CASTLECLIFF was launched in New York City over 100 years ago, at the dawn of the era of American made costume jewelry. Today, this heritage brand is still owned, operated and produced in NYC by artist and designer Stephanie Schwallie with a commitment to upholding the brand’s legacy, materials and commitment to craftsmanship.
Schwallie, an industry veteran, began her career at some of fashion’s biggest houses: leading Vera Wang’s private jewelry label, creating pieces for Isaac Mizrahi’s runway shows, and working with Jenna Lyons at J.Crew during their heyday. At J.Crew, Schwallie made a name for herself designing their vintage inspired jewelry, made fresh through modern layering and smart maximalism.
Established in 1918 by jewelry designers Clifford First and Joseph Bobley, CASTLECLIFF was established in the heart of NYC. Wartime in the 1940’s brought on a surge of creativity and scale, as designers embraced wood, plastics and unusual materials in response to material restrictions due to rationing. In the 1950’s, William Markle became lead designer at CASTLECLIFF, and his architecturally trained eye set a fanciful tone for the brand, drawing inspiration from a plethora of eras—most notably Gothic, Art Deco and the Renaissance era. The new decade brought unlimited access to materials, and his bold, sculptural and colorful jewelry was often adorned with multicolored rhinestones, glass gemstones and faux pearls, earning CASTLECLIFF's signature tagline, “The Talked About Jewelry.”
In the early 1970's Lawrence Vrba, arguably one of the greatest jewelry designers of the 20th century, took the helm at CASTLECLIFF and created some of the most iconic and sought after collections today. Inspired by Pre-Columbian artifacts and the vast archives of the American Museum of Natural History, his highly collectable pieces translated ancient jewelry into sculptural and colorful works of art in dramatic 1970’s silhouettes, complete with enormous glass cabochons and intricate details.