History of Czech Jewellery


It is not by coincidence that the Jablonec nad Nisou area is called the country of glass and costume jewellery in books by historians and topographers. These two industries have made impact on this area's history and they have contributed to forming its features in an indelible way.

Glass was made in north-east Bohemia as early as the 14th century, as shown by finds in the village of Sklenarice near Vysoke nad Jizerou. Several prosperous glassworks were in operation in the Jizerske Mountains in the 16th century, glassmaking developed fast and specialized trades of glass cutters, engravers and painters arose, which were focused on re­fining and decorating the glassworks' products.

Costume jewellery manufacture started a lot later. Glass composition, which was the raw material for precious stone imitations used as parts of bijoux, was first made in the Turnov area at the beginning of the 18th century. This product also found its way to the Jablonec nad Nisou area and it began dominating there in the second half of the 18th century. Owing to technological improvements, glass imitations were mass produced. Jablonec nad Nisou and the surrounding area became the centre of glass blanks and glass costume je­wellery manufacture. Metal costume jewellery manufacture was on sharp increase in the 19th century The costume jewellery trade reached extraordinary volumes and Jablonec nad Nisou became the world's costume jewellery centre around 1900.


In the 1950s, the main emphasis in Czechoslovakia was placed on the development of heavy industry, and the costume jewellery industry was suppressed. Development was restored in the 1960s and 1970s, although production never reached its former importance. Under the socialist economy the costume jewellery industry was managed centrally. The different producers became parts of a combined system and there was an integral complex for the manufacture of raw glass, glass and metal semi-finished products, and finished jewellery. Between manufacturers, strong mutual cooperative ties were established, which allowed entire range of costume jewellery to be offered. These links still exist.

Following the 1989 political changes, the Jablonec Costume Jewellery Concern was divided into separate enterprises in 1990. These were transformed into joint-stock companies and privatized. Preference was given to methods of privatization that would prevent the liquidation of the Czech costume jewellery industry, and preserve existing links. The entire sector is now in private hands, and all producers have viable and clearly defined owners.

Glassmaking and costume jewellery making's present times, that is mainly the manufacturers of a varied rich range of fancy goods - large industrial companies, small businesses, individual artisans.

The Future of the Czech Costume Jewellery Industry

The Czech costume jewellery industry is concentrated in the area of Jablonec nad Nisou, a town of 40,000 inhabitants 100 km north of Prague. Jablonec is the centre of a costume jewellery-producing region which also includes the areas of Železnę Brod, Turnov and Liberec. The region has economic and business potential, and the whole gamut of manufacture, commerce, research and development, educational, and other related activities. Local production of costume jewellery represents more or less the entire branch in the Czech Republic and is the main employer in the region. The majority production has always been for foreign markets.