Mauboussin: Defining Art Deco Jewellery


Source: Bonhams

Established in the early 1800s, Mauboussin is known for its art deco jewellery. Through the years, the company has become an esteemed global jewellery brand.

Founded by a Family of Jewellers

Founded in 1827, French jeweller M. Rocher and his cousin, Baptiste Noury established a retail store in Paris. In 1850 the business was taken over by Noury. Georges Mauboussin, Noury’s nephew, began his apprenticeship at the age of 14 and became his business partner in 1922. They opened a new retail store in Paris, under the name ‘Mauboussin, Successeur de Noury’, the following year.

Embracing the Fashion Revolution

After The Great War women took a new place in society. Having done men’s jobs during the war, the sense of equality was stronger than ever. They came out of the shadow and could finally express themselves and celebrate their new found freedom. Stepping away from delicate attire and jewellery of the Belle époque era, short hair “à la garçonne” and Coco Chanel style suits were de rigueur. Cartier had created the wristwatch and Paul Poiret dressed women in new uncomplicated outfits with shorter dresses, giving them a more masculine but still sexy look.

mauboussin jewels and jadeite

Source: Sotheby’s

Jewellery had to follow as an art of its own. With long travels came new discoveries in the 1920s and 1930s, such as Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Far away cultures became the source of inspiration for artists, fashion designers and jewellers. Exploring the joie de vivre of the 1920s, Mauboussin was one of the key and most prominent jeweller of that era.  Well established by then, Mauboussin was free to work in the uncensored cosmopolitan environment of the Ville Lumière.

Fashion, decorative arts and high society all came together in this revolutionary society of endless parties and expansion of the mind through new media. Cubism and fauvism were at its peak and some of the most influential women were on the front line to bring about new fashion and new art. Tamara de Lempicka is probably one of the most representative Art Deco female artist and embodied empowerment of women in her self-portrait Autoportrait, Tamara in green Bugatti. Women’s jewellery became “simpler”, flowers and garland became geometric and stylised designs.

Taking Top Honours

Between 1924 and 1931 the jeweller participated in 18 exhibitions: including Milan in 1923 and 1924; New York in 1924 and 1939; Strasbourg and New York in 1924; and Paris in 1925, 1931 and 1937. In 1924, Georges Mauboussin was awarded the Grand Prix at the French Exhibition of New York and the Gold medal at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1925. He was then awarded the French Legion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France, for his exceptional contribution to the world of joaillerie.

“Jeweller of Colour”

Platinum, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond Pendant-Watch, Mauboussin

Source: Sotheby’s

With international recognition and high profile clientele, Mauboussin was considered an innovative leader in the market and nicknamed the “jeweller of colour”. The jewellery firm used strong contrast materials from all over the world: jade from Far East Asia, pearls, coral and turquoise from Egypt and the Middle East. Mauboussin epitomised the international mood and desire to break from traditions.

Mauboussin dedicated three consecutive exhibitions to three gems: emerald in 1928, rubies in 1930 and diamonds in 1931. During this period, Pierre Mauboussin, Georges’ son, joined the firm and drove the company into even more creation and innovation using worldwide magazines as a medium to promote its exclusiveness. Mauboussin jewellery was often featured in artistic photos published in Vogue and Harper Bazaar.

Global Expansion and Innovation

18 Karat Gold, Emerald and Diamond Cuff Bracelet, Trabert & Hoeffer MauboussinSource: Sotheby’s

Following their success, Mauboussin opened stores in Buenos Aires, London and New York. Mauboussin’s presence in international fashion magazines and in the USA, brought them the attention of socialites such as Charlie Chaplin who is said to have offered his wife a Mauboussin emerald-set gold cuff when she missed the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the wind. A similar example was sold by Sotheby’s on 5Th December 2012 in New York for £62,745. 

The crash of 1929 meant the firm had to merge with American jewellery Trabert & Hoeffer. The company expanded under the name Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin and opened stores in Atlantic City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Palm Beach. This collaboration ended in 1953.

Mauboussin had captured the essence of the Roaring Twenties, and their most daring creations have become their most unique and popular designs. Mauboussin has been able to reinvent itself whether through the materials used, media or design. To the extent that Pierre Mauboussin continued innovating and moved on to the aeronautical world. He went on to create a plane: the Fougia Magister, used by the Patrouille de France (the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force). Mauboussin’s innovation has never ceased and transcended all aspects that was the Art Deco movement.

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