A Diamond Anniversary
November 13, 2014
Records don’t indicate whether Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura, was a name-dropper, but the aristocratic Sicilian jewelry designer certainly ran with an illustrious crowd. From Chanel, Diaghilev, Dietrich, Dali, Garbo and de Gunzburg, right through to Millicent Rogers, Babe Paley, Andy Warhol and Diana Vreeland, the brightest stars of the beau monde were not merely friends, but collaborators and collectors of his grand scale, explosively bold jewelry. The Duke retired in 1973 and died five years later, but neither the company nor the glamour quotient has dimmed in the least. (See photos of Princess Diana, Sofia Coppola, Carolina Herrera…)
Now, 75 years after the Duke launched on Fifth Avenue with funding from lifelong friend Cole Porter and an Astor, the house of Verdura celebrates, quite fittingly, its diamond anniversary. To mark this milestone, over 150 of the Duke’s creations are being showcased in The Power of Style: Verdura at 75, a gallery exhibition at 745 Fifth Avenue, next to the Verdura flagship.
“For 30 years, it’s been my dream to share Verdura’s genius with a wider audience and bring him the recognition he deserves as the single most influential jeweler of the 20th century,” says Ward Landrigan, who purchased the company in 1984.
One of the exhibit’s most notable creations: A pair of Maltese cross cuffs crafted for Coco Chanel in the 1930s from gems given to her by former lovers. These jeweled enamel cuffs became one of the couturier’s personal signatures and have inspired a modern variation in glossy black enamel dubbed the Theodora. Of the limited edition of 200, 16 are available at Neiman Marcus
The Power of Style: Verdura at 75 runs through December 23.