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. Under the guidance of William Elder Marcus, Yard immersed himself in the world of jewelry at a young age, working at Marcus & Co. He 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.
Yard resigned from Marcus & Co. at the age of 37, and opened his first salon in May 1922. Raymond Yard’s extensive client base greatly helped him to grow his company. Rockefeller believed in Yard’s brand and introduced him to New York’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, the Woolworths and the du Ponts, who quickly became friends of the firm.
After sixty years in the jewelry business, Raymond Yard announced his retirement in 1958. Yard met with three of his most outstanding employees, Donald Bartow, Robert Gibson and Glen McQuaker, to discuss the future of his firm. In his eyes, these three men embodied that same work ethic, passion and personal integrity that he saw within himself. Yard offered the firm to the three men, requesting a down payment from each employee of a sizable amount.
Within one month of receiving the three down payments, Raymond Yard returned the checks to Bartow, Gibson and McQuaker. Yard had requested the funds as a test to ensure that he was leaving the business in the hands of those passionate about the future success of Yard, Inc. The three men took over the firm on July 1, 1958.
Years later, in 1966, Robert Gibson received a call from a well-known Beverly Hills dealer, James Kazanjian, who invited him to visit Kazanjian at his home in California. During the trip, the dealer showed Gibson the famed ‘Sydney Queen’ – an impressive pear-shaped opal, along with two smaller opals of similar saturation and liveliness. The three opals were originally from the Kelsey I. Newman collection, a world renowned collection.
Gibson was enchanted by the ‘Sydney Queen’ and wanted to purchase it, however, Kazanjian did not want to break up the collection. One morning during Gibson’s stay, the pair went for a swim in the ocean and Gibson was pulled under by a violent wave. When Kazanjian got to Gibson to ask him if he was okay, Gibson suddenly exclaimed that he needed to buy all three opals. The deal was made and the acquisition of the ‘Sydney Queen’ became one of the most important acquisitions for the firm.
In 1967, Don Bartow sold the stones to the du Pont family and the ‘Sydney Queen’ was mounted for the family’s collection in in 1969. The 'Sydney Queen' was purchased by the current owner's father as a gift to his mother, Virginia, to honor her for providing him with the land and means to pay for the construction of his home, when he was a newlywed in the 1960s.