Gripoix glass jewellery
Founded in 1869, Gripoix jewellery house is one of the oldest, if not the oldest manufacturers of costume jewelry in the world. Parisian glass worker Augustine Gripoix was the first who began to master the sophisticated technique of creating jewellery of glass, metal and artificial pearls. She revived pâte de verre – the art of melting glass. Gripoix jewellery house created extraordinary pieces for princesses and aristocrats requesting replicas of their precious jewels; as well as fashion designers – Charles Worth, Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin, Givenchy, Yves Saint-Laurent, Chanel and many others. Made in gold or brass, polished to a golden shine jewellery enjoyed great success in the times of the Belle Epoque. Gripoix costume jewellery was happily worn on stage by Sarah Bernhardt. Beautiful necklaces, crowns, brooches were specially created for the film “La belle et la bête” (‘Beauty and the Beast’) by Gripoix in 1946.
In 1920, after meeting with Augustine’s daughter Suzanne Gripoix, who at the time ran the jewellery house, Chanel asked her to make a collection specially for her home. She remained a loyal customer for decades. The famous Coco Chanel, as we remember, had a weakness for jewelry in the Byzantine style, crosses with inserted in them stones – cabochons. Great Mademoiselle loved to wear high jewelry along with fake jewelry. For her, Suzanne Gripoix developed a special kind of irregular glass pearl to which she gave a mother-of-pearl sheen. Coco Chanel once said: “A woman should mix fake and real. To ask a woman to wear real jewelry only is like asking her to cover herself with real flowers instead of flowery silk prints. She’d look faded in a few hours. I love fakes because I find such jewelry provocative, and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions around your neck just because you’re rich. The point of jewelry isn’t to make a woman look rich, but to adore her; not the same thing.”
The Gripoix jewellery house was later led by Augustine’s granddaughter Josette Gripoix, (Suzanne’s daughter). After an unsuccessful partnership between Thierry Caluwaerts (Josette Gripoix’s son) and the jewelry licensing brand TWC, Gripoix was ceded to TWC by the French Trade Tribunal in 2006. The Gripoix jewellery house director was appointed Marie Keslassy in 2007. Marie Keslassy, had previously run a vintage store for which she had collected Gripoix jewelry.
The company is now taking a new marketing direction, aiming to build its name as a strong publicly recognized brand in its own right — something it last tried, unsuccessfully, to do in the 1970s. Now based on Rue Vertbois, not far from the original atelier, Gripoix’s small team of artisans produces every piece following the same painstaking technique.
nytimes.com (December 12, 2012 article)