Seaman Schepps: 118 years young - Jewelry Connoisseur

< h3>The energetic spirit of this storied New York jeweler is on show at its new Madison Avenue flagship.

Seaman Schepps had an innate expertise for designing jewellery that enhanced a lady’s magnificence. “Traditionally, jewellery signified social standing or monetary standing. But Schepps’s items flattered the wearer, relatively than exhibiting off household wealth,” explains Anthony Hopenhajm, who acquired the model in 1992. Known as “America’s courtroom jeweler,” Schepps — who lived from 1881 to 1972 — designed for fashion icons starting from Barbara Hutton and Marlene Dietrich to the duchess of Windsor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. But his origins have been far humbler.

Raised by immigrant dad and mom on New York’s Lower East Side, Schepps grew up in a world of tenements and pushcarts. Hopenhajm believes that this melting pot of sounds and sights had a profound affect. “Color didn’t scare him,” he says.

Schepps first arrange store in California in 1904, however returned to New York in 1921. He opened a retailer across the nook from the Algonquin Hotel, dwelling to the famed Round Table of writers and artists, who grew to become his mates and purchasers. Although he misplaced that retailer in the course of the Great Depression, Schepps later opened on Madison Avenue and finally moved to Park Avenue, the place the store remained for the following 60 years.

Rio bracelet in 18-karat gold with emeralds, aquamarines, tourmaline and diamonds. (Seaman Schepps)

Unconventional combos
Innovation and irreverence are on the coronary heart of Schepps designs. “He took probabilities. He made bracelets out of wooden and put diamonds on seashells,” says Hopenhajm, including that Schepps’s lack of formal coaching could have been a bonus, because it freed him to experiment exterior the strict confines of conventional jewellery design.

“He didn’t begin with a pencil and paper. He was impressed by the supplies,” relates Hopenhajm. At the time, the fashion was single-stone jewellery — “all diamonds or rubies or emeralds.” But Schepps performed with inventive combos, seamlessly mixing valuable and semi-precious stones with crystal, wooden or ivory. His use of wooden grew to become a “hallmark design of the model,” in accordance with Hopenhajm; he factors to the various iterations of the ebony wooden Boat Link bracelet, which have included silver, diamond, and white ceramic accents

Shell jewellery additionally grew to become synonymous with Schepps. “He would take a cheap shell and adorn it with hundreds of {dollars} of stones,” turning it into the proper accent for his trendy clientele, says Hopenhajm. “There was nothing extra stylish than sporting this with a linen coloured shirt in the summertime or a leather-based jacket within the winter.”

Anthony Hopenhajm, who acquired Seaman Schepps in 1992. (Kris Tamburello)
Anthony Hopenhajm, who acquired Seaman Schepps in 1992. (Kris Tamburello)

A love of colour
Color was a dominant function of his designs. Classic examples have been his Rio bracelets in peridot, aquamarine and emeralds; the Junio necklace in smooth blue chalcedony and sapphires; and the Garden bracelet, blossoming with rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds.

Schepps had a whimsical facet as nicely. Snuff bottles, which he found on a visit to Asia, grew to become a design component for a bracelet. He lower them in half and mixed them with white topaz, emerald and jadeite. The latter was a “favourite and ceaselessly used stone for its smooth and flattering colour,” says Hopenhajm, including that it was not generally in use amongst American designers.

Schepps utilized the identical design aesthetic to males’s cuff hyperlinks, which he created in shell, crystal and jade. “Like his jewellery, the cuff hyperlinks have stood the check of time,” says Hopenhajm.

“A number of the jewellery tends to be enjoyable,” he continues, explaining his preliminary attraction to the model. “Pieces made greater than 60 years in the past are as fascinating in the present day as they have been then.”

Silhouette earrings in 18-karat gold with walnut wood and yellow sapphires. (Seaman Schepps)
Silhouette earrings in 18-karat gold with walnut wooden and yellow sapphires. (Seaman Schepps)

Reopening doorways
The firm’s custom of “progressive design with a twist” is on full show at its just lately opened flagship on Madison Avenue. “Like Schepps, we’re impressed by the supplies,” says Hopenhajm. As with the unique items, all the jewellery is produced in New York.

Reminiscent of a Parisian salon within the Thirties, the brand new boutique ushers purchasers right into a world of hushed class amid a palette of soppy blue and beige. Hopenhajm wished to create a “serene environment for exhibiting lovely issues,” with the jewellery as “the celebrities of the room.”

An Italian Rococo mirror from the 1850s and a Baccarat crystal and metal chandelier function adornments in addition to hyperlinks to the previous; each items have been initially within the Park Avenue retailer. The 50 toes of window shows, in the meantime, will change seasonally.

The first degree additionally accommodates a retrospective of Schepps designs. For the primary time in 15 years, items initially created for American heiress Doris Duke might be on show — although not on the market — together with a grape cluster brooch with a mixture of coloured sapphires. The decrease degree, accessible through a round staircase, homes Schepps’s authentic enterprise ledgers and over 5,000 authentic drawings and sketches. Originally saved in commonplace picture albums, they’re now preserved in archival paper. Hopenhajm hopes to make use of the area for particular occasions and academic conferences.

Wallis Simpson in Seaman Schepps Bubble earrings. (Seaman Schepps)
Wallis Simpson in Seaman Schepps Bubble earrings. (Seaman Schepps)

Resonating by means of the generations
“These designs make sense, 118 years after Seaman Schepps was based,” remarks Hopenhajm. “People are bored with the sameness that’s available in the market. They admire what’s handmade and exquisite.”

He views the jewellery as transcending generations — an commentary he’s gleaned from interactions with moms and daughters. He additionally factors to the recognition of the model’s boutiques in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida.

“It’s an aspirational model for many individuals due to the distinctive designs and ingenious use of supplies,” says Hopenhajm. And the Seaman Schepps story itself resonates with individuals. “Self-taught and self-made, Schepps reinvented himself. He represents a real American success story.”

The Seaman Schepps boutique on Madison Avenue. (Kris Tamburello)
The Seaman Schepps boutique on Madison Avenue. (Kris Tamburello)

Main picture: Jewelry displayed on the Seaman Schepps boutique on Madison Avenue. (Seaman Schepps / Kris Tamburello).

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