How Jewelry Legend Suzanne Belperron Developed Her Singular Style
Earlier this year I watched a Belperron platinum and diamond “Tube” bracelet break a record. After six minutes of frenzied bidding the hammer went down at $825,000. The room erupted into applause and heads leaned in as dealers asked each other who they thought was on the winning phone line. Not long after, I spotted the Belperron in the window of Stephen Russell on Madison Avenue.
'My style,' Belperron famously said, 'is my signature.'"
Belperron does that to people. Her work—bold, sculptural, innovative—is revered and her legend looms large. She was one of the few women in charge of a jewelry workshop in early 20th century Paris, and perhaps the only one so supremely sure of the singularity of her talent that she refused to sign her pieces. “My style,” she famously said, “is my signature.”
She dared to mix precious stones with wood and rock crystal, and she challenged stubborn Paris workshops to sculpt curves into temperamental, smoky quartz.
In December 2018, this Belperron diamond tube bracelet set a world record auction for the designer at $852,500.
Ward and Nico Landrigan acquired her name and the worldwide rights to her archive in 1999 with a vision to relaunch her work they way they had earlier with Fulco di Verdura. Ward Landrigan had been chairman of the Jewelry Department at Sotheby’s when he first began spotting the work. He went to the sale of the Duchess of Windsor's jewels in 1987 (a big Belperron client, as was Elsa Schiaparelli) in search of Verdura pieces, but he came home with a chalcedony Belperron suite instead.
Suzanne Belperron, photographed for Vogue in 1933.
Landrigan began to seek her pieces everywhere; one aquamarine bracelet was discovered on 47th Street in Manhattan. He debated spending $5,000 on it; today Belperron pieces regularly fetch six figures at auction. He bought 22 of the 60 lots at the Sotheby's sale of her personal collection, in Geneva in 2012.
Those finds, along with about 50 new pieces made each year according to some of Belperron's 9,200 drawings, are on display at the Belperron salon above Fifth Avenue—which also happens to be one of the prettiest spaces in all of New York.
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors