The designer’s celebrated creation is honored by a reimagining of the iconic brooch.
When Jean Schlumberger was a child, he was discouraged by his parents to pursue creative activities. But the son of French textile manufacturers kept on drawing and sketching, and despite lack of formal training, his persistence paid off: Schlumberger grew to be a prolific designer and becoming an executive at one of the world’s largest luxury jewelry brands. His devotion to his craft stayed strong throughout his life, maintaining his own workshop at the company until his retirement in the 1970s.
Best known for turning natural elements into exotic, whimsical, and in his designs, Schlumberger started out creating buttons for Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, eventually being commissioned to design costume jewelry for her. Following military stints in the Second World War, he moved to New York and began designing clothing for the custom dressmaking salon Chez Ninon, which was known for copying the latest Parisian fashion to American patrons.
He resumed designing jewelry in 1946 when he opened a jewelry salon business with his business partner Nicolas Bongard. This relationship would prove to be a lasting one, as both end up becoming part of Tiffany & Co.
Under the jewelry house, Schlumberger became known for his designs that take inspiration from nature, such as foliage, raindrops, and birds. He also used elements that represented flow and movement, such as ropes, ribbons, and fabric, and turned them into intricate designs. His iconic design Bird on a Rock, which he crafted in 1995 for the retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, features a diamond-encrusted bird atop the Tiffany Diamond, one of the largest canary yellow diamonds in the world. His other prominent designs include intricate paillonné enamel bangles, the Cooper bracelet, and the Sixteen Stone diamond ring.
Schlumberger’s designs live on today, with his iconic brooch set to make its return thanks to Tiffany & Co. designers’ reimagining of Bird on a Rock. Instead of one bird sitting on top of the celebrated diamond, the design will feature five diamond-encrusted birds in flight surrounding the massive yellow diamond. The reset will be in honor of the brand reopening its Fifth Avenue flagship store, nicknamed “The Landmark.”
“The latest design to uplift the Tiffany Diamond is a breathtaking homage to the Bird on a Rock. It’s a modern incarnation of a legacy that began in 1995 when the legendary diamond was mounted on Schlumberger’s diamond-encrusted bird,” says Victoria Wirth Reynolds, chief gemologist at Tiffany & Co.
While this iteration is based on a brooch, the addition of a clasp makes it possible to wear this new design both as a brooch and as a pendant. This enables the diamond and the new design to be donned in different ways without the need to reset the gem anytime soon.
“When the diamond was discovered, few had witnessed a yellow diamond so remarkable,” says Reynolds. “Today, the Tiffany Diamond remains unrivaled in scintillation and beauty. Its intense sparkle can be seen from far across the room.”