Jewelry Exhibits

Icons & Signatures: A Selection of Jewels from Seaman Schepps Private Collection

Seaman Schepps at Betteridge

Currently on view at Betteridge in Greenwich is “Icons & Signatures: A Selection of Rarely Seen Vintage Jewels From the Private Collection of Seaman Schepps”, a true treat for jewelry connoisseurs and Seaman Schepps collectors. Never has a jewelry exhibition been closer to home, in more ways than one for me.

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A few pieces on display in the ‘Icons & Signatures” Exhibition at Betteridge, including (L-R) Doris Duke’s Grape Cluster Brooch, 1941; the Swan Brooch made of a rare, large, non-nucleated natural baroque pearl, emeralds and diamonds, 1940; and a pair of Crescent Brooches, circa 1950, in yellow and blue sapphire with diamonds, both formerly the property of Wanda Toscanini Horowitz

Fifty-five vintage jewels, a few of them owned by Schepps’s most prominent clients, illuminate the breadth and beauty of the distinctive Seaman Schepps style. Using an array of diverse materials, Schepps designed collectible, yet wearable pieces that combine exotic woods, shells and other carved natural elements with precious and semi-precious gemstones in unexpected ways. His creativity was not bound by the ubiquitous precious stones – diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds – that most jewelers used solely in their designs during the early to mid-twentieth century, and even to this day. Not only are his pieces boldly sculptural and often large in scale, they are also a riot of color thanks to the pastiche of materials he incorporated in his designs.

SS Bamboo Section Cluster Bracelet

Seaman Schepps Bamboo Section Cluster Bracelet in mixed tourmaline, amethyst, emerald, aquamarine, diamond, gold (Formerly the property of Mrs. Axel Wenner-Gren), circa 1945

Born in 1881 in New York’s Lower East Side, Schepps gradually worked his way up from a traveling salesman at age fourteen, trekking across the country to California, to an antiques and jewelry dealer back in Manhattan by 1921. Trying his hand at designing jewelry, Schepps rose to fame in the early 1930s with a coterie of illustrious clientele knocking at his Madison Avenue door for his unique creations. Among those luminaries that came calling for a piece of Seaman Schepps included fashion trendsetters and trailblazers such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, and the Duchess of Windsor as well as Hollywood’s leading ladies like Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell.

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The Duchess of Windsor’s Bubble Earrings, 1940, and Bluebird of Happiness Pink, 1940.

A number of his most memorable and imaginative designs can be seen on display at the exhibition, including an original design of his clever Mousetrap Bracelet first made in the 1930s. A favorite of Blanche Knopf, who would stack three of the bracelets on her wrist which created quite a formidable-looking forearm, the Mousetrap Bracelet design endures today as part of Seaman Schepps’s contemporary collection.

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One of Seaman Schepps original Mousetrape Bracelets in ruby and diamond, circa 1935 and a photo of Blanche Knopf wearing a stack of three Mousetrap Bracelets.

Other highlights of the exhibition include Doris Duke’s Grape Brooch, commissioned by the heiress in 1941, the Duchess of Windsor’s Bluebird of Happiness Pin and her Bubble Earrings, both circa 1940, and a few of Schepps’ iconic Chessman Brooches.

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An assortment of Seaman Schepps Chessmen Brooches can be seen at the exhibition

“Icons & Signatures: A Selection of Rarely Seen Vintage Jewels From the Private Collection of Seaman Schepps” runs through Saturday, May 17th at Betteridge in Greenwich.

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John Rawlings Photograph with Seaman Schepps Medallion Pearl Strand Bracelet

John Rawlings Photograph with Seaman Schepps Medallion Pearl Strand Bracelet

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Seaman Schepps Branch Bracelet made of coral, emerald, diamond and gold, circa 1950

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A few of Seaman Schepps Chessman Brooches and Doris Duke’s Vine Bracelet, circa 1937

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Jinx Falkenburg, former Miss America, wearing Seaman Schepps jewels on the cover of Look magazine in 1948.

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(L-R) Triple Link Brooch (formerly the property of Jinx Falkenburg), 1945; Golf Ball Ring, 1930; and Barbaric Cuff (formerly the property of Mrs. Axel Wenner-Gren), 1940.

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Seaman Schepps Necessaire in emerald, ruby, sapphire, pink tourmaline, diamond set in gold (Formerly the property of Mrs. Axel Wenner-Gren), circa 1945

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A number of Seaman Schepps shell jewels, a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy seen wearing a pair of shell earrings.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Designers & Diamonds (@bling_blog)
    May 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    One of my most favorite pieces we ever had in the showroom was a Seaman Schepps Tutti Frutti bracelet. It was so gorgeous & intricately carved, it was when I just started & had never even HEARD of Tutti Frutti, our owner fixed that lickety split. Gorgeous exhibit, love those crescent brooches!

  • Reply
    Phaedra
    May 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I super enjoyed this post. Seaman Schepps is a huge fave to me these days.

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