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Hermes is the world's most valuable luxury brand with a rich heritage of exquisite craftsmanship, highest quality and utmost professionalism.
Brief History of Hermes Jewelry
Thierry Hermès founded his business in 1837 making horse harnesses. He expanded into a variety of leather goods, such as saddles, saddle bags, riding gear and the first leather golf jacket. His company passed through generations of his descendants, right through the present day.
1880: Thierry's son, Charles-Émile, became head of the company and his two sons, Adolphe and Emile-Maurice, worked with him.
1920s: Emile-Maurice was in charge and groomed his sons-in-law, Robert Dumas, Jean-René Guerrand and Francis Puech as business partners.
1951: Robert followed Emile-Maurice and was the first person not descended from Thierry to lead the company. Aware of the importance of family, he added Hermes to his name: Robert Dumas-Hermès. He collaborated closely with his brother-in-law Jean-René. It was under Robert's leadership that the company began creating and producing jewelry.
1978: Robert's son, Jean Louis Dumas, became chairman, and once again the company was led by a Hermes. He was the great-great-great-grandson of Thierry by way of his mother's lineage.
2006 - Following the retirement of Jean Louis, Patrick Thomas became CEO, the first person not at all related to the Hermes family. Patrick had been co-CEO with Jean Louis.
2012 - Sixth generation Hermes family member, Axel Dumas, was named CEO and remains in that position today.
Axel Dumas has continued the company/family tradition of the ultimate in craftsmanship. They have always shunned mass production and outsourcing. Each piece reflects the hard work of the artisan. Hermes also remains in the “ultra-premium luxury” category. Their jewelry is designed to be exclusive, affordable to only the “1%.” The “limited edition” pieces continue as does the limited distribution of certain pieces to Hermes stores.
Hermes Jewelry Designers
Jean Cocteau, writer, filmmaker, designer and visual artist, was a “guest jewelry designer.” Two of his creations were the Cleopatra Eye Magnifying Glass that could be worn as a pendant or as a scarf ring and the Mistigri Brooch, a lion's head with eyes of marquise cut emeralds.
Pierre Hardy left Christian Dior, where he designed shoes, to join Hermes as creative director of fine jewelry in 1990. His collection, “Enchaînements Libres,” reinvented the chain. He made it big and bold, reflecting back on Hermes as a harness-maker and saddler and on the nautical world. He also created the “Haute Bijouterie” collection, a marriage of the iconic Hermes bags and Hermes fine jewelry.
Martin Margiela, a Belgian designer, became creative director in 1997. Unlike designers today, he shied away from any publicity for himself. He also was unlike any jewelry designer that preceded him at Hermes. He made jewelry from everyday materials, such as his fabric rings and his necklaces made from champagne corks.
Jean-Paul Gaultier returned Hermes jewelry to its more understated look (compared to Martin's ultra designs). He established Hermes as the go-to house for discreet jewelry, such as fine strands of silver chains worn as pendants or belts, directing the aesthetic of time away from gold.
Hermes Jewelry Hallmarks
- “HERMÈS H” (note the accent mark)
- “Made in Austria” on enamel prior to 2010
- “Made in France” on enamel after 2010
- Hermès developed an elaborate code for dating jewelry. From 1946 to 2015, a single letter indicated the year the piece was made:
- 1946 – 1970, a single capital letter
- 1971 – 1996, a capital letter inside a circle
- 1997 – 2015, a capital letter inside a square
- Serial number
Hermes Jewelry Materials
- Gold: yellow, white, rose
- Gold plating
- Sterling silver
- Silver plate
- Stainless steel
- Fabric (including silk)
- Carnelian cabochon
Collectible Vintage Hermes Jewelry
- Clic Clac bracelets
- Chaine d'Ancre designs - this design began in 1938 and has been taken through the decades. Inspiration was taken from a ship anchor chain and has been used in rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
- "Cleopatra Eye" (Loupe Oeil Cléopâtre) magnifying glass by JEAN COCTEAU
- Filet de selle bracelets -The first piece of jewelry created by Hermes as an ode to its origins as a harness manufacturer. You can find the harness-making theme in other pieces of Hermes jewelry, with bits, harnesses, chains, and buckles being used as motifs.
Some Examples of Collectible Hermes Jewelry
- Au Galop Bangle - 1970s, white sterling silver bangle, equine design, slip on.
- Stirrup and Spur Clip Brooch - 1950-1960, iconic and emblematic stirrup and spur motif with articulated rowel, 18K yellow gold, brooch
- Mistigri Lion Cat Emerald Jean Cocteau Design Brooch - 1964, made by Jean Cocteau from his own drawing, Mistigri is a French name for a cat. The brooch is completely 18kt yellow gold with eyes of marquise-cut emeralds.
- Hermes H Logo Gold and Sterling Silver Ring - 20th century, 18K gold and sterling silver Ring
Tips for Buying Hermes Jewelry
- All Hermès leather goods, including bracelets, are hand sewn. The stitching will not be perfect, but close to it—evenly spaced with no loose ends.
- This may be a surprise: Hermès bracelets are an oval shape, which makes them more comfortable on the wrist. Fakes will be round.
- The enamel on Hermès bangles has softly rounded edges. Fakes will be flat.
- Fake Hermès bracelets tend to be smaller. Check the dimensions on the official Hermes website.
- Fakes are often lighter because they are made of inexpensive materials. Double-check the weight.
- Clic Clac bracelets are oval. The enamel is one solid piece and scratch resistant. The H clasp opens and closely smoothly.
- The Collier de Chien bracelets are genuine leather: calfskin, lizard or alligator. The metal is palladium or gold plating. The O ring is a smooth continuous piece of metal with no visible seam.
- Find the serial number and call Hermes customer service at 800-441-4488 to see if the number is authentic.
The exclusivity of the jewelry and their tendency toward “limited editions” make Hermes among the most coveted of vintage jewelry. But it is out there and certainly worth the search. Please see the Hermes Jewelry pages on Etsy as well as browse on eBay for vintage Hermes Jewelry.