Friday Finds: The Providence Jewelry Museum

Remember that show Providence? It starred Melinda Kanakaredes. (Where is she now anyway?) and ran on NBC in the early 2000's (Maybe you can catch it on Netflix?). Well, it always drove me batty when they'd talk about TF Greene Airport being in PVD. It's not. And neither is the Providence Jewelry Museum, which, since the early 1980's, has called Cranston home. (It's down a few side streets, not far from another key player in Rhody history, Twin Oaks.)

These days, it's open by appointment only, but if you ever get the chance to tour it and see the collection of original signage, castings, machinery, costume jewels, and other objects of interest, you've gotta sign on. Yesterday, the curator, and one of the founders of PJM, Peter Decristofaro, gave us a lively tour of much of what he's helped amass over the last 3-4 decades, including:

  • A wall of antique signs from the abundance of companies that helped make PVD 'the jewelry capital of the world' back in the golden age of manufacturing in the US.
  • Artifacts from the men credited with kicking off the jewelry making industry here (The very first factory was actually around the corner from where Geoff's and DenDen are located.)
  • The twin bejeweled murals, crafted by employees of one of RI's premier makers, Trifari, that appeared as the backdrop when the Antiques Road Show filmed at the Museum in 2012 (In person, they are stunning. Decristofaro apparently rescued them from being tossed a few decades ago.)
  •  Samples of the work of the French company that dates back to Napoleon and inspired a lot of local artisans to co-opt their stuff during said golden era(s)
  • Mr. Decristofaro even did a demo for us, transforming the metal in the photo above right before our eyes, using mostly 19th century machinery. Viola, a perfect pair of earrings. (Photos above.) 

Ciao for Now,

Patty J

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of