The legendary jewels of Elizabeth Taylor are practically as famous as Liz herself! The recent auction of her jewelry at Christie’s garnered much attention, and sold for many times the estimated value. Of course, Seaman Schepps did not escape the woman who adored jewelry like no other. Here she is at the height of her fame wearing Schepps on the cover of Modern Screen magazine from 1952.
Here’s a photo of Miss Duke from 1953, wearing her Schepps citrine cabochon bracelet and ring suite, made for her in December of 1940. At that time, the price was $500! The pairing with a crisp white shirt is absolute perfection.
The set was part of the Christie’s “Magnificient Jewels from the Doris Duke Collection” auction in 2004. (Click on images to enlarge.)
To see some of her other Schepps’ pieces, see our previous post.
A little piece of Schepps history–Patricia Schepps Vaill’s business card. So simple… because the Schepps name said it all.
Her obituary in the New York Times:
February 18, 1993 Patricia Schepps Vaill, a jewelry designer, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 74.
Until she became ill in 1990, Mrs. Vaill was acting as a design consultant. She was known for her work in the Art Deco style in jewelry and the use of beach glass and rock crystal.
Mrs. Vaill was the former president of Seaman Schepps, the Park Avenue jewelry design firm founded by her father… She took over after her father’s death in 1972, retiring in 1988.
In May 1986, Interview magazine published an article about her that was illustrated by Robert Mapplethorpe.
She was born in San Francisco. She attended L’Ecole Mont-Choisi in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Todhunter School in New York City, where she studied American History under Eleanor Roosevelt.
Besides her daughter, Amanda, a writer in New York City, she is survived by a sister, Virginia Jane Scott of Cold Spring Harbor, L.I., and two grandchildren.
I have to thank the BrandLand blog for this image. They had found the card in the back of an old desk that was once in the Abraham & Straus department store in Brooklyn. Of course, our store is still located at 485 Park Avenue. Our phone number is still indeed PL3-9520.
In 2010, I was fortunate to catch one of the most extensive exhibitions of Irving Penn’s photography at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Whilst peering at the 120 photographs on display at the gallery, the one above (of beauty icon and writer Francine du Plessix Gray–left— with her stepfather Alexander Liberman and mother Tatiana du Plessix Liberman) stopped me dead in my tracks. The photo was taken in 1948 in New York. Tatiana is wearing Schepps’ Pearl Wrapped Link Bracelet and Earrings!
My curiosity was piqued. Who were Alex Liberman and Tatiana du Plessix Liberman? After all, you had to be a bit of a somebody to sit for Irving Penn.
The Snuff Bottle Bracelet is Schepps at the height of whimsy and imagination. Originally made from snuff bottles hand-carved from sem-precious stone (see an original at the top of the image), our newest version is a stunning combination of blue chalcedony, faceted iolite, rock crystal, with diamond and sapphire accents mounted in 18k white gold.
The newspaper article is from the Washington Post in 1968. Society columnist Maxine Cheshire dubbed Schepps “America’s Court Jeweler” in this very article! She also notes, “David Webb, Pierre Schlumberger and even costume jeweler Kenneth J. Lane credit Schepps with being the daddy of them all.”
S.S. vacationed with his family in La Baule (Brittany) from 1927-1928. I imagined his sketch/inspiration book during this time for the Schepps catalogue… The photos at left are of S.S., his wife Nell, and daughters Patricia and Diane at La Baule. The renderings of the jewelry are for designs he made for the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson (a gift commissioned by the Duke) and for the First Lady Roosevelt. I had so much fun raiding our archives during the making of this catalogue! The little coral figure was in a box with all of S.S’s personal effects. Rather than put together the collages digitally and using the oh-so-horrible fake “drop shadow” effect, I really wanted all the objects to come off the page. Hence, each page was assembled from real objects and shot as separate plates, then stitched together into a spread using Photoshop! More to come…
May I present to you…the cover of the Seaman Schepps Spring/Summer 2011 catalogue, featuring our iconic Mousetrap Bracelet in 22k gold, diamond and emerald. The photo tucked under the watercolor rendering is the illustrious Blanche Knopf (Mrs. Alfred P. Knopf) wearing 3 Mousetraps on one fabulous wrist while on a yacht. Legend has it that when she found out that another woman had also acquired a Schepps Mousetrap bracelet, she increased her collection to three. A woman after my own heart!
I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early but I just can’t help myself…. For the Seaman Schepps Spring/Summer 2011 catalog, we wanted to draw upon the heritage and the history of Schepps by playing with the concept of an imaginary sketch or inspiration book that belonged to Mr. Schepps… to tell a story about the jewelry and what might have inspired Mr. Schepps to create such fabulous pieces. Sneak Preview: here’s a shot of me setting up one of the pages with our classic mixed wood Link Bracelet…. That’s the dapper Seaman Schepps in the photo. The manila envelope is an authentic vintage artifact from 1941. Nellie Schepps was of course Mrs. Seaman Schepps!
This past week, some of the Schepps vintage jewelry was taken out of our vaults for an upcoming exhibition in Hong Kong! I had the opportunity to see the famous grape brooch (made in 1937) in sapphire, emerald, and diamond that belonged to the heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke–part of an amazing sapphire suite that also includes a bracelet and earrings. The grape brooch is fantastic–one forgets the scale of it; there’s nothing diminutive or quaint about it. It measures almost 5 inches high!
To die for! My heart stopped when I came upon these renderings in our archives. Research into a Mrs. H.E. Dewing, for whom the link bracelet was designed, reveals that Mr. Dewing was a prominent member of the Stock Exchange in the 1920s. Looking at these designs–particularly the cuff bracelets–reminds me a lot of what we’re seeing in costume jewelry today, especially by designers Dana Lorenz of Fenton/Fallon and Dannijo. To think that Mr. Schepps beat them to it by about 70+ years!