Known for his unique flair and keen eye for quality, Raymond Carter Yard set a high standard for American jewelry design in the 20th century. Born the son of a railroad conductor in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1885, as a boy Raymond Yard became known to William Elder Marcus, owner of Marcus & Co, an established jewelry firm in New York City. After Yard’s father died, Marcus offered the young Raymond a job, and at thirteen years of age he quit school and moved to Manhattan with his mother.
Under the guidance of William Elder Marcus, Yard immersed himself in the world of jewelry and steadily climbed the ranks of the firm, forming close relationships with the elite of American society along the way. Yard’s honest demeanor and knowledge of jewelry caught the eye of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and they developed a personal and professional relationship that would greatly affect Yard’s career.
Rockefeller strongly encouraged Raymond Yard to establish his own firm. Yard resigned from Marcus & Co. at the age of 37, and opened his first salon in May 1922 at 527 Fifth Avenue. That year, the firm serviced over a thousand customers. Within four years, with business booming and more space needed, Raymond C. Yard, Inc. had moved location up Fifth Avenue. Raymond Yard’s extensive client base greatly helped him to grow his company. Rockefeller believed in Yard’s design work and introduced him to New York’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, the DuPonts and the Woolworths.
This beautiful assemblage of Yard jewelry comes from a private collection. Lots 74, 76 and 77, reflect the peak of the Yard classical style. During the 1920s and 1930s, Yard worked with fancy-cut diamonds and colored stones to create strikingly elegant designs. Lot 74 is a wonderful example of this motif. The rubies mounted in the double-clip brooch are a combination of traditional and non-traditional cuts. Against a background of old and baguette-cut diamonds, the rubies are equally bold and graceful.
In contrast to the vibrant colored stones and platinum used throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Lot 74 is a fine example of Yard’s work in the 1940s. During wartime, jewelers were challenged to create wearable pieces with limited resources. The use of white and yellow gold became more prominent and so did the continued use of precious and semi-precious stones. Lot 75 displays paler blue sapphires and circular-cut rubies, cascading from a white gold and diamond set mount. A clear contrast from the Art Deco bracelets and clip-brooch in this collection, this design incorporates softer elements, but is just as eye-catching and elegant.