Léa Stein (born 1931) is a French artist and accessories maker, known for her compressed plastic buttons, brooches and bracelets. She is often hailed as the most notable and innovative designer of plastic jewellery of the 20th century. You may have seen people wearing the wonderful brooches or pins of Léa Stein and not known anything of this wonderful Parisian designer.
Léa Stein began producing her unique range of jewellery during the 1960’s when her husband, Fernand Steinberger, came up with a process of laminating layers of Rhodoid (cellulose acetate sheets) with interesting colours and textures. The layers of Rhodoid were often layered with lace or special coloured processes and then cut into shapes for various designs of pins, bracelets, earrings and shaped decorative objects. From the side, you can see in some pieces as many as 20 layers of cellulose bonded together.
The most easily recognisable Léa Stein pin is the fox with its looped tail, made from one piece of celluloid. There are also many different styles of cats, dogs, tortoise, rabbits, birds, and ducks as well as a range of female heads styled on the art deco era. One of the most famous of the female heads was based on “Joan Crawford” and is sometimes referred to as “Carmen”. Her bracelets and earrings are harder to find and highly collectable.
Whilst Léa Stein did take a break from her jewellery making during the 80’s she returned to it and is still designing and producing today. All of her pins are marked with her name but not the earrings and bracelets. Some of the 60’s designs now command very high prices. We have both older pieces and current pieces in stock. Current pieces are obtained directly from Léa Stein in Paris.