As part of the first annual New York City Jewelry Week, JCK managing editor Melissa Bernardo and I were treated to a tour of the gorgeous Verdura and Belperron salons—two iconic jewelry brands that were recently and thoughtfully revived at the hands of Ward Landrigan, a former chairman of the U.S. jewelry department at Sotheby’s.
Caroline Packer, Verdura’s public relations director, walked us through the adjoining salons on Fifth Avenue, both gleaming with important archival pieces and vintage-inspired new designs. As we moseyed, she shared with us the cinematic stories of how the brands were founded, rose to prominence, and were recently revived.
A few fun takeaways:
Parisian jeweler Suzanne Belperron came from modest means and worked in Paris between 1920 and 1974. She never signed her pieces, famously saying, “My style is my signature.” That made piecing together her archives a major undertaking for Landrigan, who first began mentally cataloging her unsigned pieces in the 1970s, long before he acquired the rights to the jeweler’s archives and designs.
Belperron was ahead of her time in working with non-precious materials such as wood and rock crystal. The ring pictured below sets a dazzling diamond into a rock crystal shank.
Landrigan acquired the name and rights to Belperron’s archives in 1999 and went about scouring the globe for her pieces, often in large lots at auction (again, they were unsigned, so authenticating pieces wasn’t always simple).
Fulco di Verdura, founder of Verdura, designed his first Maltese Cross cuffs—the house’s signature piece—while working as a jewelry designer for Coco Chanel (there’s a photo of a Chanel Maltese Cross cuff in the Verdura salon).
American composer Cole Porter and his wife Linda were huge patrons and supporters of Verdura’s—they introduced the designer to Chanel, and Cole Porter later cofinanced the jeweler’s first U.S. salon, on Fifth Avenue, with Vincent Astor. The cufflinks pictured below, which are a jeweled representation of Cole Porter’s famous “Night and Day,” were custom-made for the musician.
Verdura had a coterie of famous fans, which included Greta Garbo, Millicent Rogers, and Marlene Dietrich. He opened his Fifth Avenue salon Sept. 1, 1939, the day World War II broke out in Europe.
Landrigan purchased Verdura in 1985, including its archive of nearly 10,000 original sketches. His son Nico joined the company in 2004 and currently serves as president alongside Landrigan.
Top: Inside the Verdura salon on Fifth Avenue (all photos by Emili Vesilind)
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