Krementz & Co.
Krementz‘s history began in 1866 when five men formed a company to manufacture jewelry, but it was in 1922 that George Krementz and Julius Lebkeucher joined their families into Krementz & Co., and used the humble collar button as the ladder to great prosperity. By 1900, says the company, most of the collar buttons produced in the world came from their New Jersey plant. When the partnership was divided in 1936, KREMENTZ & CO. continued with their speciality, the clad-metal line and some 10K and 14K gold manufacturing.
The English Sheffield silver process is probably the best way to define Krementz’ overlay which is basically a clad-metal process. Sandwiching you might call it, a base metal coated with thin strips of precious metal and bonded together under intense heat and pressure. In the case of Krementz the bar which results is “then rolled down to mirror-like strips from which the jewelry is made”. Their overlay is 14K gold.
Krementz’ calls this jewelry ‘unique’ and since the materials and the process itself is expensive this is probably true. Krementz’ is also famous for its ‘rose’. The company says that over the decades the rose has remained a steady and reliable seller. It has also ‘maintained its original design concept since before the turn of the century’ which proves once more that a thing of beauty really is a joy forever.
Unlike SWANK which began with ladies’ jewelry and switched to that for men, Krementz started with jewelry for men and not until the 1930’s when the collar button went the way of the dodo bird did it develop a major line for women. Richard Krementz Jr. says that by 1950 this was 50% of their business.
The Krementz Co. has always been a leader in the use of machines and early developed techniques for welding which replaced the old hand-soldering methods. This made it possible to manufacture a very high quality bangle bracelet without annealing the frames. This was a major advance since it eliminated the need for heating and slow cooling which toughened and reduced the brittleness of the metal. The overlay line continued to expand and in 1950 Krementz purchased a company which made colored stone jewelry and this became an important adjunct to Krementz production.
Krementz jewelry has a characteristic look and can often be recognized on sight without checking for the signature. This is indeed fortunate since the original boxes carry the company name, and the little standing paper trademark, but the jewelry itself is often not marked in any way.
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