JEAN SCHLUMBERGER (lots 146-152)
Jean Schlumberger (1907-1987) was born into a large family of textile manufacturers and merchants from Mulhouse, Alsace. In 1925 he began his study in business and finance but after working in a New Jersey textile mill in the United States in 1929 he gaves into his artistic inclination and started working for the art publisher Braun in Paris. In the mid-1930 he gradually turned to jewellery design and was introduced to Parisian High Society by Princess de Faucigny Lucinge. Deriving his inspiration from strolls around the flea markets of Paris, he first designed small jewels made of old Meissen porcelain flowers. Soon he received commissions from the Duchess of Kent and Daisy Fellowes. The then editor at Harper's Bazaar, Diana Vreeland, became a close friend and mentor, and the surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli commissioned costume jewellery and buttons. After the war, Schlumberger set out once again to New York where he opened a workshop in 1947 together with the goldsmith and childhood friend Nicolas Bongard, where his clientele included Greta Garbo and Baroness Philippe de Rothschild. After opening another shop in Paris, dividing his time between the French capital and New York, he is invited to join the prestigious but then run-down firm Tiffany & Co. in 1956. From then on, Jean Schlumberger designed exclusively for Tiffany & Co. and his creations catapulted the firm back to its former glory. In 1961, he exhibited at London's Goldsmith Hall and a major retrospective, Jean Schlumberger: 20 Years of Jewels and Objets d'Art was organised in New York where none other than Jacqueline Kennedy, a long-time friend and client, opened the exhibition.
'Modern jewelry has become flat. It's designed to show off value before beauty, before elegance. It says: "Look at me. I'm rich. I'm loved. I'm important." I don't believe in that. I'm trying to make jewelry which is as close as possible to a woman's personality and as wearable as possible.' (Jean Schlumberger in an interview in the New York Post, 10 November 1961, p. 50)
Schlumberger was very much inspired by nature. Indeed, almost every jewel resembles exotic flora and fauna in one way or another. Spending his winters in Guadeloupe, he was fascinated by marine life and the idea of blossoming. He loved roundness and curves, rejecting flat, two-dimensional jewellery. Movement and volume were of primary concern, together with colour. Although rubies were his favourite stones, he preferred unusual colour combinations such as turquoises and peridots as in lot 149. The choice of stones, their colour and size, are, however, subject to the outlines of his designs. He believed that his creations are complimented (and completed) by the individual personality of their owners. Once he had decided on the design, the stones and the type of mounts to be used he faced the problem of manufacture. His friend and professional ally Nicolas Bongard had worked in the workshop of his uncle, the famous jeweller René Boivin, and later for the house of Lacloche, so that he was well versed in the art and possibilities of jewellery making. Theirs was an intimate and often indeed laborious collaboration, but together they managed to fulfill Schlumberger's vision: 'Some women want to look expensive, I would prefer to have them look precious' (Jean Schlumberger in an interview in the New York Journal American, 23 March 1956 after having been appointed by Tiffany & Co.).