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5 Historic Female Jewelry Designers You Should Know

Written by Annabelle
March 4, 2019

It goes without saying that ladies love jewelry, in all shapes and forms. But no one really ever talks about the ladies who shaped the jewelry industry- and that's why we're taking the time to feature a handful of famous female jewelry designers in honor of Women's History Month.

5 Historic Female Jewelry Designers

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973)

Remembered as the most prominent rival of Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli was a surrealist-inspired Italian fashion designer. While her unusual clothes (often designed in collaboration with famous artists such as Salvador Dali) remain her artistic signature, her jewelry were also showstopper pieces. Schiaparelli enjoyed using unconventional materials, such as early types of clear plastic and everyday objects. One of her most famous pieces is a clear collar, decorated with insects to give the impression that they were crawling around on the wearer's chest.

With her abstract designs, play on color, and usage of non-precious materials, Schiaparelli's designs contributed to the rise of designer costume jewelry.

Suzanne Belperron (1900–1983)

A French designer who was contemporaries with Schiaparelli, Suzanne Belperron is undeniably one of the greatest artists in jewelry design. She drew upon Eastern cultures and nature to give her inspiration for her color-saturated designs, and utilized wood, chalcedony, and 22k gold to make them. Belperron was so confident in her own style that she never signed her work, lending an additional air of mystique to her exclusive collections.

Aside from her confidence, Belperron was also renowned for her act of heroism during WW2. Her employer, Bernard Herz, was Jewish; in order to protect him, she swallowed the pages of his address book. She continued to run his business throughout the war, despite harassment from the Gestapo.

Margaret De Patta (1903-1964)

Margaret De Patta was a mid-century American jewelry designer. Influenced by Bauhaus and avant-garde movements, her jewelry often looks more like sculptures than glittery ornaments. De Patta's work is identifiable through a mixture of rock crystal, rutilated quartz and industrial-looking finishes. She loved experimenting with light, and intentionally incorporated custom-cut gems in order to create optical illusions, or “opticuts.”

Unfortunately, De Patta's work was a little too ahead of her time, and she failed to achieve mass market success. Decades later, her work has re-emerged as highly desirable additions to private collections and art galleries.

Paloma Picasso (1949)

If you're wondering about that last name- you're probably right. Paloma Picasso is the youngest daughter of Pablo Picasso, and a renowned jewelry designer. She's been designing with Tiffany & Co. since 1980, and her pieces are refreshingly modern, with a feminine “pop” that resonates with her love for red lipstick. She has a massive kunzite necklace that's currently sitting pretty in the Smithsonian, but you can grab one of her more affordable designs for $200+ at Tiffany & Co.

Cindy Chao (1970)

Cindy Chao is a newcomer to the jewelry industry in comparison with the other ladies, but don't underestimate her- she is the first Taiwanese designer to have a piece exhibited in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Her family has roots in the arts; her grandfather was a nationally-renowned architect, while her father was a sculptor. With this background, Chao takes into account the tiniest of details for each and every single piece. She enjoys using the wax-carving method to create her designs.

Each of these female jewelry designers have greatly impacted the industry, whether it's introducing new materials, or pushing design boundaries. So now the question is; which designer do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below!


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