French master craftsmen of the 20th century


Mellerio emerald and diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Mellerio Colombian emerald and diamond ring, circa 1960.
Ref: 24225

Thursday 26th July 2018

Towards the end of the 19th century, jewellery design and production changed remarkably. Yet despite the political turmoil that had preceded this time, it was a single event in 1868 that had the most dramatic influence. A new mine was discovered in South Africa that resulted in an influx of diamonds for the world market. Previously diamonds were principally mined in India or Brazil but with this new discovery came the freedom for jewellers to use as many diamonds as they wished.

Master jewellers in the Western world emerged as individual creative voices, shedding the anonymity under which master craftsmen and artists had previously worked. As unique design flourished, the great jewellery houses that originated in this period successfully assimilated innovative design with incredible craftsmanship that appealed not only to socialites but to actors and royalty. During their 19th and early 20th century heydey they were synonymous with luxury and craftsmanship in fine jewellery.

One such jewellery house, Van Cleef & Arpels, was founded in Paris in 1896. Their collections concentrated on the major gemstones, namely diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Characteristic themes seen in their exquisite collections were graceful curves, fluid lines, a virtuoso use of colour and a sense of movement implied by the lines of the design or literally with mobile elements produced mechanically in the jewellery.

The House of Boucheron, founded by Frederic Boucheron in 1858 was a French family dynasty. For more than a century they have been associated with French fine jewellery. They used precious gems such as diamonds alongside natural materials such as rock-crystal, wood and ivory to create naturalistic forms unique in their ability to shimmer and dance with movement. Ever the fan of luxury goods, Queen Elizabeth II has a collection of Boucheron jewels which now lie within the royal vaults. In 1921, Boucheron was commissioned to create a tiara for Lady Greville, which was later gifted to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Prince Charles later gave the tiara to his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Cartier from their inception were the byword in luxury and quality. Founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, the company solidified its reputation as master craftsmen with its longstanding connection to European royalty. For his glittering coronation in 1902, King Edward VII ordered 27 diamond-set tiaras and thanked Cartier by presenting the firm with a Royal Warrant in 1904. King Edward VII later referred to Cartier as “the jeweller of Kings and the King of jewellers”.

Looking for your own unique piece of master craftsmanship? Visit Berganza instore or online to view our collection of ancient, antique and vintage items. With one of the largest collections of period jewellery in the world, we have styles and pieces suitable for every occasion.

vinatge Chaumet diamond cluster ring berganza hatton garden
Chaumet diamond cluster ring, French, circa 1935.
Ref: 23864
front veiw Van Cleef & Arpels vintage diamond dress ring
Van Cleef & Arpels vintage diamond dress ring, circa 1950s.
Ref: 19932
Boucheron ruby diamond coronet ring berganza hatton garden
Boucheron Paris ruby and diamond cluster ring, circa 1970.
Ref: 17757
front Cartier sapphire diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Vintage Cartier sapphire and diamond cluster ring, circa 1960.
Ref: 18499
front view Sterle of Paris diamond cocktail ring, French, circa 1970.
Sterle of Paris diamond cocktail ring, French, circa 1970.
Ref: 19193
front view René Boivin Art Deco diamond cocktail ring designed by Juliette Moutard, circa 1934.
René Boivin Art Deco diamond cocktail ring designed by Juliette Moutard, circa 1934.
Ref: 18890
Cartier diamond set honeycomb ring berganza hatton garden
Cartier diamond set honeycomb ring, Paris, 1944.
Ref: 18781
Two stone diamond crossover ring Boucheron berganza hatton garden
Boucheron two stone diamond crossover ring, circa 1980.
Ref: 23919
front view Van Cleef & Arpels three row diamond ring
Van Cleef & Arpels three row diamond ring, American, circa 1970s.
Ref: 19936
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