A Tribute To Wendi Mancini and Trifari Jewelry

A Tribute To A Fashionista & Trifari Jewelry

Back in Nov. Julie did a post on adding some pizzazz to your look by adding a brooch or pin.   If you missed that post you can read it here.   (In case you didn’t know, brooches and pins are having a moment this season)  With all the buzz right now about pins and brooches, it got me reminiscing about my days working for Trifari Jewelry and my boss/mentor, Wendi Mancini.

There is so much history to Trifari.   The mark Trifari made in the world of costume jewelry still echoes today.  They commissioned jewelry for Broadway plays, they had the first coast-to-coast advertising campaign for a costume jewelry manufacturer, they even won a lawsuit in 1955 that defines costume jewelry as works of art!

My boss at Trifari, Wendi Mancini, was the first wholesale jewelry saleswoman, Trifari historian and a True Fashionista!  She was also very active with Chicago chapter of  The Fashion Group International.    She introduced me the world of fashion.

My favorite line from Wendi “back in the day” was ….”you know you made it when you can afford a St John Knit”.   My days of working for her were filled with shopping trips on Michigan Ave and Oak St.  Mind you, I was in my 20’s and couldn’t afford a thing!  LOL

After Wendi retired, she became more involved, donating her time to raising funds for Hurricane Katrina and became involved with her church’s Rummage Sale managing the jewelry donations and jewelry dept. for the sale.   It was a way to connect her career with supporting her church.

Wendi had been a mentor of mine throughout the years and unfortunately passed away at this time last year.   I miss her dearly!

In memory of Wendi and my days at Trifari, I pulled out some of my vintage Trifari pins.   The pins with stones are all hand set using Swarovski crystal.

One of my fondest memories working at Trifari were the times we got to go to the factory in Providence RI and watch how the jewelry was made.  The process on how they hand set the stones into the pieces were my favorite.   The folks that handset these stones had a crazy way of making sure they got each stone set in the mold correctly.  They would cut out the bottom of a paper cup and looked through the hole of the cup to set the stones.   They told me that this process was the best at reducing the glare!

Over the years, Trifari had several ownership changes.  Trifari was purchased by Liz Claiborne in 2000. Now located in Puerto Rico, it brought an end to the high quality signed Trifari jewelry.

So with that, here are some of the favorite Trifari pins I own.

A pin or brooch is a simple and affordable way to make an older top, dress, coat or even a hat feel new.  I especially like to add several together on a denim jacket.  You can pick up a pin or brooch very inexpensively at a vintage shop, flea market or estate sale.   Anytime I wear one of my Trifari pins I’m stopped and complemented.  They just don’t make costume jewelry like this anymore and many of my Trifari pieces are now collectables!


  • Look for a jewelry mark. Most high-quality costume jewelry will have the company name or stamp.

  • Do you see green? Check if it has a green residue or the finish is delaminating. If so, its value is probably low.
  • Look for clear detail. Inspect the back of the jewelry and look carefully at the design details. If it’s sloppy or running together, it most likely is cheap, but if it’s clean and it has clear detail to it, then the quality may be higher.

If you’re unsure, your best bet is to take your jewelry to a reputable expert who can assess its value and suggest options for selling it.

In closing, I have to say that  I couldn’t have asked for a better boss, friend and company to work for.  Here’s to Wendi & Trifari. And Wendi ….I hope you are looking down with a glass of chardonnay and smiling!









  1. Jodie (Canham) Resendiz says:

    I just came across this post. What a nice tribute to my (great) Aunt Wendi. I was the lucky recipient of some of her jewelry and I will cherish it forever. Aunt Wendi was ine of a kind and will be missed.

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