The Tımeless Legacy of Iconıc Desıgner Jean Schlumberger
One of the 20th century’s most gifted and talented jewellery designers, Jean Michel Schlumberger is renowned for his extraordinary creativity, farsightedness, emphasis on colour harmony, and his creations that always resonate. Schlumberger, who managed to carry the status of a jewellery connoisseur for years, was not trained in this field, but thanks to his rich imagination, he saw the beauty in every little detail from different angles and reflected them in his designs.
Jean Schlumberger was born in Alsace, France, to a wealthy family of textile manufacturers, and before becoming a jewellery designer, he worked in the financial and banking sector and gained experience in textile production. For him, jewellery was just one of many art forms, like designing clothes or shoes. In the early 1930s, as a young unknown designer in Paris, he gradually became known as an exceptional
and fascinating jewellery maker. Jean Schlumberger, a new member of high society, presented one of his semi-precious stone pieces to Diana Vreeland, editor of Harper’s Bazaar. After this meeting, the name
Jean Schlumberger became a household name in the Parisian fashion scene. Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, a fan of bold, surrealist ideas and at the peak of her career, turned her attention to this talented person. From 1937 to 1939, Madame Schiaparelli commissions Schlumberger to create clip earrings, enamel-painted brooches, buckles for hats, jewellery with animal designs, a button collection, and other innovative pieces.
During the Second World War, Schlumberger joined the French army and survived the Battle of Dunkirk. After the war, Schlumberger came to New York and started designing clothes for Chez Ninon. In 1946, together with Nicolas Bongard, he founded his jewellery studio where he could realize his crazy projects. This small jewellery studio, which was entirely based on handicrafts, offered awe-inspiring products. His great talent was to transform extraordinary gems and metals into objects of nature’s mesmerizing beauty. The boutique quickly became a favourite of New Yorkers, and a few years later it opened its
first branch in Paris. The designer continued his artistic journey at Tiffany & Co.’s store on 5th Avenue. In 1956, Walter Hoving, the president of Tiffany & Co., offered him the position of vice-president of the company, and at the request of the designer, a private design studio was established. He now had an unlimited supply of the finest and most unusual coloured stones at his disposal. It was here that Schlumberger created some of the great pieces of his career, bringing them back from his frequent trips to Indonesia, India, and Thailand to highlight the purity and elegance of natural forms, giving his work a
special energy and dynamism.
Ceativity was always what Schlumberger aimed for, and the cultural revolutions of the time have never affected his design approaches and creativity. He remained faithful to his floristic and animal-shaped work. Not even the modern, pop-art and bohemian vibe of the 1960s and 70s could influence him. Jean refused to accept plain and simple designs until his last breath.
When Schlumberger joined Tiffany & Co., one of his first projects was to create a high jewellery piece using the famous Tiffany diamond. The company commissioned the young designer to set the massive 128.54-carat yellow diamond in its iconic “Ribbon Rosette” necklace, a bold move that defined Schlumberger’s role as an artist at Tiffany. The yellow star of the “Ribbon Rosette” necklace, worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1961 during the promotional shoot for the movie “The Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, added sparkle to the looks of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Gal Gadot years later. In 1995, the Tiffany
diamond was removed from the “Ribbon Rosette” necklace and placed in the “Bird on A Rock” brooch, also designed by Jean Schlumberger, and exhibited at the “Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in Paris.
In the last years of his life, Jean Schlumberger returned to Paris, the city where his talent as an artist emerged. In 1987, at the age of 80, he passed away, leaving behind a magical legacy full of jewels