Before there were jewelry lovers, there were jewelry designers. Masters of metal and stone, they transform raw materials from inside the earth into sparkling delights. The ancient Egyptians adored jewelry, sending coffers full into the afterlife with them. The Maharajahs, India's princes, are said to have possessed some of the grandest jewelry collections the world over. Dating from the 18th century, these exquisite pieces of jewelry were hand made by some of the most talented jewelry makers of the time.
In our own time, we've had our share of coveted, talented jewelry designers. An American icon to this day, Louis Comfort Tiffany and the company's signature robin's egg blue boxes were a marked force in the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Tiffany was an expert jewelry craftsman, focusing mostly on nature themes with a preference for flowers. His pieces were incredibly detailed with a pronounced evolution over his 26 years of designing.
Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian couture designer and able contender of Coco Chanel. She was a revolutionary in her own time, introducing the women of the world to a new way of dressing: She actually created the very idea of mix and match separates. But she didn't stop there. In her New York boutique in 1949 she sold ready to wear clothing, with all the matching accouterments: eye wear, perfume, shoes, cosmetics, beach wear, and jewelry. Her earlier jewelry work was infinitely more imaginative and exotic than her later pieces, but even so, her jewelry is very collectible and highly sought after.
Louis Cartier is credited with creating one of the first wrist watches in 1904, revolutionizing the jewelry world with an alternative to cumbersome pocket watches. Cartier, opened in Paris in 1847, served primarily royalty, earning their appellation as "Jeweler to Kings." But it was the invention of the wrist watch, and the fact that Cartier did it very well, that really set the company in the forward motion that they still recognize today. Through the 1920's and the Art Deco period, Cartier created exceptional, renowned, and ground breaking watches, recognized as much for their beauty as for functional jewelry.
If Cartier was the "Jeweler to the Kings” then Harry Winston is the "Jeweler to the Stars." Winston, an avid diamond collector in later life, began his jewelry designing career by purchasing the vast collection of the late Arabella Huntington. Huntington was the wife of a railroad tycoon and owned one of the most distinguished jewelry collections in the world. Winston deconstructed and reworked Huntington's jewelry into new, fresh pieces and took Hollywood by storm, even gaining mention in the Marilyn Monroe movie "Gentleman Prefer Blondes."