Oscar Heyman & Brothers
The “jewellers’ jeweller”
The craftspeople of Oscar Heyman & Brothers are the hands behind some of the twentieth century’s most beautiful jewels. For the 1939 New York World’s Fair, their workshop manufactured jewellery for four of the five exhibitors at the House of Jewels, including Cartier and Black, Starr & Frost-Gorham; their feat of skill and hard work earned them the respected title of the “jewellers’ jeweller”.
Oscar Heyman (1888-1970), the namesake of the company, first began his journey to this coveted position with his brother, Nathan, in 1901 when they moved from their home in Latvia to president-day Ukraine to begin their apprenticeships in their great-uncle’s workshop. Five years later, Oscar and Nathan head to New York, equipped with the knowledge and experience of working with fine metals that helps them to be noticed in the city of big jewellery retailers. In fact, such was Oscar’s skill with working with the newly available platinum, he quickly gained a role in Pierre Cartier’s New York workshop; he is the only jeweller not from France working there at the time.
With Nathan a skilled toolmaker and Oscar a jeweller with time in the Cartier workshop already ticked off his career goals, the two brothers and a third Heyman brother, Harry, established Oscar Heyman & Brothers in 1912. The ‘Brothers’ in their title is no exaggeration: eight of the nine Heyman siblings worked for the firm and children and grandchildren of the original generation still assume directorial and presidential roles in the company.
Making for a range of retailers allowed Oscar Heyman & Brothers the freedom to pursue many different styles and commissions, but all the highest quality. Their Pansy Brooch, first designed in the 1930s, became a staple for Tiffany & Co. from the mid-1980s and, in 1969, they undertook a spectacular commission, in scale and timeframe, to make a necklace for Cartier for the Taylor-Burton Diamond so that Elizabeth Taylor could wear it one week later at Princess Grace of Monaco’s ball.
Now a brand in their own right, Oscar Heyman has mastered the art of high jewellery, with their designs, like their iconic Ballerina ring that has tapered baguettes radiating from a centre stone to form a tutu, loved by jewellers and clients alike.