Master de la Mer – Jean Schlumberger

The sea has always been a subject of fascination for jewelers.

From the strange sinuous creatures that bob along the sea floor; to the countless varieties of bug-eyed, cartoon-lipped fishes; to the beautiful forms and colors swaying gently, dancing, to an inaudible beat; the mystery of the sea has inspired generations of jewelers to capture its ephemeral beauty.

The most successful at this daunting endeavor, in my opinion, is Jean Schlumberger designing for Tiffany & Co. in the 1950s and 1960s.


The challenge for jewelers and sculptors was always, and will always be, how to convey movement, light, and life using rigid materials like marble, metal, or gemstone.

In the jellyfish brooch, Schlumberger solves this problem beautifully. The use of blue moonstones on the ‘head’ give off a luminous transparency allowing the viewer to feel as if they were underwater swimming along side this magnificent creature. The articulated ‘tentacles’ made of gold tubes provide movement to an otherwise rigid object.

What makes Jean Schlumberger’s designs unforgettable and different from his contemporaries is that he manages to freeze creatures in mid-stride; capturing all their glory, light and life.

To read a short biography and learn more about Jean Schlumberger, go here and here.

(images via Sotheby’s, Primavera Gallery, Voguepedia)



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