In 1910, Gustavo Trifari, an Italian emigre from a family of well-known goldsmiths from Naples, together with his uncle Ludovico, founded the company Trifari and Trifari. Two years later his uncle left the company.
Between 1918 and 1925, Leone Krussman and Carl Fisher joined the company, Krussman as a commercial director and Carl Fisher in charge of sales, changing the name of the brand to KTF with an enlarged T in the middle.
In 1930 renowned French jewelry designer Alfred Philippe joined the firm. Formerly working for Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels, Philippe brought his expertise to the table, such as the use of invisible stone settings. These new techniques distinguished Trifari jewelry and made them unique, transforming the brand. Philippe remained at Trifari until his retirement in 1968 and it is largely to his vision that Trifari became a household name.
In a shrewd marketing move, Trifari collaborated in the 1930s with Broadway and Hollywood producers to create custom jewelry for famous actors, which resulted in the brand’s enhanced market status. The pinnacle was reached when first lady Mamie Eisenhower, wife of president Eisenhower, dared to give up diamonds at an inaugural prom in exchange for costume jewelry pieces by Trifari. After that, all ladies wanted to be just as chic, especially since the models were not only classic and refined but also affordable.
During the war, like all other jewelry brands, Trifari was forced to switch to different metals due to restrictions on materials so they began to use silver which increased their jewelry prices dramatically. After the war, Trifari, developed a base metal that could be polished to achieve a silver-like lustre, which they called Trifarium. Their jewelry, although crafted out of inexpensive materials such as faux pearls, imitation semi-precious gemstones, rhinestones and enamel, was executed to look like expensive jewelry.
Trifari jewelry is collected worldwide and is displayed in Museum collections such as that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.