Jewelry Experts offer insight into museum quality jewels of the 19th-20th Centuries

An American Art Deco platinum and enamel watch/brooch with diamonds, rubies and emeralds by Tiffany & Co, circa 1920s. Photo Courtesy of Macklowe Gallery

Here is our second installment on Jewelry Camp, which will be hosted at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY, August 4 – 6, 2017. Our first story  (read here)  focused on advice driven, hands-on sessions for buying at auctions, tricks of the trade while scouring antique shows, and how to choose colored gemstones.

 This article offers insight into three expert lectures on renowned jewelers and museum quality jewels throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

When we talk about experts—Janet Zapata is somewhat of a jewelry guru—from six-time author to curator of various museum exhibitions and lecturer at prestigious institutions.

She has penned such treasures as The Jeweled Menagerie (2001) and The Jeweled Garden (2006) with Suzanne Tennenbaum and Seaman Schepps: A Century of New York Jewelry Design (2004) with Amanda Vaill; Her curated exhibitions include Tiffany: 150 Years of Gems and Jewelry at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and The Nature of Diamonds at the American Museum of Natural History to name just a few.

In speaking with Janet, she says, “There are important pieces that we see throughout the 20th and 21st centuries by world-renowned makers. But I am interested in focusing on the most significant examples – from the techniques in which the pieces were made, to identifying the period I am talking about.”

Belperron original Diamond, carved rock-crystal platinum and silver faceted cuff. Photo courtesy of Private Collection

Her lecture entitled The Allure of Jewelry: The Best is Always Desirable focuses on the evolution over the past hundred years, which Janet describes as “unprecedented in the history of jewelry.” She will begin with the turn of the 20th century with the introduction of platinum that resulted in the all-white look made famous by Cartier’s garland style. “Diamond-set flowers and bows were followed by the bold colors of the rectilinear Art Deco style of the 1920s that evolved into the sculptural Art Moderne forms of Van Cleef & Arpels and Suzanne Belperron,” Janet commented. She will also cover designs of Hemmerle and JAR, which best define jewelry in the 21st century.

Photo Courtesy of Belperron: Diamond, carved rock-crystal, platinum and silver “facetté,” or facted, cuff.  Shown with the original design.  Groëné et Darde for B. Herz.  The sculptural faceted composition of the cuff was an evolution of a design from Belperron’s studies at the École des Beaux-Arts in Besançon almost twenty years earlier.Page 129 Private Collection (Photo by David Behl)

She will speak to different themes such as naturalism and the glamorous jet-setting style of mid-century. Throughout her talk, Janet will show examples from pieces of the great designers from each period, such as Raymond Templier, Boivin, Boucheron, Verdura, Schlumberger and Donald Clafflin for Tiffany & Co.

 

EMERALD, AMETHYST, DIAMOND AND GOLD “VIOLETS” BROOCH, VERDURA, 1947. Displayed at The Power of Style, Verdura at 75 exhibition in New York, Fall, 2014, Photo courtesy of Verdura

Meriwether McGettigan GG, ISA also focuses on the 20th century in her lively and informative talk about Paul Flato and Fulco di Verdura. Her seminar is aptly entitled The Wit and Whimsy of Flato & Verdura and captures the similar themes of both highly imaginative designers. Meriwether’s 35 years in the jewelry business, first in New York and then in Pacific Heights, where in 2016, she celebrated her 10th year as owner of Meriwether. She carries all periods of jewelry and learned hands-on about the important names throughout history. She explains, “ It was a no-brainer to pair these two men in a lecture about designers of the early 20th century.  Although they had very different beginnings, they were imaginative, highly talented and charming.  When Verdura was convinced to come to America after designing for Chanel in Paris, his first job was with Paul Flato. The collaboration did not last long but both men had a huge popular following among Hollywood stars and the social elites in New York.”

Paul Flato, Jeweler to the Stars by Elizabeth Irvine Bray  page 41 – Debutante Brenda Frazier wearing the Jonker Diamond necklace – c1939. Photo courtesy of ACC Artbooks

While Verdura is most widely recognized for the iconic Maltese cuffs he designed for Chanel, a motif which then became synonymous with his name, he is also known for the jewels he designed for Tyron Power and pieces worn in films, such as the brooch worn by Joan Fontaine in Suspicion. While designing for Flato, they each created pieces Katherine Hepburn wore in Holiday. “

Fulco di Verdura original Maltese cuffs for Chanel. Photo courtesy of Verdura

 

Paul Flato was from Texas and was already infatuated with jewelry by the time he was 10, watching nomadic Gypsies make silver-wire items for sale,” says Meriwether. Flato’s pieces sold in both New York and Hollywood to some of the biggest names in the film industry, although he personally kept a low-key profile. “He was commissioned by Harry Winston in 1934 to set the Jonker Diamond weighing in at 726 carats. If anyone had not heard of him yet, they definitely knew his name after this,” comments Meriwether.

The two jewelers had slightly different life paths, however. Verdura went on to design for some of the top socialites and celebrities, and sadly, Flato was convicted of fraud and imprisoned. Upon Flato’s release, he moved to Mexico City and designed and owned a store there until he moved back to Texas.

An American Arts & Crafts 18 karat gold and plique à jour enamel necklace with lapis lazuli by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The gold chain is composed of 14 bezel set cabochon lapis lazuli stones which alternate with 26 fine gold wire and plique à jour enamel sections. Suspended from the chain is a bezel set oval cabochon lapis lazuli pendant. Signed Tiffany Co. Photo courtesy of Macklowe Gallery

To gain the full insight into Benjamin Macklowe’s seminar, An American Dynasty: The Legacy of the House of Tiffany, we need to go back to the early 19th century. An expert in the artwork of Louis Comfort Tifffany, Ben is the perfect person to be lecturing on the differences between Tiffany & Co. and Tiffany Studios. For anyone not aware, they were two very distinct companies, “but questions concerning this distinction have existed since the latter was established in 1900,” says Ben, whose store Macklowe Gallery specializes in the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Art Nouveau and various periods in jewelry.

“Tiffany & Co. was launched by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837. Then in 1902, his son and creative genius Louis Comfort Tiffany began designing lamps and decorative items in richly colored stained glass,” explains Ben. “His jewelry began to take on the same feeling and colors, and he became a major force in the industry and one of the main proponents of the Art Nouveau movement in jewelry. The pieces were manufactured by Tiffany & Co. and so they were largely signed that way.”

American Art Nouveau 18 karat gold and enamel ring with peridots by Tiffany & Co. The ring centers on a double-cut, cabochon and faceted peridots .Circa 1913.Signed, Tiffany & Co. Photo courtesy of Macklowe Gallery

 

Ben continues, “After Louis Comfort Tiffany stopped designing, the company continued on in his style with jewelers he trained. But the depression hit and eventually Tiffany Studios went into bankruptcy and was completely closed by 1936.”

An American Retro 14 karat gold and citrine bracelet by Tiffany & Co. The bracelet has 3 rectangular-cut citrines with an approximate total weight of 58.50 carats. The bracelet is composed of 6 links of alternating citrines set and gold geometric links. Circa 1940’s. Signed, “Tiffany & Co.” “14K”. Photo courtesy of Macklowe Gallery

Tiffany & Co. continued in silverware and brought in different jewelry designers such as Paulding Farhnam, Donald Caflin, Jean Schlumberger and John Loring. Ben will talk about the contributions each of these designers made as he works his way through the 20th century.

Says Ben, “Macklowe Gallery collects both Tiffany Studios decorative arts and Tiffany & Co. jewelry, and I thought it would be interesting to illustrate how the two companies helped each other grow, collaborating on jewelry designs for example, but also wished to keep their separate identities.”

He continues, “The real success of both of these companies has been to evolve with the country, and to adapt to the transitions that were taking place at crucial times in history. At times of war, Tiffany & Co. converted a part of his factory to the production of surgical instruments. Tiffany Studios decorated the White House. They are the perfect example of an American dynasty composed of the father, the great administrator and entrepreneur; and the son, the imaginative genius and artist.”

For additional information on sessions and to register for Jewelry Camp, please visit www.JewelryCamp.org and consult the calendar below.

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