Glittering glamour. Timeless elegance. Classic couture. The art of jewelry design has long fascinated with its interwoven bond to the world’s most captivating style icons – from the Royals to the Hollywood elite. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fall 2015 exhibition, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, pays homage to this scintillating history, as well as one of its greatest muses, reminding us why these stunning creations continue to enchant. Forever entrenched among these jewelry greats, alongside the muses and makers alike, stands Duke Fulco di Verdura, jeweler to the stars.
Ten-year-old Duke Fulco di Verdura, – an aspiring art enthusiast with a voracious need to create -drew on everything he could. His thirst for beauty, inspiration, and splendor was complemented by the sumptuous and aristocratic Italian lifestyle of his childhood, which would come to be reflected in the luxury of his jewelry creations throughout his illustrious career.
Born into affluence, the young Verdura was immersed in the aristocratic American ex-pat circles that occupied Palermo and Venice. It was in 1925, amidst the swirling, fashionable diversions of European high society, that Verdura was introduced to American vivant and timeless style icon, Coco Chanel. Their shared passion for all things fine and beautiful lead Chanel to hire Fulco as a textile designer in 1927. He was captivated by the beau mode of Paris: the social life, the grand costumes, the grandeur. “Chanel was the most chic woman I ever met,” Fulco declared, ‘And the first person to ever take me seriously.”
Chanel was quick to realize the talent and imagination of Verdura, and soon asked him to reset the gemstones from jewelry given to her by her ex-lovers, including the Duke of Westminster. It was the beginning of a nearly decade long collaboration, with Verdura at the head of Chanel’s iconic jewelry department. The numerous parties he attended during this period, with guests like Picasso, Hemingway, and the Rothschilds, also served as inspiration for his jewelry designs: bold explosions of color, relentless merriment, and grand unorthodox fashion. His creations were an instant, classic hit, a revelation in chic jewelry design.
With a strong foundation, Verdura broke from Europe and sailed to America. Like his ten-year-old self, Verdura still constantly sought new inspiration. Almost immediately upon his arrival, Verdura discovered Hollywood and Hollywood discovered him, introducing the designer to an entirely new and different kind of high fashion and glamour. Demand for the most stylish and breathtaking jewelry was at its peak, as Hollywood stars such as Joan Fontaine and Joan Crawford set the precedent for style, including the Italian-style designs that Verdura created. He became “the Jewelry to the stars.”
Credited for changing the look of 20th century jewelry design, Verdura’s bold and colorful pieces have endured a strong legacy. This amethyst and aquamarine suite boasts the boldness of color for which Verdura is celebrated. The breathtaking necklace displays an array of large, stunning gemstones that cascade around the wearer’s neck. A statement of opulence and femininity, this necklace is set in 18K yellow gold. The bracelet likewise displays the same large gemstones and depicts Verdura’s trademark for large stones in a gold setting. To complement both pieces, the mesmerizing cocktail ring is comprised of a 45.00-carat amethyst amidst a sea of glistening circular-cut aquamarines. Exuding glamour and majesty, these bold cluster designs are a testament to Verdura’s high style, excellent taste, and true talent.