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Lacloche Fréres

Lacloche Fréres (Est. 1875 – 1966) The history of Maison Lacloche is a complicated one for several reasons. As a large family establishing many branches, it began with four brothers: Jacques (???? – 1900), Jules (1867 – 1937), Fernand (1868 – 1931), and Leopold (1863 – 1921). The brothers were not born to the jewelry trade. Their father was in the textile business. Between them, however, the brothers ensured that the name Lacloche became associated with some of the most exciting jewelry of the 20th Century.

The firm was founded in 1875 in Madrid, Spain. During the 1920’s and 30’s, the brothers were famous for their brightly colored, geometric, lacquered, enameled cigarette and vanity cases set with diamonds and precious stone in decorative motifs of varying inspirations.

Before the firm became known for their Art Deco jewels and other objets d’art associated with the Lacloche name, the brothers had multiple companies and shops both in France and Spain as far back as 1892. It was only after the tragic death of Jacques in a1900 train crash that the three remaining brothers consolidated their finances and re-grouped in Paris to form Lacloche Frères and settle at 15, Rue de la Paix. Jacques’ death had a profound effect on Lacloche Fréres that led to changes within the respective businesses.

Maison Lacloche established itself in Paris in 1901, it was a retail business that selected its works from the talented designers and workshops of Paris that had yet to become well known. Among these were artisans for some of the great jewelers of the time including Louis Girard, Georges Verger, Rubel, Georges Lenfant, Strauss-Allard-Meyer, and Halluin-Matlinger. Consequently, the reputation of Lacloche Fréres evolved into one of a premiere jeweler and the Maison grew rapidly.

The brothers selected only first class pieces for their shop. When the London jeweler Edwin Streeter retired in 1904, they acquired his stock which included the historic and magnificent rose pink Agra diamond.

The firm continued to expand and, in 1912, opened a shop on New Bond Street in London. During the First World War, Lacloche bought Faberge’s London store and remaining stock when the Russian government repatriated Faberge’s personnel and assets.

In the early 1920’s the firm was known for the art of the nécessaire, which consisted of elaborate jeweled vanity and cigarette cases, lipstick holders, powder cases, and other items designed as fashionable feminine accessories of the day.

The Maison grew more famous following the 1925 Exposition Internationale that celebrated the grandeur of victorious France after World War I. Here, they presented, among other creations, a series of pendants and bracelets that depicted La Fontaine’s fables.

In the decade between the end of the war and the great stock market crash of 1929, the company produced some of its finest and most creative jewelry, clocks and ladies accessories in what became known as the Art Deco period. Tiaras, diamond bracelets, colorful gem set jabot, and mother of pearl inlaid clocks and vanity cases were among the examples of the different genres that were sold by Lacloche Frères.

Many creations were inspired by the Far East and a variety of motifs from Chinese and Japanese art and culture. Their jeweled cigarette cases, nécessaires and other fashionable accessories were made in a wide variety of decorative materials, shapes and designs and are among some of the best of the period reflecting the excesses of the Roaring Twenties.

The crash of 1929 forced the firm to close its branches and retain only a ground floor showroom in Paris. During the 1930’s the firm primarily sold bracelets, brooches, adjustable clips, and various rings with modern designs.

After 1934 the pieces foreshadowed designs popular in the 1940’s. Clips were the most popular piece of jewelry, taking on many forms and motifs including stepped clips, double clips, ear clips, hair clips, in various patterns and forms from an owl design to a clip in the shape of a curled wood shaving.

In 1936 Jacques Lacloche opened a jewelry shop at 8 place Vendôme with the name SARL Jacques Lacloche. The SARL shop remained open with Jacques Lacloche, nephew of the original Lacloche brothers at the helm. He sold bold, brilliant jewels to a fashionable clientele that included Prince Rainier of Monaco for whom he created a sapphire and diamond brooch as a wedding gift for Grace Kelly. SARL remained in business until 1966 when Jacques closed it to pursue a career in Contemporary Art.

The great period of Maison Lacloche is between the two wars. It was then that the firm reached its peak and it is usually the pieces produced during this period that are the most sought after.

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