Enchanting beauty of Jean Schlumberger

January 3, 2017 | Articles

Jean Schlumberger was one of the most talented and bright jewelry designers of the twentieth century.

Jean Schlumberger was born in 1907 in the city of Mulhouse in France, into a family of well-to-do parents. Having become a young man, Jean demonstrated the painting skills, by drawing different designs, but the parents saw the son’s future slightly different. Therefore, in 1930 the father sent Jean in Berlin to get him engaged in banking activities. Having opposed to the will of parents to make a banker out of him, Jean moved to Paris, where love for the beautiful things had fully absorbed him. Porcelain flowers and stones for his works young Schlumberger had found at flea markets and after that turned them into personalized necklaces, brooches and earrings.

Schlumberger gave those products to his friends, including Daisy Fellowes and the Duchess of Kent.

Those were exactly the unusual earrings of Duchess that attracted the attention of the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who hired a forward-looking artist to create accessories, bijouterie and buttons for her surreal Collections.

That moment was the departure point in the career of Jean-Michel Schlumberger.

In 1947, Jean with his partner pal Nicolas Bongard opened a jewelry store in New York. Soon the Schlumberger’s works in the shape of sea creatures and birds, decorated with precious stones, could be found worn on the most fashionable women of the time more and more often.

Jean Schlumberger

Brooch “Starfish”. Jean Schlumberger, the end of the 1940s.

Such style icons as Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, and Diana Vreeland made their choices in favor of his works.

Vreeland was not only a close friend of the goldsmith Jean Schlumberger, but also a mentor and an adviser throughout his career. She ordered a brooch of her dreams from the talented designer. Consequently, she never parted with it.

Jean Schlumberger

Diana Vreeland’s brooch “Trophée de Vallance” :: Diana Vreeland

The true fame came to Jean Schlumberger during his work in the Tiffany & Co. Jewelry House. In 1956, the President of Tiffany & Co offered terms Schlumberger could not refuse – very high salary, income from sales, a spacious studio with a private elevator at the flagship store, absolute access to any material and technical resources of the company, the best artisans, full freedom of creativity and the right to sign his name on the items.

Photo of the facade of the Tiffany shop in New York of the 1960s.

Photo of the facade of the Tiffany shop in New York of the 1960s.

Schlumberger gave free rein to his imagination and created the most beautiful design solutions in his career. Being an excellent draftsman, Jean began to create jewelry with sketching to discover the purity and elegance of natural forms that caught his attention.

Jean Schlumberger

Vogue, November 1963 | Jewelry: Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany | Photo: Bert Stern: Harper’s Bazaar December 1962 | Jewelry: Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany | Photo: Hiro Wakabayashi

The sketch, he says, serves as “the only link between the three parties to this complex and disjointed trio: client, artisan and creator”. The final detailed drawing was subsequently reproduced in the form of products, decorated with precious metals and stones. Schlumberger revived the enamel technique for his works.

Jean Schlumberger

Cufflinks. Gold, enamel. Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany

In 1960, Jean Schlumberger creates a mount for the famous yellow Tiffany diamond. The brooch entitled “Bird On A Rock” includes an impressive 128.54-carat yellow Tiffany diamond in the quaint design, typical for the jeweler.

Jean Schlumberger

Tiffany Diamond. The Bird On A Rock brooch.

Later he made Ribbon Rosette necklace, where the Tiffany Diamond was hooked to the central rosette. As such, Audrey Hepburn, one of two women known to wear the Diamond, puts it on for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s trailer shooting.

Tiffany Diamond on the Rosette Ribbon necklace. Audrey Hepburn.

Tiffany Diamond on the Rosette Ribbon necklace. Audrey Hepburn.

In 1962 as a gift for Christmas for his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy purchased the famous Two Fruit clip in rubies and diamonds from “Tiffany & Co”, created by Jean Schlumberger.

“Two Fruit” clip Jacqueline Kennedy.

In addition to the above wife of the President John F. Kennedy wore so many jewelry by Schlumberger that the press began to call them “Jackie Kennedy Bracelets”.

Schlumberger Bracelets. Jacqueline Kennedy.

Schlumberger Bracelets. Jacqueline Kennedy.

Jean Schlumberger transformed extraordinary creations of nature into objects of enchanting beauty. He created jewelry for the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Marina (Duchess of Kent), Mona von Bismarck, Gloria Vanderbilt, Rachel Lambert Mellon, Lucy Douglas Cochrane, Jayne Wrightsman, Françoise de la Renta, Lyn Revson, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo.

Babe Paley. 1962 : Brooch "Starfish" by Schlumberger.

Babe Paley. 1962 : Brooch “Starfish” by Schlumberger.

Despite his popularity, Jean Schlumberger was reticent and shy, he loved and appreciated communicating with friends, among whom there were Cristobal Balenciaga, Emilio Terry and Hubert de Givenchy.

The genius passed away in 1987 in Paris at the age of eighty years, having left the masterpieces of jeweler’s art behind, which still reflect the beauty of nature.

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About Jean Schlumberger Diana Vreeland said the following things: “He understands the fantastic beauty of the world so well, that he is not a dreamer. The world is a fantasy, but he is a realist.”
In 2017, it is 110 years since the birth of the great designer. Today, as many years ago, his fabulously fancy works are echoing in the souls of the genuine connoisseurs of beauty.

Works by the artisans of the «Lobortas» House are different with their whimsical interpretation of natural forms and are characterized with dynamism, asymmetry, fluidity and usage of various jewelry techniques.

Cufflinks "Cherished". Gold, silver, white diamonds, cognac diamonds, blue sapphires, enamel. House of Lobortas.

Cufflinks “Cherished”. Gold, silver, white diamonds, cognac diamonds, blue sapphires, enamel. House of Lobortas.

Cufflinks, made by artisans of the House “Lobortas”, can be considered as masterpieces of the jeweler’s art, which, thanks to a bold game color, perfection of lines and proportions have great artistic value and remain valid beyond time.