In 1892 Emanuel Ciner opens a fine jewelry company on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan. With a small, but uniquely skilled staff, he creates stylish gold and platinum pieces, including a patent for an “Improved Ear-Ring”
In the 1920’s, Emmanuel’s sons, Irwin and Charles, joined the business as apprentices. Working at Ciner until 1958, at the age of 92, Emanuel Ciner would pass down the legacy of fine jewelry craftsmanship to his sons and grandchildren.
Irwin Ciner was instrumental in improving the company’s rubber molding, casting, and enameling techniques. Charles Ciner led the company’s very successful sales team
With the onset of Black Tuesday in 1929, the demand for fine jewelry virtually disappeared. To both stay in the business they loved and avoid being saddled with the debt of Depression-battered customers, the Ciners became the first and only American fine jewelers to make the switch to manufacturing high-quality costume jewelry. Recognizing the need for quality costume jewelry with the same appeal as fine jewelry allowed Ciner to survive the Great Depression.
In 1930, the Ciners created their own line of fine costume jewelry, first in silver, then in white metal. With its success, the family business was rapidly becoming specialists in high-quality costume jewelry, working to master and to develop a special kind of rubber needed to make molds that could stand up to heated, liquid metals. Throughout the 1930’s, Emanuel, Irwin, and Charles Ciner were responsible for a variety of technical innovations in costume jewelry including perfecting the use of white metal, a strong but workable blend of tin and other metals. They also contributed to the development of induction casting, and helped develop a special kind of vulcanized rubber that could withstand heated molten metals.
"The CINER name at once signified the very finest in quality jewelry of this relatively new genre, a distinction that remains to this day"
Like any resourceful American entrepreneur; Irwin enlisted the help of the family dentist, a specialist in molding perfectly smooth inlays, to help develop a higher-quality jewelry molding method than existed at the time.
Ciner introduces its famous compact cases
During WWII, consumer use of metal was severely restricted. This almost bankrupted CINER- until the family offered its unique molding technologies to the US military. Used for munitions and other applications, these war time efforts kept the Ciners in business
“In 1946, Ciner starts advertising in national magazines such as VOGUE and Glamour with the slogan, “Look for the Sign of Ciner”
In the mid-1950s, Ciner introduces its design of compacts and lipsticks, popular with many Hollywood starlets. Working at Ciner until the week before his death, in 1958, Emanuel Ciner dies at the age of 92, passing down the legacy of fine jewelry craftsmanship to his sons and grandchildren. “Nobody has to make jewelry this exquisite” advertising campaign launches in The New Yorker and VOGUE.
In 1966, A Ciner necklace is featured on the cover of VOGUE. n the mid-1960’s, Ciner continues selling to some of the best retailers and department stores in the country, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Lord & Taylor. Ciner also sells to specialty stores around the world in cities like Paris, London, and Tokyo. Elizabeth Taylor discovers Ciner at the Mariko boutique in New York City, becoming a long-standing customer and collector of Ciner for the rest of her life.
In 1979, Irwin’s daughter (and Emanuel’s granddaughter), Pat Ciner Hill, assumes control of Ciner together with her husband, David Hill. Pat comes on board during an economic downturn, just as her father did during his first decade in the business with the Great Depression. Instinctively, she senses that costume jewelry was about to have a moment, “Like it always does when times are tough economically.”
David Hill, who brought his love of costume jewelry, appreciation of fine designs, and mechanical knowledge, successfully led the family business with Pat for the next several decades until his passing in 2008. In 1984, Jean Hill becomes the fourth generation of Ciner to join the family business, leading the company with her parents, and continuing the legacy of producing and manufacturing high quality costume jewelry in NYC.
"Most of the companies that entered the costume jewelry business in the early days came from shoe buckle manufacturing or started as costume jewelers, adds Pat Hill. Our company had the very best understanding of the creative and manufacturing processes that went into the design of precious jewelry."
The Hills prepared through diversification, complementing their archive of superlative, conservative classics with animal head pins, bold cuff bracelets, semi-precious beads, pearls, and crystals, and younger and slightly less formal looks.
In 1992, Ciner celebrates its 100th Anniversary- a milestone recognized by the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, fashion magazines and by many admirers of the Ciner tradition. Ciner starts designing and selling private label collections to retailers and designers worldwide
Ciner is featured in W Magazine’s iconic July issue with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt shot by Steven Kline. In this famous story “Domestic Bliss”, Angelina wears Ciner earrings in several of the photographs.
2015 saw the launch of Ciner’s first website.
Today, 127-years later, CINER remains family owned and operated, and the only surviving fine costume jewelry company left that designs, manufactures, and produces each piece by hand, all in its New York City atelier.