Lea Stein was born in Paris in 1931 and married Ferdinand Steinberger, a chemist, in 1950.
She worked in the fashion industry and in the late 1960’s started to design costume jewelry made of celluloid.
The celluloid Lea Stein used was treated in a process developed by her husband: Layering very thin sheets of cellulose acetate and laminating them to form a ‘multi-coloured sandwich’.
Very often Lea Stein used sheets with a textile pattern as top layer. The layers or sheets were then baked together. This enabled her to make endless variations of one pin. The material can be formed over heat which gives the animal brooches the wonderful three dimensional shape.
The pin back is always V shaped and signed Lea Stein, Paris. Lea Stein produced in two periods: The first one is between 1969 and 1981 after that stopped production only to start a second period from 1991 until today, due to the high demand for her brooches. There is not difference between the signature of the first and second period.
The fantastic thing about the animal pins is that Lea Stein was so gifted in capturing the animals character in the jewelry.
Her most famous pin is surely the fox which was already produced in the late 60’s and which is still in production today.
But also Lea Stein's designs from the 90’s like the cats head, the laying cat and the standing cat are much sought after and are very decorative.
Apart from the pins occasionally bracelets can be found, but they are quite rare, as are earrings, buttons and even necklaces.