Art Deco jewels as prized today as then
As their name suggests, Lacloche Frères was a truly family business, but working with your siblings can be complex. All six Lacloche siblings became allied with the jewellery trade in some manner and early business life saw different combinations of the brothers working together at different times across multiple European cities.
Tragically, the early death of brother Jacques pushed the others to pool their resources and form Lacloche Frères in 1901 at 15, Rue de la Paix in Paris. They built their reputation quickly by working with only the best designers, suppliers and workshops in the city. In only four years, the brothers bought the famous light pink Agra diamond from established London jeweller and gem expert Edwin Streeter; in only seven years, the brothers had seven shops across Europe.
Astute businessmen, the brothers knew what would sell and, most importantly, when to buy. In 1917, they bought the stock of Fabergé’s London store, after most of the company’s assets were claimed by the Russian government. Moreover, they recognised the increasing role of makeup in women’s lives and so designed jewelled compacts, which also allowed them much larger surfaces for more complex designs. In the following years, they struck on the Art Deco movement and created striking jewels that are still the company’s strongest legacy.
Their jewels took inspiration from the lacquerware of Chinese and Japanese art and the Egyptomania surging through Europe, compounded by the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Inlaid coloured stones depicting sphinxes and hieroglyphs brought a strong contrast to the white diamonds carefully used to accent the motifs. From jewels to elaborately decorated clocks and compacts, the brothers gained huge recognition for their Art Deco creations, even winning a Grand Prix at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1925, the exhibition that gave Art Deco its name.
Despite this success, the financial crash of 1929, plus rumours of unwise spending within the family, quickly brought Lacloche Frères to the brink of closure. Jacques Lacloche, son of the deceased brother, reinvigorated the firm and later returned to Paris, to 8 Place Vendôme no less, trading as SARL Jacques Lacloche and, luckily, the clients followed him.