Brooch by Gripoix 1980, glass, base metal-gold plated, and cut crystal.
Gripoix brooch blue "histoire de verre" 1990
I have spent my entire career designing,
and writing about fine ( precious ) jewelry.
Since moving to Paris I am becoming increasingly interested in Costume Jewelry called Bijoux Fantaisie in France.
Designer costume jewelry is every bit as intriguing with its history, designers, and in some cases unique manufacturing techniques.
In the book Costume Jewelry for Haute Couture
by Florence Muller and Patrick Sigal, quote Jean De la Fountaine:
" Everything is a fine diamond in the hands of a skillful man,
Everything becomes polished glass in the hands of a fool"
Twice in French fashion history glass (crystal) in jewelry has come to the fore. In the 18th century when glass crystal was cut with more daring and dazzle than diamonds, and again since the 1920's. Where Chanel understood this potential. Chanel fought the strict definition of real Jewelry being only precious, everything else Faux (fake or forged) Chanel and Suzanne Gripoix created some memorable pieces together.
Designs with inspirations that transcend the materials, becoming much sought-after works of art and adornment.
French Vogue 1937
Jewels by Chanel
made by Gripoix
Traditionally costume jewelry is understood to be made with non-precious metals , faux stones, and faux pearls. Here in France there has been a distinguished alliance with the Couture houses and the costume jewelry manufacturers. Today this relationship continues on the cat walks; often the jewels coming down the runway are one-of-a-kind. Later these designs are simplified and reproduced by mass production for world wide sales.
Bracelet by Gripoix for Chanel
Chanel necklace by Gripoix 1938
Gripoix was founded around 1869.
Vintage add from Parures revue des industries de la mode 1927
Augusitne Gripoix acquired the Maison Gasse at the end of the 19th century. Combined both companies had the requisite skills for full scale
Bijoux Fantaisie production. Augustine Gripoix produced jewelry for Sarah Bernhardt to much acclaim, and lots of press, this was an auspicious beginning.
Brooch by Gripoix for Nina Ricci 1970's
Gripoix continued to work throughout the twentieth century with the designers like Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Dior, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Balmain , Yves Saint Laurent, and many others.
One of My favorite Gripoix projects was the
jewelry for one of my favorite films.
La belle et la Bete (1946)
Jewels by Gripoix art direction by Christian Berard
Oh, I just love those beasty boys especially when they give us jewels.
La Belle et La Bete by Jean Cocteau.
Morrocan born Marie Keslassy, a vintage jewelry collector, acquired the firm after it had declared bankruptcy, she is the brand’s new artistic director.
A selection of Venetian glass (soda lime glass) rods.
Glass is either transparent opaque or translucent ( opalescent)
Gripoix has an interesting history and a unique production process.
It is this production process that originally piqued my interest. It involves a unique form of "glass enameling" I have worked with traditional enamels for more than thirty-five years, and I can tell you this process is amazing and totally unique. This technique, by necessity, requires that each jewel be individually hand-made.
Image from Chanel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
An array of jewels by Gripoix for Chanel
collection Mark Walsh Leslie Chin
Image from Costume Jewelry for Haute CoutureBy Florence Muller and Patrick Sigal
Gripoix atelier with a custom gas flame-working set up for glass, with wide-heat distribution.
-Technical details, more than you ever wanted to know-
The metal frames are bronze. They are either cast in one piece with no seams, or welded if there are seams. All the mechanical parts are attached by welding before the "glass enameling". Most fine jewelry is soldered but the heat necessary for the torch-fired-glass-enamel process exceeds the temperature of traditional jewelry soldering (the joint would pop open).
Welding is the coalescence or fusion of the metals forming the joint. This type of connection can withstand much more heat in processing.
Image from Costume Jewelry for Haute Couture
Brooch by Gripoix for Chanel 1930
Necklace by Gripoix
-More technical details-
The glass work is similar to torch fired glass bead making which has been practiced for centuries in Murano Italy. Gripoix is basically making faux cabochons in their own settings by filling in the empty metal enclosures with molten torch-fired viscus glass. The Venetian glass rods are dripped, pressed, rolled, and shaped with HEAT!
After each piece is cooled, slowly in an controlled fashion to prevent the glass from fracturing from thermal shock. The metal is cleaned, polished, and colored to look like gold. This is a from of electroplating.
I am thrilled this company will continue into the 21 century.
Often I work out technical details in my studio.
I am sort of a technical detective by nature, if something intrigues me.
The torch is melting the glass and I am about to drip and shape it into the metal frame.
After several failed attempts I finally understood the process.
A contemporary jeweled bracelet by Gripoix