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A Handcrafted History



The Castlecraft Jewelry story begins with the story of Charles Ellis. A graduate of Greencastle High School, Charles underwent a 10 year period of hospitalization for Tuberculosis after spending one year in college. During his time in the Rockville, Indiana Sanatorium in the 1950's, he learned the art of wire wrapping alongside Alan Chamberlain and Bill May, turning this talent into a lucrative jewelry business with the help of fellow patients and staff. The jewelry created at the sanatorium was made under the name 'Hillcraft'.


After being discharged and returning home to Greencastle, Indiana, Charles continued to use these skills by creating his own jewelry company, choosing the name ‘Castlecraft’. Ellis, Chamberlain, and May remained friendly, often sharing designs, parts, and during busy times, even employees. Many pieces of Hillcraft and Castlecraft jewelry are nearly impossible to tell apart.

Mr. Ellis directed his staff in the making of earrings, neckpieces, arm ornaments, tie holders and many other affordable jewelry items. Simplicity of design characterized Castlecraft Jewelry. The high quality costume jewelry featured glass stones, beads, imitation jewels, and Swarovski crystals, and was entirely handcrafted.

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"Classic Beauty in Gold

Quality to be proud of

original in design

styled for lasting beauty

craftsmanship impossible to duplicate by machines"

-1964 Castlecraft Jewelry catalog

Castlecraft Jewelry couldn't be found in stores- it was sold through clubs, sororities, or as fundraisers. Sales representatives would collect orders from their customers before mailing them to the Castlecraft headquarters, using the following catalogs, Colorcharts, and Colorcards to showcase the variety of jewelry.

Flip through a Castlecraft catalog used by sales representatives.

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Castlecraft Jewelry catalogs were printed in black and white, making it difficult to visualize the color and details of the pieces. Color Charts (shown below) were one solution to this problem. Created for the large and extensive Castlecraft lines, they were sent to sales representatives alongside the catalogs.



Colorcards, used exclusively after 1964, were another answer to a black and white catalog. The cards were intentionally left unbound, so that sales representatives could pass them out individually.

the castlecraft team

Charles Ellis was committed to encouraging and employing members of the community with physical handicaps. He was well known in Greencastle, and throughout Putnam County, for being a kind man who took pride in the work he and his team did. He remarked: "Each piece of jewelry that we turn out... everyone of us... is NOT a factory product, but rather the finished work of art, the end result of skill and the intense desire to fashion something that is valuable".