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 passed away, 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. 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 brand and introduced him to New York’s wealthiest families, including the Vanderbilts, the DuPonts and the Woolworths.
In 1930 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased through a private owner a brooch for his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The brooch, said to be by Van Cleef & Arpels, centered upon a large emerald with mesmerizing color and impeccable clarity. When Abby Aldrich Rockefeller passed away in 1948, Rockefeller turned to Yard to disassemble the brooch. Individual emeralds from the setting were distributed among the Rockefeller children.
The center emerald, weighing an impressive 18.04 carats, was given to David Rockefeller. Entrusting Raymond Yard with this stunning gemstone, Rockefeller asked Yard to mount the emerald as a ring. Executed with an elegantly understated diamond and platinum setting, the ring was one of Raymond Yard’s most important private commissions.
The intense color and distinct saturation that typifies a Colombian emerald is illustrated perfectly in this remarkable stone. Described by the American Gemological Laboratories as ‘Exceptional’, it possesses what the AGL calls an ‘unusual combination of size, provenance, absence of treatment and quality factors [that contribute] favorably to its rarity and desirability’.
There is no other comparable emerald of this weight, quality and historical importance available in the market today. Notable Colombian emeralds appear in the some of the most famous collections, and throughout the years many have appeared at auction. Perhaps the most famous collection was that of Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, sold in May 1887, which contained several magnificent emeralds. More recently, in December 2011, Elizabeth Taylor’s 23.46 carat emerald Bulgari brooch commanded much attention.
This superb Colombian emerald continues to embody the grandeur of the Rockefeller family name. Now the Rockefeller Emerald is to be sold — fittingly in the heart of Rockefeller Center, where John D, Rockefeller, Jr.’s dream of a ‘city within a city’ first came to life nearly a century ago.
PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTOR
Post Lot Text
Previously set in a brooch belonging to Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, this emerald was given to her youngest son, David Rockefeller, after her death. The emerald was brought to Raymond C. Yard by David Rockefeller and was mounted as the present ring in 1948.