name to know: Suzanne Belperron

name to know: Suzanne Belperron

Suzanne Belperron (1900-1983) changed the jewelry world just like Coco Chanel changed the world of couture. Belperron’s address was given out by word of mouth, her clientele were accepted exclusively by appointment, and her original creations made her one of the most influential jewelry designers of the 20th century. Diana Vreeland, Daisy Fellowes and Wallis Simpson were some of her clients. 

career and life 

Suzanne Belperron – initially Suzanne Vuillerme – was born in a small French town of Saint-Claude. Passing the time during long winter months, the inhabitants of this town engaged themselves in traditional crafts. The art of cutting stones was among the most popular ones. Once, the town of Saint-Claude was also one of the most important centres of diamond cutting. Who knows, perhaps this place of birth somehow influenced Belperron’s fate. 

After completing the “Watchmaking and Jewelry Decoration” course, young Suzanne Belperron moved to Paris. There, she was hired by Jeanne Boivin – the owner of Boivin, quite a famous French jewelry house. From the 1920s, all the collections created by this Maison were inspired by Belperron’s sketches. 

Becoming a leading designer, and a little later a co-director of the House, Suzanne married Jean Belperron. It was at that moment when she received the surname that the whole world knew her by – Belperron. 

However, Belperron’s original designs for Boivin’s jewels were not attributed to her. This is almost an unwritten rule: many Jewelry Maisons usually insist on the anonymity of their designers. Feeling bored and frustrated, Belperron resigned and accepted an offer from Bernard Herz, a famous gemstone dealer.   

 Jean Herz–Suzanne Belperron advertisement in Vogue Paris

Suzanne Belperron Brooch, Ear Clips and Ring with amethysts, citrine and yellow sapphires

Suzanne Belperron got complete freedom. Finally, her original and exclusive designs got the attention and recognition they deserved. Her fame grew by leaps and bounds. Every month her creations appeared in fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, she collaborated with famous photographers, made new friends in high society and gained a wide circle of admirers. 

Together with Bernard Herz’s son she became a co-owner of a company called “Jean Herz-Suzanne Belperron SARL” (it was the new name of the Bernard Herz jewelry maison). Together they worked successfully for the next 30 years. 

jewelry and design

Suzanne Belperron’s designs

“My style is my signature,” Suzanne insisted.

Her jewelry pieces were so original that she never signed them.

Suzanne Belperron was inspired by the arts and cultures of Egypt, Assyrian civilization, the Far East (China and Japan), Africa and Oceania. She was fascinated by nature, textures, shapes and unique color combinations. 

When the world was taken over by Art deco style, Suzanne Belperron was using colored gems – choosing them by their beauty rather than their value, she created jewelry pieces that were at odds with the angular jewelry trends of that time. She was a stunning colorist who created bold jewels and revolutionized the world of adornments. Belperron was a real innovator in the combination of different materials: she mixed wood and sapphires, ivory and diamonds, corals and emeralds. She was fond of the generous volumes and atypical setting techniques, and she loved such materials as chalcedony, blonde agate and rock crystal, and, of course, gold — often unpolished yellow gold. 

Everything set her apart from her competitors.

Suzanne Belperron Double Coronet with aqua stones and rubies

The way she worked with clients was also unique. She always found out about her client’s lifestyle, studied their face, the shape of hands and complexion of the skin. She took all the necessary measurements extremely meticulously, akin to a fashion designer. She also preferred having several “fittings” to make sure that her creation suited the client perfectly.

Suzanne Belperron’s clientele included Europe’s royalty and aristocrats, such as the dynasties of the Rothschild, Wildenstein and the Duke of Windsor. She attracted clients from the worlds of arts and show business, such as Colette, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Ganna Walska, María Félix, Arno Breker, Josephine Baker, Raoul Dufy, Daisy Fellowes, Alice Cocéa, Merle Oberon, Françoise Rosay, Mary Bell, Charles Boyer, Harry Baur, Louise de Vilmorin, Jean Cocteau and Gary Cooper. Among her famous clients from the fashion world were Elsa Schiaparelli, Diana Vreeland, Nina Ricci, Christian Dior and Jeanne Lanvin. 

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