Jean Schlumberger (jewelry designer)
Family and early life
Schlumberger was born in then-German Mulhouse, France to a well-to-do family involved in textile manufacturing. His father was Paul Albert Edouard Schlumberger (1877-1952) and his mother was Elisabeth Schoen (1884-1942). He had four siblings; Daniel Schlumberger (1904-1972), Pascal Alfred (1911-1986), Isabelle Françoise Elisabeth and Jacqueline. He sketched constantly during his youth, but his parents tried to discourage his artistic interest by refusing to allow him to undertake formal training.
Schlumberger began his career creating buttons for Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930s. Schiaparelli later commissioned him to design costume jewelry for her firm. During World War II, Schlumberger was in the French Army and survived the Battle of Dunkirk. He also served under General Charles de Gaulle in England and the Middle East with the Free French Forces.
After the war, Schlumberger came to New York and began to design clothing for Chez Ninon. In 1946, he opened a jewelry salon with his business partner Nicolas Bongard (1908–2000).
Career at Tiffany & Co.
In 1956, the president of Tiffany & Co., Walter Hoving, asked Schlumberger to begin designing for the firm. He had his own workshop at the company until his retirement in the late 1970s and was eventually made a Vice-President.
Schlumberger's designs at Tiffany & Co. were remarkable for their whimsical interpretations of natural forms. He was especially inspired by sea creatures and other animals. Diana Vreeland wrote that Schlumberger "appreciates the miracle of jewels. For him, they are the ways and means to the realization of his dreams."
He quickly built an impressive client base that included the Duchess of Windsor, Babe Paley, Greta Garbo, Mona von Bismarck, Rachel Lambert Mellon, Jayne Wrightsman, C.Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, Françoise de Langlade, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Lyn Revson, Gloria Vanderbilt, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.
For his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy purchased the famous Two Fruit clip in rubies and diamonds, which is in the permanent collection of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Jacqueline Kennedy wore so many of Schlumberger's bracelets that the press dubbed them "Jackie bracelets".
Schlumberger died in Paris and is buried at Isola di San Michele.
Tiffany Yellow Diamond
One of the most famous pieces that Schlumberger created was the mounting for the famed Tiffany Diamond, which was in the firm's collection since the nineteenth century. The brooch, entitled "Bird on a Rock", incorporates the impressive 128.54 carats (25.708 g) yellow diamond in a fanciful setting typical of Schlumberger's style.
- Bizot, Chantal, de Gary, Marie-Noël, Possémé, Évelyne and preface by David-Weill, Hélène, The Jewels of Jean Schlumberger, Harry N. Abrams, 2001, page 19.
- Lawson, Carol (September 1, 1987). "J. SCHLUMBERGER DIES IN PARIS AT 80". The New York Times.
- Obituaries - Nicolas Bongard, 91, Executive at Tiffany, New York Times, April 19, 2000
- Trebay, Guy (May 8, 2001). "Tiffany's Prince of Whimsy Takes a Posthumous Bow". The New York Times.
- Schon, Marbeth (2006). "Review". Bejewelled by Tiffany: 1837–1987. Modern Silver.
- About Tiffany & Co. - Jean Schlumberger
- Bizot, Chantal, de Gary, Marie-Noël, Possémé, Évelyne and preface by David-Weill, Hélène, The Jewels of Jean Schlumberger, Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
- Hue-Williams, Sarah, Christie's Guide to Jewellery, Assouline, 2001.
- Loring, John, Tiffany’s 20th Century: A Portrait of American Style, Harry N. Abrams, 1997.
- Loring, John, Tiffany in Fashion, Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
- Loring, John, Tiffany Flora & Fauna, Harry N. Abrams, 2003.
- Phillips, Clare, Bejewelled by Tiffany 1837-1987, Art Institute of Chicago, 2006.
- Mirabella, Grace, Tiffany & Co., Thames and Hudson, 1997.
- Taylor, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, Simon & Schuster, 2002.
- Vreeland, Diana, Jean Schlumberger, Franco Maria Ricci, 1976.