Suzanne Belperron (1900 – 1983) French Jewellery Designer

Suzanne Belporren (1900 – 1983 was a French jewellery designer. Her career flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. Belperron produced numerous designs of sculptured jewellery for René Boivin’s Paris shop. She subsequently opened her own Paris shop called Herz-Belperron. Her designs often featured glass encrusted with gemstones.

Biography

She was born in the Jura Mountains (east France), 60 kilometers from Geneva, in the village of Saint-Claude (Switzerland).

The residents of the Jura region had developed a wide range of traditional skills throughout the centuries, including the technique of stone cutting, to pass the time during the long winter months. Between 1885 and 1929, Saint-Claude was also one of the most prominent diamond-cutting centres in the world.

Belperron’s mother saw her aptitude as a designer and encouraged her by enrolling her in Besançon’s School of Fine Arts. The Swiss painter Melchior Wirsch and the French sculpture Luc Breton founded this public school in 1773.

With a pendant watch, Belperron earned first prize in the annual “Decorative Art” competition in 1918.

Her years of study in “Watch-making and Jewellery Decoration” were rewarded with this medal.

Today, a bold mastery of style is synonymous with the name of Suzanne Belperron. For her originality, her bold, geometric shapes and her use of modern methods that were cherished; Diana Vreeland, Daisy Fellowes and Wallis Simpson were all customers. Being a Belporren woman was to be a sophisticated high society player.

Belperron was very sensitive, drawing inspiration from where she liked: Congolese tribal jewellery, Brutalist architecture and Japanese sakura (cherry blossom) were all transformed into provocatively cutting-edge designs.

  • Emerald necklace by Suzanne Belperron
  • Pair of Earrings by Suzanne Belperron

My style is my signature

Belperron’s ability to play with aesthetic inspirations from various sources and motifs inspired by nature was the basis of her work as an unrivalled colourist. Belperron was enthralled by the arts and cultures of Egypt, East India (particularly the Assyrian Civilization), the Far East (China and Japan), Africa, and Oceania. She found inspiration in nature’s flora and wildlife, from starfish and insects to the tiniest flower petals and leaves in a garden. Belperron was equally enthralled by the undersea environment, marvelling at the beauty of its shapes and colour combinations. Museums and souvenir stores sell inexpensive yet accurate copies.

Her work was so distinctive that Belperron never felt the need to sign it, claiming, ‘My style is my signature.’ This poses something of a problem when it comes to attribution, and goes some way to understanding why the name of Belperron was nearly forgotten at the time of her death in 1983.

Reading List

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, May 15). Suzanne Belperron. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:11, June 2, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Suzanne_Belperron&oldid=1023218273

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