The renowned French jewellery firm of Fouquet was founded in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet (1828-1911). Alphonse was particularly renowned for his jewels in the Renaissance revival taste, many of which incorporated engraved gems, cameos and enamelled miniature paintings of the highest calibre. His jewels were exhibited at various International Exhibitions, including those of 1878 in Paris and 1883 in Amsterdam.
The successive generations carried on this excellence in quality and design. Alphonse’s son Georges (1862-1957) took over management of the firm in 1895, and maintained its high standards and cutting-edge designs. He is particularly known for his Art Nouveau works which are considered to be on par with Lalique, and for which the House of Fouquet won praise at the 1900 Paris Exhibition with their jewels designed by Czech painter Alphonse Mucha. One such collaboration was made for the famed turn-of-the-century actress Sarah Bernhardt.
The firm next took up with great mastery the Art Deco style, with the help of Georges’ son Jean, who contributed to their display at the famed 1925 Exposition, from which the movement acquired its name. Georges himself was the President of the Bijouterie-Joaillerie class at the Exhibition. Shortly thereafter he retired from the firm, ceding full control to Jean.
The present bracelet was most likely created under Georges’ tenure of management, based on its early Art Deco style, placing its manufacture date between 1920 and 1925. The delicacy of weight, monochrome palette, and use of fine millegraining act together to suggest this timeframe. The graceful design harks back to Georges’ Art Nouveau jewels, yet the austerity of line and colour render the design timeless.
From bangle to band, chain to articulated link, the bracelet is one of the earliest forms of jewellery, found throughout history and can be traced back as early as 5000BC. No longer limited to the wrists of nobility, the bracelet has found its way to becoming a staple piece of a lady's jewellery collection. Some of the earliest examples were made from organic materials such as leather cords and braided leaves and foliage. As the human race developed and tastes changed so did the materials used for adornment. The discovery of precious metals such as gold and silver lent their malleable properties to advanced designs which would stand the test of time.
Creative pieces include precious gemstones, hand engraving, symbols, enamelling, openwork, carving and filigree. As an articulated piece of jewellery made up of a series of links, bracelets have the capacity to move with the wearer making them eye-catching and wearable. Bracelets which are solid and do not have the flow of movement are called bangles.
One of the most favoured styles since the 1920s is the diamond line bracelet, or now in modern times more widely known as the ‘tennis bracelet’. This design is simple and features a continuous line of diamonds each set in an articulated collet and fastened with a secure clasp. This classic and versatile piece of jewellery can be worn as a stand-alone piece or ‘stacked' next to other bracelets or indeed a watch. Traditionally featuring diamonds, this type of bracelet can also be set with coloured gemstones or a combination of both.