A Forgotten Gem of Jewellery Design

A Forgotten Gem of Jewellery Design

On International Women's Day 2016, 8th March, we wanted to share a woman who was not simply known for wearing fabulous jewels but one of the creators of great 20th century jewellery. Her name may no longer be as widely known as some of her contemporaries but that is all the more reason to shine a spotlight on Suzanne Belperron.

Suzanne Belperron

A signature feature of the Belperron pieces is her honeycomb design - something that particularly drew our attention as we prepare for our buzzy summer theme!

She was born at the turn of the century in eastern France and was a pioneer in the aesthetics of the 1930s, resisting the rigid formality of the Art Deco and developing her own strikingly sensual style but did not sign her work as she claimed “Mon style est ma signature.” It was the Parisian stone dealer Bernard Herz who had the confidence in her work to employ her to design exclusively under his own name in 1932.

Sapphire and diamond brooch, 'Fleur', circa 1945

Sapphire and diamond brooch, 'Fleur', circa 1945. Auctioned at Sotheby's.

The wearers of her jewellery were amongst the most celebrated women of the time with Elsa Schiaparelli being photographed wearing Belperron pieces for a photoshoot for French Vogue in 1933 and a significant range of her work was auctioned amongst the collection of the Duchess of Windsor in 1987. Other influential fans included Colette, Diana Vreeland and Fred Astaire. Today her admirers include such giants of fashion as Karl Lagerfeld, who wrote an introduction to Belperron's biography.


A Platinum, Gold, Rose Quartz and Sapphire 'Coquillage' Brooch, Suzanne Belperron

A Platinum, Gold, Rose Quartz and Sapphire 'Coquillage' Brooch, Suzanne Belperron. Auctioned at Sotheby's.

As well as using more typical materials of the time such as diamonds and platinum, Belperron frequently used materials like chalcedone; a cryptocrystalline form of silica, rock crystal and nephrite; a form of jade highly valued in Maori culture (otherwise known as greenstone), possibly stemming from her influences from a variety of tribal designs. It was her designs that made surprising combinations of 'high' and 'low' materials fresh and chic. An article in French Vogue, 1947, described this muddling of materials as “a marriage of convenience that turns into a love match.”

Pair of White Gold, Chalcedony, Sapphire and Diamond 'Couronne' Cuff-Bracelets, Suzanne Belperron, Paris

Pair of White Gold, Chalcedony, Sapphire and Diamond 'Couronne' Cuff-Bracelets. Auctioned by Sotheby's.

Inspired by Suzanne Belperron's creativity?

Shop our Bespoke Collection or Get in Touch to discuss your ideas!

Back to blog