In 1873 the locksmith Jakob Bengel founded the company to produce pocket watch chains. The mechanical production allowed low cost fabrication that empowered him to capture Europe rapidly. The main market was France; especially Paris was mesmerized by Bengel’s traditional historical designs in costume jewelry.
Bengel’s catalogue – called “Musterbuch” – was composed from 1924 to 1939 and illustrates jewelry drawings as the combination of Parisian taste and Art Déco or Bauhaus. Those pieces of jewelry were a mixture of brass chains and different geometric elements of colored Galalith, a stone that is made out of milk protein. This unique design using pure forms corresponded to the taste of a modern woman of the time.
At the beginning of World War 2 the use of Galalith for jewelry was forbidden in order to save raw materials. At the same time, this was the end of Jakob Bengel’s signature jewelry production so that the company produced military insignia for the army instead. After the war the production of costume jewelry resumed again. After a while however this business slowed down again due to the cheap labor countries.
In 1993 the market suddenly collapsed and the company of Jakob Bengel stopped the production completely. BUT: the family business has never gone bankrupt. The owner and great-grandchild of Jakob Bengel Mrs. Christel Braun and her husband Karl-Dieter preserved this historical treasure and transformed the company into the Jakob Bengel Foundation. This foundation is now entitled to preserve and restore the factory. Moreover, the foundation has given us the exclusive license to work with all designs, patents, and tools from Jakob Bengel. More information can be found under www.jakob-bengel.de