.
View #H22991
VRBA Lawrence (Larry) Vrba
Egyptian pendant necklace with a 25-1/2" chain with a 5" by 2-3/4" pendant.
This is in the same style as the Egyptian line he did for Miriam Haskell
only larger.
View
View
View #K32767

HASKELL gold tone bracelet with
sphinx, 8-3/4" total length with band 7/8" and sphinx 1-5/8" by 1-1/4".
View #H32768


HASKELL Larry Vrba design
green marbled bakelite drop necklace with gold tone twist chain circa
1975, chain 18" and entire pendant portion 4".
View #H64889




Miriam
Haskell showcase, 1970s.

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1970s.

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1973.
View




Miriam
Haskell showcase, 1970s.

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1973.
View

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1970s.




Miriam
Haskell showcase, 1970s.

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1970s.

Miriam Haskell showcase, 1970s.


Vrba designs for CASTLECLIFF

Larry worked at Castlecliff from about 1970-72. He designed several
very successful lines including a pre-Columbian look. That look came out
with glass stones in the first season some natural stones in the second. The
glass elements were made by a bead company originally called "Jewelry
of Four Seasons", which Castlecliff bought and owned for 4-5 years.
Beads were melted to form the lovely centers of this line of jewelry.

Vrba tells of
going to the Museum of Natural History and purchasing a few pieces of
jewelry from which he designed historically inspired motifs, cut up and
reassembled. Also included were pieces inspired by of Native American and
historic motifs. Castlecliff manufactured their own jewelry on 17th Street
in New York City and their showroom was at 366 5th Avenue in a great
jewelry area and across the street from B. Altman. Castlecliff had it own
designers, model makers and sales people and made good quality costume
jewelry which got the attention of many in the fashion world.




CASTLECLIFF pendant with
Aztec inspired pendant necklace with blue glass center and burgundy,
blue and green enamel, 16" chain and 3" pendant, circa 1973. This
wonderful piece was designed by Larry Vrba during his time at
Castlecliff. Larry
Vrba
designed for Castlecliff, was head designer
for Miriam Haskell, and now does his own wonderful lines of jewelry. He
says the lovely center poured glass part of this brooch was made from a
melted glass bead from the bead company which Castlecliff owned at the
time. Here is a
B. Altman & Co.
advertisement from New York Times,
January 16th, 1973, for this style.
View
View #X35390

CASTLECLIFF pendant designed
by Larry Vrba during his time there, circa 1973. Aztec motif in burgundy and
green enamel in textured Russian gold tone circa 1970, 4" pendant on a 16"
chain.
Larry Vrba
designed for Castlecliff,
was head designer for Miriam Haskell, and now does his own wonderful lines
of jewelry. He says the lovely center poured glass part of this brooch was
made from a melted glass bead from the bead company which Castlecliff owned
at the time. Here is
a B. Altman & Co.
advertisement from New York Times, January
16th, 1973, for this style.
View
View #X35391

CASTLECLIFF belt with a
Native American design by Larry Vrba, 33" by 3" front by 1-1/4" back.
View
View #X34689



New York Times advertisement, January 16th, 1973.
Pre-Columbian and ethnic inspired designs by Larry Vrba for Castlecliff.
According to Larry, the gorgeous glass centers were melted from beads
from Castlecliff’s own bead factory.

CASTLECLIFF Vrba designed brooch
with American Indian motif, blue, burgundy and green enamel in textured
Russian gold
tone circa 1970, 3-1/4".

Larry Vrba
designed for Castlecliff, Miriam Haskell, and now does
his own wonderful lines of jewelry. He says the lovely center poured
glass part of this brooch was made from a melted glass bead from the
bead company which Castlecliff owned at the time.
Here is a B. Altman & Co.
advertisement from
New York Times, January 16th, 1973, for this style.
View
View #X33541

CASTLECLIFF Larry Vrba designed
ethnic inspired pendant of orange, blue aqua and red marquis surrounding
a center white glass oval all set in gold tone, 32" heavy chain and
3-1/3" total length pendant.
View
View #X61252








CASTLECLIFF Myan or Aztec inspired jewelry designed by Larry Vrba. CASTLECLIFF Larry Vrba designed
ethnic inspired pendant of orange, blue aqua and red marquis surrounding a
center white glass oval all set in gold tone, circa 1970, 32" heavy chain and 3-1/3"
total length pendant.
Larry
Vrba
designed for Castlecliff, Miriam Haskell, and now does his own
wonderful lines of jewelry. Here is a B.
Altman & Co.
advertisement from
New York Times, January 16th, 1973, for this style.
View
View
#X61252
CASTLECLIFF American Indian inspired pendants by Larry Vrba
B. Altman advertisement..




CASTLECLIFF Asian style gold tone pendant necklace
with blue molded glass inserts of butterflies and flowers, 16" chain
2-3/4" pendant. This was designed by Larry Vrba during his time at
Castlecliff. View
View #X61734

CASTLECLIFF pendant
with cobalt blue glass center, 3" pendant on a 16" chain.
View #X33746

CASTLECLIFF pendant with Aztec inspired pendant
necklace with blue glass center and burgundy, blue and green enamel, 30"
chain and 2-7/8" pendant. This wonderful piece was designed by
Larry Vrba during his time at Castlecliff.
View #X33808


Vrba Today

In 1981 Larry Vrba left Miriam Haskell Jewelry, going to work for Les Bernard
Jewelry. Larry Vrba had goods in Dillard’s for 3 seasons in the 1980’s, too. In about 1983 began his own jewelry
line,
creating strong three-dimensional, colorful and large pieces. Among the customers for his
own "Lawrence Vrba" jewelry can be counted the Broadway theater
(jewelry for Hairspray, tiaras and scepters for Wicked and
many more), Metropolitan Opera, shops, boutiques and collectors. His line is
being shown at Bergdorf Goodman, and the most recent Broadway shows for
which he has made jewelry are "Hairspray", "Exit the King", "Blythe Spirit"
with Angela Lansbury
and the revival of "Lend Me a Tenor". As one of the most respected
contemporary jewelry makers around, his line has remained successful and in
demand for over 50 years. Larry is that unusual
combination of the creative talent and a great mind for business. He now
works in his own studio creating on a daily basis.




Larry Vrba
and friend at home.

Just one shot of the millions of vintage stones Larry has in his
collection. These stones are often the source of his inspiration.

Larry’s grandparent’s wedding, November 1907




VRBA carved jade butterfly
surrounded by art glass cabochons and semi-precious stones 5-strand
necklace, 20" by 4-1/4" with brooch and dangle earrings 2-1/3".
View
View
View #K32959

Larry and Jane at a jewelry convention.

VRBA red poured glass
cabochons and rhinestones necklace and earrings with red faceted glass beads
and red and
clear rhinestones, lush and lovely, necklace 16-19" with a 3" front
drop and earrings
2-1/2". One of Larry’s best! View
#G60807




VRBA green glass leaves and
pastel beads dress clip, 6".
View
View
#K23629

VRBA bracelet with yellow glass
Buddha, red, purple and topaz colored rhinestones, hinged, 7" by 1-1/4" with
matching earrings. View
View #G60728

VRBA necklace with ivory carved
Oriental center piece, ivory- and carnelian-colored glass beads with golden
rhinestone roundelles, caramel, blue and green cabochons and rhinestones,
17" by 4" front drop. View
#K32971




VRBA brooch, Italian 1930s blue
glass flower petals and green pressed glass leaves flower brooch, 5".
View
View #K31519
VRBA brooch, pastel blue
rhinestones and artificial pearl flowers and tendrils set in gold tone, like
a tapestry, 5". This is absolutely lovely, like a Haskell in look,
only huge!
View
View #K31473
VRBA brooch comprised of
Italian 1930s pink glass flower petals and green pressed glass leaves flower
brooch with clear rhinestone accents, 4-1/2".
View
View #K31476




VRBA brooch, real Textile
Cone sea shell
with green Italian glass leaves, orange carved plastic shell (from the
Nettie Rosenstein collection), mother-of-pearl buttons, coral glass
beads, clear and yellow rhinestones set in gold tone, 4" by 4-1/2".
View #K31248

VRBA brooch, real sea shell
(Lazarus Jewel Box that has been polished down to the mother-of-pearl) with
artificial graduated hue stick coral, aqua glass beads and pink and
yellow rhinestones set in gold tone flower brooch, 5".
View
View
View #K31246

VRBA brooch,
real Tiger Cowry sea shell with green Italian glass leaves, aqua glass molded beads,
coral beads and clear rhinestones set in gold tone, 4-5/8".
View #K31247




VRBA basket brooch, seed pearl
body, orange and aqua molded glass flowers, mother-of-pearl flowers, clear
rhinestones, 4" by 3". View
#K32710

VRBA ivory
Asian face brooch with jade, cinnabar, rhinestone and seed bead
headdress and collar and lapis-blue colored cabochons, 6-3/4".
View
View
View #X28580

VRBA contemporary
faux netsuke set with pink and clear rhinestones in the 1940’s Hobe style.
View #K22165





VRBA pink
rhinestones candle in greens brooch and earrings with golden, green and
red accents. View
#K11018

VRBA Christmas tree
brooch with topaz rippled glass oval rhinestone with green and clear
rhinestone accents and candles and artificial pearls, 4-1/2".
View #K29359

VRBA
faux hematite, yellow and pink rhinestones 7-1/2" by 1-1/4" bracelet and
1-1/3" earrings. View
View #K23621