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Jewellery kaleidoscope

American jewelry designer Paul Flato

American jewelry designer Paul Flato

Flower basket brooch. Gold, Pearl, Diamond, precious stones. American jewelry designer Paul Flato

American jewelry designer Paul Flato
The life of the famous American jeweler of the 1930s-1940s, Paul Flato is worth writing a book or making a film. It had everything – ups and downs, stunning success and imprisonment. But he, like a Phoenix bird, again and again returned to his favorite work. Married three times, he was familiar with many famous people of that time, but in difficult times was left without the support of family and friends.
Born into a wealthy German family in Texas, from childhood he was fascinated by the jewelry of his mother and other women who visited their house. In 1920 he moved to New York, dropping out of his studies at the Austin University and losing the support of his family.

He began working as an assistant at jeweler and watch dealer Edmund Frisch. After a while, he opened his own store on nearby 57th Street. In March 1941, he founded two trademarks, Paul Flato and Flato (with a claim to be used since October 1924) for silver, gold and platinum jewelry.

American jewelry designer Paul Flato. 1937

Portrait of Paul Flato (September 1, 1900 – July 17, 1999). 1937

His business began with gifts to fellow students, as well as the sale of natural pearl strands and large diamonds. Gradually, he got acquaintances with famous and influential people, who soon became his clients and friends. Also, he traveled a lot around the world.

American jewelry designer Paul Flato

Aquamarine belt necklace with ruby buckles, designed by Fulco di Verdura for Paul Flato in 1935, commissioned by the composer Cole Porter for his wife Linda Porter

Aquamarine belt necklace with ruby buckles, designed by Fulco di Verdura for Flato in 1935, commissioned by the composer Cole Porter for his wife Linda Porter

Noteworthy, Flato’s designers, in addition to himself, were Adolphe Klety, who created flowers and jewelry made of platinum and diamonds. Also, George Headley, renowned for making jewelry and accessories in gold; Fulco di Verdura and others. Besides, his clients participated in the development of the design. In particular, two celebrities of the time, Millicent Rogers and Josephine Ogden Forrestal. Based on sketches by Millicent Rogers, socialite and fashion icon, heiress of Standard Oil, Flato designed the Fat Hearts brooch series.

Signature

Maker’s mark

When Flato began having hearing problems, he created “sign language” clips and brooches, soon featured in Vogue magazine. Later he developed a whole series of gold paired brooches “In Sign Language”.

In March 1938, Flato opened his boutique on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Flato’s Hollywood career began with the 1938 film Holiday, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. At the request of film director he designed jewelry for the film. He also designed decorations for other movies with Hollywood stars, such as Virginia Bruce, Greta Garbo, Merp Oberon, Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich.

Later in 1943, Paul Flato was arrested for theft and fraudulent jewelry to suppliers and customers and declared bankrupt. He returned from Mexico to Texas, where at the age of 70 he opened his own store after a second imprisonment. Flato died in 1999 in his homeland in Texas at the age of 90.

A pair of clips in the form of shoes. Gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, 1938

A pair of clips in the form of shoes. Gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, 1938

American jewelry designer Paul Flato

African Lady brooch. Sterling silver, gold plated, enamel, rhinestones. 6 cm. 1940s

African Lady brooch. Sterling silver, gold plated, enamel, rhinestones. 6 cm. 1940s

Autumn leaf brooch. Gold, citrine

Autumn leaf brooch. Gold, citrine

22 October 1940 patent for leaf brooch design

22 October 1940 patent for leaf brooch design

Brooch in the form of shoe. 14 K Gold, amethyst. 1930s

Shoe Brooch. 14 K Gold, amethyst. 1930s

Cactus brooches designed for Linda Porter. Platinum, emeralds, diamonds, 1940

Cactus brooches designed for Linda Porter. Platinum, emeralds, diamonds, 1940

Design for a compact, 1940 patent

Design for a compact, 1940 patent

Dogwood flower compact, produced between 1945 and 1952 after his release from prison

Dogwood flower compact, produced between 1945 and 1952 after his release from prison

Patent drawing for Dogwood flower compact. 1949

Patent drawing for Dogwood flower compact. 1949

Eight-pointed star brooch. Two-Color Gold, Sapphire and Diamond, 1940

Eight-pointed star brooch. Two-Color Gold, Sapphire and Diamond, 1940

Fat Heart series of brooches. 18k gold, platinum, enamel, rubies, sapphires, painted diamonds, 1938

Fat Heart series of brooches. 18k gold, platinum, enamel, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, 1938

Feather brooch. 18 Karat Gold, Platinum and Diamond, Circa 1940

Feather brooch. 18 K Gold, Platinum and Diamond, Circa 1940

Feather plume brooch designed by Fulco di Verdura for Paul Flato. circa 1935. Gold, platinum, diamonds

Feather plume brooch designed by Fulco di Verdura for Flato. circa 1935. Gold, platinum, diamonds

Fire opal ring. 18 Karat Gold, Fire Opal, Sapphire and Diamond. Mid 1980s

Fire opal ring. 18 K Gold, Fire Opal, Sapphire and Diamond. Mid 1980s

Flato also designed the Hand of God brooch with gold fingers surrounded by diamond stars for actress Joan Bennett

Hand of God brooch with gold fingers surrounded by diamond stars, made for actress Joan Bennett

From a series of gold brooches 'Sign language' worn in pairs

Series of gold brooches ‘Sign language’ worn in pair

1940 patent for Leaf brooch

1940 patent for Leaf brooch

Leaf brooch. Platinum, diamonds

Leaf brooch. Platinum, diamonds

Lupin flower brooch. 18 Karat Gold, Diamond and Colored Diamond. Circa 1945

Lupin flower brooch. 18 K K gold, diamond. Circa 1945

Marlene Dietrich wearing a peacock feather necklace by Flato in 'The Lady Wants It', 1942

Marlene Dietrich wearing a peacock feather necklace by Flato in ‘The Lady Wants It’, 1942

Millicent Rogers. 1940s

Millicent Rogers. 1940s

Pair of 18 Karat Gold, Diamond and Enamel Cufflinks

Pair of 18 Karat Gold, Diamond and Enamel Cufflinks

Pear brooch. 14 Karat Gold, Citrine and Diamond. 1940s

Pear brooch. 14 K Gold, Citrine and Diamond. 1940s

Rose brooch. Platinum, diamonds. 1940s

Rose brooch. Platinum, diamonds. 1940s

Turquoise bird brooch. 1951. Gold tone metal alloy, rhinestones. 8.8 cm

Turquoise bird brooch. 1951. Gold, rhinestones. 8.8 cm

In 1938, a black enamel hand appeared on Katharine Hepburn's blouse in the movie 'Holiday'

In 1938, a black enamel hand appeared on Katharine Hepburn’s blouse in the movie ‘Holiday’

Katharine Hepburn wearing Flato jewels in 'Holiday'

Katharine Hepburn wearing Flato jewels in ‘Holiday’

Vogue 15 December 1937 features Flato jewelry 'In Sign Language'

Vogue 15 December 1937 features Sign Language jewelry

1938 ads

1938 ads

Retro ads. Fabulous jewels by Flato

Retro ad

September 1940 Vogue featuring Flato jewels

September 1940 Vogue

Signature

Maker’s mark