Exquisite Partnership: Jean Schlumberger and Mrs. Rachel Lambert Mellon

In 1955, Tiffany and Company hired Van Day Truex, the former head of the Parsons School of Design, to revive its collection and bring a fresh approach to the brand.  Seeking to introduce  more inventive and modern pieces,Truex recruited French designer Jean Schlumberger in 1956 . After meeting in 1954, Schlumberger developed an iconic relationship with Mrs. Rachel "Bunny" Lambert Mellon and she became his most valuable patron and inspiration. Her exquisite taste and love of gardening and botanicals particularly inspired his works. The Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond has a wonderful exhibit of Mrs. Mellon's collection of Schlumberger pieces.  For lovers of beauty and creativity, the exhibit, which runs through June 18, is a must.  Below are my favorite pieces from this exquisite partnership.

Jean Schlumberger.  Photo courtesy Of Tiffany and Co.

So many exquisite pieces but this is my favorite: Dahlia Hidden Watch, 1958. Citrines, diamonds, and 18 karat gold.  Gold branches connect seven dahlia blooms, citrines cover the the center of six of the flowers, while the watch face is covered by a cluster of diamonds.  This bracelet like watch is only one of three known examples of this design.

Clam Shell Compact, 1958.Sapphires, emeralds,turquoise, and 18kt gold.

Iconic Schlumberger enamel bangle with turquoise.

Inspired by a Paris flea market find, Schlumberger developed his own line of woven metal basketry, this one in 18 karat gold with garnets.

Woven bombe ring with sapphires, 1956.

Flower Pot, 1960. Made with a rare 94 carat Kashmir sapphire.  When presented with the stone Bunny Mellon suggested its use not in a piece of jewelry, but in a flower pot objet.  It is in a real terra cotta pot from her greenhouse!

Concept sketches for the Flower Pot displayed next to the piece.

The VMFA has done a wonderful job with this exhibit...here a table with examples of Schlumberger's drawings alongside materials for patrons to sketch on their own.


A lovely tribute at the exhibit to Mrs.Mellon.  Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, in her garden at Oak Spring Farm, 1962.








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