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Monday, 3 September 2012

Grand VERDURA pieces coming up for auction in NY


Sotheby's NY next auction on September 20th will include a small number of pieces made by Twentieth Century Jewelry legend Fulco, Duque of Verdura. He became famous for his groundbreaking designs and the use new materials like shell or ebony. For some the fact that he was born in 1899 on the cusp of Palermo's Golden Conch probably marked his destiny. Despite all his travels and living most of his life abroad, first in Paris working with Coco Chanel and later in New York, Fulco always sought inspiration in his Sicilian background, either in its colours and light or in its local motifs and history. His cuff bracelet with maltese crossed set in precious or semiprecious stones are probably his trademark pieces. The brooch above is set in gold and palladium with rubies and diamonds and it was made in 1944. The cuff bracelet below is made of black jade and the gold maltese cross is set with an amethyst, peridots, diamonds and pearls.

Before embracing a career as a jewellery designer, Fulco had a short but very intense life as a nobleman socialite right after he recovered form a First World War injury at the age of seventeen. With little money of his own he joined a group of similar youngsters and for a couple of years he devoted himself to enjoying and discovering as many characters as he could find within the circuit of the social season around Lido in Venice. He forged friendships with the likes of Coco Chanel, american publicist Elsa Maxwell or famous song writer Cole Porter that were to have a huge influence in his professional success later. Perhaps as valuable as those connections were the wealth of experiences and anecdotes that he collected and which surely were to be a strong influence for the inspiration of his designs. For example, he met Rasputin's supposed assassin Felix Youssoupov and his wife Irina who used to wear a single earring with a large drop pearl which happened to be the famous Peregrina, later acquired by Richard Burton as a gift for Liz Taylor!.