A few months ago, we posted about the Seaman Schepps bracelets discovered in Andy Warhol’s secret stash of jewels and watches. Look what was found in our archive of original renderings! It looks like this bracelet of diamond studded engraved stars and ruby accented hinges was originally designed for Mrs. Ernest Horvath. I wish I knew the story of how it ended up in Andy Warhol’s collection. Regardless, how fantastic is it to be able trace the design back to its origin? Pretty darn fantastic, I’d say.
One of the designs that made Seaman Schepps legendary for his imagination is wit is the Jazz cuff bracelet! Can you believe believe it was originally designed/created in the 1930s? It’s absolutely of-the-moment nearly 75 years later.
Schepps designed a series of oversized “barbaric”-style bracelets. Here’s an original Seaman Schepps Cuff, c. 1944:
Seaman Schepps Jazz Cuffs, modern and vintage, are picture above. Clockwise from bottom left: A modern Jazz Cuff in sapphire and diamond; Cabochon and faceted emeralds with diamonds in yellow nad white gold, c. 1935; Cabochon and engraved emeralds, sapphires, and rubies with garnets and diamonds in white and yellow gold, which originally belonged to Mrs. Axel Wnner-Grem. c. 1940, now in a private collection.
If there were a woman who was truly worth the title “heiress”, Doris Duke would have all the competition beat. In fact, she defined it. To go along with the headlines and the coterie of men, she had an enviable collection of jewels which included quite a few important Seaman Schepps designs that were exhibited as part of the Schepps retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York in 2004. Her true legacy was in the $1.3 billion fortune that was largely left upon her death to charitable foundations dedicated to medical research, prevention of cruelty to children and animals, the performing arts, wildlife and ecology.
While flipping through the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, I was particularly pleased to see that Doris Duke is in the spotlight once again. How fitting that the Museum of Arts & Design in New York is mounting an exhibition celebrating her dedication to Islamic art and architecture through a showcase of the haven she had built for herself in the 1930s in Honolulu, Hawaii–Shangri La. The exhibition runs from September 7, 2012 – February 17, 2013. I can’t wait to see it and find out more about this fascinating heiress of all heiresses!
“The recent discovery of jewelry in a storage room in Andy Warhol’s townhouse came as an enormous surprise to everyone. After all, prior to the auction last spring of The Andy Warhol Collection, the principal rooms of the house had been completely emptied. Everything had been thoroughly and exhaustively searched. We were certain that nothing had been overlooked. But Andy outwitted us.
The woman above is of course the eminently recognizable Babe Paley, as photographed by Richard Avedon. What does she have to do with Mrs. Harvey Cushing and the bracelet pictured below?
Sifting through the Seaman Schepps archive of 5,000+ renderings is like taking a journey through time. As was the custom, many of the renderings bear the names of the clients for whom the pieces were specially designed. Many of the names I recognize as prominent New Yorkers of the time–such as Mrs. Alfred Knopf, Mrs. John Astor, Mrs. Carole Brandt. My inner sleuth kicks in: Who were these women, and why were they drawn to Schepps?
William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” I can’t think of a more fitting quote for Seaman Schepps jewelry. From Hollywood screen sirens to American First Ladies to jet-setting heiresses, Schepps jewels have certainly been on an illustrious adventure or two, in the heady midst of history in the making. Can you imagine the things these jewels have seen, the situations they’ve been in, and the conversations that they have been privy to?
It’s a month before production begins on our next catalog, and I’m obsessively sifting through John Rawlings’ photography for Vogue through the 40s and 50s. In the age of provocative-bordering-on-obsene fashion photography à la Terry Richardson et al, Rawlings’ eye for composition and form–together with the refined 40s styling–is suddenly refreshing… and surprisingly sexy. Here’s a shot by John Rawlings for Vogue, circa 1941. The models are peering into the March 1941 of Vogue, which just so happens to feature Schepps jewelry on the cover!
There’s nothing I find more delight in than discovering a vintage photo with Seaman Schepps jewelry. I often find myself trolling through old magazine archives and society photos, hoping to catch a glimpse of an iconic Schepps jewel. Luck was on my side today… Here a stunning shot of a model wearing our large and medium Link Bracelets, as photographed by John Rawlings–influential Vogue photographer of the 40s.