Want to learn about Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany? Learn about the history of this designer, materials he used and most collectible pieces in this guide.
A Brief History of Jean Schlumberger Jewelry
As one of the most talented jewelry designers of the twentieth century, Jean Schlumberger had a style that was all his own. Inspired by nature, he took inspiration from botanicals in gardens, including flowers, foliage, and fruits. Animals, birds, and creatures from the sea were other motifs. Flowing silhouettes were found in the textiles and fabrics he loved. “I try to make everything look as if it were growing, uneven, at random, organic, in motion.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, geometric shapes also made their way into his designs, with a contemporary effect.
Regardless of the finished design, old-world jewelry techniques were the focus. Reaching back in time, he revitalized the art of enamel work. Popular in the 19th century, the complex technique of enameling involves heating and firing many layers of glass. Schlumberger took it a step further, by placing pure gold in between each layer. Works shimmer with inimitable color.
Early Life and Career
Born in Mulhouse, France, to a family in the textile manufacturing industry, Jean Schlumberger (1907- 1987) was constantly sketching fabric designs. In his twenties, he found a job in a Parisian publishing company. For fun, he spent time together with the creative crowd including Spanish artist Salvador Dali, American artist Man Ray, and French writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau.
Schlumberger collected small Meissen porcelain flowers at local flea markets and crafted them into stunning brooches. These he gave away to friends. This inventively assembled jewelry caught the attention of Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who hired him to craft buttons for her collections, in the 1930s.
After the war he moved to New York and began designing for Chez Ninon. In 1946, Schlumberger opened a jewelry boutique with his business partner Nicolas Bongard.
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Career at Tiffany
Tiffany invited the jewelry designer to collaborate with the company in 1956. At Tiffany, Schlumberger and Bongard were given complete autonomy of their work. In fact, they were each vice presidents of their own division. Most importantly, they were given the top quality, finest stones to work with.
Schlumberger took immense pride in meticulously drawing his designs. Images from nature were transposed into line drawings. Once complete, he selected his favourites. These were completed in full color. Skilled craftsmen produced designs, all of whom reported to Bongard.
The pair continued to work with Tiffany & Co., until retirement in the 1970s.
History of Tiffany & Co.
Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young, set up shop together, selling a fine selection of stationary and fancy goods, in 1837. Initially called Tiffany, Young and Ellis, the name changed to Tiffany & Co., when the shop was bought out exclusively by Charles Lewis Tiffany, In 1853. The focus shifted to jewelry.
Tiffany was always known for innovation, introducing New Yorkers to high quality diamonds, as well as never before seen stones such as tanzanite, and morganite.
In 1956, Tiffany & Co., partnered with Jean Schlumberger and Nicolas Bongard.
- Rose Gold
- Sapphires (in blue and pink)
- Green Tourmaline
- Pink Opal
- Tiger’s Eye
Jean Schlumberger first introduced enamel into Tiffany & Co., in 1962. Today the shops still carry the Croisillion Bracelet, a bangle available in light or dark plum, azure blue, or white. The X design in gold, encircles the enamel, with golden bars between each. These are pure statement pieces.
The Sixteen Stone Ring
The Sixteen Stone Ring is comprised of brilliant cut, circular gemstones that surround the ring, with a graphic X between every two stones. The diamond version is available in platinum, gold, rose gold, or a combination of a platinum ring, with a gold X design.
Colored stones also make an appearance between alternating diamonds. Rubies and diamonds are set on a gold band. Sapphires with diamonds appear in both blue and less traditional pink, in gold or platinum. Then, there is tsavorite with diamonds set in gold.
So detailed was the work of Schlumberger, that each gold Sixteen Stone Ring was designed with platinum claws to hold the gemstones. This highlights the stones and not the metal beautifully.
Other Pieces in the Stone Collection
The Twenty Stone Hoop earrings and 36 Stone Bracelet are made to match the Sixteen Stone Ring. Both are available with diamonds set in platinum with the gold X pattern. The Ten Stone Cross pendent is a traditional Christian symbol, with ten brilliant cut round diamonds in platinum, with the decorative golden X motif.
The Lynn Collection
Lynn Earrings, Lynn Ring and Lynn Pendant are a collection each comprised of four brilliant cut gemstones set in precious metals , with a stylized a X crossing between. Diamond sets are available in platinum with a yellow gold, rose gold or platinum X. Blue sapphires are set in entirely platinum and rubies in entirely gold.
The Rope Collection
The rope is a signature motif in Jean Schlumberger’s work. The Rope Three-row X Ring is made with twisted gold bands that resemble ropes. Four platinum X designs, with brilliant cut round diamonds cross the band. For a thicker band Jean Schlumberger designed the Rope Four-row X Ring.
Smaller more delicate rings in gold and platinum, still feature the rope look, but drop the X work. Instead, the Rope Two-row Ring features a circular band of diamonds running completely around the center with the ropes on either side.
Rope Six-Row Earrings are a chunky gold design that wrap around the ear. Each contain a large platinum X in the center, filled with diamonds. V-Rope Ear Clips crafted from six ropes of gold are folded in half. Each fans out in the opposite direction, appearing to take flight, with a sparkling of twenty diamonds combined.
The Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Rope Engagement Ring is a stunner. The textured rope band, splits, and curves around the finger. A brilliant diamond solitaire sits high in the center, on a hidden bezel of platinum and prongs, with a golden rope woven around it.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
The famous Tiffany Yellow Diamond is a cushion cut 128.54 carat yellow diamond and one of the largest discovered—ever. Of course, Tiffany gave it to Schlumberger to work with. First, he incorporated it into a necklace that actress Audrey Hepburn wore for promotional photographs for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The necklace of gold was made to look like interlaced pieces of ribbon, covered in diamonds, curling into a fanciful flower at the front center. Here Schlumberger set the huge yellow diamond.
Bird on a Rock
Bird on a Rock is a famous decorative art piece of jewelry envisioned by Schlumberger. The brooch initially featured a bird of glittering diamonds, casually walking along the top of a giant topaz gemstone. Upon his death, Tiffany had the Yellow Diamond remounted into a Bird on a Rock setting. The ruby eyed bird pin is available in green tourmaline, tanzanite, citrine, aquamarine, and other such semi-precious stones.
Former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy enjoyed wearing the Schlumberger designed Two Fruit clip, a gift from her husband President John F. Kennedy. The strawberry shaped pin is studded with rubies and diamonds. Jacqueline was particularly fond of the designer’s enamel bracelet designs. The press called these “Jackie bracelets” because she wore them so often.
Actor Richard Burton added Jean Schlumberger designs to the jewelry collection of his then wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. Two famous pieces include the Dolphin brooch, in gold, with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds, along with the Fleur de Mer brooch with sapphires and diamonds.
You will find large collections of enamel works and pieces that have been discontinued in the Tiffany and Co. line. Think bright bracelets in flame orange, electric blue, light blue, vivid red and black, with various diamonds and gold designs.
Enamel earrings may be circular, or shell shaped, with a small diamond or two. Interesting half hoop Banana Earrings with bezel set diamonds show lovely enamel work. There are also a wide variety of enamel rings. For men, and women wearing French cuff shirts, there are an abundance of enamel cufflinks.
Pins feature floral motifs, often with large leaves. Underwater creatures feature open oyster shells revealing a pearl and starfish. Seahorse King Brooch by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., features a gold and platinum seahorse festooned by green tsavorite. The eyes are rubies and there are sprinkles of diamonds throughout the design.
Egg pendants feature tiny Faberge type eggs made of from multi affordable stones such as turquoise, pink opal, or tiger eye.
Identifying Jean Schlumberger Jewelry
You can identify works of jewelry from Jean Schlumberger by his signature. The Tiffany & Co. stamp will also be present.
Tips for Buying
Jean Schlumberger jewelry is available through Tiffany & Co., in locations worldwide. For retired, discontinued, and pre-loved pieces, look for online vendors on Etsy and eBay.
When purchasing from an online vendor look for signs of damage. Carefully check the photographs presented and always read the conditions report.