Verdura Showcases Parisian Inspiration
The jewelry house founded by European royalty creates magnificent items for discerning clients.
When one enters the New York city showroom for Verdura, it is as if access was granted into a secret room located on a nondescript floor of a city skyscraper - a secret “cave of treasures”. Every wall and alcove of each room in the suite holds a meticulously illuminated display case containing the most extraordinarily unique collection of precious jewels like nothing else available in the comparable 5th avenue boutiques.
Born in 1898 in Sicily, Fulco di Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura was fascinated with Renaissance architecture and Byzantine art. As a young jewelry artist in Paris, the Duke met his first muse, the vivacious designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. He reimagined jewels from her personal collection to set them into his most notable pieces: two cuffs made of ivory, detailed with Maltese crosses, encrusted with jewels and set in 18 karat gold. Inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of Empress Theodora at the Basilica of San Vitale, these cuffs continue today to be recognized as one of the quintessential symbols of Mademoiselle Chanel’s personal style. The creation of the Chanel cuffs were unique in that the precious and semi-precious stones were pressed into a gold setting and then mounted on the ivory cuffs. In celebration of their 75th anniversary, Verdura has reimagined a black jade version of these iconic cuffs in a limited edition of 200 made using jewels set in the “Theodora” cross.
Many of Verdura’s pieces are recognizable, but not always known for their history. For example, the beautiful “Feather” bracelet tributes the feather headdress style tiara that American socialite Betsy Cushing Whitney commissioned in 1956 for her audience with Queen Elizabeth II. A ruby heart wrapped in gold tendrils was commissioned by Hollywood movie star Tyrone Power for his wife, Annabella in 1941. And a substantial Curb-Link gold bracelet and watch were worn by actress Greta Garbo and were considered her signature style at the height of her Hollywood popularity. Pieces created for clients such as Katherine Hepburn, the Duchess of Windsor and Diana Vreeland remain in the archives and are waiting to be pulled out to inspire something new for today’s client who is looking for an iconic moniker of their own.
Ward Landrigan and Nico Landrigan, Chairman and president of Verdura, a father and son team, currently shoulder the responsibility of continuing the Verdura legacy. Their designers have access to over ten thousand drawings from the archives of the house for inspiration when creating new pieces, each with a hint of the collections that have come before. And while each precious jewel may be new to the designers, the heart and soul of the house is instilled into each lovely piece that is produced, and is evident in the splendid treasures on display at the Verdura showroom. One can dream of owning a piece from this beautiful and elegant collection with such a history.