The Asprey firm was founded in 1781 by William Asprey. The business was a high-end retailer of traveling cases and accessories before expanding to include magnificent jewels in the 20th century. The firm continued to grow in reputation spurred by its appointment as the jeweler to the English royal family. The company partnered with Garrad in 1995. The merger didn't last long, dissolving in 2002. Asprey remains in the original New Bond Street site and caters to prominent customers throughout the world.
Bailey, Banks & Biddle
Originating in Philadelphia, the firm was known as Bailey & Kitchen, after the founders Joseph Trowbridge Bailey and Andrew B. Kitchen. When they opened their doors in 1832, the firm specialized in silverware production. Over the years, the firm expanded, developing interests in jewelry and collectibles. In 1878 Joseph T. Bailey II, George Banks, and Samuel Biddle entered into a partnership, renaming the business Bailey, Banks and Biddle. In 1962, the firm became an important component of the Zales group. Bailey, Banks and Biddle has the distinguished honor of being the official designer of medals and honor awards for the United States government. The firm continues to expand with locations throughout the United States and Guam
From 1925-1933, up-and-coming designer Suzanne Belperron worked for Jeanne Boivin where she developed a distinctive, highly imaginative style that later attracted the attention of Bernard Herz. During the 1930s Belperron collaborated with Herz, becoming a pioneer of modern dress and jewelry; often compared with Chanel, Schiaparelli and Rene Boivin. Suzanne Belperron drew inspiration from nature and exotic world cultures. In 1945, she partnered with Herz's son, Jean. The newly formed firm, named Herz-Belperron, remained in business until 1974 when Belperron announced her retirement. Suzanne Belperron's designs continue to be manufactured in Paris for the exclusive sale at Verdura, under the direction of Edward J. Landrigan.
Black, Starr and Frost
Founded in New York in 1810, Black, Starr & Frost is a luxury jewelry store. Their high quality jewels appealed to the social elite and most prominent families including the Carnegies and Vanderbilts. The firm carries on its tradition of impeccable style, fine designer collections and premier custom designs. 1940s. The company is still an important purveyor of fine jewels in America today.
Frederic Boucheron (1830-1902) apprenticed under Jules Chaise prior to opening his first shop in 1858 at Palais Royale, the jeweler's area of Paris. The firm's reputation for design, craftsmanship and the use of gemstones propelled it into the luxury market. By the mid 1860s, Boucheron opened a studio at the Place Vendome, still their corporate headquarters. The firm has participated in every style of contemporary jewelry. The business has been passed through the family and remains privately owned. In addition to Paris, the company operates boutiques in London, the Middle and Far East, Japan, and Moscow.
Rene Boivin (1864-1917) began his jewelry career at a youngster in Paris, where he apprenticed and later excelled at engraving and jewelry design. He opened several workshops; establishing a reputation for creative designs that captured the essence of beauty in motion. In 1893, Boivin married Jeanne Poiret. Together they created fabulous designs marked by their signature elements: elegant lines, twists, and trembling components. Favorite themes included flowers, fruit and animals. Following Boivin's death, Jeanne assumed control of the firm and alongside her daughter and Juliette Moutard, achieved great fame, often being recognized as the first female jeweler of the 20th century. For forty years, the lady's partnership prevailed, often including designers such as Suzanne Belperrorn. Their nature based designs brought both great fame and recognition from Hollywood celebrities to Europe's finest families. Boivin has since changed hands twice, once following Jeanne's death in 1959, and again in 1991 when it became a part of the Asprey Group.
The Buccellati family has been perfecting the art of goldsmithing since the 1750s. Mario Buccellati (1891-1965) received his goldsmith training while an apprentice at the firm Beltrami e Besnati near La Scala, in Milan. By 1919, he took control of the business, gave it his name and focused on the art of engraving, mainly gold. His reputation for meticulous texturing of metals through detailed hand engraving turned metal into silk, brocade, tulle or the finest honeycomb lace. Buccellati's Renaissance-inspired designs and distinctive style attracted an elite clientele. Over the years, Buccellati made jewelry for the royal families of Italy, Spain and Egypt, as well as Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII, among others. The family firm continues today with a passion for entirely hand-made one-of-a-kind jewels, featuring texture-engraved gold under the leadership of Gianmaria and Andrea Buccellati. Their unique artistry can be enjoyed in exclusive boutiques around the world.
A Greek goldsmith, Sotirio Bvlgari, founded the Italian firm Bvlgari in Rome in 1881. Together with his sons, Bvlgari created magnificent jewels embodying the spirit, classicism and ageless beauty of Greek and Roman art, with a modern flair. Their distinctive style: heavy link chains supporting ancient coins with gem accents. Fashion-minded celebrities as well as the aristocracy became devout Bvlgari patrons. The luxury brand Bvlgari set a high bar for Italian jewelry competitors for over a century. The firm continues to be family owned, operating boutiques in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Carrera Y Carrera
Founded in 1885, Carrera y Carrera developed a reputation for meticulous craftsmanship melded with noble metals and precious gems. As Spain's premier jewelry house, the company has designed magnificent jewels and tiaras for the aristocracy and celebrities, alike. Attaining their first major commissions in the 1950s. After twelve decades, Carrera y Carrera is still recognized for their high quality merchandise, uncompromising attention to detail and sculptural design in both jewelry and timepieces.
In 1847 Louis-Francois Cartier founded his business, creating jewelry made of gold, awash with colorful enamels and set with glittering gemstones. This appealed to the French aristocracy. His son, Alfred joined him, and later grandsons Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, who took over during the Art Deco era. Parlaying the company's distinctive Oriental-influenced style, he established a fabulous jewelry empire. The grandsons were responsible for operating salons in Paris, London and New York, respectively. Joined by designer Jeanne Toussaint in 1933, Cartier created a range of vanity cases, desk sets and accessories. The firm continues to produce exquisite jewelry, watches, and objects d'art for a prestigious clientele. Savvy business move in the 1970s developing a boutique product line named 'Les Must' appealing to the public at large.
Roman goldsmith and jeweler Fortunato Pio Castellani is credited with riving Etruscan Jewelry design in the 1820s. Through tireless experimentation, he was able to simulate the ancient decorative technique of granulated gold. Accompanied by sons, Alessandro and Augusto the Casa Castellani attained worldwide fame for their architectural designs and miniature mosaic work.
Founded by Etienne Nitot in 1870, the small Parisian firm became famous as jewelers to the aristocracy. Joseph Chaumet, joined the firm by marriage in the mid 1870s, assumed the corporate leadership in 1885, later renaming the firm. Joseph Chaumet's creativity, and naturalistic approach created romantic jewels catapulting him to the pinnacle of Belle Epoque design where aigrettes and tiaras became the company's signature items. The firm has remained under the leadership of the Chaumet descendents who maintain an eye for supreme style and quality. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Chaumet's animal and flower jewels were prominent. The firm expanded its market share introducing watch designs that while contemporary carry the same classic lines that make Chaumet one of the most sought after designers. Chaumet operates offices in Paris, New York, and London.
Donald Claflin was a designer with a spectacular mind for whimsical design. He honed his craft working for David Webb, prior to joining Tiffany & Co. Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Claflin's fantasy based creations explored the Seven Wonders, character's from children's books, sea creatures and fairy tale imagery. He is well recognized for his strawberry jewel line and his signature criss cross ring design. After an eleven-year creative partnership, Claflin let Tiffany for Bvlgari where he worked until his death in 1979.
In 1929, while just a teen, Julius Cohen began working for his uncles at Oscar Heyman Brothers. He spent thirteen years as an apprentice learning the old world approach and techniques of jewelry manufacture, before joining illustrious jeweler Harry Winston. He expanded the Winston brand across the US, most predominantly in Texas. Julius Cohen struck out on his own, opening a New York salon in 1955. His business catered to an exclusive clientele, by employing a marketing approach of serving clients at their homes. This exclusivity combined with excellence of craftsmanship and design made Julius Cohen jewelry highly sought after. The designer passed away in 1955. His business continues today under the leadership of his son-in-law, Leslie Steinweiss.
While recognized mainly as a pre-eminent artist, Salvador Dali's jewelry, like his paintings, is reflected the Surrealist movement. A fascination with dreams and mythology helped shape his most common theme, metamorphosis.
Switzerland's Jean Dunand (1872-1942) studied sculpture and metal working in Geneva at L'Ecole des Arts Industriels before moving to Paris. There, he studied the traditional art of Japanese lacquerwork. By 1912, he was manufacturing jewelry. Dunand's favorite materials were silver and lacquer. His great achievement was creating a tapestry effect through elements of enamel, metal and stone. His signature designs were wide gold bangles created during the Art Deco period.
Henry Dunay began faceting gold in 1967, little realizing that it would become his signature and most important selling innovation. Today, Dunay is one of the leading jewelers in America, and an international star. He crafts his treasures in yellow gold, always designing with an eye for how a piece will look on a woman. His creations are well-detailed, sculptural forms ala miniature art objects. He shuns mass-market production preferring, instead, to create limited numbers of artistic, beauty-inspired items.
This Parisian firm reached its zenith in 1925 at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs. Their flair for design and notable high quality craftsmanship propelled their fame to an international level. Dusassoy produced limited quantities, making their designs highly sought after.
Carl Faberge grew up working for his father's jewelry business in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1872, Faberge took control of the company. A master goldsmith, Faberge drew inspiration from the fabulous collections housed at the Hermitage museum. He was appointed jeweler to the Imperial Court, where he achieved his greatest fame, fabricating 50 jeweled Imperial Easter eggs between 1885 and 1916. His patrons included worldwide royalty and the social elite of the era. His jewelry designs and sculptures captivated the world. Faberge fled Russia in 1917 following the October Revolution. He died in Switzerland in 1920, leaving behind a legacy for unparalleled technical mastery of metalwork. Faberge's company continues to create lavishly detailed jewelry and art objects utilizing the techniques and tools reminiscent of the originals from St. Petersburg.
Founded in Turin in 1928 by Mario Fasano. Together with his wife, they designed and produced richly jeweled, detailed animal motif jewelry, epitomized by their trademark pheasant design. The firm continues to be family run.
American Paul Flato (1900-1999) opened his first shop in New York City, catering to socialites. His popularity reached its zenith in 1930s Hollywood where his lavish creations adorned the likes of Merle Oberon, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn and Hopalong Cassidy. Flato's designs were stylized, full of humor and whimsy. His refined lines and impeccable craftsmanship were unparalleled. His business closed in the 1940s. Flato passed away in Ft. Worth, Texas at age 98.
A family business founded by Alphonse Fouquet (1828-1911), spanned three generations, as his son Georges and later, grandson Jean worked tirelessly creating classic Art Nouveau designs. Georges' work rivaled that of Lalique; although Georges Fouquet is considered more versatile. Georges collaboration with artist Alfonse Mucha, in 1900, created spectacular plique-à-jour enamel designs. Their collaborative effort on a serpent bracelet created for actress Sarah Bernhardt solidified their place in jewelry history. Georges worked alongside his son throughout the Art Deco era until the mid 1930s, when the company closed its doors.
Fred Samuel founded the Parisian firm, Fred, in 1936. Pearls and large colored gemstone sales were the foundation of the business. Fred catered to A-list celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks. With sons Henri and Jean joining the family business, great expansion on an international scale occurred. By 1977, Fred operated boutiques in Beverly Hills, Houston and New York. Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Seoul shops followed.
Francois Froment opened his jewelry business in 1774. His son, Francois-Désiré Froment-Meurice, grew up learning the trade in the family shop. In 1839, he exhibited under his own name for the first time. His jewelry designs were heavily influenced by an interest in Gothic art. The firm Froment-Meurice's enameled jewels crafted in the Renaissance style, reached their zenith in England during the 1850s and 1860s.
London-based designer and virtuoso goldsmith Elizabeth Gage is one of the most influential jewelers of the late 20th century. She is an artist who rose to prominence in the 1970s through a characteristic use of colored gems, now her signature. Her distinctively bold gold and gem set jewels often include ancient artifacts and baroque pearls; many are one-of-a-kind treasures. Elizabeth Gage inspired and influenced jewelers by bringing elements of the past into a contemporary form.
Louis Gerard, founded his independent business in 1968, following a tenure with Van Cleef & Arpels. By 1975, Gerard achieved premiere status when it was recognized as the largest French fine jewelry exporter.
Lawrence Graff of London is recognized for dealing in the rare and exceptional. He opened his first shop at age seventeen in Hatton Garden, London, in 1960. Only the finest quality diamonds and gemstones complemented the exacting standards of his custom-made jewelry. He is famous for selling important diamonds such as the Star of Bombay, the Emperor Maximilian, the Idol's Eye, and the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II. Today, Graff purchases rough diamonds from South Africa and has them cut in his own facility in Johannesburg. This enables him to have exclusivity in his selection of the finest stones, which are then set into high quality designs and offered to his clients around the world.
Founded in Florence in 1921, Gucci was an exclusive leather goods, luggage and saddle shop. Guccio Gucci attracted a sophisticated clientele with his fine craftsmanship. Overwhelming success prompted the opening of new shops abroad and finally in the US, in 1953, the same year Guccio Gucci died. Gucci products were synonymous with Hollywood chic in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Brazilian jewelry company, H. Stern, was founded by a young German émigré named Hans Stern in 1945. He got his start buying and selling colored gemstones in Rio de Janeiro. His sharp eye for color was equaled by his interest in creative design. The company's golden rule was that each piece had to be beautiful. Once small, H. Stern has grown to an international manufacturer and retailer with boutiques throughout the world. Under the leadership of Hans Stern's son, Ronaldo, the company continues to design exquisite jewels always set with the finest quality of gemstones.
Brothers Bernard, Ben and Hyman Hammerman founded their company in New York City in 1946. They are known for manufacturing one-of-a-kind pieces in platinum or 18k gold, using the finest diamonds; all in their New York factory. Astute businessmen, the brothers built one of the largest jewelry manufacturing companies in the America. They expanded their business by supplying retail stores throughout the world. The name Hammerman is trusted and respected for setting standards of industry excellence. Hammerman Bros., Inc. continues to be family run.
Oscar Heyman Brothers
The Heyman family, consisting of nine siblings, emigrated from Russia to New York in 1906. Two of the brothers, Oscar and Nathan, had apprenticed at a Faberge factory, while another brother was an accomplished toolmaker. Together, they launched Oscar Heyman & Brothers in 1912. The brothers were master platinumsmiths who utilized only the finest diamonds and colored gems. In time, the firm manufactured and supplied jewelry for the most prestigious American jewelry houses of the 1930s. Flower brooches became the company's signature item. Their magnificent creations are often unstamped, and require specialist authentication. Oscar Heyman & Brothers continues to be a self-contained, family owned and operated business where the old world techniques of tool making, fine platinum and gold metalsmithing are employed in the production of each piece.
Prominent in the 1920s and 1930s, the Parisian jeweler Janesich was recognized for his elaborate cigarette cases and compacts, featuring semi-precious gemstones. Oriental influences, which dominated the Art Deco era, are prevalent in his designs.
American Joel Arthur Rosenthal opened his first exclusive boutique in Paris in 1978, following his tenure with Bvlgari. The elusive designer produces one-of-a-kind meticulously crafted jewels that are simply marked with the initials, JAR. He rarely grants interviews and refuses to advertise.
Danish sculptor Georg Jensen founded his silversmith business in Copenhagen in 1904. His unique designs embraced elegant lines, organic motifs and simplicity of form that made him an instant commercial success. Not tied to one artistic arena, Georg Jensen created masterful works in jewelry, cutlery and hollowware. He is by rights one of the most influential silversmiths of the 20th century. His brightly polished creations, both pure and timeless, encompassed Art Nouveau and Avant-Garde styles. Georg Jensen died in 1935. His extraordinary vision continues today with his company producing fine jewelry, watches, gift items and cutlery in gold, sterling silver, stainless steel and precious gems.
American artist Barry Kieselstein-Cord's remarkable jewelry designs made their grand appearance in 1973, introduced by Georg Jensen, New York. His work took both the jewelry and art world by storm. An immediate success, Kieselstein-Cord's sculptural designs set him up as the driving force propelling jewelers' art in America. He works in green and black matte finished silver, gold and platinum, creating whimsical animal, heart, cross, sun and moon compositions. Regardless of the form: jewelry, belts, eyewear or accessories, Barry Kieselstein-Cord focuses on metal craft with stones acting as a secondary component. He has built an enormous designer-owned fine jewelry company, selling his distinctive merchandise internationally as well as in the United States. The winner of numerous awards, some of his designs can be found in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Louvre in Paris as well as prominent private collections.
Brothers Jules, Jacques, Ferdinand and Leopold Lacloche founded Lacloche Frères, a Paris-based firm, in 1875. They manufactured vanity cases, boxes, and cigarette cases. The company peaked in the Art Deco era with their signature design, the jabot brooch, which became one of the most representational items of the 1920s-1930s.
Ilias Lalaounis got his start in Athens, Greece in 1940 working for the Zolotas firm. He formed his own name-bearing company designing heavy 18k and 22k gold chains. In the 1950s, Lalaounis revived ancient Greek jewelry, creating gem set jewels with an Etruscan flair. His primary themes included nature, science, mosaics, astronomy and medicine. It truly is his sense of artistry combined with the richness of gold for which Lalaounis is known best. Outside of the Greek Islands, the company and museum expanded to New York, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London under the guidance of his daughters.
Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career as a freelance jewelry designer for acclaimed houses Cartier and Boucheron. In 1885, he opened his own workshop where he produced spectacular sculptural pieces through the use of unique materials such as glass, horn, enamel and gold. His designs seamlessly wove fantasy and nature together. The theory of metamorphosis and its affect on the female figure created some of the most dramatic imagery known to jewelry, let alone art. Lalique is indisputably the master of Art Nouveau jewelry design. Actress Sarah Bernhardt brought Lalique great fame by promoting his designs, which she boldly wore on-stage and at public events. Under the patronage of oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian, Lalique created 145 commissioned pieces that make up the leading exhibition at the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Spain.
Alexander Marchak immigrated to Paris from Russia at the start of the Russian Revolution. He rose to prominence during the Art Deco period, exhibiting at the 1925 Paris Exhibition of Decorative Arts. His favorite themes were birds and floral sprays, all highly romanticized.
Dresden jeweler Hermann Marcus left Germany for New York in the 1850s. He worked for Tiffany & Co., followed by Ball, Black and Company before partnering with Theodore B. Star in the firm, Star and Marcus. Following a brief return to Tiffany's, he entered into partnership with his son William's business in 1884. The name officially became Marcus & Company in 1892. The firm rose to prominence during the 1920s and 1930s. They manufactured expensive diamond jewels as well as artistic jewelry featuring plique-a-jour enamel in the Art Nouveau style. Famous for their spectacular flower brooches: pansies, morning glories, orchids, et al, the company flourished during the Art Nouveau era. Along with their New York office, they operated branches in Paris, Bombay, Palm Beach and London. The business merged with Black, Starr & Frost in 1962.
Lucien A. Marsh founded the Californian based business in 1940. The firm's signature trait was geometric design. Marsh's had shops in Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Coronado before closing in 1986.
Spanish jeweler Llus Masriera (1872-1958) was born into a family of jewelers and artisans. He was a creative genius and inventor who rose to fame during the Art Nouveau movement. His jewels, mainly his series of winged nymphs, are some of the most important pieces of the time period. Masriera is credited with formulating a specialized enameling technique referred to as "Barcelona Enamel". The process took translucent enamel and blended it with an element inducing luminosity; the newly minted enamel was then formed in relief, adding texture, volume, and depth, creating a sculptural quality to the individual design.
Fashion jewelry designer Mariquita Masterson entered the jewelry business in Houston, Texas in 1984. Her unique glass and sterling silver designs are one-of-a-kind jewels; each piece is entirely made by hand. Her designs are casual enough to wear by day, as well as elegant enough to complement evening attire.
It was Paris 1827, the year when the House of Mauboussin opened. The firm specialized in highly stylized architectural jewels set with precious gems of vibrant hue, accented by sparkling white diamonds. They exhibited at the 1925 International Exhibition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and won the grand prize. Georges Mauboussin believed that jewelry should reflect the wearer's personality with a jeweled accent. Its Reflection series struck a chord with socialites and celebrities, such as Marlene Dietrich, who flocked to Mauboussin. The company opened offices in Buenos Aires and London prior to New York, in 1929. The ill-timed opening of their New York branch coincided with the stock market crash the same year. A weakened Mauboussin merged with Trabert & Hoeffer, Inc.
Mayor's is a family owned jewelry manufacturing firm that opened its doors in Cincinnati in 1910. They have since moved the corporate headquarters to Southern Florida as of 1937.
McTeigue & Company
Founded in New York in 1885 by Walter P. McTeigue, the firm established a reputation for manufacturing fine diamond jewelry. By the 1920's, under the name McTeigue & Company, their designs were showcased on a regular basis in the jewelry trade publication "Jewelers' Circular." The business has changed hands on more than one occasion, most recently in 1991, when McTeigue & Co. was acquire by Tiffany & Co.
The name Mikimoto is synonymous with the highest quality Japanese cultured pearls available. Its founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, was an early pioneer in the concept of pearl farming. While he was not the first to invent the culturing process, Mikimoto did refine it, patenting his technique. He is recognized as the master of the culturing process. The need for culturing pearls arose out of the demise of the natural pearl market in 1930, when over-fishing and pollution devastated pearl beads. Today, cultured pearls are farmed worldwide with Japan, China, Australia and Thailand the leading producers.
Originating in Honolulu in 1941, Ming's popularity catapulted due to founder Wook Moon's Polynesian and Asian-inspired designs. Ming's developed a reputation for designing jewelry for the working woman utilizing carved ivory, coral, jade and semi-precious gems. It is these early carved items that maintain the greatest value i n today's collectible marketplace. At one time, Wook Moon and his wife operated Ming's boutiques in Denver, Houston, Dallas, Honolulu, Hilo, San Francisco, New York, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. The firm closed its doors in the mid 1980s.
A family of superb craftsmen, the Nardi's have been designing jewelry for three generations in Venice. They are most recognized for their signature "Moretto" or "Blackamoor" brooch, which was first created in 1920 by Giulio Nardi. The image was inspired by Shakespeare's character, Othello, a Moor and commander of the Venetian fleet. The "Blackamoor" is a symbol of regard, love and purity.
One of a handful of designer's permitted to utilize their name in association with Tiffany & Co., Elsa Peretti joined the firm in 1974. She brought to them a reputation for sleek, elegant designs honed from her work as an established designer for Halston. She achieved great fame for her "diamonds by the yard" and "bean" lines designed for Tiffany & Co.
Paloma Picasso is one of the world's most successful jewelry designers. The daughter of famed artist Pablo Picasso, Paloma received her jewelry training at the University of Paris. She at one point worked for the Greek designer Zolotas, where she created gold jewelry. She joined Tiffany & Co. in 1980 and made a name for herself with her bold, graphic style. Her passion for color is evident in her choice of gemstones: tourmaline, tanzanite, and fire opal. Paloma Picasso prefers 18k yellow gold medium, and designs her creations for women with the interest in empowering women to buy jewelry for themselves.
William Ruser learned the jewelry business managing Trabert & Hoeffer, Mauboussin boutiques in Atlantic City and Beverly Hills. In 1947 he opened his own shop on Rodeo Drive, where he rapidly earned the distinction of "Jeweler to the Stars". Celebrities such as Loretta Young, Joan Crawford and Claudette Colbert prominently displayed his creations in film, on the red carpet as well as in print. Ruser was known, first, for his elegant pave-set diamond jewels and, second, for his whimsical sculptural freshwater pearl designs. His menagerie of animals, insects, flowers and children were based upon the fanciful, irregular shaped freshwater pearls, the most popular of which were his Monday's Child and Poodle lines. His jewels reflected the post war optimism and lightheartedness of the 1950s and 1960s. Ruser retired in 1969, closed his salon and its prime corner location is now the home of Van Cleef & Arpels.
Seaman Schepps created one of America's most avant-garde jewelry companies of the 20th century. He started out as a purveyor of jewelry and art objects, prior to designing his own jewels, as of 1926. His boutique in New York City offered one-of-a-kind original designs in the Arts & Crafts Movement. Schepps designed wearable works of art featuring unusual materials, such as shell, ivory, turquoise, wood, coral, rock crystal as well as found materials such as glass. The company reached its zenith in the 1940s and 1950s, where bold animal themed designs graced celebrities and high society, alike. Through the patronage of the Rockefellers and the British Royal Family to Marlene Dietrich and Andy Warhol, Seaman Schepps' dazzling jewels graced the covers of Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. Although he passed away in 1972, Seaman Schepps legacy of unusual, artistic designs continues to be offered today.
Parisian artist and jeweler Jean Schlumberger's (1907-1987) career began as a costume jewelry designer for Elsa Schiaparelli. Recognition came when in 1955; he joined Tiffany & Co., becoming the first designer to be given the privilege of signing his name to his jewelry. In his two decades with Tiffany, Schlumberger traveled extensively, often in the company of the social elite. His sensitivity to balance and proportion is evident in all of his designs from the most geometric to classic to outrageously whimsical. Schlumberger's pure love of nature such as butterflies, birds, sea life and flowers lead to enchanting designs that are highly prized and collectible to this day. His creations featured a rainbow of color formed by the best of gems, in combination with enamel and gold. Not limited to just jewelry, Schlumberger designed fabulous compacts, picture frames, cigarette cases and objects of vertu; which, today, are found in private collections and museums around the world.
Shreve & Co.
Shreve & Co., is a San Francisco-based firm founded in 1852 by George C. Shreve. The company is one of the most important jewelry manufacturers and retailers on the West Coast. Shreve & Co. continues to offer finely crafted jewelry and objects d'art throughout its boutiques in California.
Parisian Pierre Sterle (1905-1978) grew up in the jewelry business. In 1934, he opened his own business, creating jewelry for such famed houses as Boucheron and Chaumet. Sterle's popularity peaked in the 1940s and 1950s. He was a major award winning designer notable for his innovative approach to design using baguette-cut diamonds and colored gemstones in sweeping, curling lines. His love of nature played out in his favorite motifs: birds, flowers, leaves, arrows, feathers and bows. Aside from the sheer beauty and grace of Sterle's work, his greatest contribution to the jewelry industry was the invention of a gold plaiting technique called Til d'ange in 1957, permitting the creation of fringes, manes, tails, and flower accents. Chaumet purchased the firm from Sterle in 1976.
Tiffany & Co.
Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902) founded the firm that bears his name in 1837. The boutique style business retailed stationery, silver, jewelry and objects d'art. With the growth of their jewelry interests, Tiffany soared. The company is credited with revolutionizing the jewelry industry by the invention of the open six-prong diamond setting. By 1907, the son of the founder, Louis Comfort Tiffany, rose to international attention for his profusion of the arts: painting, art glass and jewelry. As Tiffany & Company expanded, they offered select designers the ability to sign their pieces designed for the Tiffany & Co. brand; such as in 1955 Donald Claflin and Jean Schlumberger, in 1967 Angela Cummings, later Elsa Peretti in 1974 and most recently Paloma Picasso in 1980.
Van Cleef & Arpels
Parisian jeweler Alfred Van Cleef opened his salon in partnership with his brothers-in-law, Julien and Charles Arpels, in 1906. The company quickly earned a reputation for using only the highest quality colored gemstones. Their timeless designs employed elegant curves and clean fluid lines; capturing the essence of beauty in motion. Their success was immediate. In 1930, the firm patented the first minaudiere, a fancy purse-like compartmentalized lady's vanity case. In 1933, Van Cleef and Arpels introduced "invisible setting", or "mystery setting". This innovative technique took the market by storm. It created the illusion of floating gems, each being fastened by wires from the underside of the piece. It was popular throughout the 1930s and 1940s before reappearing in the 1990s. The company is continues to be family run, managing locations across the globe.
The Sicilian Duke of Verdura, Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, began his career in 1926 as a costume jewelry designer for Coco Chanel. He left her Paris locale to work for Paul Flato in the United States. In 1939, Verdura opened the first of his salons where his love of nature could be fully displayed. It was reflected in his signature designs: the scallop shell, the frame, and the wing. He created animals and figures utilizing shells, diamonds, and enamel. His fame and influence impacted both the jewelry industry and fashion worlds. Verdura is single handedly credited for renewing interest in enameled jewels. He also implemented the rope motif in modern jewelry, a first. Verdura sold his business and retired to London, where he died in 1978. The company continues to produce fabulous jewels based upon Verdura's original artwork.
The family firm Vever was founded in Paris in 1821. When grandson Henri Vever (1854-1943) took control of the company he was already a distinguished jeweler, writer, and art collector. Vever's artistic approach and use of enamel was often likened to that of Rene Lalique. The company accomplished their greatest work during the Art Nouveau period with the highlight being the 1900 Paris Exposition. Vever made fabulous jewelry and objects d'art through the Art Deco era.
American Christopher Walling opened his first boutique in Manhattan in 1973, manufacturing his own designs. His contemporary motifs often feature his trademark gem, a baroque pearl. His fabulous designs are exhibited in select high-end boutiques.
Formed in 1946 by partners David Webb and Nina Silberstein, David Webb Inc. created colorful jewelry recognized for its bold, sculptural design. Webb drew inspiration from the work of Cartier, Seaman Schepps, Faberge and Verdura. His passion for color, texture, enamel, gems and unusual materials brought him to the forefront of jewelry design in the 1950s and 1960s. His fondness for nature and ancient cultures influenced his most famous motifs, stylized animals and flowers. David Webb created contemporary wearable gold sculptures until his death in 1975. He left behind a legacy as one of the pioneers of American jewelry design. David Webb Inc. continues to produce jewelry based upon original artwork and sketches under the guidance of the Silberstein family.
An ambitious man, Harry Winston parlayed a $2,000 investment into what is arguably regarded as the best diamond jewelry business of the 20th century. His shop opened on New York City's 5th Avenue in 1932. Harry Winston was renown for his ability to see the potential locked within a diamond. He often purchased jewelry solely for the purpose re-cutting major diamonds. He is famous for cutting many of the world's most spectacular diamonds, such as the Jonker and the Taylor-Burton. Winston donated three very famous diamonds to the Smithsonian museum: the Oppenheimer, the Hope, and the Portuguese. Often referred to as the "King of the Diamonds", he owned one-third of the world's most famous diamonds at one time. Harry Winston died in 1978. The business continues to operate select cities across the U.S. and abroad.
Raymond Yard lived the American Dream. In his impoverished youth, he worked for Marcus and Company both behind the scene in production, later at the forefront as a salesman before leaving to open his own business in 1922. His New York boutique sold watches and jewelry made of the finest material. His impeccable eye for quality and detail became Raymond Yard's trademark. Rarely advertising, Yard's fame and reputation spread by word of mouth, earning him the patronage of America's finest families: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, du Pont, Woolworth and Flagler among others. He also attracted celebrities such as Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks. A humble man, his jewels are simply marked YARD. Raymond Yard is viewed ad one of the most prominent Art Deco jewelers in the world. Raymond Yard retired in 1958; his firm continues today.
Sculptor David Yurman, along with his wife Sybil, a potter, formed what has become one of America's quintessential American jewelry brands in 1980. Their contemporary style is relaxed and fashionable with an underlying interest in both the balance and harmony of design. The closeness of their personal and professional partnership is reflected in the sensuality of line and form, often displayed by their signature motif, the cable, which launched in 1982. Today, along with son Evan, David and Sybil Yurman continue to expand their jewelry and watch lines, offered in select locations across the U.S.
Founded in 1895, the Greek firm Zolotas is recognized for its meticulous reproductions of ancient and Byzantine jewelry as well as its own designs. In the 1960s, Zolotas's richly textured 18k yellow gold designs brought to life fantastic lions, snakes and rams taken from sculptures, embroidery and architectural patterns of ancient times. The style was purely Greek. This grand display of the love of country and Hellenic culture attracted International recognition as celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly along with the social and political elite, including the Kennedys, and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis sought Zolotas creations. The ever-evolving company began crafting spectacular jewels in 22k gold as of the 1970s. Their contemporary designs, in both 18k and 22k gold, showcase interesting textures and finishes in combination with colorful gem accents. The company continues to preserve the sense of history that has been the cornerstone of the Zolotas business with boutiques, both in Greece and abroad.
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