When Tiffany & Co. president Walter Hoving invited Jean Schlumberger (1907-1987) to join the firm in 1956, he enticed the artist-jeweler with an onsite custom-designed studio and salon, and access to an unlimited supply of the finest colored stones. Schlumberger’s highly original jewelry, rooted in the visual language of French surrealism, brought a fresh spirit and renewed energy to the company. At Tiffany he would produce some of the best work of his career, capturing the youthful mood of the mid-century.
Schlumberger was an artist of refined taste. His daily uniform consisted of a navy-blue cotton work jacket designed for him by Cristobal Balenciaga modeled after the couturier’s own. Famed for his ingenious designs, he was drawn to the organic forms of the natural world, particularly the exoticism of marine life. Utilizing Tiffany’s trove of exceptional stones and the technical virtuosity of their expert craftsmen, Schlumberger created sophisticated jewelry for the era’s most influential tastemakers, including Diana Vreeland, Bunny Mellon and Babe Paley.
Babe Paley was considered the most elegant woman of her time, setting a standard of cultivated taste for style-conscious women across the country. She was known to buy entire couture collections from Valentino and Givenchy, wearing the clothes with ease. Truman Capote famously said of her, “Babe Paley had only one fault; she was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect.” In 1962 Schlumberger designed a spectacular starfish brooch clip for her in deep shades of blue and green highlighted by diamonds. Paley was one of many Schlumberger muses and she was frequently photographed wearing his jewelry.
Our version of this iconic brooch is a one-of-a-kind example from a recent Blue Book high jewelry collection. In typical Schlumberger fashion, the fanciful starfish is animated with an incredible sense of life and dimension. The naturalistic form is covered in sapphires and diamonds of various shapes and sizes and firmly anchored by two large pear-shaped tsavorites. The jewelry of Jean Schlumberger continues to resonate with collectors today as the deeply imaginative and wearable works of art they are.
- 2 pear-shaped tsavorites weighing approximately 12.33 carats
- 244 round diamonds weighing approximately 7.19 carats
- 127 round sapphires weighing approximately 30.70 carats
- 18K yellow gold
- Signed Tiffany & Co.