COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Belperron jewelry
Vogue cover with Belperron brooch, 1934. Courtesy of Vogue.

Vogue cover with Belperron brooch, 1934. Courtesy of Vogue.

Suzanne Belperron (1900-1983) is known today as the jewelry designer who never signed her creations and who deliberately burned her personal papers and photographs–or at least, this is the myth created around her name. This version of history has been defeated with the monographic work on Belperron by French jewelry expert Sylvie Raulet. Belperron’s powerful and organically modern designs were intended for the glorification of the female. Her clients, The Duchess of Windsor, Daisy Fellowes, and Colette among others appreciated the sensuality of her intellectualized designs, very much on trend with the avant-garde of the earlier part of the 20th century.

Belperron (née Vuillerme) moved to Paris from a little town on the Swiss border to study decorative arts at the École des Beaux Arts where she made a connection to the Boivin family of René Boivin, the jewelry designer. She designed for the Boivin House for several years and remained there after her marriage to Jean Belperron, a civil engineer. When she moved to Bernard Herz, a different jewelry house, she was noticed by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli who was photographed for Vogue in 1933 wearing Belperron jewels. A bee-line of famous clients followed.

Legend has it Belperron used to scatter precious stones on the table and rearranged them to the point where a new design would form. This assured a particularly spontaneous approach to design but also a unique sensuousness directly deriving from the character of the gems she was using. Belperron was equally known for attention to precision and her close collaboration with the director of her workshop, Emile Darde, in search of solutions to technical problems that stemmed from her design method.

Today, VERDURA owns and has numbered about 4,000 sketches of Belperron’s archives. The jewelry firm has acquired exclusive right to produce new pieces from Belperron sketches. Some of Belperron’s original pieces can be spotted at auctions or at vintage jewelry retailers, such as Fred Leighton. The only way to an original Belperron piece is familiarity with her style and technical solutions, the latter truly distinguishing authentic pieces from copies.

© Thomaï Serdari