Coco Chanel had an eye for playboys and a knack for identifying impoverished royalty with useful talents. A stream of penniless nobles and notorious cads with fat wallets marched through her boudoir. Many of which contributed to her success and her legend.
Fulcodi de Verdura was an Italian Duke with noticeable artistic talent and limited finances, a textbook example of Chanel potential. She hired him to design textiles then asked him to re-design several of the jewels given to her by her ex-lovers. It was the beginning of a historical partnership.
The jewels he created for her became the hallmark of her iconic jewelry collection. The Maltese crosses and Byzantine themes are still considered classic Chanel. The pieces were big bold statements with eye-popping colored gemstones: Verdura is credited with being the first to mix colored gemstones with gold. The Verdura style was much copied then and still is today.
Verdura moved to NY in 1939 and opened a small salon on Fifth Ave backed by Cole Porter and Vincent Astor. He sold his business and retired in 1973 leaving thousands of sketches to the new owner. His designs are still made and sold from the New York salon and at high end jewelry and specialty stores.
Practicing Wishful Thinking
Verdura, whether new or vintage, doesn’t come cheap. These are baubles with serious heritage. So if they are out of reach to own, consider finding inspiration in gazing at them in print. Verdura: The Life and Work of a Master Jeweler