Maison Gripoix, a French costume jeweller, was located in Paris. Around 1890, Maison Gripoix sold glass beads and buttons wholesale. Subsequently, specialised in handmade imitations of precious and semi-precious jewels, including parures for Sarah Bernhardt.
When the molten glass is poured into a mould, rather than through the kiln-firing of a paste of ground glass and binding agents, ‘Pâte de verre,’ or glass paste, is made. Pâte de verre has long relied on producing pieces of jewellery in various shapes and colours, demanding replicas of their precious jewels; princesses and aristocrats commissioned necklaces to match their fur stoles.
In what was then the jewellery district of the French capital, Ms Gripoix set up shop on Rue Tiquetonne. The design of stage necklaces for Sarah Bernhardt in the 1890s was her first claim to fame, followed by costume jewellery for the first couture house in the world, Charles Worth, established the same year as Gripoix. She later collaborated with Paul Poiret, whose high-society clients commissioned pieces for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes to go with the evening dresses they wore.
The design house, run by Augustine’s daughter Suzanne Gripoix in the 1920s, was connected with the couture houses Worth, Poiret, Piguet, Dior, and Fath, and for four generations, they manufactured costume jewellery.
Suzanne Gripoix collaborated with Coco Chanel from the first half of the 1920s to 1969. Chanel was famous for combining her necklaces with real and fake pearls. Suzanne Gripoix created a particular form of irregular glass pearl for her, giving her a mother-of-pearl sheen.
Over most of the 20th century, the design house, later headed by Josette Gripoix, Suzanne’s daughter, continued to supply costume jewellery to leading fashion houses, including Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Balmain.