FRED (Est. 1936 – ) Now owned by the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.A. conglomerate, FRED was established in 1936 by Argentinian-born Fred Samuel (1908 – ?). Samuel was the son of a Lorraine, France jeweler who had moved to Argentina. Fred’s father was a fine jeweler who passed a love of high end watches and jewelry to his son.
From the beginning of the younger Samuel’s career, he displayed a keen interest and talent in manufacturing creative jewelry and watches. He opened his first boutique at number 6 rue Royale in Paris next to the Place da la Concorde. His earliest efforts were as a “Modern Jewelry Designer” creating jewelry to match the fashion styles of the time.
At first, Fred Samuel was inspired by a type of pearl cultivated in Japan. Soon, he was recognized as an expert in the field. In the course of his extensive travels, he collected the most beautiful specimens he could find worldwide. Maison FRED’s signature color – a pink-infused white – was inspired by these stones.
Fred Samuels was an adventurer who spent his life traveling with a mission to make women everywhere beautiful. The energy of South America was always with him and became a central theme of his work and inspiration. Swept up by the turbulence of Paris in the 1930s, he found his muses in contemporary artists of the time. It was not long after the firm’s founding that the unofficial name, “Fred of Paris” began to be recognized and attracted the interest of many celebrities.
Among those who wore the firm’s designer watches and jewelry were Marlene Dietrich, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. Various royal families were also drawn to the fine pieces created by FRED.
During the World War II occupation of France by the Germans, the Vichy government imposed the name FRED on the firm replacing the original name, ‘Fred Samuel Jewelry.’ This was intended to obscure the Jewish origins of its founder. After the war, FRED became the official name of the brand. During World War II, Fred Samuel fled Paris and became an interpreter for the Allies.
Fred Samuel’s work is known for its colored stones. When the royals of Nepal asked him for pieces that could match their court’s saris, Fred’s drew on his passion for these gems. He was also the supplier to Monaco’s royal family and met Princess Grace when he opened his boutique in Monte Carlo in 1976.
When Fred’s sons, Henri and Jean joined the family business, it was the beginning of a significant expansion internationally. By 1977, FRED operated boutiques in Beverly Hills, Houston and New York. Shops in Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Seoul soon followed.
Samuel’s love of stones reached its peak in 1977, when Fred Samuel presented the Golden Sun, a light yellow diamond of more than 100 carats that remains one of the most extraordinary diamonds in the world.
Samuel’s passion for sailing and rowing were other interests Fred passed to his sons when they were young. In 1966, his eldest son’s interest in jewelry went a step further when he braided marine cables, secured both ends to a buckle, and gave the creation to his wife as a gift. Though intuitively conceived and relatively easy to produce, it was a risky proposition to begin extensively market the style. It was a risk worth taking, however, as it was the beginning of FRED’s signature and expansive Force 10 collection.
In 1989, the firm created an 18K white gold, heart necklace of 23 rubies interlaced with diamonds that actor Richard Gere offered to Julia Roberts in the movie “Pretty Woman”.
In 1996, the company became part of LVMH and is now headquartered in the Place Vendôme in Paris. From 1996 until 2012, the chief designer and creator for FRED was Yan Sicard. He was in charge of the design studio and was responsible for creating much of the firms’ high-end jewelry including a ring in the shape of violin that debuted in 2004.
Another launch that occurred soon after LVMH acquired FRED was the Pain de Sucre collection first presented in 1996. In 2013, nearly twenty years later, the company presented an update to the collection.
To achieve this advance, it made use of an innovative jewelry-making technique that let the brand create models with interchangeable cabochons that gave the refreshed design more flexibility. It could manufacture desirable, large-size rings in three gold colors that now allowed for interchanging up to 25 stone cabochons. The result was pieces with sensual lines that attractively play with light in countless new combinations.
In addition to the previously mentioned designs, the company also produces sports watch collections and also sells luxury watches in the tourbillon, chronometer, and chronograph styles. The Gladiateur Collector collection, for example, offers styles with diamonds, stainless steel or pink gold cases, a brown dial, and a brown rubber bracelet.
Among the men’s chronograph watches, the Gladiateur Collector Chronograph style is made up of only 36 original models. These timepieces come in a gold case with a graphitic fiber dial.
FRED is more than a desirable creator of fine jewelry and watches. It also produces accessories that include wedding rings, bracelets, sunglasses, and more.
FRED pieces are known for brand placement and can be seen in popular movies. One recent appearance was in the James Bond film, “Casino Royale” starring Daniel Craig. In the movie, Dimitrios’ wife wears FRED’s star collection pendant and earrings.
The British actress Kate Moss is among those celebrities who act as ambassadors for FRED’s jewelry collections.
In the FRED section of the LVMH website, its CEO, Rachel Marouani, writes, “We draw our inspiration from the House’s background to firmly anchor our designs in the DNA of the Fred brand: feminine and greatly inspired by the light of the Riviera – the sun and the colors. The foundation of the House’s history is a balance between jewelry savoir-faire and a passion for colored stones and pearls, underscored by a confident style.”Sell FRED All Artists