The creations of Duke Fulco di Verdura, born in Palermo, Sicily in 1899, are prized for their originality, stunning artistry and clever mix of precious and non-precious materials.
Verdura began his career in Paris in the 1920s, having been introduced to Coco Chanel by his great friend and patron Cole Porter and his wife Linda. Verdura worked first as a textile designer and later as a designer for Chanel’s jewelry collections and during those years created two of his most iconic designs, the gem-encrusted Maltese Cross cuff and Byzantine style gold and gem set brooches. After parting ways with Chanel, Verdura moved to New York where he began to develop his own signature style using brightly colored gemstones in flamboyant, whimsical designs taking inspiration from nature and European history and sensibilities. With the financial backing of the Porters and Vincent Astor, Verdura opened his own salon on Fifth Avenue in 1939 — an opportune time to attract wealthy American jewelry collectors who could no longer travel to Europe due to the onset of World War II. During these years, fashionable and wealthy New Yorkers including the Whitneys, Astors, Paleys and Marjorie Merriweather Post became the clients and friends who inspired and purchased many of his fabulous pieces. He was subsequently introduced to the great Los Angeles celebrity jeweler, Paul Flato, who hired Verdura as his head designer in the late 1930s and ’40s. Many of the great stars of the day, such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn wore Verdura jewelry both on screen and off, furthering Verdura’s popularity and reputation. His later iconic designs included gold and jewel encrusted natural seashells, the curb link bracelet popularized by Greta Garbo, the wrapped heart brooch in rubies, diamonds and yellow gold and diamond and gold “Target” earrings, all coveted as much today as during Verdura’s lifetime.
Verdura retired in 1973 and following his death in 1978 was buried in Palermo. He left behind some 10,000 remarkable designs, many of which have never been realized, but the current owners of Verdura, Ward Landrigan and his son, Nico, have preserved Verdura’s name and designs in their elegant salon on Fifth Avenue in New York where they continue to manufacture and sell new versions of his pieces to this day. They are, along with the vintage pieces made during Verdura’s lifetime, highly desirable and sought after by jewelry aficionados worldwide.